This section of the Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes (RDPs) relates to Indicators 5 to 8 of the UK Quality Code, Chapter B11: Research Degrees (June 2012), and the Postgraduate Admissions Policy.
The Provision of Information for New Research Students subsection also introduces the Study Regulations for Research Degree Programmes and associated processes and practices in relation to student registration; external students and students working away from Queen’s; periods of study for RDPs, interruptions to study, including temporary withdrawals; progress; and assessment.
The University is committed to providing a professional admissions service. The Postgraduate Admissions Policy and accompanying procedures are transparent, fair and consistently applied which ensures that prospective students understand how the admissions process works and applications are processed in a timely manner.
The Postgraduate Admissions Policy complies with relevant legislation affecting the admission of students, and includes details of criteria for admission and procedures (section 3.1.2), roles and responsibilities of Schools and staff in administering and quality assuring the admissions process (Postgraduate Admissions Policy Appendix 1), and information on policy areas such as selection procedures (section 4.1.2) to RDPs, which supplements the information contained in this Code of Practice for RDPs.
The University provides pre-entry information (in a variety of formats on request) to ensure that a student can make an informed decision regarding their preferred subject area as the basis of their application for a place on a RDP. Information on RDPs is available through the online Course Finder, Postgraduate Prospectus in hardcopy and online, School leaflets and brochures, School websites, and through the Prospective Student Portal. Helpful information and guidance is also available at Find a PhD Supervisor.
Amongst the information which should be accessible to all students are up to date overviews of the Schools, their achievements and key research interests; programme information including expected timescales for completion and supervisor support; opportunities for personal development and potential career options; entry requirements; and information about support services including training, disability support, counselling and careers support. Where programmes are only offered on a full-time or part-time basis, this will be highlighted by the School.
The Graduate School and International Office provide up to date information for NI, GB, EU and international students regarding sources of funding and closing dates for applications. The Graduate School and International Office also provide details of how students can apply for funding, eligibility criteria and links to external sources of funding.
The Admissions and Access Service is responsible for managing the Postgraduate Applications Portal or will process paper applications for the PhD by Published Works, as required. The Admissions and Access Service will also issue official documentation to international applicants for immigration and visa entry purposes. International Student Support can offer advice on visa and immigration issues.
Entry Requirements and the Decision Making Process
The University applies standard criteria and procedures as part of a transparent admission process for all students. The Postgraduate Admissions Policy outlines the normal entry requirements and criteria to be met for admission to RDPs. Where specific programmes require additional criteria such as additional or specific qualifications, an assessment, or attendance at an interview, this will be detailed under the relevant programme entry in the online Course Finder. Prospective applicants are encouraged to contact the relevant School for further information where appropriate.
Information regarding the minimum level of English language proficiency required of applicants for whom English is not their first language; and English language qualifications acceptable for entry to RDPs, is available in the Postgraduate Prospectus and here.
Decisions on the admission of research students are made by suitably qualified academic members of staff, which may include the Head of School. Schools apply strict admissions criteria for research students, in line with the regulations and the Postgraduate Admissions Policy, and liaise with the Admissions and Access Service, as appropriate, when assessing a student’s eligibility to enrol on a RDP.
Where applicants are required to complete an assessment or attend an interview, Schools ensure that any reasonable adjustments which the applicant may require as a result of disability are arranged in advance. Schools consult with Disability Services for advice where necessary. Further information on the support available to postgraduate students with a disability is available here.
Responsibilities and Entitlements of Students undertaking Research Degree Programmes
The Postgraduate Admissions Policy, section 4.5 outlines the details of the information which the student can expect to receive with the formal offer letter, which is specific to the individual applicant. Students are also advised in the correspondence that by accepting an offer of admission they are agreeing to meet the responsibilities for their academic studies and candidacy for a research degree as outlined in this Code of Practice for RDPs.
The offer letter, and supporting Admissions and Access Service guidance provide a range of information, including information relating to funding, accommodation, support services, immigration procedures, and the International Welcome and Orientation Programme. The Admissions and Access Service issues the official offer letters and guidance notes upon receipt of decisions from Schools.
The Graduate School is responsible for the administration and allocation of Postgraduate Student Awards. The notification of an offer of an award is made by the Graduate School in a separate letter to the offer letter from the Admissions and Access Service.
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)
The University Intellectual Property (IP) Policy sets out the rights of students and staff relating to IP created as a result of their work in, or for, the University. Research Students who are funded; use significant University resources; use University background IP; or collaborate with University staff, to create new IP, should ensure that they liaise with the Commercial Development team in the Research and Enterprise Directorate before they exploit or otherwise deal in any way with IP arising from their work.
Responsibilities of Students towards the University and their Supervisors
The general expectations of students, and what students can expect from the University, are contained within the Student Charter. The responsibilities of students whilst engaging with their supervisor over the course of their RDP are highlighted at various stages throughout the Study Regulations for Research Degree Programmes. Research students’ responsibilities include:
- Personal and professional development, including, where possible, recognising when they need help and seeking it in a timely manner.
- Maintaining regular contact with the supervisory team.
- Preparing adequately for meetings with supervisors.
- Setting and keeping to timetables and deadlines, including planning and submitting work as and when required, and maintaining satisfactory progress with the RDP.
- Maintaining research records in such a way that they can be accessed and understood by anyone with a legitimate need to see them.
- Raising awareness of any specific needs or circumstances likely to affect their work.
- Attending any development opportunities (research-related or other) that have been identified when agreeing development needs with supervisors.
- Being familiar with the regulations and policies that affect them, including those relating to their award, health and safety, intellectual property, electronic repositories, and ethical research.
The student is responsible for the submitted work, and the eventual success or failure of the RDP. (In endorsing the Notice of Intention to Submit Service Request, the Chair of the School Postgraduate Research Committee, or nominee, does not confirm that the thesis is fit for submission or that the submission will be successful.)
Provision of Information for New Research Students
The University is committed to ensuring that students are provided with the appropriate information and support during the initial registration period. Through the Welcome and Registration Portal students can complete the registration process for general enrolment, finance and accommodation. Students can also access specific information and checklists which signpost students to the relevant Schools to complete the registration and induction process.
The Graduate School provides a range of activities during the University Welcome Week, and induction sessions in early October and February, to provide NI/GB/EU and international students with a comprehensive induction programme and access to a wide range of information and advice. In addition to helping students with the orientation of the wider University, the programme provides a range of activities which encourage postgraduate research students to engage and build up relationships with their peers. The Graduate School also delivers regular induction programmes to accommodate new students registering throughout the course of the academic year.
As part of the University-wide induction sessions, students are introduced to this Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes, and the Study Regulations for Research Degree Programmes. As such, students are briefed on the regulations, processes and practices regarding:
- Student registration (regulation 2).
- External students and students working away from Queen’s (regulation 3).
- Periods of study for RDPs, including the minimum, normal and maximum periods of study (regulation 4), and how to request, in light of extenuating circumstances, an extended period of study and thesis submission date using the RDP Exception Request - Registration and Thesis Submission form.
- Temporary withdrawal (regulation 5), including how to request, in light of extenuating circumstances, an extended period of temporary withdrawal using the RDP Exception Request - Temporary Withdrawal form.
- Progress, including supervision, regular progress monitoring, and Annual Progress Review (regulation 6).
- Assessment, including the requirements for the RDP awards, and the assessment/examination process (regulation 7).
- The Academic Appeal Regulations (Research Degree Programmes) procedure.
In addition to specific University induction programmes run by the Graduate School, School induction programmes provide a range of information including information relating to School facilities, research support, and School health and safety procedures. Schools also facilitate an initial meeting with the supervisory team, where the student and supervisors agree on plans for the RDP.
Information on on-going training opportunities is available through the Graduate School. The Student Gateway provides students with a wide range of links to sources of information and advice on all aspects of student life including access to support services, financial advice, and careers advice.