PGR Monitoring Engagement and Academic Progression
As a research student, continued registration on your research degree programme is conditional on the progress that you make. The Academic Regulations specify that ‘Progress’ in this context is considered the conduct of research at an adequate rate along with the production of outputs of sufficient quality.
The Policy and Procedure of the Monitoring of Research Students is based on the following expectations:
- Feedback from those who review your work will be honest, accurate, timely and constructive;
- The production of your thesis will be supported through the interim submission and review of directly relevant work;
- Training and professional development will be integrated with your Research Plan, to support research and career development;
- Where progress is not satisfactory there will be a transparent approach to downgrade and/or exclusion, and clear mechanisms for appeal;
- Monitoring requirements and criteria for continued registration will be clearly communicated;
- Performance issues will be identified and addressed in accordance with the relevant University procedure
If you do not meet the requirements of the Research Student Progress Monitoring Procedure, or your progress is not adequate as described above, you may be reviewed under the Unsatisfactory Progress or Engagement Policy and Procedure (Research Students).
Preparing for your Programme
Embarking on a Postgraduate Research Programme is a significant commitment, and you want to be confident that you are able to complete your studies to a satisfactory standard. In order to avoid concerns with your research, and to enable you to stay on top of your studies, we would advise you to consider the following:
- Make sure you are familiar with Cardiff University Sims and the Student Intranet. The majority of your course-based information will be made available to you via these platforms, including your Cardiff University email address.
- Download the appropriate software and accounts onto your personal devices to ensure that you stay up-to-date with University related correspondence. If you do not respond to meeting requests or other communication where appropriate it can be a cause for concern.
- Plan early for your deadlines. Postgraduate degrees follow specific patterns and timetables, so you can plan ahead for the next assessment.
- Stay in contact with your supervisor(s). They are there to help you for the duration of your programme and are not to be feared. If you are concerned about your supervisor or your relationship with your supervisor, we may be able to support you with having difficult conversations.
- If you are struggling with personal circumstances and this is having an impact on your research, you may want to access support from the University’s Support Services. The Disability and Dyslexia Service, may be able to put adjustments in place to help you study; or for ongoing mental health issues, you can speak to the University’s Mental Health Advisers. Disability and Mental Health Advisers can support you and liaise with your academic school to ensure you receive any special provision that might help you. You could also get special provision in exams, such as breaks or extra time.
- If you are managing personal circumstances that are having an impact on your studies, and you are concerned that you will not be able to submit your research or thesis by the pre-agreed deadlines, you can make the University aware of this using the Extension to Time Limit procedure, or the Interruption of Study Procedure. This is likely to be a favourable option as opposed to missing your deadline or submitting work late.
When you enrol in a Postgraduate research programme, you will be required to create a Research Plan. This plan is used by the University as an integral tool to monitor your progress.
Your Research Plan may help you to structure your project for the duration of your ‘registered’ and ‘fees-payable’ status. This plan should provide you with a schedule of expected and research and related activities that are designed to leave you with a thorough training experience and timely completion of your thesis. However, your Research Plan is likely to develop and change over the course of your studies to reflect the work and findings that occur.
Throughout your programme, you will be required to take part in and attend a series of monitoring events. These will occur at specific points in your programme. Your research plan should relate your research to this calendar of monitoring events. Your plan may also consider other responsibilities and development activity such as teaching and marking duties, placements and annual leave.
As above, you will be required to submit your evolving Research Plan at each stage of the Research Student Progress and Monitoring Procedure.
Thesis Completion Plan
As you transition from the registered fees-payable status, to the Thesis completion status, your Research Plan will be replaced by a Thesis Completion Plan or a Research and Thesis Completion Plan. This schedule then focuses primarily on the timely completion of your thesis.
Each submission of your Research Plan will be considered relative to a Training Needs Analysis. Your Training Needs Analysis should identify areas of weakness or improvement in your work, and inform the development of your training agenda for the remaining duration of your programme. The purpose of this is to equip you with a varied and established skill set, both for the completion of your Thesis and your broader development as a researcher.
There are three types of progress monitoring events that take place throughout your course. You can use these opportunities to feedback any concerns to the Director of Postgraduate Research, in addition to the formal assessment from your School. If your progress is deemed unsatisfactory at any stage, you may be subject to the Unsatisfactory Progress Procedure.
The Initial Review is your first monitoring event and it takes place within the first three months of your first year. If there are any concerns about your progress during this early stage, the Initial Review providers an opportunity for you to take remedial action.
The initial review should usually be centred on:
- A list of meetings with your supervisor;
- Your Research Plan;
- A Training Needs assessment; and
- A reflection on the first stage of your programme.
The Director of Postgraduate Research will review these documents and determine whether your continued registration is to be confirmed or provisional. The Director of Postgraduate Research can then determine whether:
- The School is satisfied that you have a viable Research Plan and your progress to date is satisfactory: continued registration on the programme is confirmed; or
- You do not yet have a viable Research Plan, but progress with your research is otherwise satisfactory: you are required to revise and resubmit your Research Plan; or
- Your progress is not satisfactory, and the Unsatisfactory Progress or Engagement Policy and Procedure (Research Students) will be implemented.
9-Month and Annual Review
Your first annual review should take place 9 months into your programme and should subsequently take place every 12 months.
The 9 Month/Annual Review allows your School to assess the standard and progress of your work, and voice any concerns if they arise. As part of the 9-Month/Annual Review you will be prompted to submit:
- A substantial piece of written work;
- An updated Research Plan;
- A new Training Needs Analysis, and a record of the training you have undertaken;
- A Self-Assessment Report;
- A list of supervisor meetings dates for the reporting period.
These review events are conducted by a Review Panel. Your supervisor may sit on the Panel, but you cannot have more than one member of your supervisory team, and there must be one individual who is unconnected to your project. The format of the review panel may vary, and you should be made aware of what is required of you in advanced. If you do not attend the Review Panel meeting, and do not provide reasonable grounds to postpone the meeting, the evidence may be considered without you.
Following the Panel, the Panel members will report on its assessment of your work, and subsequently one of the following recommendations to the Director of Postgraduate Research:
- Your progress is satisfactory and, if it continues at this rate, you are considered to be on track for submitting a viable thesis within your time limit. This means that your continued registration will be confirmed by the Director of Postgraduate Research.
- Your progress is considered satisfactory overall but one or more minor unsatisfactory aspects have been identified, which, if adequately addressed through adjustment to the Research Plan, should not delay the submission of a viable thesis within the time limit. This means that your continued registration will be confirmed by the Director of Postgraduate Research.
- Your progress is considered satisfactory in the circumstances. The School is aware of extenuating circumstances which can be dealt with by reasonable adjustments that have been made to the Research Plan or which may justify an application for extending your final submission deadline. This means that your continued registration will be confirmed by the Director of Postgraduate Research.
- Your progress is not yet confirmed as satisfactory at this point and the Panel has resolved to defer its recommendation. You will be required to revise and resubmit your written work, Research Plan, and/or any other relevant documentation for further consideration by the Panel, within one month of the Panel meeting (which may be extended to two months, if required, for part-time students), and on one occasion only. The Panel will determine if a further interview is required. This means that your continued registration is provisional until further assessment has been completed.
- Your progress is not satisfactory, and the Unsatisfactory Progress or Engagement Policy and Procedure (Research Students) will be implemented. This means that continued registration is provisional, pending the outcome of the Unsatisfactory Progress or Engagement Police and Procedure.
The Interim Review should take place between your 9-month and annual reviews. This provides a further opportunity for you to reflect on your progress. For your Interim Review, you should normally be asked to submit:
- An updated Research Plan;
- A new Training Needs Analysis, including a record of training and development undertaken;
- A Self-Assessment Report, in which you reflect on your progress;
- A list of supervisor meeting dates during the reporting period.
Your lead supervisor will subsequently confirm that:
- The student is continuing to make satisfactory progress in accordance with their Research Plan/Thesis Completion Plan; or
- The student's progress is considered satisfactory, subject to mutually agreed adjustment to the Research Plan/Thesis Completion Plan that will facilitate completion of the programme within the permitted period; or
- The student's progress is not satisfactory.
If you are experiencing personal circumstances that have had an impact on your studies, and required you to request an extension to your deadline(s), the procedure outlined may vary. If this is the case, we would advise you to get in touch with us for specific advice on your situation.
Unsatisfactory Progress or Engagement Policy and Procedure
In addition to the above, concern about your engagement with your programme could arise if you:
- Undertake an unauthorised absence from your research
- Do not attend supervision meetings or other meetings required by your School
- Do not respond to meeting requests or other communications
- Do not attend or complete a compulsory training activity
- Do not adhere to your schedule deadlines
- Do not submit your thesis within the permitted time limit
- Do not complete amendments to your thesis within the permitted time limit
- Do not submit practical or written work of the required standard
If you are subject to the Unsatisfactory Progress or Engagement Policy and Procedure, the subsequent actions will depend on who has raised the concern.
Concerns raised by your Supervisor or the Director of Postgraduate Research
If a concern is raised by your supervisor(s) or the Director of Postgraduate Research, both parties will invite you to a meeting with them, to discuss the concern in more detail.
You should be given 7 days’ notice of a meeting and you can be accompanied by an independent individual. A student adviser may be available to attend the meeting with you, however please let us know at the earliest opportunity so that we can confirm availability and help you prepare. If you do not attend the meeting, and you do not provide good reason why you cannot take part, this meeting will go ahead without you.
If you do not want your supervisor(s) present at this meeting, you can request that the meeting is between you and Director of Postgraduate Research alone.
Following this discussion, the Director of Postgraduate Research will take one of the four following actions:
- Record that concerns have been identified and discussed with you, but that no further action need be taken at this time;
- Place you under a Warning of Exclusion or Downgrade from your research studies for a specified period, during which time you will be required to demonstrate an improvement in engagement and/or progress;
- Initiate the University's Student Support Intervention Policy and Procedure;
- Recommend to the Head of School that you have absented yourself from your programme and should be excluded.
Recommendation for Exclusion
If there is a recommendation to exclude you, you will be given 7 days to respond to this recommendation. If you request to re-engage with the programme, you may be invited to meet with your Director of Postgraduate Research on one further occasion, following which a different outcome may be decided.
Concerns raised by your Review Panel
If unsatisfactory progress is identified by your Review Panel within your 9 month or annual review, you may be placed under a Warning of Exclusion or Downgrade. If you have less than 9 months left of your programme, you should not be subject to this procedure, but your School may suggest that you apply for an Interruption of Study or Extension to Time Limit instead.
If you are placed under a Warning of Exclusion or Downgrade, you should be told what the conditions are needed to be met for the warning to be lifted, in writing. We would strongly advise you to meet with your supervisors as early as possible to discuss these objectives; you should have at least two months to demonstrate your improvement.
If you do not meet these conditions, the possible outcomes that could be included are:
- A recommendation to downgrade you to MPhil (or other subsidiary award specified for the programme) and exclusion is not being considered in this case;
- A recommendation to exclude you from your studies and a downgrade to MPhil (or other subsidiary award specified for the programme) would not be appropriate in this case;
- A recommendation to either downgrade you to MPhil (or other subsidiary award specified for the programme) or exclude you from the programme, where partial fulfilment of the stipulated objectives mean that a transfer to MPhil (or similar) would be appropriate in this case.
At the end of your warning period, your progress will be assessed by your Supervisors and an independent review. Following this, your Director of Postgraduate Research will recommend one of the following options:
- That the warning should be removed;
- That the warning should be extended for a further period;
- That if available, you should be downgraded to an MPhil candidature (or comparable subsidiary programme);
- That you should be excluded from research study.
If the recommendation is to exclude you from your programme, or to downgrade you to an MPhil (or comparable programme), and you are not in agreement with this decision, the Head of School will appoint a School Panel to consider this further. In the Panel Meeting, you will have an opportunity to make a case against the recommendation. Student Advice can help you with this process and provide representation in the meeting. As above, please let us know as early as you can so that we can confirm availability and help you prepare. Ultimately, you will find out within 7 days of the School Panel, whether they have decided to:
- Remove the warning;
- Extend the warning for a further period;
- Downgrade you to an MPhil programme (or comparable subsidiary programme) if available;
- Exclude you from research study.
If you are unhappy with the decision of the School under the Unsatisfactory Progress or Engagement Policy and Procedure you can challenge the decision under the University Review Procedure.
Student Advice is a free, confidential and independent service available for students of Cardiff University. We are independent of the University and our role is to give you impartial advice and guidance and help you understand the options available to you.
If you are experiencing any circumstances are impacting your wellbeing and/or ability to study and perform at your usual level, we can
- advise you on how to report Extenuating Circumstances to the University if, for example, your reasonable adjustments have not been put in place, have not been enough or your condition worsened;
- advise you on how to submit and Academic Appeal if you have missed the Extenuating Circumstances deadline, or you circumstances have been refused;
- advise you on how to take an Interruption of Study and what you need to think about when deciding what to do;
- advise you on how to submit a University Complaint if you feel you are being unfairly treated or discriminated against, by University staff and/or students because of your circumstances;
- signpost you to other support services.
Contact Student Advice
+44 (0)2920 781410