A Guide for Directors of Studies

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1 University of the West of England A Guide for Directors of Studies A useful guide to the responsibilities of PGR Directors of Studies Authors: Chair of the Research Degrees Award Board, Academic Registry, RBI (Graduate School) 5/1/2011

2 THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE DIRECTOR OF STUDIES This document should be used in conjunction with the current: Academic Regulations and Procedures (Section K) Postgraduate Research Degree Programmes, Code of Practice The Faculty is responsible for providing overarching direction, management and support in implementing the Academic Regulations and the Code of Practice. The Director of Studies (DoS) is responsible for enacting them in practice in their direct relationship with the student. The Faculty Research Degree Committee (FRDC) links the Faculty responsibilities of assessment process to the University Research Degrees Award Board (RDAB). The Associate Dean for Research, Enterprise and Public Engagement has overall responsibility for the direction and management of Faculty PGR responsibilities, although in some Faculties a Director of Postgraduate Research will act on their behalf. The Head of Department is also involved in all decisions regarding admissions, registration, allocation of Director of Study and supervisory team and changes to the supervisory team Faculty Postgraduate Research Degree Office provide administrative support to underpin the Academic Regulations and Procedures. THE DIRECTOR OF STUDIES The Director of Studies is responsible for ensuring that the supervision and all administrative requirements are carried out in accordance with the University s Academic Regulations and Procedures and with the University s Postgraduate Research Degree Programmes Code of Practice. The DoS will have already supervised to completion at least one degree student at the same or higher level. As far as possible, staff appointed as DoS will have completed appropriate training in supervision skills. 2

3 1. RECRUITMENT AND ADMISSIONS Marketing: to be familiar with existing marketing information. Please note that all PGR marketing information must be kept by the RKE team for 7 years (CoP Section 2). Please Note: This process is yet to be approved by the University PGR Review Group Selection and Interview: The Faculty Research Administrators (FRA) should receive each application as it arrives. Initial administrative checks take place to ensure that the application is complete and that references and certificates are attached, where required. The Faculty Research Administrators pass the proposal onto the Chair of the Faculty Research Degrees Committee (FRDC) to decide, within their understanding of the University and Faculty strategic plan whether to pursue the application or not. The Chair of the FRDC passes the proposal to the relevant Head of Department or the Associate Head of Department (Research) to consider and, if continuing, to pass to most likely DoS/main supervisor for decision on whether to continue to interview or not. Where it is decided to continue with the application then an interview panel chaired by HoD/Ast HoD (Research) and including potential DoS and/or main supervisor is convened. A decision is made (academic & strategic) and reported, via FRA to FRDC and Chair. Confirmation of DoS can now be made. At least one interviewer will have been trained in the University s PGR admissions processes Where a candidate is to be offered a place an offer letter is sent to the applicant, for response within 3 months and valid for 12 months (primarily to give international students time to explore funding options). For International Students a copy of the offer letter and the full application is sent to IDO to raise a Visa Statement, and for applicant to process their visa application. If a candidate is thought unsuitable, comments should be given to the RDA in case there is any follow-up. 3

4 2. INITIAL REGISTRATION (CoP 3.10 & Section 5) This will include the applicant s initial research proposal, the details and outcome of the interview, and the proposed Director of Studies. Only the FRDC can approve the initial registration of a research project. Please note: Some faculties don t use the Initial Registration stage and move straight to the Confirmed Registration Stage (see below). If approved, the FRDC will: Set a date on which the student s registration will begin; Set a date by which the student and DoS will submit the worked-up research proposal (the RD1) for confirmed registration as follows: o Full-time students: 3 months following initial registration. o Part-time students: 6 months following initial registration. This is a set date and should not be exceeded without the approval of the Faculty Research Degrees Committee. At this point the student is allocated a Director of Studies, not a full supervisory team. The Research Degree Administrator will notify all concerned. 3. INDUCTION (CoP Section 4) An induction programme should be arranged for when the student begins their registration. Dependent on start dates and numbers of students, some induction may take place at Faculty or Department level. The DoS should check that an appropriate induction has or will be arranged. The Research Degrees Administrator will provide the new student with a University or Faculty PGR Student Handbook. 4

5 4. CONFIRMED REGISTRATION form RD1 The student: completes the personal details, the full research proposal and ethics. The Director of Studies: completes the supervisory team details and the research training needs analysis (or the request for AL/AEL). The Director of Studies, Supervisors and HoD complete the recommendation to the FRDC. Chair of the Faculty RDC: signs the approval to confirm registration upon FRDC approval. a) Note that as part of the FRDC s approval the Committee will note any application for Accredited Learning b) Set the date by which the Progression Exam must take place: o Full-Time: within 12 months of the initial registration date o Part-time: within 18 months of the initial registration date. c) Confirm the earliest and latest dates for completion Following the initial registration the progression examination is the first point at which a student is required to formally progress or not. 5. RESEARCH TRAINING and 60 CREDIT REQUIREMENTS (CoP Section 6) The process by which students will acquire the skills required to become effective researchers and fulfil the requirements of their research programme. PhD of which at least 40 at level M Prof Doc at level M DPhil of which at least 40 at level M MPhil 60 of which at least 40 at level M A training needs analysis must be completed by the DoS as part of the confirmed registration/rd1 process. This must be reviewed annually as part of the annual progress procedures as a student s training needs may develop during their studies: 60 credits is simply the minimum requirement. An existing Masters qualification is not an automatic substitute for a training plan. A series of generic training workshops are available via the Graduate School. Accredited Prior Learning (AL) The DoS should make any claims for AL as part of the application for confirmed registration (RD1). A full statement is required that will either explain how the student s UWE module meets their training needs, or in the case of a non-uwe module, will detail its comparison with a specified UWE module. Full supporting evidence such as degree certificates, academic transcripts and syllabus details and module specifications should be attached. 5

6 6. SUPERVISION (CoP Section 7) The supervisory team will be responsible for ensuring that the student receives academic support and guidance in planning and implementing the research programme (CoP 13.1). Agree with all concerned the best way in which the supervisory team will support the student (which may change at different times during the research). Meet at appropriate intervals: face to face meetings; phone; ; full supervisory team or part. Frequency to be planned with the student. Meetings are to be properly conducted and recorded, reviewing progress prior to the meeting and agreeing follow-on actions from it. Agree the date and the task for the next meeting. The student is asked to maintain a written record of each formal meeting and to circulate to all members of the supervisory team ( ). DoS to maintain an archive of student reports, and to maintain own record of formal meetings and progress, and, where concerned, of informal meetings. Agree with student the means and timing by which they will send work. Provide written as well as verbal feedback. Some students like to record the supervision meetings. To work with the student and the supervisory team to formulate a publication plan, or other appropriate dissemination plan, this should be considered regularly at formal supervision meetings. Progress against the plan should be monitored (CoP 9.2). See the attached guidance for good supervision. 6

7 7. PROGRESSION EXAMINATION (CoP Section 8) This is a very important assessment point and the DoS is responsible for ensuring the student submits their report on time, and for making all necessary arrangements for the examination to take place. The progression date is set by FRDC when approving confirmed registration/rd1. All students are required to have completed the progression exam as follows: Full-time students within 12 months of initial registration date Part-time student within 18 months of initial registration date The DoS is responsible for ensuring that arrangement for the progression exam are made in good time and that preparation for it is given appropriate weight and significance during the first year of study. The internal examiner for the progression exam cannot also act as the internal examiner for the final examination of the thesis/viva. There are 3 main elements of the Progression examination: Appointing the examiner Progression Report The Progression Viva. The supervisory team are responsible for ensuring the student undertakes the following: I. defines the objectives and scope of the research project adequately II. been actively engaged in working on the research project and has made progress commensurate with the time spent III. made an appropriate survey of the relevant research literature and demonstrated an ability to make critical evaluation of published work IV. acquired an appropriate knowledge of research methods applicable to the area of research, and can explain and justify his of her choice of research methods V. developed an adequately detailed plan of work to enable the research degree to be completed within the expected time period. The time of the progression exam may only be delayed if the student has a period during which, for external reasons (such as a medical condition), it is not possible for him/her to work on the research project. The appropriate faculty committee shall consider all requests for a delay in the progression examination. Under such circumstances the registration should be suspended, and the time for such suspension shall not be counted towards the period before the formal progression examination is undertaken. The FRDC needs to be made fully aware of any circumstances related to a student s registration period. 7

8 The progression exam is in two parts: the report written by the student and considered by the exam team. If they are satisfied then the viva will take place. Following the viva the exam team submits their recommendation to FRDC who submits their outcome to the University Research Degrees Award Board. If satisfied, the student is allowed to proceed with their studies. The DoS should provide the student with full feedback. 8. ANNUAL MONITORING REPORTS (CoP Section 8) During February to May each year annual progress monitoring forms are distributed to all `active research students and their supervisory teams. Students may not reenrol on the following academic year until their Annual Progress Reports have been considered by the FRDC with a recommendation being made to the RDAB and RDAB has approved the FRDC decision. Faculties are required to review all annual monitoring reports and report any problems or concerns to the FRDC. The FRDC are responsible for `allowing each student progression onto the next academic year and to report this decision to the University Research Degree Award Board. Where a student s progression throughout the academic year has not been satisfactory, the FRDC may set appropriate targets for the student to meet before referring their decision until the September University Research Degree Award Board (RDAB). Where the FRDC cannot recommend to the RDAB in September that a student has passed their progression then the student will be required to be withdrawn from the University. DoS Report It is important that, within this process, the DoS give a full report on the student s progress, particularly highlighting any causes for concern, and giving full details of any research training related credits that the student has gained, and their plans and dates for expected completion. 8

9 9. ESTABLISHING THE EXAMINING TEAM AND THE VIVA The responsibility for identification of appropriate examiners lies with the Director of Studies, who should start the process during the 12 months prior to the anticipated date of the examination, in consultation with: other members of the supervisory team senior research staff within the discipline at UWE of elsewhere other research active academics in closely related fields the student (CoP 14.1) The DoS should aim to submit the EX1 to the FRDC not less than 5 months before the anticipated examination date. To ensure you are using the most up-to-date forms (EX1 and EXCV) please access them directly from the Academic Registry web pages. Identifying an examining team is generally best done by the DoS making informal contact with the proposed external and internal examiners. In the case of external examiners the DoS must ask the proposed examiner if they `have the right to work in the UK. Only examiners who can prove their right to work in the UK can be used as part of the team. The research degrees administrator will then send them the necessary forms and CV for completion, and arrange for the signatures of the DoS and all others involved. The relevant forms to be completed (EX1 and EXCVs) are compiled and considered by the Faculty Research Degrees Committee. Once signed by the FRDC, the EX1 is then submitted to the University Research Degrees Award Board, via the Academic Registry for approval and appointment of the examiners and the Independent Chair. The thesis may not be submitted to the Academic Registry before the EX1 has been approved and the examiners have been appointed. EX1 s are expected received by the Academic Registration, following approval by the FRDC, not less than 3 months before the expected viva voce date. THE STUDENT MUST NOT BE INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS OF BUILDING THE EXAMINATION TEAM UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. Note: a UWE employee must have two external examiners; the internal examiner at Progression cannot act as internal for the final assessment; the EX1 is the last opportunity at which the title of the thesis can be changed. After this it can only be changed by the specific request of the examiners; following the submission of the EX1 the student should not make contact with any examiner under any circumstances before or after the viva without express permission by the Academic Registry. 9

10 The approved examination team appointments (EX1) are valid for a period of 12 months. If, after 12 months, the candidate has not yet submitted their thesis for examination, the DoS is required to make an application to re-appoint the examining team. The candidate is required (from Sept 2011) to submit a full first draft of the thesis to the supervisors and receive their comments before submission to the Academic Registry for the final assessment can be made The final decision on the content of the thesis and when to submit it rests with the candidate, subject to the satisfactory completion of required taught elements and agreed minimum period of registration. Candidates are normally required to have completed taught elements including the credit requirement before submitting the thesis for examination. The Faculty will check the student s achievements before submitting the EX1 for approval. When the thesis has been submitted to the Academic Registry, the DoS should in consultation with the candidate, the Independent Chair and the examiners, establish the best date and time for the viva to be held, allowing sufficient time for the examiners to read the thesis. Academic Registry and the Faculty Research Degrees Administrator should be notified as soon as possible. The DoS or other another supervisor may, with the student s agreement, be present at the viva, but may not speak unless at the express invitation of the Chair, and any questions will be limited to those of a factual nature. The recommendation of the examiners on the outcome of the viva will be given verbally to the student after the viva. The recommendation of the examiners will be considered at the University Research Degrees Award Board. The outcome from RDAB will be communicated to the student, including the post viva examiner s report, where necessary, following the RDAB. Any post-viva amendments are sent by Academic Registry to the student and the DoS. The DoS may provide a supervisory meeting with the student to consider the examiner s report following the viva, where necessary. 10

11 10. PROBLEMS AND COMPLAINTS (CoP Section 17) First steps i) Students with any problems concerning the progress of their supervised research should speak in the first instance to their Director of Studies, or one of their supervisory team. If this is not possible or they are not satisfied, they should contact the Faculty Director of Graduate Studies, who will, with the support of the Research Degrees Committee, attempt to address it at this stage. If it is a matter of more general concern a student may ask one of the research student representatives to raise it at the Faculty Research Degrees Committee (FRDC). ii) Directors of Study and supervisors with problems that cannot be dealt with within the supervisory team should contact either the Director of Graduate Studies. Problems of an administrative concern should be followed-up with the Research Degrees Administrator. The aim of the Faculty is that most problems and complaints will be satisfactorily dealt with during this more informal and Research Degree Coordinator-focused process. Faculty Complaints Procedure There is a Faculty complaints procedure, which must be exhausted before a student can access the University s complaints procedure. Staff Responsibilities: Executive Dean Ultimate responsibility for management of complaints. Faculty Academic Administrator - Complaints Co-ordinator Wherever possible, and appropriate, an opportunity will be provided for the complaint to be dealt with informally. This might include a conversation with the award leader, personal tutor or senior administrative officer in which the nature of the complaint would be discussed and addressed. If appropriate a file note would be kept to record the conversation. If the complaint is of a more serious nature or cannot be resolved informally the complainant should be encouraged to submit the complaint in writing. Such complaints should be addressed to the Faculty Academic Registrar as the co-ordinator of the complaints process. The Faculty Academic Registrar will refer the complaint to the most appropriate person for action, and in the event of doubt, to the Dean or Associate Dean(s). 11

12 The Faculty Academic Registrar will send an acknowledgement to the complainent, normally within 3 working days of receipt of the written complaint, explaining that the matter is now being addressed by the faculty. The faculty will normally deal with the complaint within a further 10 working days and must respond in writing to the student within that time period. Produced by: Jacky Brine, Helen Jackson, Paul Spencer May

13 Useful Information and contacts: Correct as at May 2011: Academic Regulations: Code of Practice: Chair of Research Degrees Award Board until 31 July 2011: Jacky Brine Extension: Ext or via Officer of the Research Degrees Award Board and for any PGR Assessment queries: Helen Jackson, Academic Registry, Ext or via Graduate School contact: Paul Spencer: Ext or via 13

14 GOOD PRACTICE FOR DIRECTORS OF STUDY/SUPERVISORS Be familiar with the requirements of the PhD or MPhil thesis, the procedures for submission and the viva examination, and Faculty and University Regulations governing the award of Research Degrees. Meet formally with your full-time student on average every two to three weeks; with your part-time student on average two to three times per term. Meeting with your student as a supervisory team regularly. A supervision session is generally 1 hour. Impromptu conversations in the corridor, for example, do not count as formal supervision. In an early tutorial, carry out a training needs analysis and discuss with the student their research training requirements. All students should acquire 60 credits research training, (maximum 120 credits). See Section 8. Continue to discuss training needs throughout their period of registration (at least annually) and provide as necessary. Keep the Director of Research Degrees informed of training needs and the actions taken to meet them and include details in the annual report. Meet in a place that is mutually acceptable, (eg your office), and ensure your supervision is free of interruption, eg through people coming to the door or phone calls. Students can expect your full attention for the duration of the supervision session. At the end of the meeting agree a date for the next meeting, and the tasks to be completed. Give notice of cancellation of meetings and reschedule new dates. Keep a record of when you meet, main points of your discussion, suggested and required actions and dates of next meeting and expected written work. Follow-up on actions agreed. Give guidance as to how you prefer to be contacted, and the form in which you wish to receive your work. Let the student know when you are going to be away from the Faculty for a period of time, eg annual leave. Prepare and provide for rigorous supervision; to read and comment critically and fully on their chapters, and to provide written comment, either on the draft itself or separately. (Provided you have received their work a couple of weeks prior to the meeting or by the date agreed with them). Provide guidance on the design, the ethics and conduct of the research project. Ensure the research is conducted in accordance with the relevant codes of conduct operating in the Faculty and University. All research projects must comply with the Faculty ethical guidelines. Anyone doing research with NHS staff or patients must go to the University Ethics Committee. RBI staff can advise on the UWE Ethics Committee. 14

15 Support the student in developing the time-plan for their research, and regularly review it. Provide guidance on the possible theoretical and methodological framings, but not to carry out the literature search for them, and encourage them in their methodological and theoretical reading, and discuss their understandings of this. Encourage the student in early and continued writing, and provide guidance on the development of an academic writing style and the correct layout of the thesis and the use of the required Harvard referencing system. Encourage the student to network, to attend seminars and conferences, and to present their work to others. Suggest conferences and seminars that might be of interest to them. Encourage the student to attend a series of Research Student Seminars. Supervisors are also invited to attend. Encourage the student to participate in the research activity of the Faculty seminar programmes. Encourage the student to attend the university-wide seminar programme and other related activities provided by RBI. Encourage the student to present their developing work within the Research Student Seminar Programme. Provide guidance on the structure of their thesis, and read it and comment on it prior to submission. Provide the student with a mock viva (after the submission of their thesis). Respect the fact that the thesis is their work, not yours. The Director of Studies should discuss with the supervisory team the way in which the supervision will proceed, some may always meet as a full team, some may make occasional but specific use of other members of the team. Keep the Director of Research Studies and the Research Degrees Administrator aware of any changes in registration, or emergent problems or concerns. Provide a detailed progress report to the Director of Research Degrees, annually each Spring throughout the period of registration. Carry out the correct administrative procedures for changes in registration, for the appointment of external and internal examiners, and for all procedures relating to the viva. For further details see the Academic Regulations. The Research Degrees Administrator is able to advise on all aspects of this. 15

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