Study Regulations for Higher Doctorates

Study Regulations for Higher Doctorates

1. Registration 2. Period of Study 3. Interruptions to Study
4. Adviser 5. Assessment/Award  

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Note: The following regulations apply to the Higher Doctorate degrees: Doctor of Divinity (DD), Doctor of Laws (LLD), Doctor of Letters (DLitt), Doctor of Science (DSc), Doctor of Science (Economics) (DSc(Econ)), Doctor of Science (Education) (DSc(Ed)), and Doctor of Social Science (DSSc).

Note: Where specific members of staff or committees are designated in these regulations to undertake particular School-related responsibilities, the relevant Head of School retains the discretion to appoint a nominee or equivalent committee as appropriate.

1. Registration

1.1 Registration will be on a part-time basis.  This incurs the Higher Doctorate fee. Once a submission has been presented for examination, the student’s status will be changed to Graduation Only. No further tuition fee is incurred.

1.2 Intellectual Property (IP) is the term which describes the outputs of creative endeavour in literary, artistic, industrial and scientific fields.  Various rights are given or can be applied for when Intellectual Property is created and these rights are known as Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).  IP is usually protected through Patents, Trademarks, Design Rights and Copyright.  The University seeks to protect its valuable IPR and is extremely pro-active in its commercialisation and exploitation.  For academic staff, IP is automatically assigned to the employer, Queen’s University Belfast, for outputs developed whilst in employment.  Subject to conditions of funding or other collaboration agreements, all postgraduate students involved in University research degree programmes shall be required to assign their intellectual property to the University on registration.  In exceptional circumstances, IP shall be determined on a case-by-case basis depending on where and when the work was completed.

1.3 Where the IP assigned to the University is successfully exploited commercially, and a royalty income is generated, the student, if an inventor of any exploited IP, shall enjoy the same revenue split of the net proceeds as members of staff.  Queen’s has one of the best IPR revenue share arrangements of any University in the United Kingdom.  The University pays all fees and legal costs for the protection of IP and 50% of net revenue generated from successful commercialisation is divided between the inventors.

2. Period of Study

The normal period of study shall be 12 months part-time, from the date of first registration.  This period excludes suspension of studies.  In exceptional circumstances, a request to allow an extension beyond the normal period must be endorsed by the School Postgraduate Research Committee (SPRC), and approved by the Research and Postgraduate Committee.

3. Interruptions to Study


3.1 Regulations Governing Failure to Meet Deadlines due to Illness

  1. Absence from any examination, or failure to meet deadlines due to illness must be covered by a medical certificate signed by a registered medical practitioner.
  2. Medical certificates must be submitted to the relevant School Office within three working days of returning to studies.  Medical certificates submitted after this period are not acceptable (see also 3.2).

3.2 General

  1. If an examination or a deadline will be missed due to illness, students should inform the relevant School Office in advance.
  2. The Head of the relevant School may require any student to be examined by the University’s Senior Medical Officer.
  3. Repeated self-certification may result in referral to the University’s Senior Medical Officer.
  4. Repeated medical absences may result in referral to the Fitness to Continue in Study Procedure.

3.3 Temporary Withdrawal

3.3.1 Students may apply to withdraw voluntarily from their programme on a temporary basis, subject to approval of the SPRC.  Students may be directed to withdraw temporarily by a SPRC, Occupational Health Service. Fitness to Continue in Study Panel or a Fitness to Practise Panel.  Registration (and student status) normally ceases at midnight on the date of withdrawal.

3.3.2 Although still registered as a student (i.e. not having given up their place on a course), persons who have temporarily withdrawn are not considered to be active students of the University and therefore have no right to avail of the University services unless this is expressly stated in a letter from the appropriate University authority which stipulates the person’s status and entitlements, including insurance status if appropriate.

3.3.3 The SPRC may permit students to withdraw temporarily from the programme for a period of up to one year at a time, normally up to a cumulative maximum of two years, where it is satisfied that good cause exists or continues to exist.

3.3.4 A period of permitted temporary withdrawal shall not count as part of the time allowed by the University for submission or completion.

3.3.5 Students who do not resume/re-register at the appropriate time and who do not seek permission to withdraw temporarily shall be deemed to have withdrawn from the University.  Students who are dissatisfied with such a ruling may submit an academic appeal (research degree programmes) if a ground for appeal is evidenced (see Study Regulations for Research Degree Programmes, regulation 8).

3.3.6 Any suspension or extension to the period of study of visa-holding students must be reported to the International Student Support Office as soon as it is known, for report to UK Visas and Immigration.

4. Adviser

4.1 Students registered for a Higher Doctorate must normally have one adviser to advise on the summary that shall accompany the published works, and to support the student through the submission process.

4.2 The adviser shall normally be an academic member of the University staff, who is experienced in and actively engaged in research, who holds a research degree at the same level as the degree being advised on or who has appropriate equivalent experience or professional qualifications or status, and who has an understanding of University and School policies and procedures concerning research students and adviser responsibilities.

4.3 The following categories of staff are eligible to be considered for appointment as an adviser: professors and readers.

5. Assessment/Award


5.1 Notice of Intention to Submit

5.1.1 Students must give written advance notice to the SPRC of intention to submit.  To allow the submission to be examined in time for graduation at a particular date, guideline dates for notice of intention to submit, and for submission are as follows:

Graduation Notice Submission
July 1 February 1 May
December 1 May 15 September

5.1.2 Students must be registered as research students in the academic year in which the submission is made.

5.1.3 Students who fail to submit by the notified date must notify the SPRC of a new date of submission.

5.2 Title and Format of Submission

5.2.1 Students shall specify the title of the submission when giving notice of intention to submit.  The title may not be changed thereafter, except with the permission of the SPRC.

5.2.2 Normally all submissions must be written in English.  Students may, however, apply to the SPRC at the time of registration to submit material in a language other than English where the language is relevant to the subject of the research.  Where permission is given to write in a language other than English the summary of the submission and its title must be given both in English and the approved language.

5.2.3 The layout of the submission must conform to the format prescribed by Student Services and Systems.  The submission must be bound in a secure binding of a type approved by Student Services and Systems when it is submitted for examination.

5.2.4 The submission for the Higher Doctorate degree shall comprise:

  1. A title page, giving the author’s full names, degrees, School, the title of the work, the degree for which it is offered, and the date.
  2. A statement, in the case of multi-authored, joint or collaborative work, of the extent of the student’s own contribution, substantiated by the co-author(s) or collaborator(s).  It is expected that the student will have been a major contributor to each published work.
  3. A CV demonstrating the student’s standing in the field.
  4. A 2000-3000 word summary incorporating a research record, and outlining clearly research interests and achievement through reference to selected publications.  Clear evidence of how the submission meets the requirements for the degree must be provided (see Regulation 5.3).
  5. Copies of the published works which should comprise research outputs which match the criteria for submission to the periodic national research assessment exercises.  A work shall be regarded as published only if it is traceable in ordinary catalogues, abstract or citation notices, and web-based materials only if copies of it are, or have been, available to the general public through normal channels.  Documents prepared for a restricted readership and/or on a confidential basis shall not normally be eligible for inclusion in a submission for this degree.  Any material which has been previously submitted by the student for another degree must be clearly specified and will not be included in the assessment of the works.
  6. Candidate-attested translation for any publications in a foreign language, if required by the SPRC.

5.3 Requirements for the Higher Doctorate

5.3.1 Normally a student will have a minimum of ten years research experience at a postdoctoral level.

5.3.2 Higher Doctorates are awarded to students who have demonstrated:

  1. A contribution of originality and merit to their field of study.
  2. A sustained, consistent and substantial contribution to the advancement of knowledge over a number of years.
  3. An authoritative standing in the field of study.
  4. Seminal publications which have led to extensions or the development of knowledge by others.

5.4 Procedure for Submission

5.4.1 Students mustsubmit toStudent Services and Systems sufficient copies (normally two) for the examiners.

5.4.2 At submission, students must sign a statement that:

  1. The submission is not one for which a degree has been or will be conferred by any other university or institution.
  2. The submission is not one for which a degree has already been conferred by this University.
  3. The work for the submission is the student’s own and that, where material submitted by the student for another degree or work undertaken by the student as part of a research group has been incorporated into the submission, the extent of the work thus incorporated has been clearly indicated.
  4. The composition of the submission is the student’s own work.

5.5 Appointment of Examiners

5.5.1 The SPRC shall appoint internal examiners and nominate external examiners for approval by the Research and Postgraduate Committee.  For Higher Doctorate students who are not academic staff at Queen’s, there shall be at least one internal and one external examiner.  For Higher Doctorate students who are current academic staff at Queen’s, a second external examiner must be appointed in lieu of the internal examiner.  The two external examiners must each come from different institutions or organisations.

5.5.2 Only persons of seniority and experience who are able to command authority within the area of research concerned shall be appointed as examiners.

5.5.3 The examiners shall not have had substantial co-authoring or collaborative involvement in the student’s work, nor examine a submission whose focus is the examiner’s own work, nor have any links, including personal links, with the student which could be perceived to influence their judgement.

5.5.4 The external examiner shall be appointed from amongst the current professors, or readers (or equivalent) from an external university.  External examiners from outside the higher education system, for example from industry or the professions, may be appropriate for submissions in some disciplines, subject to evidence of appropriate experience.  An external examiner must not have been a member of staff or a student of the University at any time during the three years prior to appointment.

5.5.5 The internal examiner shall be appointed from amongst the current professors and readers of the University.

5.6 The Examination Process

5.6.1 The examiners shall each prepare anindependent report on the submission, which shall contain one of the following decisions:

  1. The Higher Doctorate be awarded for the work submitted.
  2. No degree be awarded.

5.6.2 If there is no agreement on a decision, the SPRC shall arrange for an additional external examiner to be appointed following the procedures set out in regulation 5.5, and the majority decision shall prevail.  The decision of the examiners shall be final.

5.6.3 Where the examiners’ decision is that no degree be awarded, individuals may reapply for candidature on one more occasion, after a minimum period of two years has elapsed.

5.6.4 If the Board of Examiners wishes to depart in any way from the normal examination procedures, the SPRC Chair shall seek permission from the Director of Academic and Student Affairs.

5.6.5 Students who are dissatisfied with the outcome of the examination process may submit a student research academic appeal if a ground for appeal is evidenced (see Study Regulations for Research Degree Programmes, regulation 8).

5.7 Copyright

All copies of the submission, whether or not adjudged by the examiners to deserve the degree, remain the property of the University.  The University shall assign the copyright of the submission back to the author.

5.8 Library Regulations

5.8.1 Where the examiners decide to award a degree and before the result is officially posted, the student mustsubmit to Student Services and Systems two copies of the submission bound in the manner of a book and certified by an examiner as being the accepted copy, and the approved summary of the work.  One of these copies shallbe deposited in the University Library and one given to the School concerned.

5.8.2 Students commencing a Higher Doctorate from September 2016 onwards must also make the final submission available in electronic format. The student must agree that the submission be stored and made available publicly in electronic format unless an embargo period has been approved.