4.6 Student entitlements and responsibilities

Research students must be made aware of their entitlements and responsibilities, initially by the offer letter they receive from the University and subsequently at their initial meeting with their supervisors and/or at meetings with the school postgraduate support team (for example the School PGR Director/Tutor, or equivalent, and relevant professional service staff).

4.6.1 Research students studying at Bristol can expect the following entitlements and will be asked to accept the following responsibilities:

A student’s entitlements

  • Adequate opportunities to meet their supervisors. As a guideline, it is normal for research students and their supervisors to review progress at least once a month (see Section 5.1.2).
  • Before they start, details of the fees the University will charge for the programme and of any other expenditure necessitated by conducting research, e.g. bench fees.
  • Information about special requirements in connection with their research project, e.g. the need to travel elsewhere to perform experimental work or use specialist libraries.
  • Details of the length of time within which they must complete their programme of study/research.
  • Information about arrangements for monitoring academic progress.
  • Responses to queries they raise with their supervisor within a timescale agreed in advance.
  • The return of written work, with appropriate and detailed feedback, within an agreed time scale.
  • Access to a learning infrastructure that supports the progress of their studies and their ability to complete the degree successfully within the required time period.
  • Access to an appropriate research environment, within the University or collaborating institutions, where relevant and sufficient expertise and appropriate facilities exist to support the student’s research programme.
  • Access to appropriate opportunities for developing research and transferable skills, including opportunities to practise for the oral examination.
  • Where feasible, opportunities to participate in teaching, provided that it is not to the detriment of their research work, plus access to appropriate training and mentoring arrangements. See the University’s Policy for Postgraduate Research Students who Teach in Annex 18.
  • Information about support available at school, faculty and University level.
  • Details of any relevant practical information, for example, accommodation and financial or travel information.
  • Twenty-five days holiday a year, in addition to days when the University is closed.
  • Where relevant, details of appropriate language courses.

A student’s responsibilities

  • To register with the University before beginning their studies and at the start of each academic session and pay any relevant fees.
  • To meet the attendance requirement set out in Section 4.4.
  • To inform supervisors if away due to illness or other personal events.
  • To take prime responsibility for the progress of their research and for the preparation and submission of their dissertation, including reaching agreement on the intended submission date with supervisors (see Section 9.2.2 on the timing of submissions), and for the completion of any corrections or a resubmission required by the examiners.
  • To take prime responsibility for their personal and professional development. It is acknowledged that research students may require more guidance and support at the start of their studies, but there is an expectation that the student will progressively take ownership of their own personal and professional development. See also the Personal and Professional Development Policy for Research Students in Annex 12.
  • To complete their research within the standard period of study. There is an expectation that full-time research students will work on their research project, including any work related to their studentship, for an average of at least 35 hours per week. Part-time students are expected to work on their projects for a length of time that is pro rata with the full-time expectation. Students’ workloads will vary throughout the year as well as at different stages of their projects and this should be discussed with their supervisors. Students who for specific reasons, such as caring responsibilities, wish to work flexibly should discuss this with their supervisors in the first instance.

The University recognises that many research students may rely on paid employment to help fund their studies and/or gain valuable work experience. Achieving a sensible balance between work and study is essential. It is critical that research students take responsibility for ensuring that other activities do not adversely affect the progress of their studies.

All research students must ensure that they are aware of, and comply with, any restrictions on paid work that may be imposed by external sources, such as visa requirements or the funding source for their studies. It is the student’s responsibility to be aware of these limitations and ensure they comply.

  • To be aware that unsatisfactory progress due to external working may result in the initiation of the enhanced academic support process (Section 6.3), which may lead on to the procedure for unsatisfactory academic progress (Annex 3).
  • To ensure that they understand the roles and responsibilities of their supervisory team and the support structures operating in their school and faculty.
  • To treat all members of University staff and students with due respect and consideration.
  • To develop and maintain effective working relationships with their supervisors and other University staff and students. Any concerns over this should be raised with the school’s postgraduate team as soon as they occur.
  • To keep in regular contact with their supervisors, particularly when away from the University. Regular contact with supervisors must be maintained during the period allowed to complete any corrections or a resubmission required by the examiners.
  • To comply with:
  • To meet the University’s requirements for good academic conduct, including:
    • Making timely submissions of written work.
    • Ensuring that meeting with supervisors occur at regular intervals, as agreed between the student and supervisors, and that the student’s contribution to these meetings is appropriate. The frequency of contact will vary between disciplines and research progress. Any concern about the frequency of meetings should normally be raised with the supervisory team in the first instance and then the school postgraduate team if the concern is not resolved.
    • Complying with the University’s rules and with the requirements of any sponsoring or funding bodies concerning intellectual property.
    • Keeping appropriate records of their research, of their personal development and of formal meetings with supervisors, for example through the use of available online facilities.
    • Making appropriate acknowledgement of the contribution made by the supervisor and any other person in any publication arising from the research work.
  • To ensure that they have the necessary financial support to enable completion of the programme.
  • To keep their personal information up to date via the Studentinfo online link.

International students with student visa or immigration questions must only discuss these with staff in Student Visa Services. These staff are specially trained to advise international students with any queries and are also responsible for providing general support and guidance to international students.

4.6.2 Support available for students

Information for students on the range of support at the University is available via the Current Students webpage. This acts as a first point of reference and provides a signpost to relevant services and resources. Faculties and schools may provide additional support and this should be clearly signposted to students. Just Ask, a confidential advice service provided by Bristol Students’ Union, is also available to students.