Code of Practice for Research Degrees (MRes Programmes of Study; MPhil and PhD by Research; Professional Doctorates; PhD by Published Works)

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1 Code of Practice for Research Degrees (MRes Programmes of Study; MPhil and PhD by Research; Professional Doctorates; PhD by Published Works)

2 Contents 1. Introduction Regulations Research Degrees Programmes Research Degrees Regulations Research Degrees structures Committees relating to Research Degrees provision UWTSD Research Degrees Committee Faculty / collaborative partner Directors of Research Degrees UWTSD Ethics Committee and Ethics approval Administrative structures for research degrees Research Degrees: institutional oversight Directories and supervisory capacity list Enhancing supervisory and examination quality Annual Reports The Research Environment Selection and Admission General Principles Compliance with Codes and Regulations Publicity Selection Appeals and Complaints Procedure in relation to admission decisions and processes Introduction Feedback Procedure for Requesting Feedback Appeal against an Admissions Decision Procedure for Appealing against an Admissions Decision Complaints Procedure for Complaints Changes to Programmes or Supervisory Arrangements or Discontinuation of Programme Deferred Entry Entry requirements and procedures RPCL, RPEL and direct entry Requirements for external students or students with an external supervisor Research or programmes requiring enhanced disclosure Applications from Welsh speaking students Applicants with disabilities or specific learning needs The Interview Process Processes following the completion of the assessment Applicants declaring criminal convictions

3 5.16 International Applications Academic requirements External Agents English Language requirements Finance Information Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) Refugees and Asylum Seekers The offer and welcome letter Training (for MPhil and PhD by Research) Induction (for MPhil and PhD by Research) Induction to Part Two of MRes programmes of study and professional doctorates Data management The Programme of Study Handbook (for (especially Part One of) MRes programmes of study and Professional Doctorates) Supervision Confirmation of Director of Studies Supervision arrangements for MRes programmes of study The supervisory team (MPhil and PhD by Research, Part Two of Professional Doctorates, PhD by Published Works) Research Degrees Board Directory of Directors of Studies and Supervisors Professional development of supervisors, internal examiners and chairs of Transfer Panels and Examining Boards Supervisory roles Attendance monitoring General Informal meetings Formal meetings Part One of the MRes or Professional Doctorate: Part Two of the MRes or Professional Doctorate and all MPhil & PhD by Research and PhD by Published Work students International Research Students with a UKVI Tier 4 (General) Visa Needs analysis and the training programme for the thesis Absence of Director of Studies Progress, Review and Monitoring What constitutes satisfactory progress? Annual monitoring Transfer from MPhil/PhD to PhD Assessment Submission of the thesis and, where appropriate, portfolio and any other associated materials Examinations Recording of the oral examination Request for Examination by Electronic Means (Video link) The Examining Board

4 10.4 The examination process The oral examination Communicating the outcome of the examination Rights and responsibilities of students Leave, absence, and authorised absence approval for international students requiring visas Employment Appendix Guidelines for the Format, Word Count, and Binding of the thesis Format of the Thesis Binding of the Thesis Submitting your Theses or Dissertations for Printing and / or Binding Declaration Sheet Appendix Guidelines for Chairs of Research Degrees Examining Boards Chair of Examining Boards Responsibility of the Chair Further Responsibilities

5 1. Introduction This Code of Practice for Research Degrees sets out the policies and procedures of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David related to all research degrees offered by the University. These include all MRes programmes of study, MPhil and PhD degrees by Research, all Professional Doctorates, and the PhD by Published Works. The Code of Practice for Research Degrees also applies to collaborative partner institutions with research degrees provision. This Code of Practice for Research Degrees applies to all research degrees students, unless, for University of Wales students, anything in this document directly contradicts what is in the University of Wales Code of Practice for Research Degrees. It is intended to provide information to members of academic staff, research degrees students, administrators, and members of examining boards. Together with the regulations contained the Academic Quality Handbook (see Chapters 7, 8, 9 and 10), it forms the framework for the management of research degrees. The University s overall framework for Research Degrees aims to ensure that: i. the academic standards of the University are maintained, and ii. postgraduate research students have a fair and reasonable opportunity to achieve the full potential of their research. The Code of Practice for Research Degrees contains a range of policies and procedures, which should be treated as having regulatory authority subordinate to the regulations. The code has been drawn up after consulting various documents published externally, including: Quality Code Chapter B11 research degrees; HEFCE October 2002 report Improving standards in research degrees programmes ; SET for Success; Credit and Qualifications Framework for Wales; NQA Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance; UKCGE: The Role of Publications and Other Artefacts in Submissions for the UK PhD; VITAE Researchers Professional Development; Concordat to support the Career Development of Researchers. This document should be read in conjunction with: the Research Degrees Regulations in Chapter 8 of the Academic Quality Handbook; the Procedural Framework for Collaborative Provision in Chapter 9 of the Academic Quality Handbook; the assessment and progression regulations in Chapters 6 and 7 of the Academic Quality Handbook for Part One of the MRes and Professional Doctorates programmes of study; the recognition of prior learning regulations in Chapter 10 of the Academic Quality Handbook; Research Student Handbook; Research Supervisors Handbook; the University s Research Integrity and Ethics Policy, Intellectual Property Policy, and Health and Safety policy; 5

6 Programme of Study Handbooks for MRes programmes of study and Professional Doctorates. Collaborative Partner Operations Manual. Note: Every effort has been made to ensure consistency between the different documents produced by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David for the management of research degrees. Faculties and collaborative partnership institutions are responsible for ensuring that any supplementary information given to research supervisors and / or research students does not contradict the central information and is regularly updated in line with changes made to the University s overarching framework. However, where there appears to be a conflict between the guidance or regulations contained in these documents, the Regulations for Research Degrees as outlined in the Academic Quality Handbook take precedence over all other documents, including this Code of Practice for Research Degrees. This Code of Practice for Research Degrees takes precedence over handbooks for research students and supervisors and programme handbooks for MRes programmes of study and Professional Doctorates or any Faculty or collaborative partner institution s specific information distributed to research degrees students. 2. Regulations The regulations are available to all staff and research students via the website and through MyDay. The regulations set out: the qualifications required for entry to all programmes of research (MRes, MPhil and PhD by Research, Professional Doctorates, PhD by Published Works), as well as qualifications or experience that may give exemption from part of the required period of study, or part of the required research methods or induction training; the requirements for progression, monitoring and review of required periods of study; thesis and examination rules and procedures. 2.1 Research Degrees Programmes The qualifications that are offered at research level are: Masters by Research (MRes); Master of Philosophy by Research (MPhil); Doctor of Philosophy by Research (PhD); Professional doctorates; Doctor of Philosophy by Published Works (PhD). Full details of the requirements for each qualification are provided in Chapter 8 of the Academic Quality Handbook. 6

7 2.2 Research Degrees Regulations The regulations and procedures outlined in the Academic Quality Handbook and the Code of Practice for Research Degrees are applicable to all research degrees students enrolled on UWTSD degrees. For students that are enrolled for University of Wales awards there is additional oversight at every stage of candidature by the University of Wales through its Degrees and Academic Awards Board (DAAB). The regulations as set out in Chapter 8 of the Academic Quality Handbook will apply to all research degrees students with the following exceptions: 1) The word count regulations have changed for research degrees students studying for a practice-based PhD / MPhil by research (e.g. within the Creative and Performing Arts) Students who started their degrees before October 2012 will continue to work towards the word limit and structure of their programme as stipulated by the regulations when they started their degrees. All students who started their degree on or after October 2012 will follow the regulations as set out in the current regulations. 2) Current students on either the DMin programme or the PhD in Applied Archaeology will continue to study according to the regulations that were in force when they started their programmes; the current Professional Doctorate regulations do not apply to students on those programmes. For all other UWTSD students, the outcome regulations as outlined in Chapter 8 of the Academic Quality Handbook apply. 3) For University of Wales (UW) students the UW outcome regulations will apply. The unfair practice regulations, suspension and extensions regulations, appeal and complaints regulations as well as all disciplinary regulations will be applied to all students in accordance with the regulations as they are set out in the current Academic Quality Handbook, in Chapter 8. The Academic Quality Handbook can be found on the University website at: Please note that whereas students studying for an MRes degree or a professional doctorate study for a named award, students studying for an MPhil or PhD are studying for an MPhil or PhD by research rather than for an MPhil or PhD in a defined subject area. This includes research students working within practice-based areas of research. 3. Research Degrees structures 3.1 Committees relating to Research Degrees provision The regulations and procedures for research degrees are governed by the University of Wales Trinity Saint David s Research Degrees Committee (RDC). For students that are enrolled on degrees awarded by the University of Wales there is additional oversight of every stage of candidature by the University of Wales DAAB. For the consideration of admissions relating for the MPhil and PhD by Research and the PhD by Published Works there is a Research Degrees Admissions Sub-Committee. The terms of reference for this sub-committee can be found in Chapter 8 of the Academic Quality Handbook. Annual monitoring processes are overseen by the Annual Review Board and follow-up Review Boards. The terms of reference for these 7

8 boards can be found in Chapter 8 of the Academic Quality Handbook. All ethics approval processes for research degrees students are handled by the Ethics Committee, the terms of reference of which can be found in Chapter 2 of the Academic Quality Handbook. RPEL requests for professional doctorates are overseen by the RPEL Board as specified in Chapter 10 of the Academic Quality Handbook. Collaborative partner institutions will normally have their own Research Degrees Committees that report to the UWTSD Research Degrees Committee, with the appropriate Faculty partnership link (e.g. Partnership Coordinator, Partnership Team Leader, Faculty Director of Research Degrees Studies) attending as a member. In this Code of Practice for Research Degrees, the term Research Degrees Committee always refers to the UWTSD Research Degrees Committee UWTSD Research Degrees Committee The Research Degrees Committee (RDC) oversees all aspects of research degrees programmes. This committee, which has representation from all Faculties, reports to the Academic Quality and Standards Committee on the effectiveness of the arrangements for maintaining appropriate academic standards and enhancing the quality of postgraduate research programmes and to the Research Committee in relation to the research environment and culture for research degrees students as well as in relation to research skills training. Collaborative partner institutions are represented on the UWTSD RDC through the UWTSD Faculty that they are linked with (see Chapter 9 of the Academic Quality Handbook). The Research Degrees Committee meets on a regular basis, normally once per month, to discuss all matters relating to research degrees. It is also charged with developing all procedures that support, monitor, and review all aspects of the University s research degrees provision. Membership and the terms of reference of the Research Degrees Committee can be found in Chapter 2 of the Academic Quality Handbook. Faculties have a maximum of two representatives on the Research Degrees Committee with representation depending on the size of the research degrees provision. Faculties with more than 75 research degrees students (including those enrolled at collaborative partnerships) have two representatives. Most Faculties have one member and an alternate on the Research Degrees Committee in order to share the workload and ensure that the Faculty is represented at all RDC meetings. Information about the membership can be found on MyDay. Staff can raise issues at the Research Degrees Committee through their Faculty Representative or directly through the Postgraduate Research Office (PGRO) or the chair of the Research Degrees Committee. Feedback is always very welcome as are suggestions as to how to improve and develop the University s research degrees provision. Three student representatives attend the Research Degrees Committee on behalf of all students enrolled on Research Degree Programmes. One of these representatives will represent the Carmarthen and Lampeter campuses, one the London campus, and one the Swansea campus. Students associated with collaborative partner institutions are represented on their local Research Degrees Committees and any feedback or issues raised by students that need to be considered by the Research Degrees Committee will be reported by the Faculty that the collaborative partnership programme is linked to. 8

9 3.1.2 Faculty / collaborative partner Directors of Research Degrees Every Faculty and collaborative partner that offers research degrees must have a Director of Research Degrees. Where a Faculty or collaborative partner has relatively large numbers of research degrees students (i.e. more than 75) they may decide to have additional Directors of Research Degrees (e.g. associated with particular Schools, Centres, collaborative partner institutions, programmes or disciplines). The responsibilities of Faculty Directors of Research Degrees are as follows: 1) to represent the Faculty and any collaborative partners linked to the Faculty on the Research Degrees Committee; 2) to be the primary link with the Postgraduate Research Office for all research degrees matters in their Faculty; 3) to ensure that the Postgraduate Research Office is kept informed of any changes in relation to the supervisory teams within the Faculty (e.g. prolonged illness or absence of members of staff or students); 4) to ensure that all Faculty s research degrees paperwork is submitted in good time and good order for any research degrees related meetings or boards; 5) to ensure that staff within the Faculty are fully informed about any changes to regulations, processes and procedures; 6) to be the first point of contact in the Faculty for any supervisors and students in relation to research degree related matters; 7) to ensure adherence to agreed research degree processes and procedures within their Faculty; 8) to monitor adherence to international attendance policies for any of their international research students on Tier 4 visas; 9) to evaluate, on behalf of their Faculty, any requests from students for extensions, change of study mode, suspensions etc. 10) to ensure that proposals for Examining Boards are submitted to the PGRO for approval at the RDC in good time; 11) to submit, on behalf of the Faculty, for Part One of any MRes or professional doctorates an annual programme report. The responsibilities for collaborative partner Directors of Research Degrees are as follows: 1) to ensure close liaison with the University through the link Faculty and the Postgraduate Research Office and to collaborate closely, as appropriate, with the Partnership Team Leader(s), the Faculty s Director of Research Degrees, and Partnership Coordinator;* 2) to be the primary link for the Partnership Team Leader(s), Partnership Coordinator, and other key University staff in relation to all research degrees matters of the collaborative partner; 3) to ensure that the University s quality assurance requirements are met in relation to the research degrees provision; 4) to facilitate the close monitoring of the collaborative partner institution s research degrees provision and provide the required annual report in good time and to oversee, monitor and report on any action plans coming out of the annual report; 5) to oversee and monitor the work of Programme Directors for any MRes or professional doctorates; 6) to ensure the appropriate quality of any research degrees related documentation and its consistency with University requirements; 9

10 7) to serve in a facilitating capacity at validation/review or other research degrees related events; 8) to ensure that the Postgraduate Research Office is kept informed of any changes in relation to the supervisory teams within the collaborative partner institution (e.g. prolonged illness or absence of members of staff or students); 9) to ensure that all collaborative partner institution s research degrees paperwork is submitted in good time and good order for any research degrees related meetings or boards; 10) to ensure, in liaison with the UWTSD s Partnership Team Leader(s), that staff within the collaborative partner are fully informed about any changes to regulations, processes and procedures; 11) to be the first point of contact in the collaborative partner institution for any supervisors and students in relation to research degree related matters; 12) to ensure adherence to agreed research degree processes and procedures within the collaborative partner institution; 13) to monitor adherence to international attendance policies for any of their international research students on Tier 4 visas; 14) to evaluate, on behalf of the collaborative partner, any requests from students for extensions, change of study mode, suspensions etc. 15) to ensure that proposals for Examining Boards are submitted in good time to the Postgraduate Research Office for approval at the UWTSD Research Degrees Committee; 16) to submit, on behalf of the collaborative partner institution, an annual programming report for Part One of any MRes or professional doctorates *These roles may be conflated. For example, in the case of a collaborative partner with research degrees provision, the Partnership Coordinator or Partnership Team Leader may also be the Faculty s Director of Research Degrees. For roles and responsibilities of the supervisory team (Director of Studies, second supervisors and advisers) see the Research Supervisor Handbook. For roles and responsibilities of Programme Directors (for MRes programmes of study and Professional Doctorates) see Chapter 7 of the Academic Quality Handbook UWTSD Ethics Committee and Ethics approval The University has a central Ethics Committee that is responsible for ensuring that research undertaken by students and staff is ethically responsible and that the candidates and supervisory team are aware of their responsibilities during the period of research. All research projects need ethics approval, but, obviously, there will be different levels of approval for different research projects depending on the level of risk involved with the research. Ethics approval is a key part of the admissions process. However, throughout a student s candidature it is checked at key stages of progress whether further ethics approval is needed (e.g. full research proposal, annual monitoring, transfer from MPhil/PhD to PhD). For the ethics approval processes of research projects undertaken at collaborative partner institutions, please see Chapter 8 of the Academic Quality Handbook (sections 8.8, 8.29 and 8.44). Following the meeting of the Ethics Committee both the student and supervisory team will be notified officially of the outcome. It is recommended that, where ethical issues have been 10

11 identified, the area of research that requires ethical approval should not commence until after written approval has been received. This may not prevent the student from commencing other aspects of their research unless the issues are so serious that formal clearance needs to be obtained before any research can be commenced. The University s Research Integrity and Ethics policy can be accessed through MyDay and the University s website Administrative structures for research degrees A number of professional units look after the University s research degrees provision. The Postgraduate Research Office (PGRO), which is part of the Academic Office, is responsible for the support of research degree students throughout their time at the University once they have been admitted, including the submission and examination of theses. The Postgraduate Research Office also offers support to all academic staff that are responsible for research degree students and liaises closely with the different Faculties, collaborative partner institutions, and a range of professional units. Responsibility for the admission of research degree students lies with the Registry s admission team. Responsibility for the research environment and training of research degrees students lies with the University s Research, Enterprise and Innovation Services (RIES). The Student Experience Department looks after student engagement, which includes student feedback (e.g. PRES survey) and the election of student representatives. 4. Research Degrees: institutional oversight 4.1 Directories and supervisory capacity list The University holds a number of directories centrally that are of importance to staff supervising research degrees: Directory of Directors of Studies and Supervisors; Directory of Advisers; Directory of Chairs of Examining Boards and Transfer Panels; Directory for the PhD by Published Works; Directory of Supervisory Capacity. The University also holds a record of which members of staff are able to examine through the medium of Welsh. The Directories cover both the University and all collaborative partners with research degrees provision. With the exception of the Directory of Supervisory Capacity which is updated after each meeting of the Research Degrees Committee, information for all other Directories is reviewed on, at least, an annual basis. For information about what qualifications and expertise are needed to be included in the different Directories, please see section 7.4 of this Code of Practice for Research Degrees and Chapter 8 of the Academic Quality Handbook. All staff who wish to be included for the first time within a Directory (whether they relate to the University or to a collaborative partner institution) need to submit a completed Directory form and CV for approval to the Research Degrees Committee. This process must also be followed for 11

12 advisers and for external supervisors. No member of staff can supervise or chair an examination board or transfer panel without being included in the appropriate central Directory. 4.2 Enhancing supervisory and examination quality The University is committed to the enhancement of its research degrees provision and supervisory quality as well as the quality of its chairs and examiners, both within the University and within its collaborative partner institutions with research degrees provision. The following are therefore provided to support supervisors, chairs and examiners: an annual staff development programme; mentoring systems for staff new to research degree roles (e.g. as a supervisor, assessor of a transfer or internal examiner); a number of annual analyses to ensure reflection on supervisory and examination practices (e.g. review of examining board reports, review of annual monitoring forms); an annual report on the research degrees provision within the University with a systematic action plan for the following year. All reports and analyses are shared with supervisors through the Faculty and collaborative partner institution structures. 4.3 Annual Reports The Research Degrees Committee submits an overview report and associated action plan annually to the Academic Quality and Standards Committee, Research Committee and Senate on the overall progress of research degree candidates. This includes registrations, completions, withdrawals/suspensions, and attendance at training programmes by supervisors and students, drawing attention to any innovative practices or training that it feels has helped the quality of their programmes, and highlighting any issues that need to be addressed. To support this report, the following analyses will be done annually: analysis of Examining Board outcome reports; analysis of Annual Monitoring reports; analysis of admission statistics; cohort analysis; extension analysis; analysis of PRES (bi-annually); analysis of graduate summer school feedback questionnaires and initial experience feedback questionnaires; staff and student development questionnaires. Annual Programme Reports (APRs) and minutes for the APR events for Part One of MRes programmes of study and Professional Doctorates are also received by the Research Degrees Committee as are collaborative partner research degrees provision monitoring reports from Partnership Team Leaders as well as annual reports from collaborative partner institutions with research degrees provision and partnership coordinators as per Chapter 9 of the Academic Quality Handbook. 12

13 4.4 The Research Environment During the consultation process with applicants prior to entry, Faculties and collaborative partner institutions must ensure that there is adequate expertise available to provide supervisory support for the topic to be pursued within a research-active environment and that appropriate training is available to support the student s specialist needs. Care should be taken to ensure that potential research students are not isolated within their own project and that they have contact with other researchers both from within and outside the University or collaborative partner institution so that they can share experiences and form networks. Generally there should be: opportunities to link with the wider professional community through, for example conference and seminar attendance; ready access to academic colleagues for advice and support; availability of adequate learning and research tools; the opportunity to develop peer support networks where issues or problems can be discussed informally; guidance on research ethics and good practice; an emphasis on the need to complete the research programme within the expected period of study. 5. Selection and Admission 5.1 General Admission processes for research degrees follow two distinct routes: 1) for all MRes and Professional Doctorates admissions; 2) for all MPhil and PhD by Research admissions as well as all admissions to the PhD by Published Works See section 5.5 of the Code of Practice for Research Degrees for a description of the two distinct processes followed and Chapter 8 of the Academic Quality Handbook for the terms of reference of the Admissions Sub-Committee. The precise processes and responsibilities for research degrees admissions for collaborative partner institutions are formally agreed with the collaborative partner institution, with auditing processes in place to monitor adherence to the admission policy and procedures. Please note that all MPhil and PhD by Research admissions for collaborative partner institutions must be considered and approved by the UWTSD Admissions Sub-Committee. 5.2 Principles The University s admissions policy is underpinned by the following principles. The University is committed to: providing clear and transparent admissions information to prospective applicants; operating a fair and effective admissions process; ensuring the consistent application of policy across the University; 13

14 encouraging applications from the widest range of educational, social and cultural backgrounds; ensuring that only suitably qualified applicants are admitted to research degrees study. 5.3 Compliance with Codes and Regulations The admissions policy and associated procedures comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, relevant equality and diversity legislation affecting the admissions of students and take account of sector best practice, including: the QAA s UK Quality Code for Higher Education: Chapter B2: Recruitment, selection and admission to higher education; Chapter B11 Research Degrees; and Part C: Information about higher education provision; Supporting Professionalism in Admissions SPA Good Practice Statement; The Schwartz report s principles of fair admissions; The requirements of relevant accrediting professional bodies; The requirements of the UKVI. 5.4 Publicity Faculties and collaborative partner institutions must ensure that their promotional material, whether web-based or paper-based, is clear, accurate and up-to-date, and of sufficient detail to be helpful and informative to potential students about the level of activity and focus of research. 5.5 Selection The University is responsible for ensuring that all applicants for study have been fully and fairly considered in the light of legal requirements and the applicable policies on equality and diversity. The Research Degrees Committee oversees and monitors the overall admission processes for research degrees admissions. This includes all admissions to research degrees programmes for collaborative partner institutions and the results of any audits are reported to the Research Degrees Committee. The Research Degrees Committee has a sub-committee, the Admissions Sub-Committee, which considers the research degrees admissions for the MPhil and PhD by Research and for the PhD by Published Works. This Admissions Sub-Committee reports all its recommendations for admissions to those research degrees programmes to the Research Degrees Committee. The Admissions Sub-Committee may also refer any complex applications to the Research Degrees Committee for consideration and approval. The Admissions Sub-Committee only considers formal applications where there are no issues in relation to the paperwork submitted for the application and where the Faculty or collaborative partner institution are recommending admission following the interview. Admission to MRes programmes of study as well as professional doctorates is coordinated through the Registry with admission decisions to those programmes of study reported to the Research Degrees Committee. The Admissions Sub- Committee also considers the composition of the supervisory team and research proposal for MRes and Professional Doctorates students who have successfully completed Part One of their programmes of study. Applicants will often, of course, approach Faculties or collaborative partner institutions informally in the first instance, for example in relation to available research expertise in the area of study that they would like to specialise in. As soon as a formal application is made the admission 14

15 process is administered by the Registry and monitored by the Research Degrees Committee. The Registry will normally communicate by with applicants. A wide range of communications is sent to applicants, including the following: acknowledgement of receipt of an application; confirmation of the offer of entry; introductory and registration information. In addition to the above, applicants may receive communications from academic Faculties which may include an invitation to visit the University and programme specific information. Similarly, information may be sent to applicants by the collaborative partner institution that they will be studying with. If an application is found to contain false information at the point of verification or thereafter, the University reserves the right not to enrol the applicant or to require the student to withdraw from the programme of study. No research degrees students for the MPhil and PhD by Research or the PhD by Published Works can be admitted directly by the Faculty or collaborative partner institution and it is important that no promises in relation to admission for those programmes of study are made until the admission has been approved by the Admissions Sub-Committee. In general, the University operates three entry points for research degrees programmes: 1 October, 1 February, and 1 June. However, for some programmes, such as the DBA, there are different entry points; for full information please consult the website on The University endeavours to turn-around all research degrees applications as quickly as possible and monitors closely turn-around times for all research degrees applications. The fast processing of formal applications is greatly supported if applicants ensure that all requested paperwork needed is submitted on time. Successful applicants will receive an offer of entry from the University. The offer of entry will either by Conditional or Unconditional. The Registry will contact any applicants that have been unsuccessful. Unsuccessful candidates are made aware that they can request feedback as per the policy outlined below. 5.6 Appeals and Complaints Procedure in relation to admission decisions and processes The University considers all applicants fairly and in line with the principles outlined in the policy. However, the University recognises that there may be occasions where applicants request an appeal (review of their application), or make a complaint about the admissions process. This section clarifies the arrangements for applicants to obtain feedback about an unsuccessful application, to appeal a selection decision or to complain about the admissions process. 15

16 5.6.1 Introduction The University is committed to fair, transparent and consistent admissions practices. Every unsuccessful research degrees applicant is given feedback as to why their application was unsuccessful. Following the provision of feedback, an applicant will have the right to appeal the selection decision, providing that there are sufficient grounds for an appeal (see section 5.6.4). An applicant who wishes to make a complaint about the admission policy and procedures may do so using the complaints procedure (see section 5.6.7). The complaints procedure cannot be used to challenge an academic decision to refuse an application Feedback Feedback in this context is defined as information about why an application was unsuccessful. Any unsuccessful applicant to the University may request further feedback on an admissions decision. Applicants should note that the most common reason for an application to be declined is that the applicant either does not meet the entry requirements for study at research degrees level or that the Faculty or collaborative partner does not have the academic expertise or the capacity to supervise the topic proposed. Unsuccessful applicants are encouraged to check the University's website for details of both standard offer levels and any specific entry requirements Procedure for Requesting Feedback The following procedure should be used to request further feedback regarding an unsuccessful application to the University. Requests for feedback should be made in writing to the Registry, within 20 working days following notification of the original admissions decision. Applicants should include their full name and the name of the programme applied to. It is not possible to provide detailed feedback by telephone. The Registry will respond in writing to each request for feedback within 20 working days of receipt of the request. Requests for further feedback must come from the applicant. The University will not respond to requests for feedback from those advising applicants (whether family members, employers, agents, or solicitors) Appeal against an Admissions Decision For the purposes of this procedure, an appeal is defined as a request by an applicant for a formal review of the outcome of an admissions decision. An appeal will only be considered where there are adequate grounds, as set out below: Where there is substantial new information which, for good reason, was not made available either on the original application or during the selection procedure, and where that new information is significant and directly relevant to the original decision. Please 16

17 note that the new information must relate directly to the original application and cannot include activities or achievements which have taken place or been ratified subsequently. Where there is evidence that the University s published Admissions Policy has not been followed. Appeals against an admissions decision based on the academic judgement of University staff about an applicant s suitability for entry to a particular programme or appeals put forward on any grounds other than those specified above will not be considered. The University will also not consider appeals where decisions have been made on the grounds of available supervisory capacity or academic expertise. The University will not consider appeals that are based on errors made by external organisations, agencies or individuals. For example, inaccurate predictions of future grades; disputes about the grading of formal examinations; comments made by referees or agents. The University will not be able to consider appeals where a decision not to admit an applicant is based on restrictions imposed by external organisations or agencies for example restrictions imposed by UK Visas and Immigration Procedure for Appealing against an Admissions Decision The following procedure should be followed if an applicant wishes to appeal against an admissions decision. An applicant should seek feedback from the University (see section above) before deciding whether or not he/she has grounds to appeal the admissions decision. An appeal will not be considered until after an applicant has received formal feedback. Appeals must be received within 20 working days following the provision of feedback from the Registry. An appeal should be submitted in writing to the Chair of the Research Degrees Committee, stating clearly the grounds for appeal (as above) and outlining the case in full. Appeals must be made by the applicant and not a third party. The University will not respond to requests from anyone other than the applicant (whether family members, employers, agents or solicitors). Once received, the Chair of the Research Degrees Committee will review the record of the application (normally in consultation with the relevant Faculty s Director of Research Degrees Studies) and will respond in writing, normally within 20 working days. If the appeal is upheld, the University will take such reasonable action as is appropriate and the applicant will be informed of the outcome. If the appeal is not upheld, the University will communicate the reasons for the decision to the applicant in writing. No applicant will be discriminated against in any future application on the basis of appealing a previous admissions decision. 17

18 5.6.6 Complaints (1) For the purposes of this procedure, a complaint is defined as an expression of dissatisfaction about the University s admissions policies and procedures which have been used to reach a selection decision or about the actions, or the lack of actions, by the University or its staff. (2) A complaint will not result in the amendment of an admissions decision. However, if in the course of investigating a complaint the Chair of the Research Degrees Committee believes there are grounds for an appeal against the selection decision, the Head of Registry may advise the applicant to submit a formal appeal Procedure for Complaints The following procedure should be followed if an applicant wishes to submit a formal complaint. Complaints must be received within 20 working days of the conclusion of the admissions process against which the complaint is being made. A complaint should be submitted in writing to the Chair of the Research Degrees Committee, and should provide the following information: the nature of, and reasons for, the complaint, giving as much detail as possible; any steps already taken to resolve the matter, if appropriate; details of any response received to date and a statement as to why the response(s) is not satisfactory; an indication of the outcome which is sought. The complaint must be made by the applicant and not a third party. The University will not respond to requests from anyone other than the applicant (whether family members, employers, agents or solicitors). Once received, the Chair of the Research Degrees Committee will investigate the complaint and will seek to resolve the complaint or explain the situation and will respond in writing, normally within 20 working days. If the complaint is substantiated, the University will take such reasonable action as is appropriate and the applicant will be informed of the outcome. If the complaint is not substantiated, the University will communicate the reasons for the decision to the applicant in writing. No applicant will be discriminated against in any future application on the basis of submitting a complaint 5.7 Changes to Programmes or Supervisory Arrangements or Discontinuation of Programme Where significant changes have been made to a published programme, those applicants with an offer on that programme should be informed of those changes as soon as possible. Such changes may include: A programme not being validated or accredited by a professional body or the University; 18

19 A programme gaining validation from a professional body; Major change (review) to an existing programme; Major variation to the programme fees; Change of location of programme delivery; The closure or suspension of a programme. Changes in relation to the proposed supervisory team Applicants will have the option of withdrawing their acceptance of the programme. Should an applicant wish to be considered for an alternative programme his/her application will then be assessed against the entry criteria for that particular programme, provided there is sufficient space to accommodate them. 5.8 Deferred Entry The University is willing to consider applications for deferred entry. However the University reserves the right to withdraw a programme from its prospectus during an academic year, and applicants choosing to defer their entry will be clearly informed of this. In addition supervisory expertise or capacity may no longer be available for the desired entry date and if this is the case applicants are informed of this. The University cannot guarantee that the programme s tuition fee will not change during the deferment period. 5.9 Entry requirements and procedures For admission requirements, see the relevant section of each programme of study in Chapter 8 of the Academic Quality Handbook. Where applicants do not meet these requirements, the University has the responsibility to ensure that they can demonstrate equivalent academic ability, for example, that they have acquired the requisite skills, knowledge and training from their professional work. As part of the admission procedures for such non-standard admissions, the features of the applicants professional work that evidence the acquisition of the skills are highlighted. For example, their professional occupation may use the academic skills developed during an undergraduate degree in a way which develops independent critical assessment of evidence, or formulation of plans, or use of methodologies which would have extended their undergraduate achievement. Clearly, applicants working in non-graduate positions will not easily be able to satisfy this requirement. RPEL requests will need to follow the procedures set out in Chapter 10 of the Academic Quality Handbook. In cases where assessed work for a research degree is based on activities and/or data or other resource accessed via the student s employment or another employer / external party, then, in addition to the academic requirements for admission listed above, a formal agreement from the employer or external party to permit access to such resource is required. This agreement must make clear how company data and other information might be used and how any issues of Intellectual Property are dealt with. Research degree applicants are expected to submit the names of two referees as part of the formal application process. These referees should normally be an individual from an organisation at which the applicant has studied or at which the applicant was or is employed. 19

20 The referees must not be a relative or personal friend of the applicant. If the referees are from an institution at which the applicant has studied, then he/she must be an academic who has assessed the student as part of the qualification that is being used to gain entry. If the referees are from an institution at which the applicant has been or currently is employed, then they must have had line management responsibility for the applicant. One referee will normally be contacted. An interview (either face-to-face or by electronic means for applicants at a distance) must, wherever possible, be conducted by at least one member of staff of the Faculty or collaborative partner institution, who must have had appropriate training in selection and admissions procedures. Applicants for the PhD by Published Works must be interviewed by two members of staff. An admission decision form must be completed for each applicant, irrespective of the research degree applied for, which reflects on the interview and application form. For admissions for the MPhil and PhD by Research and the PhD by Published Works a recommendation must be given by the Faculty or collaborative partnership institution to the Admission Sub-Committee. For admissions to MRes programmes of study and professional doctorates the Faculty must give the recommendation to the Registry and the collaborative partner institution must communicate the outcome to the Registry. The Registry monitors the turn-around times to ensure that applications are assessed in a timely manner. For international applicants who will be studying on a Tier 4 visa all interviews must be recorded and on the admission decision form Faculties and collaborative partner institutions are asked to comment on the English or Welsh language capabilities of any applicant whose first language is not English or Welsh during the interview. The interview must also include a credibility assessment. The staff responsible for interviewing applicants during the entry consultation process must: i. ensure that there is sufficient motivation to cope with the rigours of a research degree; ii. ensure that there is a realistic and sound initial research proposal and outline; iii. ensure that there are realistic prospects of having the resources to pay the required fees and to provide support through the programme; iv. ensure that there are no issues in relation to English / Welsh language skills and expertise; v. ensure that candidates have a clear picture of: the fees to be paid; the working environment (where appropriate); the resources and facilities available; the supervisory team and supervisory arrangements; the University and Faculty or collaborative partner institution s study / achievement expectations RPCL, RPEL and direct entry For RPCL, RPEL, and direct entry see Chapters 8 and 10 of the Academic Quality Handbook. All RPCL, RPEL and direct entry requests must be approved prior to admission Requirements for external students or students with an external supervisor The following information will be required from the Faculty or collaborative partner institution, in addition to the normal research application, before admission for either full-time or part-time 20

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