The Graduate School

Information for research students

As a research student, you are at the centre of our research community, and we are here to support guide you throughout your programme of study.

These pages provide information you will need around administration, training and development, during your time as a research student.

We can give you advice on any aspect of your research journey - including enrolment, confirmation of registration, progression and your viva voce examination. We also provide a comprehensive Research Training Programme - a vast range of workshops to ensure you have all the skills needed to complete your study.

Further important imformation

All of our research students need to enrol using our Online Welcome & Enrolment service. You will need to complete this each year on the anniversary of your start date. The student hub offer more information on enrolment for postgraduate students.

Your annual progression meetings are a very important milestone in your research degree journey. Their purpose is to make sure you have all the support you need to complete your degree successfully.

Every year you will meet with your panel - a chair and panel member who are usually senior academics with expertise in your subject area. A Graduate School team member will also take notes and offer advice on regulations. Your supervisor will be encouraged to attend the meeting with you. However, if they are unable to attend for any reason, the meeting will still go ahead.

Annual progression meetings usually happen in the month before your enrolment anniversary. For example, if you start your studies with us in February, you can expect to have your annual progression meeting in January the following year.

At The Graduate School, we organise your annual progression meetings and set the dates for you a year in advance. We will email you and your supervisory team to arrange the date. Together with your supervisory team, you will be asked to submit a report before the meeting. This should include your supervisory team's comments on your progress.

The responsibility for making sure that your annual progression meeting goes ahead, and that your completed report is submitted on time, rests with you.

At the meeting, you will talk through your research and progress to date, where you are now and what you are doing to meet your submission date.

For more information, call us on +44 (0)113 812 5375 or email

At the end of your programme of study you will have written an extensive thesis. It will then need to be submitted for examination.

Once you have submitted your thesis, you will be invited to defend your doctorate at a 'viva voce' (Latin for “by live voice”) - an oral examination. Your viva voce is a chance for you to:

  • Demonstrate that your thesis is your own work
  • Defend what you have written
  • Show your understanding of the originality of the work and where it fits within the wider research field
  • Respond to examiners’ questions and provide any clarification requested
  • Establish whether your work is of a sufficiently high standard for the level of your award.

The examination team and independent chair

The examination team will consist of:

Your supervisors will put together an examination team based on the subject of your research and they will make a formal application to the Research Degrees Sub-Committee (see below) to approve the team.

  • One external examiner – this will normally be an academic member of staff from another institution or a professional who has expertise in your area of work. University staff members who are also students will require two external examiners.
  • One internal examiner – a member of academic staff at the university who is not one of your supervisors.
  • An independent chair – the independent chair is not an examiner and will not take part in the examination process. Their role is to make sure that the examination abides by our university guidelines and that you are not under any undue pressure.

Your supervisory team should let you know who is in the examination team so you can familiarise yourself with their work, but you must not have any contact with them.

The Graduate School is responsible for arranging your viva voce examination and we will co- ordinate this with all parties.

It can take up to three months to confirm a date. If you know of any dates that you will be unavailable, you should make sure The Graduate School is aware of them when you submit your thesis.

The viva voce examination will be held at either Headingley Campus or City Campus. When you receive your room confirmation, we recommend you make sure you know where it is and familiarise yourself with the surroundings.

On the day, the examination team will meet beforehand to discuss the nature and type of questions they will ask you. While all examinations are different, the key to the viva voce is to establish whether your work is at the standard expected for the level of award and that your thesis demonstrates an original contribution to knowledge in its field of study.

Application for approval of examiners

Progression reports

You will be required to submit a progression report, signed by your supervisors, before your annual progression meeting. This should normally be submitted via SAM at least two weeks before your progression meeting. Progression report deadlines are normally:

  • For October starters, progression meetings usually take place in September/October
  • For February starters, progression meetings usually take place in January/February
  • For June starters progression meetings usually take place in May/June

Research Degrees Sub-Committee (RDSC) meetings

The university’s RDSC meets each month (with the exception of August), and the deadline for any applications to the RDSC is midnight on the last day of the preceding month. For example, applications received before midnight on 30 September will be considered at the October meeting.

Graduation deadlines

If The Graduate School received your thesis before the end of February, your examination arrangements are in place and your fees are paid to date, we will work to ensure you can attend graduation in July, subject to the outcome of your viva voce examination.

For any amendments and resubmissions (without viva voce) received before the middle of April, we will try to make sure examiners provide feedback in time for you to attend graduation in July. If you resubmit after mid-April, it may not be possible for you to graduate at that summer's graduation.

If you submit your thesis later than 1 May, your viva voce may be scheduled for the following September, as we do not normally schedule vivas between 1 July and 31 August.

The first milestone in your research student journey is your confirmation of registration. The aim of this is to ensure your project is suitable for the level of the degree award, you are able to deliver the project and all the facilities and support you will need are available to you.

Your confirmation of registration meeting will take place four months after enrolment if you are studying full-time and six months after enrolment if you are studying part-time. The meetings take place during set weeks in the academic year.

For your confirmation of registration, you will need to prepare a document detailing your proposed research. Your supervisory team will provide guidance on preparing your document and they will also attend the meeting with you. Your document will be shared with the confirmation of registration panel before your meeting so they can review this and prepare questions for you. The panel will be made up of a chair and panel member - usually senior academics with expertise in your subject area and significant experience of supporting research students.

The meeting is very important; it will be the first formal opportunity to talk about your research, including your aims, methods and timeframes. While the panel will ask you questions, it is a supportive environment and they will give you recommendations to support your progress.

As you approach your final year of study, you can apply for writing-up status.

Your final year is normally year four if you are studying full-time and year six if you are studying part-time. During the writing-up status stage, your fees for that year of study will be reduced.

If you wish to apply for writing-up status, you should have:

  • Completed your data collection and data analysis
  • Provided your supervisory team with a full first draft of your thesis

Every student's project is different and some will not need writing-up status.

To apply for writing-up status, you will need to submit a request to the university's Research Degrees Sub-Committee (see below).

As you approach your final year of study, your supervisory team should consider submitting your examination arrangements to The Graduate School.

The writing-up status is for one year only and you will be charged a set fee.

If you need to make changes to your student records during your degree, these should be submitted to the university’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee (RDSC). The sub- committee is also responsible for the approval of your examination team.

As our academic schools have no regulatory control over research studies, the RDSC is the only committee able to make decisions around your studies. It is chaired by Professor Gary Jones, Director of Research in the School of Health, and is made up of academics from across the university.

To request changes to your student record, you should first discuss the request with your supervisory team. This must be signed by all parties, fully completed, and include a full explanation of the reasons for the request. The form should be sent to Change requests are made through SAM. Please refer to the SAM User Guide for further information.

The RDSC will also approve the team selected for your examination process. They will discuss the overall experience of team members to ensure they have the appropriate subject expertise. To ensure a robust and fair examination, team members must be independent from you as supervisors.

Only when the RDSC approves the team can arrangements be made for the examination. Please note, the committee’s decision is final.

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