2.2       Academic standards

The Regulations and Code align with the current QAA Quality Code for Higher Education for the assurance of academic quality and standards in higher education (http://www.qaa.ac.uk/quality-code). The University’s research degrees accord with the current QAA Qualification Characteristics for Doctoral and Masters Degrees and are mapped against national benchmarking standards.

UK research degrees are in alignment with the European-wide guidance, as shown in the Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area . University of Bristol research degrees are therefore recognised as having Europe-wide equivalence.

The University has several mechanisms for assuring itself that the academic standards of the research degrees it awards are at an appropriate level. The following paragraphs describe the measures that contribute to setting and maintaining these standards.

Quality of students and academic staff

The University takes care to recruit students who meet the entrance criteria for its research programmes (see Section 4).

The University recruits academic staff who can fulfil its requirements for conducting research and contributing to education. Specifications for appointments and promotion/progression can be found on the University website: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/hr/grading/academic/   

Criteria against which candidates for staff appointments and promotion are measured include research success or potential and the ability to teach and inspire students at all levels.

Quality of supervision

The University provides guidance on supervision of research students as part of its CREATE CPD scheme for new academic staff, and mentoring arranged at school level. Development sessions will also be offered for experienced staff wanting to refresh their practice as part of the broader Academic Staff Development programme.

Annual progress review

All research students and supervisors are required to engage in the annual progress review process (see Section 6). One of the main purposes of the annual progress review is to assure the student, the supervisors and the relevant school and faculty that academic progress is satisfactory. 

Each Faculty PGR Director is responsible for monitoring all annual progress review reports in their faculty.

External examining

When approving the appointment of examiners for research degrees, Heads of School (or nominees) and Faculty PGR Directors are required to confirm that the potential examiners have the appropriate knowledge and experience to carry out the assessment effectively. The criteria for selection of research degree examiners are described in Section 9.3.

External benchmarks of research quality

These are covered in Section 3: the research environment.