Annex 20 - Regulations for Higher Doctorates


1. Higher doctorates are a higher tier of research doctorates which may be awarded:

a)    On the basis of a formally submitted substantial body of published original research of a very high standard, or

b)    on an honorary basis (honoris causa i.e. "for the sake of the honour") when a university wishes to recognise formally an individual's achievements and contributions to a particular field.

2.  The regulations set out below relate to Higher Doctorates by Published Work.

Higher Doctorates by Published Work

Admission Requirements

3.  Candidature for the degrees of Doctor of Engineering (DEng), Doctor of Letters (DLitt), Doctor of Music (DMus), Doctor of Science (DSc) and Doctor of Laws (LLD) shall be open to:

a)    a graduate of the University of Bristol, or

b)    a graduate of any other degree-awarding body, who is a member of staff of the University of Bristol with a contract of employment and who has been employed by the University for at least three continuous three years.

Award of the degree

4.    The degree will be awarded following:

a)    a submission of original published work of distinction on any subject falling within the academic scope of the relevant faculty, and

b)    the judgment of the work as being of sufficient merit to entitle the candidate to the degree, the candidate having established their reputation as an authority in their subject in the opinion of the appointed examiners.


5.    To be eligible, the candidate’s published work must meet the following criteria:

a)    The published work must represent a very significant contribution to knowledge. The work may range across different topics, but it should normally relate in a coherent way to a field of knowledge. The treatment of those topics should be substantial.

b)    Greater weight will be attached to a few substantial publications than to a larger number of brief items. It will not normally be possible to form an adequate judgment of the candidate's eligibility unless the amount of work submitted is considerable.

c)    Work will normally be regarded as published if it is listed in ordinary catalogues of published works and is obtainable, at or before the submission, by members of the public. The submission may include material that is accepted for publication but not yet published.

d)    The work must not have been previously submitted for a Higher Doctorate.

e)    Where publications have already been submitted for a degree other than a Higher Doctorate, the candidate must state how those publications support the present candidature.


6. The final decision on whether to permit a candidate to register for a Higher Doctorate by Published Work rests with the relevant Faculty PGR Director, who must ensure that the candidate has published enough appropriate material to have a reasonable chance of being awarded the Higher Doctorate. The Faculty PGR Director will inform the Head of School of the decision.

7.  An application will consist of:

a)    a synopsis of approximately 500 words outlining the significance of the submitted work,

b)    a provisional list of publications the candidate intends to submit, and

c)    a curriculum vitae, including details of the candidate’s employment at the University of Bristol where relevant.


8.  If approved, the candidate will be required to pay the relevant registration and submission fee (the fee is set at the same level as the fee for the PhD by Published Work) before being registered with the appropriate faculty.

9.  The Head of School will appoint an advisor with knowledge of the candidate’s field of work to provide support and guidance on how to present the material, and to ensure suitable examiners are selected.


10.  Candidature for a Higher Doctor is normally completed within one year and should result in the formal submission within one year of the initial registration.

11.  Candidates must electronically submit the following to the PGR exams team (

a)    The published work, indicating key publications, or for DMus, a folio of between five and seven compositions, comprising scores, primary documentation, electronic or recorded material (see also the section below on further guidance on DMus).

b)    An analytical account of no fewer than 2,000 – 3,000 words linking the published work and explaining its significance and coherence, including:

(i) a synopsis of the candidate's record of research and scholarship,

(ii) an outline of research interests and achievements through reference to specific publications, and

(iii) evidence that the publications have been widely noted in the national and international academic community as making original or significant contributions to developments in the field.

c)    A signed statement indicating the level of contribution to each publication and role of the candidate as sole author, senior author, or co-author.

d)    A numbered list of publications indicating books and monographs, chapters in books, edited works, papers in refereed journals, refereed conference proceedings and other work.

e)    A curriculum vitae, including full name, present professional position, higher education and qualifications, lectures given in national and international conferences, invited seminars, invited overseas visits and lectures, awards, prizes, bursaries, composer-in-residence posts (for DMus), honours and research-related activities including membership of committees and editorships.

f)     Any appropriate supplementary data.


12.  Three examiners (normally one internal and two external) must be proposed by the advisor in consultation with the candidate prior to submission. An Appointment of Research Degree Examiners form must be completed and approved by the School PGR Director and the Faculty PGR Director. The approved form must be sent to the PGR exams team (, who will circulate the submission to the appointed examiners.

13.  The assessment does not involve an oral examination. The examiners are required to make individual assessments of the submission and to produce independent reports to the Research Degrees Examination Board (via Each report (which typically should be one or two pages of A4) should make a clear recommendation on whether the degree should be awarded, and the accompanying rationale must be sufficiently comprehensive and detailed to enable the Board to assess the scope and significance of the work submitted.


14.  Once all three reports have been received by the PGR exams team, the reports will be considered at the next available Research Degrees Examination Board. The Board will either pass or fail the candidate. No resubmission is permitted.

Copy in the University Library

15.  A definitive copy of each set of publications or compositions successfully presented for the degree shall be deposited with the University Library.

Further guidance on a DMus submission

16.  A DMus folio should demonstrate original and significant thinking in musical terms, and a high level of technical command in a variety of mediums. Where the composer is predominantly concerned with acoustic instrumental music, there should be evidence of extended structures such as symphonic work and carefully wrought music such as that associated with the string quartet medium, amongst contrasting work. Where the composer has concentrated on the development of other areas, such as mixed media, studio, ethnic or community approaches, the work should be of comparable quality in its field.

17.  The folio should comprise:

a)    a list of works (and recordings) submitted;

b)    scores, primary documentation, electronic or recorded material;

c)    recordings of performances.