The Regulations were approved by Academic Board for implementation from 1 August 2023, and apply to all students (new and existing) registered at all locations for all courses leading to a University of Wolverhampton Research Degree award. 

Find out more about the introduction of new research degree regulations 2023/24, following a regulations review process.


The Research Degree Regulations are the legally binding statements of the regulatory framework for pathways leading to postgraduate research qualifications at the University of Wolverhampton. In the unlikely event of any discrepancy between the Research Degree Regulations and any other University of Wolverhampton publication, the Research Degree Regulations take precedence and will be applied in all cases.

There are 5 parts to the research degree regulations and they should not be read in isolation. All research students, supervisors and research support staff are responsible for familiarising themselves with the relevant regulations, their appendices and with the University Ethics Policy, the Code of Good Research Practice and other research policies, procedures and guidelines available at:

These regulations are subject to review as and when appropriate, normally on an annual basis. They embody nationally recognised good practice as recommended in policies, codes of practice and regulations of the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), funding bodies, and research funding councils.

The University may amend regulations and rules or the way in which it applies them to:

  • Improve the experience of students
  • Ensure the efficient and economic use of University resources
  • Comply with changes in legal or regulatory requirements
  • Maintain the reputation, good standing and academic standards of the University
  • Correct errors or improve clarity and accessibility of regulations
  • Take advantage of new technologies, methods, ideas and opportunities.

Where such changes are to be made, the University will follow its rules for governance approval of those changes including, where appropriate, consultation with students or their representative bodies.

The University will give reasonable notice of changes to the regulations and rules, and the date they take effect.

The Research Degree Regulations are the principal means through which consistency in the academic standards across postgraduate research degree awards is ensured.

The University of Wolverhampton will ensure that its postgraduate research degrees are comparable in standard with those conferred throughout higher education in the United Kingdom and consistent with the QAA Framework for Higher Education Qualifications. It is achieved through the appointment of independent, experienced external examiners to examine students.

The University will sanction co-operation with industrial, commercial, professional, research or Not-for-Profit establishments for the purposes of research leading to the award of research degrees.

Co-operation may be formalised with one or more external bodies, which will be referred to as Collaborating Establishment(s). Such collaboration is subject to formal agreement and normally involves the student's use of facilities and other resources, including supervision, which are provided jointly by the University and the Collaborating Establishment(s), and will normally include joint supervision of the student.

In such cases a formal letter from the Collaborating Establishment(s) confirming the agreed arrangements should be submitted with the Research Proposal. Such arrangements will be governed by a signed Agreement between the University and the Collaborating Establishment(s).

Where a research degree project is part of a piece of funded research, the Faculty shall establish to its satisfaction that the terms on which the research is funded do not detract from the fulfilment of the objectives and requirements of the student's research degree.

The University will consider applications to register as a research degree student in accordance with its published Policy Statement on Equality and Diversity.

Student Support and Wellbeing (SSW) will provide applicant advice and guidance to applicants to the University who have declared a disability, a Specific Learning Difference (SpLD) such as dyslexia, or long-term health condition.

Research Student Boards (RSBs) monitor the progress of their postgraduate research degree students and receive and approve documents relating to various key stages in a student’s progress.

Faculty Research Committees (FRCs) advise the Dean of Faculty on strategic matters regarding research within the Faculty. They bring together research policy and research degree matters. 

The Professional Doctorate Award & Progression Board is responsible for recording end of year status of all students enrolled of Professional Doctorates; confirming awards and classifications, including interim awards; and ensuring that the academic standards achieved by students are comparable to UK benchmark standards.

The University Research Committee (URC) exercises corporate responsibility, on behalf of Academic Board, for the formulation of policy and strategy in relation to research.

The URC’s Research Awards Sub-Committee (RASC) is responsible for approval of examination arrangements, conferment of research degree awards, quality assurance of research degree programmes and monitoring and reviewing the quality of the student experience.

The URC’s Ethics Sub-Committee (ESC) considers policies and procedures relating to the ethics of research projects undertaken by staff and students. Responsibility for the approval of individual research ethics applications is devolved via Faculty Ethics Committees to Subject Panels.

The University is committed to the UUK’s Concordat to Support Research Integrity and continues to ensure that the principles expected therein are effectively embedded, evaluated and strengthened in our research endeavours, including in the pursuit of the postgraduate research degrees qualifications covered by these Regulations.

Students need to consider ethical issues at an early stage and should consult the ethics website ( and the Handbook for Ethical Review & Approval for further advice.

All research student projects must undergo full ethical review (and secure approval) before any data collection starts.

Students undertaking approved research should remain alert to emerging ethical issues throughout the life of the project; where issues are identified after project start, or where there are significant amendments to the design or execution of the project, re-approval may be required. Students should discuss this with their supervisory team.

Misconduct in research can have wide-ranging and damaging consequences, harming the integrity of research, bringing the individuals involved and the organisation into disrepute and causing harm to those involved. It can also damage public confidence in research. 

The University takes seriously any allegation of research misconduct and will be responsible for monitoring all research and investigating any alleged misconduct.   

Alleged misconduct relating specifically to the assessed element of a research degree, i.e. Annual Progress Review, Progression Stage, the thesis, or a resubmitted thesis will be dealt with under the Research Degree Regulations ‘Appendix 13: Procedure for managing an alleged assessment offence’. However, alleged misconduct in a research degree programme relating to the conduct of the research itself will be investigated using Procedure for the Investigation of Allegations of Misconduct in Research. 

See the Research Misconduct webpage for further information.

Throughout, the following abbreviations have been used:

APR       Annual Progress Review

DoS       Director of Studies

ESC       Ethics Sub-Committee

EThos   Electronic Theses Online Service (British Library)

FRC       Faculty Research Committee

HEI        Higher Education Institution

OIA        Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education

PGRT    Post-graduate Research Tutor

QAA      Quality Assurance Agency

RASC    Research Awards Sub-committee

RC         Research Centre

RI           Research Institute

RSB       Research Student Board

SSW      Student Support & Wellbeing

UKVI      UK Visas & Immigration

URC       University Research Committee

UUK       Universities UK

WIRE     Wolverhampton Intellectual Repository and E-Theses



All applicants to the University will be required to complete the appropriate application form. The application will require an applicant to complete the following information:

  • Personal information
  • Previous qualifications
  • Proposed mode of study (full time or part time or distant learning)
  • Research Interest (details on the proposed research)

The process of selecting appropriately qualified and/or experienced applicants for admission to a postgraduate research degree is the responsibility of the appropriate Research Student Board.

Assessment of the application will involve the judgement of at least two members of university academic staff who have been suitably trained or briefed. Normally this would be the faculty Postgraduate Research Tutor and a member of the indicative supervisory team.

Assessment will determine whether:

  1. the proposed research falls within the scope of research conducted in the faculty.
  2. potential supervisors, with the capacity to undertake further supervision, can be identified, and
  3. the proposed research can be appropriately resourced.

Offers of a place to study at the University are conditional on the approval of a Research Proposal.

Approval of Research Proposal

The Research Proposal should be completed by the applicant in consultation with the proposed Director of Studies to formalise the details of the research project and registration. The student’s supervisors are formally appointed when the Research Proposal is approved. Responsibility for the final approval of the proposal rests with the relevant Research Student Board.

Consideration of the Research Proposal and the decision to admit/not to admit an applicant to the University will take into account the following factors:

  1. the academic profile of the applicant and their ability to achieve the standard of the appropriate degree within the permitted timescales.
  2. the content and clarity of the Research Proposal.
  3. the viability of the proposed research project, its aims and its suitability for the level of award identified.
  4. the applicant’s understanding of the ethical implications of their research.
  5. the availability of supervisors with appropriate expertise, experience of supervision and time to supervise.
  6. the availability of sufficient supporting resources for the conduct of research in the prosed area.
  7. that the applicant has sufficient financial support to pay ongoing annual tuition fees and any relevant Research Support Fees to complete the Research Degree Programme.
  8. the applicant has a valid Academic Technology Approval Certificate (ATAS), where required.

An interview must occur before an unconditional offer is made. At the interview, the proposed research and any ethical considerations should be discussed with the applicant as should the likely total cost of the course including any research support fees. The interview should facilitate discussions regarding any additional needs applicants may have and support them in making contact with Student Support and Wellbeing.

If a Research Proposal is not approved on first submission the applicant is allowed one opportunity to revise and resubmit it. The resubmission must occur within three months of the date of the letter notifying the student of the decision. The student will be provided with a statement of the deficiencies of the Research Proposal.

If the Research Proposal is not approved at second attempt the RSB will not admit the student.

If a student fails to submit their research proposal by the required deadline this will be reported to the RSB.  If this failure to submit the proposal is at first submission, the student will be treated as ‘not approved’ and will be required to resubmit. If the failure to submit the proposal is at resubmission the RSB will not admit the applicant.

A student who has had their Research Proposal approved and subsequently needs to substantially change the focus and/or topic of their research must gain the support of their Director of Studies before applying to the RSB for re-approval using the procedure outlined in this section.   Subsequent registration periods will not be extended, and it may be more appropriate for the student to withdraw and reapply for admittance.

Selection of Supervisors

Supervisors will be identified for each research degree student at the point of application. 

Supervisors are drawn from a Register of Supervisors maintained by each Faculty and updated periodically to reflect the qualifications and experience of each Supervisor.  This register will hold essential information about the Supervisor’s research areas and research activity, qualifications, research supervision and examining experience.

Supervisor Training

Mandatory participation in the University’s Research Supervisor Development Programme is required, within 6 months of appointment to the role of research supervisor, where the member of staff:

  1. is new to the role of research supervisor.
  2. is new to the University of Wolverhampton.
  3. has not recently (i.e. within three years) supervised research students.

All supervisors employed by the University of Wolverhampton must attend ‘Research Supervision and the Research Regulations’ supervisor training at least once every three years to ensure that they remain conversant with the regulations. External supervisors are strongly encouraged to attend.

The Director of Studies

The Director of Studies (DoS) shall be a full-time or fractional member of the academic staff of the University of Wolverhampton who must have current and active engagement in research in the relevant discipline.

The DoS will normally have supervised at least one student to completion at the level of the award being supervised.

The DoS has more responsibility and time-commitment to the individual research student, particularly with the requirement to take a lead role in the monitoring and completion of the research programme.

In addition to the minimum supervisory meetings outlined, the time commitment that a DoS is expected to devote to the supervision varies through the life cycle of the research degree project. The initial project design and implementation phase and the writing-up stage towards the end of the programme may require a significant time-commitment. 


Nominations for appointment as an internal second or third supervisor are considered from members of academic and professional services staff.

An Emeritus Professor, honorary Professor, or honorary research fellow may be appointed as an internal second or third supervisor as long as they are still research active as evidenced by recent and relevant peer-reviewed research publications or successful research grant applications.

Visiting Professors or visiting research fellows can be nominated to act as a second or third supervisor (or as an adviser) during their period of appointment in the visiting role.  Normally the visiting appointment should last for the expected duration of the student’s programme of research. The normal ‘quarantine’ period of three years after the termination of their visiting status will apply before they can be appointed as an external examiner.

External Supervisors

Faculties may nominate, and pay for, an external supervisor where this is deemed necessary but they cannot act as the Director of Studies.

Exclusions from Supervisory Teams

A relative/partner of the student shall not be permitted to be appointed as a member of the student’s supervisory team.

Supervisors who are related to each other will normally not be permitted to be appointed as a member of the supervisory team without explicit approval of the Chair of the RSB.

Supervisors must have no line management relationship with any student they supervise.

Honorary, Visiting or Emeritus appointments are not eligible to be appointed as a Director of Studies.

Role of Adviser

In addition to the supervisors, an adviser or advisers may be proposed to contribute some specialised knowledge or a link with an external organisation.

Responsibilities of the Supervisory Team

The primary role and responsibility of the supervisory team is to advise upon and guide students through the scholarly and technical processes that enable students to produce a thesis at the appropriate level.

Supervisors will:

  1. Undertake regular monitoring of the progress of the student's research programme.
  2. Maintain appropriate records of supervisory meetings and interim correspondence.
  3. Undertake a Research Skills Training Needs Analysis of the student's development needs.
  4. Provide timely, constructive, and effective feedback on the student's work,
  5. Provide advice and guidance to enable the student to conduct research with integrity in accordance with the University of Wolverhampton’s Code of Good Research Practice and the Ethics Policy.
  6. Ensure the student is familiar with research degree regulations, policies and guidelines and where to locate them.
  7. Provide relevant advice for students whose first language is not English. This may include arranging a referral to appropriate support services, to ensure that the student is supported to write and defend the thesis effectively in English.
  8. Provide support and advice to register with Student Support and Wellbeing, where a student identifies additional needs associated with disability, learning difference or long-term health condition.
  9. Implement reasonable adjustments in their manner of supervision, as laid out in a student's Tutor Awareness Sheet, such that additional needs associated with disability, learning difference or long-term health condition are met.
  10. Help the student to interact with others working in the field of research, for example, encouraging the student to attend relevant conferences and supporting in seeking funding for such events.
  11. Were appropriate, provide encouragement and advice to submit conference papers and articles to refereed journals.
  12. Maintain supervisory expertise, including the appropriate skills to perform the role satisfactorily, supported by relevant continuing professional development opportunities.
  13. Identify suitable examiners and submit their nomination to the Research Student Board and Research Awards Sub-committee.
  14. Provide detailed feedback on the final draft of the thesis, normally within two months of receipt.
  15. Prepare the student for the oral examination and supervise the completion of any amendments.

Supervisors will provide effective pastoral support, referring the student where appropriate to other sources of such support. An awareness of the range of advice and support available to students, and knowledge of how students can access it, is an important part of the supervision process.

Supervisors should be sensitive to the diverse needs of individual students, including international students, and the associated support that may be required in different circumstances.

Maximum Number of Students per Supervisor

The University recognises that research students are best served by supervisory teams with sufficient expertise, experience, and commitment to fully support each student and their research.

The Faculty Research Committee shall ensure that individual supervisors are not overloaded by excessive supervisory loads. To monitor this, the University Research Committee operates a ‘points’ system that applies to all research degrees. 

The system is based on a simple points allocation:

  • For full-time students - one point is allocated for each second supervisor role and two points for DoS.
  • For part-time students – half a point is allocated for each second supervisor role and one point for DoS.

The maximum number of points allocated to any member of staff is 10. On reaching a threshold of 6 points, the question of whether extra supervisory commitment is in the best interests of both the research student and supervisor is considered, as is the potential to reduce the demand on existing staff by extending the available pool of supervisors. 

The Chair of the FRC or Director of the Research Institute has the authority to limit the maximum number of supervision points to optimise supervisor and student performance, within the 6-10 point band.

In exceptional circumstances, supervisors may supervise more students if their workload allows and only when either or both of the following conditions have been met:

  • The supervisor has a track record of successful and timely completions of the type and level of research degree being considered.
  • An alternative supervision allocation statement has been outlined in the course documentation ( the case of Professional Doctorates) and approved by Faculty Research Committee

Proposals to increase supervision points outside the 6-10 range must be considered and approved by the FRC.  Prior agreement for the additional students must be gained from the relevant Line Manager.

Consistent Access to Supervision

The RSB will ensure that action is taken to keep the period of time a student is without a Director of Studies to a minimum. The RSB is responsible for ensuring that action is taken to replace supervisors who are leaving the University.

Where a supervisor is temporarily unable to continue supervising a student, the PGRT will assess the situation and, if necessary, ensure that action is taken to appoint an interim replacement. Normally a PGRT will ensure that action is taken to permanently replace a supervisor if they have been absent from the University for more than six months.

Change in Supervision Arrangements

The University recognises that on rare occasions a student/supervisor relationship may run into difficulties. Where possible, the student and supervisors should seek to resolve any difference informally. If this proves impossible, by mutual agreement between the student and the RSB, supervisory responsibilities can be changed, subject to the availability of equivalent supervisory expertise.

Any such change may be at the request of either the student or a supervisor and is subject to the agreement of any external sponsor, where applicable.

A proposal for a change in supervision arrangements shall be made to the RSB on the appropriate form.

Where students are experiencing difficulties in relation to supervision and feel that they cannot discuss this with one of the supervisory team, they should raise the issue with their Postgraduate Research Tutor in the first instance.

Supervisory meetings should be by formal scheduled meetings and ad hoc informal interactions. The nature and frequency of this contact is agreed at the outset of the research degree, and will vary, depending on the duration of the programme, the way the research is being conducted and the amount of support needed by the student.  

The arrangements made between the student and supervisory team allow some flexibility provided that both are satisfied that adequate support is being provided and there are sufficient opportunities for formally monitoring progress.

To ensure effective supervision, when a research student makes contact for advice or guidance, supervisors should normally respond within a maximum of seven days.

Students and supervisors are jointly responsible for ensuring that regular and frequent contact is maintained and there will be times when the student, as well as the supervisor, needs to take the initiative.

The relevant Research Student Board will review the progress of the research students and check that regular discussions between supervisors and their students have been taking place.

Students and supervisors are expected to keep appropriate records of the outcomes of meetings and related activities.  Records of all formal meetings between students and supervisors must be kept securely.

As a minimum requirement the record of each meeting should state: the date, time, venue, those present, a summary of progress made, reflection on any problems that have arisen and an action plan/targets for the next meeting. The record should include discussion of skills development as well as progress on the research project.

The records should be entered into the eVision Supervision Log.

 Recording student engagement on eVision

Where there is no electronic record of a supervision meeting taking place at the expected interval, an automatically generated reminder letter may be sent to supervisors to ensure that regular contact is made with the student.  This may be followed up with a letter to the student at a later stage if there has been no further record of a meeting. 

The logging of supervision meetings is particularly important for international students who may be required to provide proof of engagement to UK Visas and Immigration.

Students who undertake research overseas are still expected to maintain regular contact with their supervisor, but these must be logged as video/email/telephone supervision.

The following process is in place to ensure that international students remain compliant with the terms of the student route visa.

Following enrolment

students are e-mailed with an overview of process

No recorded engagement after 40 days

e-mail sent to Director of Studies

No recorded engagement after 50 days

e-mail sent to Director of Studies and student

No recorded engagement after 60 days

‘Final warning’ e-mail to Director of Studies and student

No recorded engagement after 70 days

e-mail to student, supervisor, and Registry with a series of tasks culminating in a curtailment decision being made by the UKVI Compliance and Oversight Panel

Paper-based or electronic documents may supplement electronic eVision records.  Where they are paper-based, signatures should confirm agreement of the record and a copy should be held by the student and (at least one of) the supervisory team, usually the Director of Studies. In general, it should be the student’s responsibility to compile the records and to store these in their personal development file, whether paper-based or electronic.

Supervisors must maintain full records of all meetings and brief notes of other interactions (including email exchanges) in case of future monitoring/review that may be required by the Faculty Research Committee or the University Research Committee.

The ‘Proceed with Caution’ procedure is intended to give early warning that a research degree programme is at risk of either not achieving the learning outcomes or such delays as to make timely completion unlikely. It may be instigated at any point if it can be demonstrated that a student has not achieved agreed targets or is not in regular contact with the supervisory team. 

A student is identified as ‘Proceed with Caution’ if there is evidence that:

  1. they are making insufficient academic progress for their mode of study; or
  2. they lack a commitment to the research project, as demonstrated by repeated failure to meet deadlines or quality thresholds, respond to formal communications, attend supervisory sessions and/or to attend a prescribed programme of related studies.

As soon as the Director of Studies identifies a student as ‘Proceed with Caution’ for any of the reasons given above, they should immediately:

  1. notify the Chair of the Research Student Board, and
  2. write to the student detailing the reasons for concern, and
  3. invite the student to attend an emergency session to discuss the situation and to devise an action plan where appropriate.

The emergency session should normally be scheduled within two working weeks of the date that the Director of Studies wrote to the student and should be attended by a representative of the RSB who has not been associated previously with the project.  The student may be accompanied by a friend or student representative.

A summary of the emergency session, including any action plan or revisions to the research programme, should be agreed by the Director of Studies and the student, and kept by the Director of Studies as part of the record of supervision.  The RSB should be notified of the outcome of the emergency session and may instigate any further monitoring procedures it deems necessary.

If a student fails to respond to the letter, fails to attend the emergency session, or is unable to address satisfactorily the concerns of the Director of Studies so that an action plan can be agreed, the Director of Studies may, with the agreement of the other members of the supervisory team, recommend to the RSB that the student be withdrawn. Students have a right of appeal against any such decision.

Where a student continues to meet the ’Proceed with Caution’ criteria for two or more months, the issue will be reported to the University Research Awards Sub-committee and as appropriate, the Professional Doctorate Progression and Award Board. 

Where the ’Proceed with Caution’ procedure does not result in an improvement in the student’s ability to progress, the Research Awards Sub-committee and, as appropriate, the Professional Doctorate Progression and Award Board, will recommend that the withdrawal procedure be initiated.


The Annual Progress Review has two stages in the process:

  1. completion of the APR Form, and
  2. a review meeting with two independent assessors

The purpose of the Annual Progress Review is to decide if:

  1. the student is actively engaged on the research programme and is making good progress.
  2. the minimum expectations for supervisory contact have been met.
  3. the student is likely to achieve the academic standards of the degree for which registered.
  4. the student is likely to gain their award within the normal permissible time scales.
  5. all issues raised by any previous APR have been successfully addressed.

The APR should include a summary of progress made and an indicative programme for the following year’s work and highlight any problems the student wishes to bring to the attention of their Director of Studies and/or the RSB. Students are expected to present evidence of the progress that they have made towards their thesis/draft thesis.

The University considers it good practice for students and their DoS to complete the relevant part of the Annual Progress Review Form together during one of their regular supervisory meetings. The Director of Studies should read and give feedback to the student on the Annual Progress Review submission before it is made; and complete the relevant sections of the form.

Assessment of APR

Two assessors independent from the supervisory team will be nominated by the RSB to conduct the Annual Progress Review.

Assessors will review the APR form, select, and read a maximum of 2,500 words of the submitted evidence and discuss the student’s presentation.

The Annual Review meeting should normally be held face-to-face. However, where this is not possible it may take place using a video conference link. Any reasonable adjustments a student is entitled to, as outlined in their tutor awareness sheet, should be implemented throughout the APR process.

The meeting will take place without the supervisors being present. The independent assessors will put any questions that they have to the student.

The independent assessors provide evaluative comments and a recommendation as to the outcome of the APR, which is then considered by the appropriate RSB.

Where the independent assessors highlight concerns or criticisms, these must be addressed by the student and their supervisors prior to recommendations being forwarded to the RSB.

Specific Guidelines:

APR Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
APR Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
APR Professional Doctorate (ProfDoc)
APR Medical Doctorate (MD)

There are two stages in the process:

  1. completion of the ‘Annual Review & Progression’ form and associated evidence
  2. an oral presentation and review meeting with 2 independent assessors

Completion of the ‘Annual Review & Progression’ form

The form should include the following information:

  • the progress made against the proposed thesis structure.
  • a statement of the hypothesis and/or research question(s), including the potential to make an original contribution to knowledge and understanding in the field.
  • an outline of the academic and intellectual context in which the hypothesis is located.
  • a description of the methodology employed.
  • a statement of ethical concerns presented by the research and how these have been or will be addressed.
  • a comprehensive bibliography
  • a statement outlining how the research will meet the learning outcomes for the award.
  • a detailed timetable of work and an indicative timetable and objectives for the remainder of the programme.

The evidence provided (or cited) in support of the application will include:

  • examples of written work such as draft chapters, essays, literature reviews or conference papers to demonstrate the ability to work at the appropriate level.
  • evidence of successful delivery of presentations, externally or internally, for example to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • engagement with the University’s researcher development programme and the opportunities provided through personal development planning.

Oral Presentation & Review Meeting

Students will make a 10-minute presentation of their work in progress to the independent assessors. The style of presentation is at the student’s discretion.  The presentation should cover the following:

  1. a brief summary of the student’s achievements in their research to date.
  2. the plan for the research, together with a timescale for achieving their doctorate.
  3. a justification that the research is at doctoral level.

The panel members will then put any questions that they have to the student.

The student’s performance in the oral presentation, and the subsequent question and answer session, will form part of the overall consideration of the application by the panel.

Assessment of Progression

The Annual Review & Progression is conducted by two independent assessors. At least one of the assessors shall have knowledge in the subject area. Assessors will normally have experience of supervising at doctoral level. A student’s progression stage assessors must not be nominated as their internal examiner.

The independent assessors will consider the evidence and assess whether:

  1. the research is developing towards meeting the learning outcomes for the award.
  2. has identified the context of the research and how it relates to other work in the subject or discipline.
  3. is demonstrating independent critical thinking.
  4. is demonstrating that the research will lead to a significant and original contribution to knowledge in the subject or discipline.
  5. is acquiring appropriate research skills and techniques.
  6. has provided a realistic programme of future activities.

The independent assessors provide evaluative comments and a recommendation as to the outcome of the APR, which is then considered by the appropriate RSB.

Where the independent assessors highlight concerns or criticisms, these must be addressed by the student and their supervisors prior to recommendations being forwarded to the RSB.

The student will be informed of the recommendation of their RSB along with any feedback. The recommendations of the RSB are approved by RASC and recorded on the student’s eVision record.

Students may apply for Write Up status with a reduced fee once all empirical research has been completed and they are finalising draft chapters. This would normally be in their final year of their maximum registration period, and they must have successfully completed the progression stage. It is not compulsory for students to enter Write Up status, as conditions are involved.

To request Write Up status, students will apply to the RSB in writing confirming that:

  1. it is viable for their thesis to be submitted within 12 months.
  2. they have submitted to their Director of Studies in draft form a substantial portion of their thesis.
  3. they have completed all active research including lab, studio and/or field work.
  4. they have completed all data collection and analysis.
  5. they will not need access to university facilities such as laboratories, studios.

Students wishing to enter Write Up status should discuss with their supervisory team the viability of submitting their thesis for examination within the permitted 12 months before they submit their application.

The Director of Studies will confirm that the conditions have been met.

On entering Write Up status a student is permitted to be on university premises and access to services are limited to the Library, IT facilities and the supervisory team. The student should maintain regular contact with their supervisory team to keep them updated on the progress of their writing-up and their expected submission date.

Period for Which Write Up Status May Be Held

Write Up status can be entered at any month of the year, from the 1st day of the month.

Retrospective applications for entry to Write Up status will not be accepted.

Both full-time and part-time students may remain in Write Up status for a period of up to 12 months.

The maximum period a student can hold Write Up status may be limited by their remaining period of registration.

Other conditions

If the student does not submit their thesis within the writing up period and they have not exceeded their maximum registration period, then they would revert to ‘full fees’ at the end of the writing up stage.

Students cannot apply for a Leave of Absence during the writing up stage unless there are exceptional circumstances for which evidence will be required.

An international student on a student route visa can apply to be at a writing up stage but must maintain regular contact with their supervisory team to comply with Government regulations. If they return to their home country, then they must update their contact details via their eVision account.

If it is found that a student is still undertaking substantive research activities or making insufficient progress in writing up their thesis, then the writing up status may be revoked and they would revert to ‘full fees’. 

At least 3 months before the submission of the thesis is expected, the Director of Studies will propose on the ‘Nomination of Research Degree Examiners‘ (NOMEX) form the arrangements for the student’s examination.

The Director of Studies has responsibility for obtaining the required information from the proposed examiners and transferring the relevant details to the NOMEX Form and accompanying CV template.

Criteria for the Appointment of Research Degree Examiners

To ensure the good standing of University of Wolverhampton Research Degrees, the examiners appointed for each student must be able, and be seen to be able, to make an independent assessment of the student and their thesis.

The supervisors may wish to consult the student for their views on individuals who might act as examiners, but the student’s supervisors are responsible for nominating suitable examiners and should do so well in advance of the student submitting their thesis, to avoid subsequent delays in the examination process. Nominations should not be made unless the proposed examiners have informally agreed to act. 

In support of the University’s commitment to equality and diversity, supervisory teams are asked to consider, where possible, the gender and ethnicity balance of the examiners when making nominations.

All examiners must be formally appointed by the Research Awards Sub-Committee (RASC) following review by Research Student Boards (RSBs) within the Faculties/Research Institutes. The RSB advises on the academic expertise and suitability of the nominees; whilst RASC checks for any potential conflicts of interest the student or supervisor may have with the nominees.

Once examiners have been approved, Registry will write to the examiners confirming their appointment.  Under no circumstances should an examination proceed until the examiners have been formally appointed by the University. 

Once approved the examiners are appointed for a period of 12 calendar months. If the viva has not taken place by the end of this period, the Research Awards Sub-Committee will require, from the Director of Studies, either:

  1. written confirmation that the examination team remains valid, or,
  2. submission of a revised ‘Nomination of Research Degree Examiners‘ (NOMEX) form.

Where an examination cannot be held within four months of thesis submission or resubmission because of the unavailability of an approved examiner, the Research Awards sub-committee may rescind the appointment of all or any of the examiners and appoint new examiners as appropriate.

Examiners should respect the confidentiality of the examination process. Under no circumstances should examiners discuss their views regarding the quality of the thesis or the content of their independent Preliminary Report and recommendations therein with the student, the other examiner(s), the supervisory team, or the course leader (in the case of Professional Doctorates). These discussions are only appropriate to be had between examiners at the pre-viva meeting where Preliminary reports are exchanged.

Examiners should respect the confidentiality of the material they are examining.  In some circumstances, where students are sponsored by a company or industrial body, the examiners may need to sign a specific confidentiality agreement, as required by the sponsor.

Where a student is required to resubmit their thesis, the same examiners will normally undertake the re-examination, other than in exceptional circumstances (e.g. if an examiner has since retired and no longer wishes to participate).

Criteria for the Appointment of Both the Internal and External Examiner

Examiners should normally hold a degree in a cognate or relevant discipline that is at least equivalent to the degree that they are examining.

It is accepted that examiners may be professionally acquainted with the supervisors, and sometimes the student, and this in itself is not a bar to acting as an examiner. However, there must not be a personal link between the examiners and the student.

The examiners appointed should not have had any significant research or other contact with the student or supervisors which might inhibit a completely objective examination.

Supervisory teams should disclose details of any situations which have the potential to impair the ability of the examiner(s) to make a fair and impartial assessment of the student’s thesis. A non-exhaustive list of potential sources of conflict is provided below:

  • Nominated examiners’ substantial involvement in the student’s research, for example direct and sustained input/advice into the work being examined. Acting as an independent assessor during the Annual Progress Review should not compromise the ability of an individual to act as internal examiner unless they undertake a more active role in the student’s research.
  • Close personal relationships between the nominated examiner and the student, supervisors, or other nominated examiner(s), for example this would include partners, spouses, and close family relationships.
  • Close professional relationships between the nominated examiner and the student, supervisor, or other nominated examiner, for example line management relationships, joint holding of grants, frequent co-authorship of papers, or working in the same institution in the case of two external examiners. This may be mitigated by the size and relative independence of the research team.
  • Nominated examiner(s) having acted as personal tutor to the student.
  • The work of the nominated examiner(s) is the focus of the student’s research.
  • In cases where the student’s research has involved collaboration with or funding of research by an external party, the nominated examiner(s) must be independent of that relationship.
  • Nominated examiner(s) have direct commercial interest in the outcomes of the research.

The existence of a potential conflict of interest should not necessarily be a bar to the appointment of a nominated examiner. However, Faculties, examiners, supervisors, and students are required to declare any potential conflicts which may affect the integrity of the examination process at the point of nomination, or in the case of situations that only become apparent after examiners have been appointed, as soon as reasonably possible.

Criteria for the Appointment of the Internal Examiner

The internal examiner is a member of academic staff of the University of Wolverhampton and must hold a substantive appointment of at least 0.2 FTE or be regularly engaged as a Visiting Lecturer for more than 50% of their time or be an Emeritus Professor.

The internal examiner should be able to assess the thesis and contribute to the oral examination and must have a sound knowledge and understanding of university regulations and procedures governing the viva voce. 

The internal examiner must have completed the formal ‘Examining and Chairing a Research Degree’ course within the last three years before being recommended for appointment as an internal examiner for the first time.

The internal examiner is normally a member of academic staff of the students’ department/Faculty, although it may be appropriate for the internal examiner to be drawn from another academic department/Faculty.

The internal examiner should not have had an active role in considering a student’s progression stage.

Criteria for the Appointment of the External Examiner

The external examiner is the subject specialist.  External examiners must have recent, significant, and demonstrable expertise in the student’s field of research in order to provide an in-depth analysis of the thesis and in order to provide a rigorous viva voce examination.

Except where there is a strong practitioner/ industrial focus to the research, the external examiner will normally hold a substantive academic appointment in a university or higher education establishment.

If the topic of research spans a number of different disciplines, the faculty may wish to nominate a second external examiner to ensure that the combined expertise of the examining team covers all aspects of the student’s work.

The external examiner shall normally have prior knowledge and experience of research degree examinations and standards through previous examination experience. In exceptional circumstances an external examiner who is recognised as an expert in their subject discipline, but who has little or no formal examining experience, may be appointed if the combined proposed examining team has experience of 3 or more previous examinations.

The external examiner must be completely independent of both the University and any collaborating establishment.  For this reason, honorary/Emeritus members of the University’s staff are not permitted to be appointed as external examiners.  Former members of the University’s staff are eligible for appointment as an external examiner; however, a period of at least 3 years must have elapsed before a former member of the University’s staff may be appointed as an external examiner, subject to the other criteria being met.

An external examiner is not normally permitted to act in connection with the examination of a second research degree student at this University within a period of 12 months. The University Research Committee discourages the frequent use of external examiners except in exceptional cases and will ensure that the same external examiner is not approved so frequently that their familiarity with a research group might be considered to prejudice objective judgement.

Where a student is either sponsored by, receiving supervision from, or undertaking work in an industrial establishment, academic institution, or company, RASC will not approve an individual employed by that organisation for appointment as an external examiner.

Where the proposed external examiner does not meet the above criteria, the supervisor must make a strong case for appointment. In such cases: either

  1. the internal examiner must be very experienced in doctoral examinations at this University; or
  2. a second external examiner who is experienced in research degree examinations should be appointed.

The appointment of a nominated external examiner is subject to verification of their right to work in the UK.


The law on preventing illegal working is set out in sections 15 to 25 of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 which came into force on 29 February 2008. Employing someone who is not allowed to work in the UK is illegal, and the University is required to carry out checks on everyone it employs. This includes checks on External Examiners who are contracted to perform a specific service, even if they are already employed by other UK institutions.

There could potentially be severe consequences for the University if it is found to be employing an illegal worker and checks on that person’s right to work in the UK have not been properly carried out. The Home Office’s UK Visas and Immigration Service (UKVI) monitor this and failure to follow correct procedures could result in the University’s licence (to sponsor international students for Tier 4 visas) being revoked.

During COVID-19 related lockdowns, these rules were temporarily relaxed. However, the requirement to see the actual, physical document proving that an External Examiner has the right to work in the UK returned on 1 October 2022, as an obligation for HEIs:

This document sets out in detail how the University manages such checks.

Process for Checking Right to Work in the UK

Preliminary Scoping

Preliminary scoping of a potential External Examiners right to work in the UK takes place during initial conversations between the Director of Studies (DOS) and the proposed examiner as part of the nomination process.  When completing the Nomination of Research Degree Examiners form (NOMEX) the DOS is required indicate to the best of their knowledge as to whether the proposed external examiner has the right to work in the UK. This should help identify to the Faculty Research Student Board any potential issues at an early stage in the nomination process before the NOMEX is forwarded to the Research Awards Sub Committee (RASC) for approval.

Examiner Approval

RASC approves the nomination of the External Examiner, but the appointment is not confirmed until their right to work in the UK has been verified.


Once the NOMEX form has been approved by the Research Awards Sub Committee (RASC), RDSS will issue the appointment letter, which contains details about the ID process to be followed.

Government guidelines require the University to physically confirm the identity of all External Examiners. These checks apply to ALL External Examiners including UK nationals. Even if they are not required to attend campus for the viva examination itself, External Examiners will still need to provide evidence of their right to work in the UK to:

Phil Whittingham
Research Degree Student Services (RDSS) Office – Registry
University of Wolverhampton
Housman Building (MX)
Camp Street

See the list of acceptable documents for manual right to work checks

From 1 July 2021, EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens will no longer be able to use a passport or national identity card to prove right to work in the UK unless they are an Irish citizen. EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens should provide their ‘share code’ along with their date of birth to RDSS will utilise this to ‘View a job applicant’s right to work details’ via

A video call will be made by RDSS to the examiner where verification will be completed.

The receipt from any postage costs will need to be included in the final expenses claim following the viva examination.

Once the External Examiner’s Right to Work in the UK has been verified, the documentation will then be returned to the External Examiner by Recorded Delivery, and the thesis sent to the External, to begin the process of Viva assessment.

Please note that the thesis cannot be dispatched until the external examiners eligibility to work in the UK has been confirmed.

Record Keeping and Review

RDSS maintains records of all External Examiner nominations, appointments, and right-to-work verifications (including when appointments and right to work expires).  These details are held on a database alongside verified copies of original documents which will be retained securely for two years after expiry of the appointment.

Following the Viva Voce, RDSS will check whether the External’s appointment is still current or has expired before sending additional materials for examination i.e., minor amendments or a resubmission.

Acceptable Documentation for Right to Work Checks

The following information is drawn from the Home Office document “An employer’s guide to right to work checks”, as published at:

Further guidance is also available via

All copies of the thesis must be submitted to Registry Services, accompanied by a ‘Submission and Receipt of Research Degree Thesis Form’. Theses that do not meet the requirements detailed below will not be accepted and will be returned to the student.

To successfully submit a thesis, a student must ensure they are currently enrolled, and that they have no outstanding academic fees to pay (outstanding fees or enrolment may cause delay to the thesis being sent for examination).

The thesis may not contain work that has been previously submitted for another award.

The thesis shall include a statement of the student’s objective and shall acknowledge published or other sources of material consulted (including an appropriate bibliography) and any assistance received.

The thesis will include evidence (in the appendix) that the appropriate ethical approval has been granted.

The thesis title is approved when RASC appoints the examiners. Any request to change the title after this point must be made in writing to RASC and before the thesis is submitted for the viva.

Research Degrees Involving Creative Work

A student may undertake a programme of research in which the student’s own creative work forms a substantive part of the intellectual enquiry. Such creative work may be in any field (for instance, art, design, engineering and technology, architecture, creative writing, musical composition, film, dance, and performance), but shall have been undertaken as part of the registered research programme. In such cases, the presentation may be partly in other than written form.

The thesis will comprise creative work and an associated commentary or documentation will form the thesis. The commentary, setting the creative work within its relevant theoretical, critical or design context, shall conform to the usual scholarly requirements and be of appropriate length.

For a PhD involving creative writing, the creative component will be volume or book length to suit the genre (e.g. novel, collection of poetry or stories, play, biography). The final submission shall be accompanied by a permanent record of the creative work, to be submitted in digital format (as for example, webpage, video, photographic record, CD, DVD, musical score, diagrammatic representation).

The application for approval of the examination arrangements shall contain a statement as to the scope and nature of the creative work and advice on how it will be demonstrated during the examination.

Preparing to Submit

Once a thesis is formally submitted, it will be forwarded to the examiners without amendment. Students shall be responsible for deciding whether to submit the thesis for examination. This decision should take account the opinion of the supervisory team who should see the entire draft submission at least two months before the intended submission date to advise about any final changes that need to be made and whether the thesis is at a stage when submission is appropriate.

Although a student would be unwise to submit the thesis for examination against the advice of the Director of Studies, it is their right to do so.

An opinion that the thesis is ready for submission must not be taken as a guarantee that a degree will be awarded and a decision to award a degree rests wholly with the examining team.

The supervisor has the right to record onto the ‘submission and receipt of research degree thesis form’ that they do not support submission of the thesis in its current form.

Students who submit their thesis against supervisor(s) advice do so at their own risk and will be asked to sign a statement acknowledging:

a) That in submitting their thesis against supervisor(s) advice they do so at their own risk.
b) That any complaints about supervision or disagreements with supervisor(s) over thesis submission do not constitute grounds for appealing against an examination decision.
c) That there will be no change in supervision, should the examination outcome require revisions.

The printed copy of the thesis should be submitted for examination in a legible and temporary bound form, which is sufficiently secure to ensure that pages cannot be added or removed.

The following requirements shall be adhered to in the format of all submitted theses:

  1. The thesis shall normally be in A4 format. In exceptional cases the RASC may give permission for a thesis to be submitted in another format where it is satisfied that the contents of the thesis can be better expressed in that format. Special arrangements may be needed for those students with a declared disability and may be made in accordance with Reasonable Adjustments.
  2. The thesis may be printed on one or both sides of the paper which shall normally be white, of good quality and sufficiently opaque to avoid show-through (within the range 70 g/m² to 100 g/m²).
  3. The margin at the left-hand edge of the page shall not be less than 40mm; other margins shall not be less than 15mm.
  4. The size of character used in the main text, including displayed matter and notes, shall be font style Arial, Tahoma, or Verdana in font size 12.
  5. Spacing of text should be consistent with clarity; this should be double or one-and-a-half spacing in the main body of the text except for the abstract, indented quotations and footnotes where single spacing may be used.
  6. Pages shall be numbered consecutively through the main text including photographs and/or diagrams included as whole pages.
  7. The title page shall follow both the content and layout given in the specimen title page.
  8. Following the title page the thesis shall include the following, all paginated sequentially:
    • an acknowledgements page (optional - unless there is formal collaboration in which case this is required)
    • the abstract and keywords
    • a Table of Contents
    • a third-party copyright declaration.
    • the chapters in sequential order
    • the references, bibliography, and appendices.


The student should acknowledge any funding or other support received whilst undertaking their research.

The Abstract

There shall be an abstract of approximately 300 words on a single page bound into the thesis. The abstract should be single line spaced. The abstract should provide a synopsis of the thesis stating the nature and scope of the work undertaken and of the contribution to knowledge in the subject or discipline. The abstract should normally contain four separate paragraphs which shall clearly state:

  1. what was investigated and why.
  2. how the topic was investigated.
  3. what was found.
  4. what conclusions were drawn from the evidence.

Students shall note, however, that there are other models of abstract writing that reflect the specific conventions of individual disciplines.

Immediately after, but on the same page as the abstract, the student shall identify three to six key words.

Use of Illustrations

The thesis shall only include illustrations (diagrams, maps, tables, screenshots or other images) that are necessary and contribute to the discussion and analysis.

Illustrations shall be labelled and numbered ensuring that the title is appropriately descriptive of the content.

Screenshots must not be used to replace tables that include text, which would normally contribute to the word count in the body of the thesis. A thesis that is found to have used screenshots purely to reduce the word count in order that it complies with the maximum length, may be cited as a reason for re-examination by the examination team.

The Table of Contents

The Table of Contents should show all chapters and sections into which the work is divided. This should be followed by lists, with their respective page numbers, of tables and other appropriate supporting details in the order below:

  • List of Diagrams
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables

Presentation of Collaborative Research

Where a student’s research programme is part of a collaborative group project, the thesis shall indicate clearly each student’s individual contribution and the extent of the collaboration.

Inclusion of Published Work

The thesis may contain work previously published or exhibited by the student, and reference to such publication shall be made in the thesis. Where publications are jointly authored by the student and others, the student’s contribution to the publication must be specified.

It is acceptable to self-reference elsewhere in the thesis if a published article explores a topic in more detail than is shown in the thesis and it is acceptable to provide a list of published work.  The justification of the students own methods using their own publications that contain such methods will not be accepted.


Copyright in the thesis or creative works is normally held by the student unless an agreement, in writing, has been made to transfer it, for example to a sponsor.

Where the thesis or creative works includes copyright material belonging to someone else (third party copyright material), this must be fully acknowledged, and the thesis appendices will contain a copy of the written permission to publish the copyrighted material.

If a student intends to include material in their thesis they have already published, they must check if the publisher will permit this.

Source Material – Referencing

All sources referred to in the thesis must be included in the reference list. In some subjects, a bibliography may be appropriate.

Normally, University of Wolverhampton students use the Harvard Referencing System for citations and referencing throughout the thesis.  However, it is recognised that different disciplines have different conventions, and the supervisory team should confirm the appropriate referencing system for the discipline.

Please use the Specimen Title Page (Word doc 30k) template for the thesis.

Following the award of the degree, an electronic copy of the theses (E-theses) will be published in the University's on-line repository unless an application for confidentiality has been approved by the Dean of Research.

The E-thesis will be accompanied by completed and signed hard copies of the:

  1. E-Thesis Deposit Agreement - which confirms agreement for the thesis to be published in the institutional repository and for it to be ‘harvested’ from there by the British Library for inclusion in their British universities theses database, EThOS (Electronic Theses Online Service).
  2. title page; and
  3. Declaration document - which confirms that the electronic copy is identical to the copy submitted for examination, save for any amendments approved by the examiners.

Following the award of the degree by the Research Awards Sub-Committee (RASC), Registry will send the electronic copy of the thesis to the library for deposit in WIRE. Once the thesis is deposited digitally, the copyright agreement in the E-Thesis Deposit Agreement will come into effect.

It is the responsibility of the student to send a copy of the thesis to any Collaborating Establishment.

The E-Thesis should be submitted as a single merged file, either a Word document or PDF file. The electronic document is accepted in the following formats:

    • e-mailed as an attachment to a specified address (details issued following successful examination)
    • sent or handed in on a memory stick.
    • Any non-text elements should be submitted as a separate file.

Preparing the thesis for deposit

Prior to submission of the final E-Thesis, students should read the online guidance on preparing the thesis for deposit on WIRE This includes information on how to identify copyrighted material that needs to be cleared or removed from the deposited version of your thesis.

The E-Thesis will be publicly available and therefore third-party copyright material (e.g. material created by someone else such as photographs, maps, extracts from another work etc.) must be either cleared for deposit with the copyright holder or removed from the thesis before deposit.

This does not affect the inclusion of fully referenced third party material in the thesis submitted for examination purposes: it only applies to the deposit of the thesis into WIRE. This material can remain in the hardcopy, examination version of the thesis as long as it is considered unpublished.

Personal or sensitive data that relate to identifiable individuals must also be removed from the thesis before deposit. Further guidance can be found on the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) webpages

The University’s Scholarly Communications team at can provide further advice and assistance with clearing third party material or removing personal data.

If material has been removed from the version of the thesis to be deposited, submission of two copies of the E-Thesis will be required, which are clearly identified in the file name as ‘full unedited version’ and ‘redacted version’.

The full unedited version must be identical to the copy submitted for examination, save for any amendments approved by the examiners, and the redacted version (if applicable) must have copyrighted material or personal data removed. The full unedited version will be archived under embargo (not published online) and the redacted version will be published online.

This procedure relates to students registered for a postgraduate research award conferred by the University of Wolverhampton.

An “assessment offence” is the generic term used to define cases where a student(s) has sought to gain unfair academic advantage in the assessment process for themselves or another student(s) and/or not complied with internal or external ethical approval processes or breached a principle of research integrity.

An assessment offence may be committed in relation to a “piece of work contributing to a research award of the University”. This includes any written work or oral presentation submitted for assessment or submitted to a Faculty Research Committee in support of the Progression stage of a Research Degree Programme or as part of the Annual Progress Review.

There are many forms of assessment offence including (this is not an exhaustive list):

  1. impersonating another student.
  2. submitting someone else’s work as one’s own (known as “plagiarism”: see below for a definition).
  3. submitting unattributed work by the student that has already been used to gain a previous award (known as “self-plagiarism”).
  4. the unauthorised and unattributed submission of an assessment item which has been produced by another student or person.
  5. any attempt to bribe or provide inducements to members of University of Wolverhampton staff, or to internal or external examiners in relation to the assessment process in its entirety.
  6. any attempt which, if enacted, is designed to undermine, or breach the Research Degrees Regulations.

In addition, allegations of misconduct in research may be investigated using this procedure if they relate to an assessment. Examples of misconduct in research include (this is not an exhaustive list):

  1. falsifying data.
  2. carrying out research without ethical or other relevant approval.
  3. breaching the principles of research integrity.


Plagiarism is the submission of an item of assessment containing elements of work produced by another person(s) in such a way that it could be assumed to be the student’s own work. Examples of plagiarism are:

  1. the verbatim copying of another person’s work without acknowledgement.
  2. the close paraphrasing of another person’s work by simply changing a few words or altering the order of presentation without acknowledgement.
  3. the unacknowledged quotation of phrases from another person’s work and/or the presentation of another person’s idea(s) as one’s own.
  4. self-plagiarism occurs when an individual reuses in whole or in part previously disseminated ideas, text, data, etc. without any indication of their prior dissemination. Perhaps the most common form of self- plagiarism is duplicate submission of assessment and/or publication – this may be in whole or in part. The key feature in all forms of self-plagiarism is the presence of significant overlap between assessments and/or publications and, most importantly, the absence of a clear indication as to the relationship between the various duplicates or related assessments or publications.

Copying or close paraphrasing with occasional acknowledgement of the source may also be deemed to be plagiarism if the absence of quotation marks implies the phraseology is the student’s own.

Plagiarised work may belong to another student or be (purchased) from a published source such as a book, report, journal, or material available on the internet.

Use of Text Matching Software

The University encourages and promotes academic excellence and integrity. Text-matching software is used by the University to:

  1. assist students in developing their academic literacy and good academic practice.
  2. support the University's regulations, Policies, Procedures and Guidelines concerning Academic Integrity and Academic Misconduct; and
  3. allow students and staff to identify text matches in student work and locate these on the internet.

Text-matching software allows the comparison of electronically submitted papers with Internet content, published works and related proprietary and commercial databases, and other works submitted to the software. The University will make text-matching software (currently Turnitin) available to staff and students.

All research students are required to use text-matching software to produce an originality report, which will be submitted alongside assessed work, including:

  1. Annual Progress Review.
  2. Progression Stage.
  3. The thesis.
  4. A resubmitted thesis, where resubmission is required.

The Director of Studies is required to confirm that the originality report has been discussed with the student and that any issues arising have been addressed.

The University reserves the right to submit any assessment item to a text-matching database for electronic originality checking with or without a student's consent. 


Collusion occurs when two or more individuals collaborate to produce a piece of work submitted (in whole or in part) for assessment and the work is presented as the work of one student alone, without due acknowledgement of the contribution of others.

In the context of these definitions: where research students are working in closely related fields to one another, or are supported by technical staff, it is important that each student takes care not to claim deliberately or inadvertently that a given piece of work carried out by someone else is their own work. Due acknowledgement must always be made to the contributions of others, whether in work submitted for assessment, presented at a conference, or placed in the public domain through publication or any other medium.

Investigation and Making an Allegation

Where a supervisor, independent assessor or examiner is concerned that an assessment offence has been committed, the case is referred to the Associate Dean of Research from the relevant Faculty, within 5 working days of the matter coming to light.

The Associate Dean of Research is responsible for determining if there is sufficient evidence that an assessment offence has occurred and in so doing, determines the nature of the formal allegation to be put to the student (e.g.: plagiarism, collusion etc.). They may seek advice from the Conduct and Appeals Unit in considering the matter. 

If there is no evidence to support the allegation that an assessment offence of any nature has occurred, no formal allegation is made against the student and no further action is taken.

If a prima facie case for further investigation is established, the Associate Dean of Research must inform the Head of the Conduct and Appeals Unit.

Stage One:  Hearing

A letter inviting the student to the hearing will be sent by Registry.  A copy of this letter will be sent to the Student’s University email account. A standard invite template, which must be used, will be provided by the Conduct & Appeals Unit.

The student will be given at least 7 working days’ notice of the hearing. The letter will clearly state the allegation that is being made and identify in which piece of assessment the offence has allegedly been committed.

The letter will contain a statement in relation to the standard of proof to be applied. The standard and burden of proof is for the University to prove the allegation(s) of misconduct and if on the available evidence it is more likely than not that misconduct has occurred then the burden and standard of proof is fulfilled, and a penalty will be imposed as appropriate. The letter will inform the student that they have the right to present evidence in person and provide written statements if they are unwilling or unable to attend the meeting.

The student will be informed that a digital recording will be taken of the meeting.  Students who would prefer a note taker instead will be required to request this in advance.

The student will be provided with information about what to expect in the hearing to help them to prepare for the meeting.  Where a face to face or online meeting is not possible or practical the Conduct and Appeals Unit will provide copies of the evidence to be considered and advice on how to interpret this evidence. This will be sent to their university and personal email address. The student will be given up to 14 days to respond to the allegation. It will be made clear to the student that if they fail to respond then a decision will be taken based on the available evidence.

It must be made clear to the student that if they fail to attend the meeting or submit a statement without a valid reason then a decision will be taken in their absence.

The student will be informed that they can be accompanied by a “friend”. This will normally be a fellow student, or an Officer of the Students’ Union.

Under no circumstances will it be appropriate to bring a member of university staff as a “friend”.

The hearing will have in attendance:

  • The Associate Dean of Research from the Faculty to which the student belongs.
  • The Head or Deputy Head of the Conduct & Appeals Unit
  • Student (and friend)
  • Note taker to provide a summary of the meeting (provided by the Conduct and Appeals Unit, on request)

During the meeting the student will be given the opportunity to discuss with the panel the circumstances, which have led to the assessment offence, which is at the centre of the allegation.  The standard and burden of proof is for the University to prove the allegation(s) of misconduct and if on the available evidence, it is more likely than not that misconduct has occurred then the burden and standard of proof is fulfilled, and a penalty will be imposed as appropriate. 

The student will be informed in writing of the outcome of the hearing by the Head or Deputy Head of the Conduct and Appeals Unit to their University and personal email account.  The letter will confirm whether the Panel found the case proven and if so why.  It will clearly state the penalty to be imposed and may contain further advice where appropriate. This will normally be sent within seven working days.  It must be noted that at busy times of the academic year there may be delays. In these circumstances, the student will be notified by email to their university email account of any delay, within the seven working day deadline.


Where a serious allegation of an assessment offence or misconduct in research has been proved or admitted, the student is expelled from the University. A student who is expelled under the Academic Misconduct process is not entitled to receive an intermediate award of any nature. For courses, which attract academic credit, a transcript detailing the academic credit attained is issued.

A serious allegation is defined to include:

  • deliberate, premeditated cheating,
  • premeditated attempt to deceive and gain unfair advantage,
  • significant plagiarism in a critical piece of work i.e. thesis

If during the process the student provides evidence of extenuating circumstances that they assert directly led to the assessment offence being committed, such information does NOT impact on the Panel’s decision as to whether the assessment offence has occurred. However, if the Panel believes that, as a result of the extenuating circumstances, the prescribed penalty is exceptionally inappropriate they can, at their discretion, refer the matter to the Academic Registrar and Dean of Research, to review the appropriateness of the penalty. The Panel is not authorised to amend the penalty themselves.

The referral must be supported by relevant documentary evidence. The Academic Registrar and Dean of Research consider the case within ten working days of receiving the request to review the penalty and are authorised to impose an alternative penalty.

Right of Appeal

A student will have the right to appeal against the decision reached by a Stage One panel. The grounds for appeal are:

  • That an administrative error or material irregularity has occurred in the conduct of the investigation.
  • That there were personal circumstances, which they believe, would have affected the decision taken by the panel, had they been made aware of them. The student must have a good reason not to have revealed the circumstances to the Stage One hearing.

Appeals must be made within 20 working days of the receipt of the letter, which informs the student of the penalty imposed. Appeals must be submitted in writing by email to

Students are advised to contact the Students’ Union for advice and support prior to submitting an appeal.

The Head of the Conduct and Appeals Unit (where they have had no previous involvement with the case) or the Dean of Research will review the request for an appeal to determine whether the appellant has demonstrated valid grounds for an appeal to proceed. To determine whether it is appropriate for the appeal to be considered by a Stage Two Appeals Panel additional documentation may be requested.

If it is determined that the student has demonstrated a valid case for an appeal to proceed, then the case will be referred to a Stage Two Appeal Hearing. If this is not found to be the case a Completion of Procedures letter will be issued, in accordance with the format prescribed by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education.

An appeal review should normally be completed in no more than 30 working days.

Stage Two: Appeal Hearing

The membership of a Stage Two Appeal Panel will be:

  • Chair - a Dean of a Faculty other than that to which the student belongs, or their nominee.
  • A senior member of academic staff from a faculty other than that to which the student belongs.
  • A Students’ Union representative.

Members of the appeal panel shall not have been involved in the original hearing.

Also present will be:

  • The student (and friend/representative) – to present the appeal.
  • A representative from the Stage One Panel to present a response to the appeal.
  • A senior member of staff from the Conduct and Appeals Unit (with no prior involvement in the case at stage one) to provide procedural and regulatory advice to the panel.
  • An officer of the Conduct and Appeals Unit to take notes.

A digital recording will also be taken. Students who would prefer not to have a digital recording made will be required to request this in advance.

Both parties may call witnesses to appear before the panel.

The appellant must be given written notice, at least 7 working days prior to the hearing, of the date and place of the hearing, and a copy of these regulations, drawing attention to the appellant’s rights. The standard and burden of proof applied will be the same as at stage one of this procedure.

Students will be advised to contact the Students’ Union for advice and support.

At least 5 working days before the hearing, members of the Stage Two Panel and the appellant and the representative from the faculty will be provided with the appropriate documentation. The appellant may also provide an additional written statement to the panel.

The student has the right to appear before and be heard by the Stage Two panel. They may be accompanied by a friend (the student shall be responsible for notifying the Conduct and Appeals Unit of the identity of the friend or witness not less than 2 working days prior to the hearing). The role of the friend can be either to provide support (in which case they would not be expected to speak) or to act as a representative (in which case the student would attend but the representative would speak on their behalf). In all cases, the student will be expected to answer questions put to them by the panel.

The student would normally be expected to attend the stage two hearing. If the student fails to attend the meeting without a valid reason, then a decision will be taken in their absence. Students who do not wish to attend the meeting may submit written representations, which should be received no later than 2 working days prior to the hearing. A representative is not permitted to attend the meeting in the absence of the student.

The Chair of the panel shall have discretion to manage the conduct of the hearing including to adjourn, continue or postpone a hearing and to limit the length of the hearing, the questioning of witnesses, and the number of witnesses called.

The student and the representative from the stage one panel may present evidence and call witnesses, who may be questioned by the other party and by the stage 2 panel. The student will always be afforded the opportunity to make a final closing statement.

The panel will consider its decision in private. The panel, at the end of its deliberation will either uphold the appeal in whole or part or dismiss the appeal. Where the appeal is upheld, the panel can decide to impose an alternative penalty or to rule that no penalty should be imposed.

The decision taken by this panel will be final.

The student will be informed of the outcome and reasons in writing within 7 working days of the hearing. A Completion of Procedures letter will also be issued to the student, in accordance with the format prescribed by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.

The Panel decision will be communicated to the Chair of the Research Awards Sub-Committee (RASC). It is anticipated that the full appeal process will take no longer, than 90 calendar days to conclude.

Office of the Independent Adjudicator

If having exhausted all Stages of the University’s internal procedure, the student considers that the University has failed to consider and respond to their appeal appropriately, they can refer the case to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA). This office provides an independent scheme for the review of student complaints and appeals.

To refer their case to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator they will require a Completion of Procedures Letter. A Completion of Procedures letter will be issued when all applicable stages of the procedure have been exhausted. The letter will be issued in accordance with the format prescribed by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator.

Details of the rules of the scheme and information about how to make an application for review by the OIA are available at their website:

Students are advised to contact the Students’ Union for advice and support prior to submitting a complaint to the OIA.