6.2 Annual progress review

The annual progress review gives research students the opportunity to engage in dialogue about their research and explore ideas with other academics. It should provide useful preparation for oral examinations and excellent training in academic discourse.

A student’s personal and professional development should form a component of the review as a consideration of their whole progress and development. See also the Personal and Professional Development Policy for Research Students in Annex 12.

Disabled students should be offered reasonable adjustments that take into account their disability for the purpose of assessment. Research students should be signposted to Disability Services for a Disability Support Summary, which will make recommendations for reasonable adjustments appropriate for the student in any assessment, such as progression processes, presentations, or the oral examination. Students and staff should contact Disability Services for advice about reasonable adjustments to assessment.

Continued registration for a research degree (doctoral and Masters) is conditional upon making satisfactory progress. The purpose of the mandatory annual progress review process is to establish that progress is satisfactory and, if not, to ensure that remedial action is taken promptly. Both full-time and part-time research students must be reviewed annually. The expectations for the annual progress of part-time students should be adjusted appropriately to reflect their part-time status. 

Annual progress reviews vary from faculty to faculty, but must always involve: 

  • A written report or piece of work, and completion of a review form by the student.
  • For at least one of the annual progress reviews in years one to three, a substantial piece of writing (e.g., draft chapter or report) should be submitted as a practice submission for text comparison checking through Turnitin. The Turnitin originality report should be included in the annual progress review documentation and discussed by the student with the annual progress review panel. Where there are contractual, security or safety concerns about sensitive material within a substantial written report, the main supervisor may decide that it is not appropriate for a submission to be made to Turnitin as part of the annual progress review. The decision must be recorded, and the supervisors must provide a manual check on academic integrity and appropriate referencing in these cases.
  • An independent assessment of the submitted work and student’s progress during the review period.
  • Comments from both the student and the main supervisor.

All comments, feedback and recommendations arising from the annual progress review, including confirmation that the student has discussed the results of any text comparison check, will be evaluated by the School PGR Director (or nominee). Any participant in the process may escalate the review to the Faculty PGR Director for consideration if there is a significant concern to address. 

The student will see and comment on the written report on their progress. 

The normal outcome of the annual progress review is that the student progresses to the next year, either unconditionally or subject to the completion of specific targets.

In addition to these minimum University requirements, there may be subject-specific or programme requirements for satisfactory progress, especially if the student is funded by an external sponsor. A student and their main supervisor must discuss a sponsor’s additional progress monitoring requirements at an early stage to ensure that these may be met in good time.

The University expects schools to set up a formal review of progress at least once a year, for three main purposes:

  1. to ensure that the student is well supported and able to overcome any practical or academic obstacles to progress;
  2. to enable the student or supervisor to communicate and explain any concerns about progress since the previous meeting; and
  3. to encourage the student to reflect upon, and plan for, academic progress alongside their own personal and professional development.