Regulations and Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes

Each section of the Regulations and Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes ('the Regulations and Code') can be accessed via the navigation panel on the left-hand side. 

The Regulations and Code apply to the degrees listed below.

They do not apply to Higher Doctorates (DEng, DLitt, DMus, DSc, LLD) which have separate regulations and can be found here.   

Doctorates in the Faculty/Faculties of
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) All faculties
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Musical Composition Arts
Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) Health Sciences
Doctor of Education (EdD) Social Sciences and Law
Doctor of Educational Psychology (DEdPsy) Social Sciences and Law
Doctor of Medicine (MD)

Biomedical Sciences
Health Sciences

Doctor of Social Science (DSocSci) Social Sciences and Law
Engineering Doctorate (EngD) Engineering
Master’s degrees (by research) in the Faculty/Faculties of
Master of Music (MMus) Arts
Master of Philosophy (MPhil) Arts
Social Sciences and Law
Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Musical Composition Arts
Master of Science (MSc) Biomedical Sciences
Health Sciences

The Regulations are for use by:

- supervisors of research students
- research students
- examiners of research degrees
- all University staff responsible for postgraduate research programmes and students

The Regulations and Code are updated annually so it is essential that students and staff refer to the current edition. Only the current edition has regulatory status and supersedes all previous editions.

Summary of regulatory changes and/or additions for 2017/18

Section  no



Admission procedures

Updated to acknowledge that an applicant’s expected supervisors may not be known at the interview stage for some doctoral training entities.


Examination procedures for joint and dual awards

Updated to clarify that there may be a combination of examination procedures to cover University of Bristol regulations and those of a partner institution for joint and dual awards.

 4.5.1, 5.1.2, 6.2, 7 and Annex 10

Personal and professional development of research students

More emphasis on the importance of the personal and professional development of research students has been added, and a new policy (Annex 10) sets out the University’s overall approach in this area


Minimum requirements for supervisors

Updated to acknowledge that supervisors may not be identified until after the first year of study for some doctoral training entities that have an integrated taught component. More information has also been added on formal meetings, pastoral support and the supervisory process in general.


External supervision

More information has been added on external supervisors (ie those from professional practice and industry) and to reinforce the significance of partnership agreements in this area.


Enhanced academic support

The progress concern stage of the unsatisfactory academic progress procedure (previously in Annex 3) has been renamed and repositioned to Section 6.3 so that its purpose is clearer to research students and staff. The rest of the unsatisfactory academic progress procedure remains in Annex 3.


The circulation of dissertations to examiners

The regulations on the submissions of dissertations have been clarified to emphasise that the dissertation may only be sent to the examiners by, or at the specific request of, the Academic Quality and Policy Office.


Independent Chairs and the dissertation

New text has been added to clarify that while Independent Chairs are not expected to read the dissertation, they may request a copy for reference if this will assist them in undertaking their role.


Criteria for the selection of examiners

Updated to clarify that emeritus staff from other universities may be external examiners if they are still active in the field and to exclude individuals who are registered for a research degree from being an examiner.

Annex 8

Examiners and suspected plagiarism

More information has been added on the actions required when examiners suspect plagiarism during the assessment process, including where plagiarism is suspected during the oral examination.

 Annex 9

Policy for Research Degrees by Distance Learning

This new policy defines the requirements for research degrees that are conducted through distance learning.

 Annex 11

Policy on Placements for Research Students

This new policy sets the standards and framework for the development and management of placements for research students.

 Annex 12

Supporting research students: A guide for supervisors

A practical guide for supervisors on mostly non-academic matters to complement the information in the main sections of the Regulations and Code has been added.


Date approved 12 June 2017
Approval Route University Academic Quality and Standards Committee, Education Committee, Senate
Date of commencement 18 September 2017 for Academic year 2017-18
Date of next review Annual Review – by May 2018
Responsibility for review PGR Code Review Group, Academic Quality and Policy Office