Research Degrees in the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division

1. PERMISSION TO WORK IN A WELL-FOUND LABORATORY OUTSIDE THE UNIVERSITY

Applicants who are admitted to undertake research under the supervision of the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Divisional Board may, exceptionally, be permitted by the divisional board to undertake their research in a well-found laboratory outside the University. Such candidates shall be dispensed from the residence requirements, but shall be required to attend the University for such instruction as the division and department concerned shall require. Before admitting a candidate on this basis, the department concerned shall be required to satisfy itself and the divisional board that appropriate arrangements are in place for approving all aspects of the student's academic work, including the following:

  • (i) the availability of the equipment and facilities necessary for the project in the agency concerned;

  • (ii) the existence of a wider collaboration between the department and the agency in which the student is based;

  • (iii) the subject of their doctoral studies;

  • (iv) satisfactory induction procedures;

  • (v) satisfactory health and safety arrangements;

  • (vi) satisfactory supervision arrangements, to include specification of a minimum number of contact hours between student and supervisor, which shall include not less than two face-to-face meetings between student and supervisor, for a total of at least 8 hours, each term;

  • (vii) satisfactory arrangements for monitoring the student's progress within the department;

  • (viii) provision for the student to attend the University for such instruction as the division and department shall require.

Dispensation from these rules shall be sought from the Head of the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division through the departmental Director of Graduate Studies.

2. TRANSFER OF STATUS AND CONFIRMATION OF STATUS

  • 1. Transfer of Status

  • All research students will be admitted to the status of Probationer Research Student in the first instance. The status of Probationer Research Student may be held for a maximum of four terms (other than students registered on the doctoral training programmes listed in the Doctoral Training Programmes in MPLS section). Probationer Research Students should normally apply to transfer status to M.Sc. by Research or D.Phil. status before the end of the fourth full-term from admission, subject to the further guidance below. Cases to defer applications for the transfer of status must be made by the candidate with the supervisor's support to the departmental Director of Graduate Studies by the end of the fourth full-term after admission. Approval will only be granted in exceptional circumstances, in accordance with the General Regulations Governing Research Degrees, set out in §4.

  • In the Biological Sciences (the Departments of Plant Sciences and Zoology), candidates should apply to transfer from the status of Probationer Research Student by the end of the fourth full-term after admission as a research student.

  • In the Mathematical Sciences (the Departments of Computer Science, Mathematics and Statistics) students in Category A (those who have had no previous experience of research work, and normally all candidates in the Department of Computer Science) should apply to transfer from the status of Probationer Research Student between the second and fourth full-term after admission as a research student. Students with no previous experience of research work are advised to apply in the third full-term after admission. Students in Category B (those who have had previous experience of research work who may have completed a taught master’s course) should apply to transfer immediately after admission to Probationer Research Student status. (This category is only available to candidates in the Department of Computer Science in exceptional circumstances with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.)

  • In the Physical Sciences (the Departments of Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Engineering Science, Materials and Physics), candidates should apply to transfer from the status of Probationer Research Student in the third or fourth full-term after admission as a research student.

  • In the Biological Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, and Physical Sciences, a first application for transfer of status must take place within the six term limit of PRS status, as set out in the General Regulations Governing Research Degrees, §4. Any application outside those limits (other than in the General Regulations Governing Research Degrees, §4, cl.6), must be approved by or on behalf of Education Committee.

  • Doctoral training programmes, the regulations applying to research students following doctoral training programmes are set out in the Doctoral Training Programmes in MPLS Section.

  • Advice on the timing of transfer of status in each department will be provided by the departmental Director of Graduate Studies.

    Applications to transfer status should be considered by a minimum of two assessors on behalf of the Board of the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division, one of whom may be the student’s academic advisor, but neither of whom should be the student’s supervisor nor normally a member of his/her supervisory team. Each department has its own assessment procedures, which should include as a minimum the following four components:

    • (i) completion of the appropriate graduate studies application forms to be submitted to the Divisional Graduate Studies Office, 9 Parks Road;

    • (ii) submission of written work by the student. For example: a progress report; a literature review; any required course work; a plan for the development of the student’s research; any published papers. Each department will set out its own requirements in this area;

    • (iii) an interview between the student and his/her assessors;

    • (iv) the student should have made a brief presentation or talk whilst a Probationer Research Student. This need not be part of the transfer interview.

  • A report will be written to provide feedback to the student, their supervisor, and college. The report will include an assessment of the viability and suitability of the proposed research, and of its completion on a reasonable timescale.

  • A candidate whose first application for transfer to D.Phil. status is not approved, shall be permitted to make one further application, and shall be granted an extension of time for one term if this is necessary for the purposes of making the application.

  • These procedures are also set out in the Division’s Postgraduate Research Student Handbook.

  • 2. Confirmation of Status

  • Confirmation of status for D.Phil. students must take place no later than nine terms after admission to graduate status. Students are advised to apply for their first attempt at confirmation of D.Phil. status by the end of the eighth full-term after admission as a graduate research student.

  • Doctoral training programmes, the regulations applying to research students following doctoral training programmes are set out in the Doctoral Training Programmes in MPLS Section.

  • Students are encouraged very strongly to apply for confirmation of status at least six–twelve months before they expect to submit their thesis for examination to make this process a constructive part of the development of the student’s research. The application for confirmation of status must be made and approved before requesting the formal appointment of examiners.

  • The requirements for confirmation of status may vary for each department within the following framework:

    • (i) completion of the appropriate graduate studies application forms to be submitted to the Divisional Graduate Studies Office, 9 Parks Road. The candidate and their supervisor are required to provide a clear indication of progress to date, and the timetable for submission of the thesis;

    • (ii) all applications must be reviewed by two assessors, one of whom may be the departmental Director of Graduate Studies, but neither of whom should be the candidate’s supervisor;

    • (iii) the candidate should produce a brief written report about their research achievements to date. The specific requirements will be set out by the department, for example a publication(s) or draft chapter(s) from the candidate’s thesis, a plan and the timetable for submission of the thesis;

    • (iv) an interview between the student and their assessors.

  • The assessor(s) will write a brief report to provide feedback to the candidate, the supervisor, and college. The report will include an assessment of progress and submission of the thesis within the planned timescale.

  • A candidate whose first application for confirmation of status is not approved, shall be permitted to make one further application, normally within one term of the original application, and shall be granted an extension of time for one term if this is necessary for the purposes of making the application.

  • If a candidate’s application for confirmation of status is unsuccessful, the board may approve a transfer from D.Phil. to M.Sc. by Research status.

  • Cases to defer applications for the confirmation of status must be made by the candidate with the supervisor's support to the departmental Director of Graduate Studies by the end of the ninth full-term after admission. Approval will only be granted in exceptional circumstances. Students may apply to defer confirmation of status for a maximum of three terms. The Director of Graduate Studies in each department may decide how many terms, up to the maximum, a candidate may be allowed to defer.

  • These procedures are also set out in the Division's Postgraduate Research Student Handbook.

3. APPOINTMENT OF EXAMINERS

In applying for appointment of examiners, candidates should note that a supervisor is disqualified from appointment, and that the divisional board will not normally appoint as examiner individuals previously closely associated with the candidate or his or her work, representatives of any organisation sponsoring the candidate's research, representatives of any organisation at which a candidate dispensed from residence under the provisions of cl.1 above, is based, or former colleagues of the candidate. In particular, an examiner, whether internal or external, who has played a significant part in advising the candidate is inappropriate and particularly so where the collaboration has led to the publishing of joint papers by the candidate and the examiner. It is accepted that examiners will usually be acquainted with the supervisor, and sometimes the candidate, and that this in itself is not a bar to acting as an examiner. Dispensation from this rule should be sought from the Head of Division through the departmental Director of Graduate Studies.