University Calendar 2008/9
Section V : Higher Degree Regulations
Regulations for the degrees of Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy

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The higher degrees by research of the University of Chichester and the University of Winchester1 are also covered by these regulations. They are referred to throughout as the Accredited Institutions.

The Accredited Institutions may offer higher degrees by research under the aegis of the University of Southampton's External Research Degrees Committee (ERDC) which reports to Senate through the Academic Quality and Standards Committee. For the purposes of these regulations, where appropriate, ERDC appears in the text to represent the University's approval process in relation to the Accredited Institutions.

1 The University of Winchester was granted research degree awarding powers on 15 August 2008. Research degrees from the University of Southampton will cease to be awarded at the University of Winchester once all students enrolled on programmes leading to the award of the degree of Master of Philosophy or Doctor of Philosophy of the University of Southampton have completed their programmes, withdrawn from candidature, or opted to continue their study on a programme leading to a University of Winchester award. At this point the University of Winchester will be removed from the list of Accredited Institutions of the University of Southampton. These regulations continue to apply to all students at the University of Winchester who are enrolled on programmes leading to the award of the degree of Master of Philosophy or Doctor of Philosophy of the University of Southampton. (This footnote approved by Senate 12 November 2008.)

Award of the Degree

  1. The degrees of Master or Doctor of Philosophy (MPhil or PhD) may be awarded by the Senate to postgraduate students who have successfully pursued a course of study as prescribed below to the satisfaction of the School Board/ERDC concerned and have fulfilled any other University requirements.
  1. The requirements for candidature shall normally be a degree in a suitable subject of any approved university or whatever award/range of experience might be deemed equivalent by the School Board/ERDC using agreed University AP[E/C]L guidelines. Applications from candidates with other non-standard qualifications must be approved by the appropriate Faculty/ERDC. Candidates may be admitted on transfer from another university (with or without their supervisor) according to the guidelines set out in paragraphs 20 to 23 of the University's Code of Practice for Research Candidature and Supervision.

  2. Candidates satisfying the requirement for candidature may be admitted provided the School Board/ERDC concerned is satisfied with their chosen subject for research, that there is access to appropriate resources and facilities, and that there are satisfactory supervisory arrangements in place.

  3. In approving candidature the School Board/ERDC shall state the effective starting date which may not normally be backdated beyond three months.

  4. For the purposes of these regulations the University shall be deemed to include any institutions where the School/ERDC is satisfied that University staff can arrange proper supervision of a research candidate.
  1. The programme to be followed shall be one of supervised study, including research and generic skills training, and may be undertaken on a full-time or part-time basis. Part-time study may be undertaken as set out in Regulations 7 to 11 below. The programme shall be pursued in the University or Accredited Institution except in the case of candidates for whom joint supervisory arrangements have been approved in accordance with Regulation 9 below, or in other special cases where the School Board/ERDC permits a period to be spent elsewhere.

  2. Research and Teaching Fellows may, with the approval of the School Board/ERDC, be admitted to staff candidature but shall normally, by virtue of their status and experience, be in part-time candidature and shall pay the appropriate fees.

  3. Research and Teaching Assistants shall be in part-time candidature except that, in special circumstances, the School Board, on the recommendation of the Head of School, may approve full-time candidature. Research and Teaching Assistants shall pay the appropriate fees.

  4. The School Board/ERDC may approve arrangements for an individual candidate to receive supervision provided jointly by the University and another institution1. In such cases, the School Board/ERDC may permit a period or periods of study to be undertaken at the other institution. The minimum period of full-time study at the University shall be twelve months for candidates of jointly-supervised research degrees with approved institutions.

  5. The University may from time to time formally admit an appropriate institution to a special relationship for the purpose of furthering co-operation in teaching and research. A person holding an appointment in such a link institution may be registered in part-time candidature for a higher degree by research. If a candidate so registered leaves the employment of the link institution, candidature shall be reviewed by the School Board/ERDC and, if permission is given for its continuance, the general provisions for part-time candidature shall normally apply.

  6. A candidate is normally required to register initially for the degree of MPhil. A candidate wishing to transfer from such registration to the degree of PhD must successfully complete the required upgrade process to the satisfaction of the School Board/ERDC not less than six months before submission of the thesis. In the case of a candidate transferring from another institution into the School/Accredited Institution, submission of the thesis is not normally permitted earlier than 12 months from the date of transfer, even if the candidate has already upgraded from MPhil to PhD at his or her previous institution. A candidate for the degree of PhD may be permitted at any time prior to submission of the thesis to transfer to a course leading to the degree of MPhil. The period spent in candidature up to the point of transfer will be counted towards the period of candidature required for the degree to which the transfer is made.
Supervision and Progress
  1. Every candidate shall be allocated to a supervisory team by the School Board/ERDC on the recommendation of the candidate's Head of School. The supervisory team shall consist of at least two members, one of whom will be the 'main supervisor'. The main supervisor will have main responsibility for the supervision of the design and progress of the candidate's research project and for providing academic advice to the candidate. The supervisory team may contain additional supervisors and/or advisors and shall report on the candidate's work and progress when requested to do so by the School Board. Paragraph 40 of the Code of Practice for Research Candidature and Supervision sets out the responsibilities of the supervisory team.

  2. Every candidate will take part in an individualised assessment of their research training needs with their supervisor(s) at the commencement of their postgraduate research studies. Candidates will also be required to take part in a postgraduate student research training programme which addresses research/generic/transferable skills and may include a range of compulsory and optional elements, the former as determined by the School Board or the Accredited Institution.

  3. The School Board/ERDC may at any time review the progress of an individual candidate. If this is unsatisfactory and if, after due warning, there is insufficient improvement, the School Board/ERDC may recommend termination of candidature to Senate. The candidate may appeal against the decision by using the procedure set out in General Regulations.
Duration of Research Courses
  1. The duration of MPhil and PhD research courses is set out in (a) to (c) below; these paragraphs should be read in conjunction with Regulations 16 to 24.

    1. Except as provided under (b) and (c) below the minimum period of candidature, from the date of enrolment, shall be:

      Full-time candidates: not less than 12 months
      Part-time candidates: not less than 24 months
      Full-time candidates: not less than 24 months
      Part-time candidates: not less than 36 months

      This minimum period of candidature must be spent in supervised study. In practice, the period of candidature will usually be longer than the minimum period.

    2. In exceptional circumstances, and for academic reasons only, a student may be permitted to submit a thesis earlier than the specified minimum period of candidature. In such a case, the request must be made by the main supervisor to the Head of School for recommendation (on behalf of the School Board) to the appropriate Associate Dean for approval on behalf of the Faculty. In the case of the Accredited Institutions, a recommendation must be made by the College to ERDC.

    3. With the pemission of the Head of School and the appropriate School Board, a candidate for a research degree may be permitted to register concurrently for a Postgraduate certificate of Academic Practice (PCAP). In such a case, the candidature must be full-time and the period of supervised study/minimum candidature shall be not less than 24 months (MPhil), or not not less than 36 months (PhD).

  2. The period of study for a research degree ends when the thesis is submitted. The maximum period of candidature, including nominal registration but excluding periods of suspension (see Regulations 20 and 22 below), is four years (48 months) for full-time candidature and seven years (84 months) for part-time candidature. A candidate who fails to submit a thesis by the end of the maximum period of study shall be deemed to have withdrawn from the course (see Regulations 23 and 24 below).
Nominal Registration
  1. The School Board/ERDC may allow transfer to nominal registration for both full and part-time candidates for a period not exceeding twelve months in the first instance. The supervisor(s) must confirm that the minimum period of candidature for either the MPhil or the PhD has been completed, upgrade has taken place (in the case of a PhD candidate), research is substantially complete as determined by the School Board/ERDC, and the thesis is being written up. If a candidate is on nominal registration for longer than six months, a fee becomes payable (see Section IV of the University Calendar or the relevant Accredited Institutions fees information). In cases of illness, family crisis or exceptional or unforeseeable circumstances beyond the candidate's control, the School/Accredited Institution may permit a candidate to suspend when in nominal registration (see Regulation 21 'Temporary Suspension'.

  2. Candidates retain access to library and computing facilities until their thesis is examined and, where appropriate, any revisions requested by the examiners have been made. Access to other facilities (eg: office space) may be extended at the discretion of the candidate's School or by the Accredited Institution.

  3. With support from his/her supervisor, a candidate may apply in writing to extend the period of nominal registration beyond twelve months, taking account where applicable of Regulations 23 and 24 below regarding extension of candidature.

  4. Periods of nominal registration count towards the maximum period of candidature.
Temporary Suspension
  1. Candidates for either degree must continue in registration for the degree until such time as they submit their thesis or withdraw, except that the School Board/ERDC may permit temporary suspension of candidature. A School or ERDC may allow suspension of candidature having considered a request from the student accompanied by a written justification and supported by the supervisory team. In general, suspensions are allowed in extenuating circumstances (eg: illness, family crisis or unforeseeable problems beyond the student's control) and should not be granted as a matter of course. The maximum period of suspension should be stipulated in accordance with University of Southampton General Regulations 11-14 (Section IV of the University Calendar). In the case of Research Council or sponsor-funded candidates, due regard should be given to Research Council or sponsor rules governing suspension. Periods of temporary suspension shall not count towards the maximum period of study.

  2. Suspended students should not receive supervision and normally should not have access to services. However, where a School/Accredited Institution judges that there is a need, access to services can be granted on an individual student basis through the student administration system.
Extension of Candidature
  1. The minimum and maximum periods of candidature should be strictly adhered to. Extensions of candidature beyond the maximum period of time will be granted only where there is good cause and on specific application by the candidate, supported by the supervisory team, before the candidature is due to expire. A School Board/ERDC may allow extension of candidature having considered a request from the student accompanied by a written justification and supported by the supervisory team. An action plan should be agreed with the candidate setting out what needs to be achieved during the extension period.

  2. Extensions may be approved at School level by the Chair of the appropriate committee (see the Quality Handbook for information on extension of candidature and a template application form for extensions). Extensions should be requested only exceptionally, when unforeseen circumstances arise, and such circumstances must be demonstrated in each case. Due regard should also be given to limits or conditions placed on extensions by Research Councils or sponsors and any penalty which may apply if funded students extend their study period. Applications for extension must be submitted with the supervisory team's approval through the School Office, or as directed by the ERDC, for approval by the Chair of the appropriate Committee. The relevant fee will be charged in accordance with the candidate's registration status; ie: whether in candidature or in nominal registration.
Submission of Thesis
  1. After completion of the necessary period of study, a thesis shall be submitted for examination in accordance with the instructions in the booklet Completion of Research Degree Candidature (available through the School Office or Accredited Institution). Candidates in Music may submit original musical compositions or offer recital work, together with additional material, specifications for which are set out in Appendix 1.

  2. Candidates in Art and Design, and Drama, Dance and Performing Arts may submit original practical work in part fulfilment of the MPhil or PhD requirements. The relative weighting of practical work and written thesis is variable and depends on the nature of the individual research project. In each case the weighting will be agreed in advance between the supervisory team and the candidate, and confirmed in writing in the formal offer letter sent out by the School/Accredited Institution. See paragraphs 8 to 10 of the Code of Practice for Research Candidature and Supervision for further amplification.

    In Art and Design, practical work is completed in conjunction with an accompanying thesis (not less than 20,000 words); the nature and extent of each component must be agreed in advance by the supervisor and approved by the Chair of the School Graduate Committee and Director of the Graduate School. The relationship of the practical work and thesis must be such as to form a holistic original research project.

  3. The submission following full-time candidature shall be made not later than four years from the date of first registration, excluding periods of suspension. The submission following part-time candidature shall be made not later than seven years from the date of first registration, excluding periods of suspension. In cases where there have been periods of full-time and part-time candidature, the maximum permitted period of candidature shall be determined by the School Office/Accredited Institution, and agreed by the Chair of the appropriate Committee, on the basis that periods of part-time candidature shall be deemed to be equivalent to four-sevenths of an equal period of full-time candidature. Where periods of extension are approved by School Board/ERDC, these will be added to the maximum period of candidature.

  4. A candidate who is about to submit a thesis shall give at least two months' prior notice in writing to the School Office or the Accredited Institution which shall include the full title of the thesis. Such notice of intention to submit a thesis shall be given not later than 31 January if the candidate seeks award of the degree by the following July.

  5. With the exception of restrictions on access as defined in Regulation 30 below, research work submitted as a thesis for a higher degree shall be openly available and subject neither to security classification nor to restriction on access. Candidates may publish the whole or part of their work prior to its submission as a thesis, provided that in the published work it is nowhere stated that it is in consideration for a higher degree.

  6. In exceptional circumstances access to a thesis may be restricted by the relevant School Board/ERDC, on behalf of Senate, where such restriction is regarded as desirable on commercial grounds or pending patent applications, or as necessary to maintain confidentiality. The period of restriction shall be determined by the relevant School Board/ERDC but shall normally not exceed three years from the date of examination. After three years the period of restriction may be subject to review in some circumstances. Each instance of School Board/ERDC approval of restriction of access to a thesis should be reported to Senate and the Library should also be informed.

  7. On submission of a thesis a candidate shall be required to sign three documents:

    1. a form of consent that the thesis, if successful, may be made available for inter-library loan or photocopying from a date stipulated (subject to the law of copyright)

    2. a form of consent that the thesis, if successful, will be made available electronically through the University of Southampton Research Repository from a date stipulated (subject to the Law of Copyright)1

    3. a declaration stating: that the thesis is the result of work done wholly or mainly while the student was in registered candidature; that where the thesis is based on work done by the candidate jointly with others, a substantial part is the original work of the candidate; the extent to which the thesis incorporates material already submitted for another degree.

      1Paragraph 31(b) not applicable to the Accredited Institutions.

  8. A thesis may not exceed 75,000 words in length in the case of a PhD, or 50,000 words in the case of an MPhil, unless prior permission to exceed this length has been given by the School Board/ERDC on the recommendation of the supervisor. Where appropriate, the School Board/ERDC may determine a higher word limit for a specific discipline. Candidates who exceed this limit without School Board/ERDC permission will normally be required by the examiners to resubmit in a form which does not exceed the stipulated length. Candidates may in addition submit a separate volume of factual information only, related to the content of the thesis, which must be prepared and bound in the same style as the thesis. Such additional information will be available to the examiners and will form part of the record.
  1. For each candidate, normally one internal and one external examiner shall be appointed to examine the thesis; in exceptional cases, one additional external examiner may be appointed. Members of the supervisory team, and other researchers who have had a substantial involvement in the student's work such that there would be a conflict of interest or a potential lack of objectivity, may not be appointed as internal examiners but, at the request of the candidate, one or more members of the supervisory team may be invited to the viva voce. A main (or other) supervisor who is requested to attend by the candidate will not play an active role in the examination, neither will supervisors be appointed as examiners nor take part in the judgement of the thesis under consideration. One examiner, either the internal or the external, may be drawn from the upgrade panel/committee (eg: the internal member of staff who acted in the role of independent 'assessor' or an external 'assessor' if used) provided that he/she has had no further material contact with the research project since the upgrade and that the other examiner is entirely new to the project.

  2. Candidates for the PhD will normally be required, and candidates for the MPhil may be required, to attend for an oral examination. In conducting the oral examination, arrangements will be made, where necessary, to accommodate the requirements of students with special communication needs.

  3. The examiners for each candidate shall recommend one of the following courses of action.

    1. That the degree for which the candidate has submitted a thesis be awarded.

    2. That the degree for which the candidate has submitted a thesis be awarded subject if necessary to minor amendments to the thesis being made by a date specified (minor amendments include: minor omissions of substance, typographical errors, occasional stylistic or grammatical flaws, corrections to references, addition/modification of one or two figures, and minor changes to layout, and require no new research. These changes need only be certified by the internal examiner). The date specified for the submission of such minor amendments should normally be no later than a month after the formal notification to the candidate.

    3. That the degree for which the candidate has submitted a thesis be awarded subject to the correction of modest errors/omissions of substance being made, by a date specified (the procedure for certification of the amendments should be clearly specified in the report). Such amendments may require limited further analysis but will not affect the originality of the central thesis. They will be of a scale to require certification by both the internal and external examiners, though normally not so extensive that an oral is required. The date specified for the submission of such intermediate amendments should normally be no later than six months after the formal notification to the candidate.

    4. That the candidate be required to attend for a further oral examination.

    5. That the candidate be permitted to submit by a date specified a revised thesis for the same degree for re-examination on one subsequent occasion. The date specified for submission of the revised thesis should normally be no later than twelve months after the formal notification to the candidate. The Fees Office should be informed when a candidate has been asked to submit a revised thesis.

    6. That, in the case only of a PhD candidate who has failed to satisfy the examiners, permission be given to the candidate to apply within a specified time for the award of the degree of MPhil. This may be allowed without re-examination, subject to any minor amendment of the thesis which may be required by the examiners, or may be subject to re-examination of a revised thesis. In such circumstances, the work must meet the normal criteria for the award of the MPhil degree.

    7. That the degree be not awarded and that resubmission of the thesis be not permitted.

  4. A candidate who fails to submit a corrected or revised thesis by the date set by the examiners shall normally be regarded as having failed the examination and the recommendations of the examiners shall lapse.

  5. Where the examiners recommend that the degree be not awarded and that submission of a revised thesis be not permitted, the candidate may ask for the case to be reviewed in accordance with the procedures laid down by the Senate. A copy of the procedures may be obtained from the School Office/Accredited Institution.

Approved by AQSC on 27 April 2005 and by Senate on 22 June 2005
Approved by AQSC on 31 May 2006 and by Senate in July 2006 (Chair's Action)
Amendments approved by AQSC on 6 June/11 July 2007 and by Senate on 20 June 2007 and by Chair's Action for Senate, July 2007.
Amendments approved by AQSC on 23 April/4 June 2008 and by Senate on 18 June 2008.

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Last reviewed: 15-Dec-2008
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