RESEARCH DEGREES HANDBOOK

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1 RESEARCH DEGREES HANDBOOK Section C: Framework for Postgraduate Student Training IN THIS SECTION: C1 C2 C3 C1 Context The Components of the Programme Management and Quality Assurance CONTEXT C1.1 Introduction A comprehensive training programme is provided for all the University s research degree students. The training programme covers: i) induction to the institution's procedures and to the process of research; ii) generic skills associated with research; iii) discipline-based methods, skills and techniques; iv) project-specific training related to the student's own research project. This guide provides basic information for students and supervisors about the operation and requirements of the programme. The programme is facilitated by the Training Co-ordinator for Research Degrees Students and Early Career Researchers to whom both students and staff can turn for further guidance and information. C1.2 Principles There are a number of principles which underpin this programme. These are that the programme: i) can be undertaken by all the University's research students, regardless of topic area or of mode of study; ii) reflects best practice of research degree training and supervision within The University and elsewhere; iii) does not burden students with unnecessary additional tasks; iv) meets the expectations of the QAA s UK Quality Code, Chapter B11 Research Degrees (June 2012). C1.3 Aims These principles can be further developed into the aims for the programme of training for research degree students: i) to provide a unified and appropriate but flexible programme of training which can be followed by all students registered for postgraduate research degrees at The University of Northampton; ii) to be managed and administered in such a way that both students and supervisors are fully aware of its requirements, their roles and expectations within the programme, including the monitoring of student progress and achievement; The University of Northampton Research Degrees Handbook (C )

2 iii) iv) to link the programme with the procedures of Enrolment, Registration and Transfer overseen by the University's Research Degrees Committee, and to link assessment points in the training programme with decision points in the research degrees procedure; to be subject to robust quality assurance mechanisms which correspond to the principles of quality assurance within The University and the QAA s UK Quality Code; v) to provide training for students in those aspects of professional development which will enable them successfully to contribute to and operate within the academy or other professional contexts, including different modes of working, the presentation and dissemination of research, and other scholarly or professional conventions; vi) to provide a platform in which students and supervisors feel part of a wider research community within the University. C1.4 Outcomes On completion of the programme, research students should have and be able to demonstrate: understanding of the process by which independent, postgraduate-level research is undertaken and disseminated so that they are able to manage the research process themselves and become effective researchers; understanding and evaluation of the context and role of research within their discipline, within the University, and in society; critical appreciation of debates on the philosophy of research and the way in which their own subject engages with these debates; critical awareness of the diversity of research styles, approaches and strategies; more specific and subject-based knowledge of a number of research methodologies, methods and techniques appropriate to the student's own discipline or subject area; the ability to evaluate critically current research debates in their subject beyond the specificities of their chosen thesis topic, permitting them to situate their own research within a broader context; appreciation appropriate at postgraduate level of the linkages between empirical and theoretical issues; the skills to make the process of information collection, retrieval and analysis and its subsequent communication efficient and effective; awareness of their own skills and capabilities; understanding of career opportunities commensurate with their skills and capabilities. C1.5 The Structure of the Programme The Programme is delivered in four components. Each of these components of the programme has its own aims and outcomes (see section C2): i) Induction training ii) Generic Training iii) Discipline-based Training iv) Project-specific Training Although this is an institution-wide programme, only some of its components are delivered centrally. Primary responsibility for the delivery of this programme lies with the supervisory team and its content is decided through negotiation with the student. The Training Coordinator is responsible for overseeing the operation of the programme and the delivery of the centralised elements, but much of the assessment is handled more locally by the supervisor or the appropriate Research Degrees Board. The University of Northampton Research Degrees Handbook (C )

3 Research students go through four major stages of training that support the processes involved in working towards the award of a research degree. After an initial programme of induction, Generic Training, Discipline-based Training and Project-specific Training run concurrently. This procedure is overseen by the University's Research Degrees Committee which reports to the Senate of The University of Northampton. These mileposts in the procedure are important for the research training programme and the programme which aims to help students to work towards these major stages. Much of the documentation required by the Research Degrees Committee at each of these stages is collated and initially scrutinised by Research Degree Boards. C2 THE COMPONENTS OF THE PROGRAMME C2.1 Induction C2.1.1 Induction: aims The Induction component comprises a four-day, intensive introduction to The University and to the research environment and is set at the outset of a research student's life cycle. The induction programme is offered on two occasions in a year; currently October and February/March. Students mostly part-time who are not able to complete all of its components within one week are expected to attend these parts of the programme when offered on the next occasion. Responsibility for organising the delivery of this component rests with the Training Coordinator. In exceptional circumstances where arrangements are made with partner institutions and at the discretion of the research degrees committee, it may be possible for the induction programme to be delivered without attendance at The University of Northampton. The Induction component of the programme aims to: i) provide an open discussion about the nature and purpose of research, distinguishing the essence of PhDs and MPhils; ii) explore the rights and responsibilities of research students; iii) provide students with information about the facilities at The University of Northampton, including support services such as Learning Resources (which includes the library), Information Technology Service and Student Services; iv) provide information about the procedures for the administration of research budgets; v) introduce students to the University's research degrees procedures and the research degree life cycle; vi) provide students with the opportunity to meet staff and peers at the beginning of their research training; vii) provide an introduction to issues of Health and Safety, research ethics and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR); viii) familiarise students to the process of maintaining Personal Development Portfolios. C2.1.2 Induction: outcomes Following completion of this component students will: understand the University's research degree processes and other administrative procedures as they affect them; know where to find information about the University's support services; be able to articulate what constitutes a research degree and its purpose. The University of Northampton Research Degrees Handbook (C )

4 C2.1.3 Induction: assessment All students are required to complete all components of the induction programme after their enrolment as a postgraduate student unless an alternative programme has been approved by the Training Coordinator. There is no formal assessment beyond the requirement to complete and the requirement to deliver a short presentation on their proposed research at the end of the induction week. Failure to complete all components of the Induction will lead to failure of the programme and will prevent registration as an Advanced Postgraduate Student at The University of Northampton. C2.2 Generic Training C2.2.1 Generic Training: aims The Generic Training component provides a series of workshops which will raise students' awareness of issues to be tackled and tasks to be undertaken when carrying out postgraduate research. This component has been informed by Vitae Researcher Development Statement. The Generic Training component of the programme aims to: i) introduce a range of research skills and techniques; ii) develop an understanding of the broader context of the research environment; iii) establish good practices of research management, such as monitoring progress, managing time and dealing with their supervisor; iv) develop and raise awareness of the skills associated with personal effectiveness; v) heighten communication skills, particularly the ways in which research can be presented in writing, by graphics, through oral presentation and using other media vi) provide training in appropriate key (transferable) skills associated with the processes of effective career management. C2.2.2 Generic Training: outcomes After completing the generic training component of the programme students should be able to: see value in the benefits of integrating skills training as part of their research degree programme; show a broad understanding of the context in which research takes place; demonstrate original, independent and critical thinking; understand different ways of supporting their learning including self-direction, supervisor support and mentoring; situate their research within the context of available research methodologies; apply effective project management through the setting of research goals; appreciate the need for and show commitment to continued professional development; set realistic and achievable career goals, and identify and develop ways to improve employability. C2.2.3 Generic Training: delivery Provision of the generic training component is facilitated by the Training Coordinator and is offered though a series of workshops. Each workshop is designated at a particular level commensurate with the research degree life cycle. Details of the programme are available from the Training Coordinator and are sent to every enrolled student by . The University of Northampton Research Degrees Handbook (C )

5 Students are expected to join the generic training programme as soon as they have completed induction and enrolled as a postgraduate student. For part-time students, three one-day training sessions are held where several of the workshops are repeated. C2.2.4 Graduate Teaching Assistant Scheme Research degree students who undertake teaching within the university are required to undertake formal training offered by the University. C2.2.5 Generic Training: assessment There is no formal assessment of the Generic component of the training programme, other than an expectation that each student will attend as many of the workshops that are deemed relevant to them, as identified in discussion with the supervisory team. C2.3 Discipline Based Training C2.3.1 Discipline Based Training: aims The intention of the discipline-based component of this training programme is to build on information, skills and ideas introduced in the generic training component. Whereas the generic training component raises awareness of the range of possible methodologies and of techniques for information acquisition, analysis and presentation, this component aims to demonstrate how these methodologies and techniques can be utilised in the student's own discipline. It is not intended that there will be uniformity in the nature of the provision of this component, and students may negotiate a variety of training routes. Every effort shall be made to ensure that the discipline-based training programme meets student needs and entitlements and is offered in a manner that will be regarded as consistent, robust and appropriate. For this component and for the Project-specific Training (see below) students will need to discuss their training needs with their supervisors so that an appropriate programme of training can be developed. The discipline-based component of the training programme aims to: i) provide students with training in methodologies and techniques appropriate to the discipline(s) in which their research is situated; ii) enable students to situate their own research project within the context of the methodologies and subject content of their own discipline(s); iii) enable students further to develop some of the essential research skills such as acquiring and evaluating information, and presenting the research process and preliminary outcomes, in particular at a seminar; iv) enable students to participate in research networks in areas cognate with their own. C2.3.2 Discipline Based Training: outcomes In order to demonstrate successful completion of this component of the training students will need to demonstrate: awareness of others working in the same topic area; recognition of their own specialist research training needs in relation to their discipline(s); awareness of and ability to criticise the relative appropriateness of various (competing) approaches and methodologies by including a systematic justification of their chosen methodology for the Transfer document; presentation skills of various kinds, including seminars, posters, etc; The University of Northampton Research Degrees Handbook (C )

6 awareness of relevant discipline-based dissemination practices. C2.3.3 Discipline Based Training: delivery These guidelines should be interpreted flexibly so as to accommodate the needs of different types of research degree students, including part-time and mature students. Equally, they are not intended to be imposed upon students in situations that would be entirely inappropriate. All Schools shall provide a discipline based training programme for its research degree students. The School s nominated Research Leader shall convene this programme. Where research student numbers are small, mutually agreed joint provision with another School is encouraged. It is recommended that minimum provision shall comprise the following: a) Between Registration and Transfer Training in research degree methods. Each student shall attend modules (or parts thereof) in research methods offered as part of existing discipline-based Masters programmes within the School or offered in another School where relevance can be assured. Where no relevant course/modules can be identified the School shall provide relevant research methods training equivalent to at least one Master s module. Needs and requirements shall be determined by a personal audit undertaken by the principal supervisor, where prior learning and experience shall be recognised. In those cases where research degree students attend an existing Master s module they are exempt from that module s fees and from any form of examination, coursework and assessment associated with that module. It shall be at the discretion of the module leader whether any work submitted by a research degree student(s) in attendance is marked and returned; if work is marked these marks shall not form part of that Module s return. Training in discipline-based research seminars. Each student shall attend a programme of research seminars organised by the School. A minimum programme of six seminars shall be set in every academic year. Training in discipline-based dissemination practices. Each student shall attend one workshop on disseminating research organised by the School and present their research (poster) at the university s annual Festival of Research and Knowledge Transfer. b) At Transfer Each student shall give a seminar on their research to the School, present two draft chapters one of which should normally cover methodological issues participate in a viva voce and produce a case for transfer (see section A3.4). The research seminar should: provide a clear summary of the aims and objectives of the study; give a description and evaluation of data sources, methodologies and approaches used; provide a concise review of the preliminary results of the work to date; give a critical evaluation of the study to date, including any perceived problems and their potential solutions, covering implications for the original research aims and objectives and for future plans. The two draft chapters should: demonstrate critical understanding and awareness of the context for their research in existing scholarship and knowledge; demonstrate the ability to write appropriately for a research degree. The University of Northampton Research Degrees Handbook (C )

7 Most straightforwardly, these chapters could be a literature review and a chapter setting out the methodological context. However, this may not be appropriate for all projects so the only requirements are that the chapters place the research project within a broader context of appropriate, existing scholarship and that they consider methodological issues related to the project. Chapters should normally be of words as appropriate within the subject area of the project. The viva voce examination prior to transfer is intended to: i) provide students with an opportunity to practise for this mode of examination in preparation for examination of their thesis; ii) examine the student's satisfactory achievement of the component outcomes associated with a critical understanding of the context of the research and of an awareness of others working in the same topic area, and to discuss with the student the Plan of Work which has been submitted. The viva voce will be organised by the student's supervisor. The interview will normally last between 30 and 60 minutes. The interview panel will consist of two or three members, of whom one may be an external member, the others being drawn from staff from The University of Northampton. It may include a member of the student's supervisory team and should include at least one member who is not on the student's supervisory team. The panel will decide whether the student's performance is satisfactory or unsatisfactory, and will report their decision to the Research Degrees Committee. An unsatisfactory performance in this viva voce examination will constitute evidence that the student's progress is unsatisfactory and hence will prevent transfer from Advanced Postgraduate status to registration as a transferred student. In the viva voce examination the student should demonstrate: the ability to describe and justify the aims and purpose of their research; the capability to defend and justify the methodologies and approaches used; a satisfactory understanding of the place and relevance of their research within their discipline, including its originality and potential contribution to the field; the capability successfully to complete their planned research. c) After Transfer i) Each student shall present their research at the University s Annual Research Conference and receive guidance on how to do so; ii) Each student shall be encouraged to present their research at relevant external conferences/workshops and receive guidance on how to do so; iii) Each student shall be encouraged to publish aspects of their research and receive guidance on how to do so. d) From Enrolment to Submission i) Each student shall attend student-led reading/discussion groups or colloquia set in place by each School, which should meet at least once each term; ii) Each student shall continue to attend discipline-based seminars within the School. C2.4 Project-specific Training C2.4.1 Project-specific training: aims The project-specific training component of the programme should be seen as the day-to-day business of supervision. It is training entirely (or largely) directed by the student's supervisory The University of Northampton Research Degrees Handbook (C )

8 team. However, there is some overlap in the aims, objectives and delivery of this component with the discipline-based training component, and some of the outcomes are tested in the same way. The project-specific component of the training programme aims to: i) provide research students with training and support appropriate to their own training needs in relation to their particular research project. C2.4.2 Project-specific Training: outcomes By the end of this component students should be able to: identify their own specialist research training needs in relation to their discipline(s), and articulate their research training needs; demonstrate a critical awareness of the academic context for their research project in relation to current and past scholarship in their subject; demonstrate the ability to write at a level and in a style appropriate for postgraduate research. C2.4.2 Project-specific Training: delivery This component of the programme is devised in negotiation between the research student and the student's supervisory team. Fulfilling training needs may require the student, for example, to: acquire information from library sources; attend internal or external courses, conferences, workshops or seminars; visit researchers at other institutions or establishments; spend time developing expertise in a particular skill or technique. This component may therefore be delivered from a wide variety of sources. C2.4.3 Project-specific training: assessment There is no formal assessment, but it is incumbent upon each supervisory team to monitor the involvement of a student with respect to the intended aims and outcomes of this part of the training programme. C3 MANAGEMENT AND QUALITY ASSURANCE C3.1 Training Co-ordinator The Training Coordinator is responsible for the day-to-day running of the training programme. The Coordinator will devise and manage the delivery of the Induction and Generic Training components. S/he will act as an information point for staff responsible for delivering the Discipline-based and Project-specific components of the Programme. C3.2 Monitoring As well as formal quality assurance, there will be regular monitoring of student progress by the Research Degrees Boards. The Research Degrees Committee receives regular updates from the Training Co-ordinator on the programme. The University of Northampton Research Degrees Handbook (C )

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