Annex 7

Criteria for award of research degrees

Using the descriptors for qualifications at doctoral and Masters level developed by the QAA as part of the framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the University has developed the following explicit, yet generic criteria for the award of research doctoral and Masters degrees:

For all research degrees

1)    The dissertation should:

(a)          embody the results of research, carried out by the candidate, which may reasonably be expected of a capable and diligent student in the period of study specified in the Regulations for the degree;

(b)          consist of the candidate's own account of their investigations;

(c)           make clear the sources from which information has been derived, the extent to which the work of others has been used, and the areas which are claimed as original;

(d)          show the exercise of critical judgment with regard to both the candidate's own work and that of other scholars in the field; and

(e)          be an integrated whole and present a coherent argument.

2)    The dissertation and the oral examination together must demonstrate that the candidate has:

(a)          an adequate knowledge and understanding of the discipline and the context within which the research is grounded and of the literature relevant to the research; and

(b)          the ability to put forward arguments in an appropriate form, both orally and in writing.

Masters degrees by research

3)    In addition to the requirements in 1) and 2), the dissertation submitted for a Masters degree by research should represent a contribution to knowledge.

Doctoral degrees

4)    The dissertation submitted for a doctoral degree should, in addition to the requirements in 1) and 2), represent a significant and original contribution to knowledge, worthy of publication or dissemination in whole, or in part, in a form appropriate to the discipline.

5)    For candidature by published work, the work submitted should in addition:

(a)   relate in a coherent way to the field of knowledge and represent a significant and original contribution; and

(b)   be accompanied by a substantial commentary in the candidate's own words linking the published work and outlining its coherence and significance, and making clear the extent of the contribution of others to the work submitted.

6)    For candidature by dissertation or by published work, the work submitted and the oral examination together must, in addition to the requirements in 4), demonstrate that the candidate has the capacity to pursue independently original research based on a good understanding of the relevant techniques and concepts.

7)    Definitions:

(a)    Dissertation

A dissertation may, with the approval of the faculty, take the form of work relevant to the professional practice in which the degree is embedded, such as portfolios of work and project reports. In all cases these shall be accompanied by a commentary providing a critical evaluation of the candidate's work in relation to the academic and research context. The commentary will generally serve as the implicit agenda for the oral examination. The term "dissertation" should be interpreted accordingly.

(b)          Research degrees including creative work

Where a candidate submits work which includes images, artefacts or other creative work, the dissertation comprises the creative element and a written commentary together. The creative work should be clearly presented, in an appropriate form and accompanied by a commentary that provides a discursive treatment of the creative work and sets it in its research context. The commentary is normally not less than 30,000 words and generally serves as the implicit agenda for the oral examination. The final submission should include some permanent record of the creative element, combined in an appropriate way with the commentary.

(c)           Originality

Originality, in the context of the research described in a dissertation or work submitted, means making a contribution to learning, for example through the discovery of new knowledge or the application of existing knowledge in new situations, the connection of previously unrelated facts, the development of new theory or the revision of previously held views, or the development of new research methods.

(d)          Professional doctorates

Professional doctorates are research degrees based on research embedded in professional practice. They may include taught components at level M/7 or above, which are assessed separately from the dissertation. Further information is available in the regulations for the specific degree (Annex 1 and Annex 2) and in the programme specifications for the degree available on the University website.