Professional Doctorate Framework

General Principles 1-8

Candidates should also consult the University’s MPhil/PhD Code of Practice.


1. Staffordshire University (hereinafter referred to as ‘the University’) will award a Professional Doctorate degree to registered candidates who successfully complete an approved course of study and supervised research and development within a particular profession.

2. Professional Doctorates are of a level and intellectual challenge equivalent to PhD degree courses. They are rooted within a particular profession. A Professional Doctorate course is designed to develop research and professional skills in addition to supporting the conduct of original research related to professional practice.

3. The work of Professional Doctorate candidates must demonstrate an original contribution to knowledge within their profession, through original research or the original application of existing knowledge or understanding, to a level which merits publication. Candidates need to demonstrate that through their body of work they have made a substantial contribution to professional knowledge with the potential to bring about improvements in professional practice beyond their own workplace. 

4. Some Professional Doctorate courses will be designed to meet professional or statutory body requirements, and this must be specified at the time of approval. Also, all these courses must conform to the relevant sections of the UK Quality Code for Higher Education.

5. Professional Doctorate awards will include the name of the discipline in the title. The title of the award and its abbreviation will be agreed at the time of course approval. Successful completion entitles the use of the phrase ‘Doctor in…’ prior to the name.

6. All candidates for Professional Doctorate courses shall be considered for admission on their academic merits and without reference to the concerns or interests of any associated funding body.  

7. The University may approve an institution as a Validated Partner Institution for Professional Doctorate degrees.  Professional Doctorate candidates registered at Validated Partner Institutions will submit for a Staffordshire University award.  Such arrangements will be governed by a signed Agreement between the University and the Validated Partner Institution. 

8. The University’s Academic Board is responsible for ensuring that the University’s regulations are complied with in all matters.

Structure of Award 9-15

9. Professional Doctorate courses delivered by Staffordshire University will be credit rated and modular. Successful completion of a Professional Doctorate course will require the award of 540 credits at level 7 and 8, as specified below. Assessment will reflect the QAA Masters and Doctoral outcomes as defined in the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications.

10. Each module has a coherent set of formally identified learning outcomes.  Credit for the module will be awarded once a candidate has demonstrated through the approved assessment that they have achieved these outcomes.

11. A Staffordshire University Professional Doctorate course will comprise two stages:

Credits

Professional Doctorate course totals:

Comprising:

540 credits
Stage 1: Assessed taught modules, developing professional and research skills; to include the development and approval of a proposal for independent research in Stage 2Maximum of 240 credits, at L7 or L8.
Stage 2:  Independent, supervised research
May include in addition a practice-based component
Minimum of 300 credits, at L8.

Normally, these stages are sequential, and a student progresses to stage 2 when stage 1 is completed. However, due to requirements of professional bodies and the needs of certain professions, it is possible that stages 1 and 2 are concurrent. Justification of this arrangement will be provided in the validation documentation. Even in this case, however, commencing stage 1 research requires that a research proposal be approved by the Research Degrees Sub-Committee. The Professional Doctorate award cannot be granted until both stage 1 and stage 2 are certified complete by the relevant Committees.

12. Supervised, independent research must comprise a minimum of one half of the Professional Doctorate course. Candidates will undertake a research project or linked series of projects and present for assessment a thesis (which may comprise, where appropriate, a portfolio or collection of other artefact(s), together with an extended commentary). The thesis will represent a single, sustained, independent research project. The final assessment will include an oral examination.

13. A Professional Doctorate course may be studied either full-time or part-time, as agreed at the time of course approval.

14. Candidates who withdraw from or are required to withdraw from a Professional Doctorate course, or who at the final assessment fail to meet the criteria for the award of a Professional Doctorate degree, will be considered by the University Professional Doctorates Assessment/Award Board for the award of a Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or a Masters (MProf) degree. The criteria for achievement of these awards will be agreed at the time of course approval and included in the course specification. Candidates may be required to undertake additional work in order to meet the criteria for one of these awards. Awards of Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or Masters degree will be made in accordance with the University Academic Regulations. A candidate awarded such an intermediate award will not be able to continue studying on the professional doctorate.


15. Where it is considered that there is a case for diverging from the above requirements (for example to the meet the needs of a Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body), a justification must be presented as part of the course approval process.  Course approval panels may recommend deviations from the Professional Doctorate Regulations for a given course to Quality Committee and Academic Board.  Any agreed deviations must be clearly drawn to the attention of candidates in the Course Handbook.

Approval of Professional Doctorate Courses 16

16. A proposal for a Professional Doctorate course will be considered through the
University’s usual course approval processes. The Panel will include a member of the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee nominated by the
Chair of the Sub-Committee. An appraisal of the suitability of the research environment of the group proposing the course will be part of the considerations. The panel may include representatives from professional or regulatory bodies, as necessary.

Management structure for Professional Doctorate courses 17-18

17. Further information on the course approval process is available at: [insert link]

(a) A Professional Doctorate course comprises both a taught component, (Stage 1) and a research component, the major part of Stage 2. Both stages are managed by a Course Director, and overseen by an overall Award external examiner. However, decisions regarding admissions, progression and awards are handled by different committees for each Stage. A University Assessment/Award Board will oversee Stage 1 assessments of all Professional Doctorates in line with the University’s Academic Award Regulations for taught courses.

(b) The University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee is responsible for overseeing Stage 2 of the course, ensuring that the doctoral standard of the award is maintained.  The Research Degrees Sub-Committee has authority, on behalf of Academic Board, for conferring the award of Professional Doctorate to students who have successfully completed the prescribed course of study.


18. Each Professional Doctorate Course is located in a School, although teaching and supervision may be across several Schools. The Dean of the ‘home’ School is responsible for nominating a Course Director for the course, and for nominating module external examiners and the Award external examiner.

 

External examiner structure for Professional Doctorate courses 19-25

19. External Examiners will be appointed for each Professional Doctorate course as detailed below:

20. The set of modules comprising the taught element of the award will have appointed one or more (but not normally more than two) module external examiners The roles and responsibilities of Module external examiners are set out in the Staffordshire University External Examiner Policy and Procedures. Module external examiners for Professional Doctorate courses will be appointed in accordance with the External Examiner Policy and Procedures but also such appointments will be will be reported to the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee.

21. A discrete examination panel comprising at least two and normally not more than three examiners, of whom at least one will be an external examiner, will be appointed for each candidate, to examine the research component of the course at the end of Stage 2. This examination panel will be approved by the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee. The same external and internal examiner may be approved for the examination of more than one student in the same cohort, however the same external or internal examiner will not normally be approved for all or a majority of students.

22. An Award external examiner will be appointed for each Professional Doctorate course to provide feedback on the overall standard of the award;its coherence; and the extent that the outcomes are aligned with the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications and applicable subject benchmark statements. The Award external examiner will be appointed in accordance with the External Examiner Policy and Procedures.  Such appointments will be reported to the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee.

23. The Award external examiner for a Professional Doctorate course will consider both the taught and the research components of the Professional Doctorate course and will provide an annual report to the University.

24. The Award external examiner will receive the outcome of the Annual Progress Review of candidates in Stage 2 of the Professional Doctorate course, to inform his/her annual report.

25. Responses to external examiner reports are normally considered by the School as part of the annual monitoring process of the award. However, where a report identifies a number of serious concerns, the Quality Enhancement Service (QES) will indicate that the School should provide an early response to the external examiner. QES will clarify the reason why the early response has been requested on the report coversheet. Where an early response is required, the Course Director will be responsible to the relevant Associate Dean for Students for coordinating a response to the Award external examiner’s report

Annual Monitoring 26 - 32

26. Professional Doctorate courses will be included in the University’s Annual Monitoring exercise designed for taught courses in order to ensure:

  • that the awards are in good health;
  • that the awards are achieving appropriate standards when measured against national and international criteria;
  • that any issues are identified and action is taken to resolve them;
  • that the enhancement of quality is being pursued and achieved.

27. Student feedback on the course will be assembled from: PTES or PRES  surveys, as appropriate; a Course Management Committee (or equivalent) that should meet at least twice per year; individual module feedback; and finally student comments garnered from supervisory reports, or from other committees (e.g. the Graduate School).

28. The Course Director will write an annual report, which reviews and evaluates: student, staff and examiner views on the course; annual progress review forms of students on stage two of the course; data concerning admissions, progression and destinations; and on this basis presents an action plan for the coming year. The report will cover both the taught component and the research component of the Professional Doctorate course. These reports will be passed to the Associate Dean for Students for comments, before being submitted to the University Professional Doctorate Monitoring Panel.

29. Complete annual award monitoring reports for all Professional Doctorate courses will be considered together by a University Professional Doctorate Monitoring Panel, convened especially for this purpose, comprising:

  • The Chair of the University Research Degrees Committee (as Chair)
  • The Associate Dean for Students for each School that offers a Professional Doctorate course
  • Course Directors for all Professional Doctorates
  • The Head of the Graduate School
  • Two rapporteurs
  • A member of QES

QES will provide an officer for the meeting.

30. Following the meeting, QES will provide a report evaluating the Professional Doctorate Annual Monitoring Process and which will include a University Action Plan, for approval by the Chair. The report will verify the process of monitoring by the University and confirm that:

  • all the appropriate reports have been received; 
  • the reports have undergone the appropriate scrutiny;
  • all external examiners’ reports have been received and responded to;
  • all outstanding issues from review and validation and external agencies have been responded to;
  • all actions from the previous year have been completed;
  • action plans for the forthcoming year have been identified;
    and:
  • identify matters of good practice;
  • identify strengths and weaknesses.

31. The report from the University Professional Doctorate Monitoring Panel will be part of the annual monitoring process of research degree awards considered by UURDSC. This process will look at both MPhil/PhD and Professional Doctorate provision. A report will provide a comprehensive overview of research degree provision across the University. This report will be submitted to the University Quality Committee for consideration.

32. The Course Directors will be responsible for ensuring that appropriate action is taken in the light of the Professional Doctorate Annual Monitoring Process and University Action Plan, and the report from UURDSC insofar as it pertains to the research component of Professional Doctorate courses.

Awards Periodic Review 33 - 39

33. Reference should be made to the Staffordshire University Quality Assurance Handbook which will apply in respect of Award Periodic Review, except where qualified below with regard to Professional Doctorate courses. Periodic Review of Professional Doctorates should cover both the taught and the research component of all of the University’s professional doctorate courses.

34. The review process will involve a self-evaluation document, written by the Course Directors.

35. The review process will also include meetings with current candidates on the research component of the course, and where relevant with placement providers or employers providing resources for research component candidates.

36. The Chair of the Review Panel should be a senior member of the University identified by QES and approved by the Director of Quality Enhancement and Standards on behalf of the Chair of the University Quality Committee, and by the Chair of the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee.

37. The Associate Deans for Students, in consultation with appropriate subject specialist staff and the Course Director, should nominate possible external members, from whom QES, on behalf of the Chair of the University Quality Committee and the Chair of the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee, will invite one or more to serve on the Panel.

38. The full report of the Review event is submitted to the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee and the University Quality Committee for approval.

39. The Schools involved are required to make a full response to the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee and the University Quality Committee six months after receipt of the approved report. The Schools might be required to provide a twelve-month response if outstanding issues are identified by the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee and the University Quality Committee.

Amendment of a Professional Doctorate course 40 - 45

40. Reference should be made to the Staffordshire University Quality Assurance Handbook which will apply in respect of amendment of courses, except where qualified below with regard to Professional Doctorate courses.

41. Any proposal for amendment of a Professional Doctorate course must have the support of the Dean and the Associate Dean for Students of the relevant School.

42. Proposals for new modules at Level 7 or 8 should be forwarded to the Award External Examiner. Comments from that Examiner should be sought before the module is approved.

43. In considering a new module, the following should be taken into account: the comments of the External Examiner, appropriate course structures and any comments from other Faculties.

44. Any proposal to withdraw a module must be approved of the Associate Dean for Students of the relevant School.

45. Any proposed amendments must be submitted to the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee for final approval.

Entry Requirements 46 - 50

46. Applicants for a Professional Doctorate course will:

a) Will be judged on the basis of their professional experience or professional practice. Other relevant experience, training, publications, contracts, consultancies, residencies, exhibitions, performances, written reports or other evidence of accomplishment shall be taken into consideration as appropriate to the nature and scope of the Professional Doctorate;
b) have relevant professional experience at a level and for a minimum period agreed by the University at the time of course approval;
c) meet any other relevant academic or professional entry requirement agreed by the University at the time of course approval;
d) meet any relevant entry requirement specified by the appropriate professional or statutory body. 
e) Level 6 or 7 qualifications will be taken into account, but are not normally required unless specified at validation or in accordance with professional body requirements; equivalent skill and knowledge levels instead being assessed by the experience and attainments described above.

47. In approving an application the University will satisfy itself that: 

a) the applicant has the requisite skills for education and research at this level, professional experience and, where appropriate, professional qualifications;
b) the applicant is eligible to study in the UK for those attending at the University;
c) the applicant has met the stated minimum English proficiency qualification for the Professional Doctorate course and has provided evidence of sufficient command of written and spoken English to complete satisfactorily any course of related studies, and to prepare and defend a thesis or equivalent work in English. The University’s normal requirement is an overall IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent with at least IELTS 6 obtained in each component.  Each validated professional doctorate course will specify and justify a minimum requirement within the range of IELTS 6-7.5.

48. Depending upon the requirements for a particular Professional Doctorate course, an applicant may be required to demonstrate that s/he has access to a professional setting appropriate to the course.

49. At the time of course approval, specific named level 7 awards may be put forward that constitute advanced standing on the Professional Doctorate. The list of approved courses will be included in the course specification. Successful applicants must fulfil the course requirements by obtaining any outstanding Level 7 credits and all Level 8 credits. Applicants admitted through this route will have to seek approval from the University Research Degrees Sub-Committee for the proposal for the independent research project or projects to be undertaken in Stage 2, which may require candidates to undertake the Stage 1 module in which this proposal is normally developed. 

50. Applicants may apply for entry with advanced standing through the University’s Recognition of Prior Learning Scheme (RPLS), if they hold appropriate experience or accredited learning, or qualifications that are not included in the list of appropriate, named FHEQ Level 7 qualifications approved at the time of course approval. Applicants must demonstrate that the learning was appropriate to the objectives of their chosen Professional Doctorate course and met the learning outcomes of the Professional Doctorate course. Applicants shall not be awarded credit through RPLS for any Level 8 component of the course. Applicants awarded credit through RPLS for all Stage 1 modules will have to seek approval from the University Research Degrees Sub-Committee for the proposal for the independent research project or projects to be undertaken in Stage 2, which  may require candidates to undertake the Stage 1 module in which this proposal is normally developed.

Registration 51 - 52

51. Candidates will be informed of the normal timeframe for completion of their Professional Doctorate course. All candidates will be subject to the minimum and maximum periods of registration outlined below.

Minimum registration periodMaximum registration period
Full-time36 months60 months
Part-time60 months84 months

 

52. Those candidates admitted with advanced standing will have their minimum and maximum period of registration adjusted appropriately. For candidates entering with 180 credits at Level 7, the minimum and maximum period of registration isas follows:

Candidates entering with 180 Level 7 creditsMinimum registration periodMaximum registration period
Full-time24 months48 months
Part-time48 months84 months

Enrolment 53 - 56

53. A candidate must enrol with the University each academic year. Fees are payable on enrolment unless secured by NHS commissioning. Non-payment of fees will result in a candidate being withdrawn from the Professional Doctorate course. Failure to enrol with the University each academic year will be viewed as evidence that the candidate has abandoned his or her course of work.

54. A candidate will normally be admitted to the course on the basis of being actively engaged in a profession relevant to the award. Any change in the candidate’s professional activity must be reported to the Course Director. Depending on the circumstances, a change in a candidate’s professional activity may result in the suspension of the candidate’s enrolment or a change to his or her supervision arrangements.

55. Under exceptional circumstances, the University will agree to suspend a candidate’s period of study. An application by a candidate must be supported by the Course Director and, where appropriate, his/her employer. The maximum period that a candidate’s period of study may be suspended is twelve months. Periods of suspension do not count towards the minimum or maximum periods stated above.

56. Any candidate who wishes to withdraw from a Professional Doctorate must notify in writing his or her Course Director.

Academic misconduct 57

57. Academic misconduct is defined as an attempt by a candidate to gain an unfair advantage in any assessment. Any Breaches of Assessment Regulations - Academic Misconduct, such as cheating or plagiarism, will be dealt with through the University’s “Procedure for Dealing with Breaches of Assessment Regulations: Academic Misconduct”.It is the candidate’s responsibility to read, understand and comply with it.
 http://www.staffs.ac.uk/legal/policies/#generalregs

Stage 1 Assessment 58 - 68

Stage 1 Assessment

58. The modules in Stage 1 shall be assessed individually.  There may be more than one element of assessment for a module. A range of assessment methods may be used including formal examinations, class tests, essays, projects and case studies. The assessment requirements for each module will be stated in the course specification and the Award Handbook.

59. Some Professional Doctorate awards accredited by professional bodies may have more stringent regulations, which will be detailed in the relevant course specification and Award Handbook.

60. Candidates must submit all pieces of assessment required for each module on or before the submission date set for each piece of assessment. Failure to do so is likely to result in either a penalty with respect to the mark on that module, or a failure for the module as a whole, as detailed in the validation documents for the Professional Doctorate. The only exceptions to these rules apply where a valid claim for extenuating circumstances can be made. Further details are given below and in the University’s Procedures for Making a Claim for Extenuating Circumstances.

61. Assessment of modules where all or a significant amount of the candidate learning is conducted in a workplace can involve feedback from a workplace mentor who should not be associated with the supervision of a candidate’s professional research module. Arrangements for the assessment of work-based learning should be explained in the course specification and Award Handbook.

62. The pass mark for all taught modules shall be 50%.

63. All assessment marks of all taught modules on a Professional Doctorate course will be submitted to the University Professional Doctorates Assessment/Award Board, which will agree the results for each module.

64. Candidates on a Professional Doctorate course are required to pass all modules.

65. No compensation is allowed for modules on a Professional Doctorate course for candidates who are progressing on to Stage 2 of the Professional Doctorate course. The University Professional Doctorates Award Board will be able to apply compensation in considering the award of a Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or Masters degree in accordance with the University Academic Award Regulations (Taught).

66. Where a candidate does not achieve the pass mark in one or more taught module(s), the student will have one further attempt at the first available opportunity. A candidate may be required by the Award Board to attend the classes for the module again. No furtherattempt at any element of assessment for which a pass mark has been awarded is permitted.

67. The maximum mark that can be awarded for an element of assessment not passed at the first attempt is 50%. Where a student is required to submit an element of assessment at the third attempt the module as a whole will be capped at 50%

68. The University Professional Doctorates Assessment/Award Board is responsible for determining whether a candidate has successfully completed Stage 1. Candidates must successfully complete all elements of Stage 1 before proceeding to Stage 2, unless the structure of the award is such as to allow concurrent study of stages, as per regulation 14.

Extenuating circumstances in respect of taught modules 69

69. Consideration of extenuating circumstances will follow the University’s Procedures for Making a Claim for Extenuating Circumstances [link to be added]

Stage 2 Assessment 70 - 74

70. Where Stage 2 includes a practice-based module (one not constituting supervised research and not directly contributing to the research portfolio required of Stage 2), then the Regulations relating to taught modules in Stage 1 will apply to this module.
The following Regulations will apply to the research component of Stage 2.

 71. In order for a candidate to progress to Stage 2, the Assessment Board must confirm completion of Stage 1, and the research proposal must be approved by the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee. (As per regulation 14, the structure of some Professional Doctorates may be approved such that Stages 1 and 2 are concurrent. In this case, only approval of the research proposal will be required in advance of the candidate progressing.) The proposal will comprise: Applicant details; outline project proposal; supervisors; required resources; time-plan; researcher development plans. If the UURDSC turns down the proposal, feedback must be given and the candidate will have the opportunity to resubmit a revised proposal at the earliest opportunity.

72. In approving the proposal, the Sub-Committee will assure itself that:

  • The proposed project is of doctoral-level scope and depth; the project design and methods are appropriate and realistic; and the outcomes would represent a contribution to professional knowledge in the area.
  • Ethics and risk approval, and any third party agreements, are all in place.
  • Appropriate supervision expertise is available to support the proposed project.
73. All Professional Doctorate candidates undertaking the research component must adhere to the University’s Intellectual Property and Ethical Review Policies.

74. All Professional Doctorate Candidates must engage in at least six researcher development events (for full-time, three for part-time), as agreed with their supervisors. 

Supervision 75 - 81

75. When a student progresses to stage 2, by acceptance of the proposal by the University Research Degrees Committee, this includes the appointment of a supervisory team. The team will normally comprise a Principal Supervisor and one or more additional supervisors.

76. A Principal Supervisor must be an employee of the University, have a Level 8 qualification, have either previously supervised to successful completion a minimum of one postgraduate research degree at doctoral level, or have successfully completed the University’s Research Degrees Supervision Course, and be actively engaged in research and/or consultancy at an appropriate level for the supervision of the award. In exceptional circumstances an employee of the University without the above requisite qualifications or experience may apply to the University’s Research Degrees Sub- Committee to be appointed to a Principal Supervisor role.  

77. A second supervisor must have a record of research activity in an area relevant to the Professional Doctorate candidate’s work. 

78. A member of the University’s staff who is registered for a postgraduate research degree shall be eligible to supervise another research degree candidate, as a second supervisor only, providing that he/she can satisfy the University Research Degrees Sub-Committee that no conflict of interest will arise between the proposed supervisor’s body of work and the course of research put forward by the candidate for registration. 


79. In addition to the supervisory team, an adviser or advisers may be appointed to contribute some specialised professional knowledge or a link with an external organisation. 
 
80. If a supervisor leaves the University’s employment or is unable to continue in that role, the University will use all reasonable endeavours to identify another member of staff to take over the supervisory role.  However, there may be cases in which there is no-one within the University who has the relevant subject expertise. In such circumstances, the Chair of the University Research Degrees Sub-Committee will discuss with the candidate all possible options, which may include arranging for a supervisor who has left to continue as an additional supervisor or appointing a new external supervisor. 

81. Any change proposed to a candidate’s supervision arrangements must be approved by the University Research Degrees Sub-Committee. 

Monitoring the progress of candidates undertaking the research component 82 - 90

82. Professional Doctorate candidates in Stage 2 of their studies will be monitored through completion of the Annual Progress Report which will take place in March each year, starting with the first March after the approval of their research proposal. This document will be jointly produced by the student and supervisor, and will include an appraisal of the previous 12 months research work; discussion of any problems encountered; and a plan of action for the next 12 months. These reports are passed to the Course Director, who uses it to update the records of Professional Doctoral Candidates. Annual Progress Reports will be made available to the Award External Examiner.

83. The UURDSC will consider whether each candidate is still actively engaged on the research course, is maintaining regular and frequent contact with the supervisors and is making satisfactory progress. The Committee will take appropriate action, which may include recommending that the candidate’s registration is withdrawn. Where the supervisors and the School indicate that there has been a lack of academic progress, then unless the candidate can provide satisfactory evidence to the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee to justify the continuation or extension of the registration, the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee will formally require the candidate to withdraw from the course.

84. Where the candidate is prevented, by ill health or other cause, from making progress with the research, their registration may be suspended by UURDSC normally for not more than one year at a time.  In making a decision as to whether registration may be suspended the UURDSC will take into account the currency of the candidate’s research. 

85. The University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee may extend a candidate’s period of registration, normally for not more than one year at a time. A candidate seeking such an extension should apply to the Committee before the maximum period of registration has expired. In making a decision as to whether registration may be extended, the URDSC  will take into account the currency of the candidate’s research.

86. Where a candidate has discontinued their research and withdrawn from the course this shall be notified to the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee.

87. Six to nine months prior to their planned thesis submission date (or 12 to 18 months for part-time students), candidates will have an interview in the form of a reflective conversation with a panel approved by the URDSC. Two weeks in advance of the interview candidates will provide:


i)   a brief overview report of approximately 2000 words not including references and appendices. The overview report should be a synoptic introduction to and evaluation of the work so far, including a summary and evaluation of results and plans for completion of the course of study. References should be made to completed chapters or aspects of the thesis or portfolio, which should be included as appendices. Reference should be made to the appropriateness of continuing professional development by the candidate. It is highly likely that this 2000 word report, appropriately updated, will later form part of the introduction to the student’s thesis itself;
ii)   completed chapters and/or articles, artefacts or aspects of the thesis or portfolio.

88. The panel will comprise:

  • A member of the School with expertise in the general subject area, but not directly involved in the supervision of the candidate.
  • A member of another School who is actively involved in the supervision Professional Doctorate or PhD candidates.

89. The primary purpose of the interview is to help the student in thinking about the overall aims, objectives, research design and achievements of their research work, and to gain experience discussing their work with non-specialists. However, in addition, the interview is a progression stage and is the University’s opportunity to aid students whose work is not where it should be at that point (with respect especially to realistic time-scale for completion, and doctoral level research design or outcomes), before submission and examination.

90. The possible outcomes of the interview are: 

  • Continue on PhD registration – this is the normal outcome, and should be recommended unless the examiners have serious doubts that the thesis will be submitted or can be successfully defended in examination.

  • Continue PhD with conditions – the satisfactory completion of these conditions must be confirmed by the LSR Panel before the LSR is complete; this may involve a further interview.

  • Recommend to the University Research Degrees Sub-Committee that the student be given an extension of study, be intermitted, or be withdrawn from registration on the Professional Doctorate. .

Examination arrangements 91 - 108

91. The examination of the research component will have two stages: firstly the submission and preliminary assessment of the thesis, portfolio or equivalent and secondly its defence by oral or approved alternative examination.  

92. Examiners for the research component will be appointed for each candidate individually, though it is recognised that there will be occasions where the same examiner will be appropriate for more than one candidate.

93. The Principal Supervisor shall nominate on the appropriate form the examiners whom it is proposed shall conduct the examination. The form must be approved by the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee. The examination must not take place until the examination arrangements have been approved.  In special circumstances the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee may act directly to appoint examiners and arrange the examination of a candidate.

94. An application for approval of research component examination arrangements shall be approved for a period of two years.  If an examination has not taken place within two years of the date of approval of the application, then an application for renewal of the examination arrangements shall be submitted to the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee. 

95. The thesis or portfolio must be submitted both electronically, and in multiple hard copies. Upon submission, the written portions of the thesis or portfolio will be run through a standard plagiarism detection software package, and the resulting report sent to the internal examiner. Where the internal examiner believes that this report suggests academic dishonesty, the Chair of the University Research Degrees Committee must be immediately informed so that appropriate further action may be taken.

96. A copy of the thesis, portfolio or equivalent will be sent to each examiner, together with the examiner's preliminary report form, the University's regulations and notes of guidance to examiners. 

97. Following submission of the thesis, portfolio or equivalent the examiners may require the candidate to display or demonstrate the supporting material that is the product of the course of research and referred to in the work.  Equally, candidates may request at the time of submission the opportunity to display or demonstrate the supporting material.   

98. The examiners will complete and return their preliminary reports to the University at least five working days before the oral examination is due to take place.  The second stage of the examination shall not take place until the preliminary reports of the examiners have been submitted. 

99. An Independent Chair selected from the list approved by the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee must attend each Professional Doctorate oral examination to ensure the examination is conducted and recommendations of the examiners are presented, wholly in accordance with the University's regulations.    
 
100.  A candidate will normally be examined orally on the course of work and its outputs. Where for reasons of sickness, disability or comparable valid cause the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee is satisfied that a candidate would be under serious disadvantage if required to undergo an oral examination, an alternative form of examination may be approved. Such approval will not be given on the grounds that the candidate’s knowledge of the language in which the thesis is presented is inadequate. 

101. The oral examination will be held in English and normally on a campus of the University or the campus of a Validated Partner Institution where the candidate has been registered for the award through that institution. 
   
102. The University’s Research Degrees Sub Committee may give approval for an oral examination to be held elsewhere in the UK or abroad.  Any decision to hold an oral examination off campus is subject to the appointment of an experienced internal examiner and the written agreement of the candidate, all the examiners and the Independent Chair. Where it is proposed to hold an oral examination off campus, the candidate and Principal Supervisor should submit an application to the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee. 

103. The University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee may give approval for an oral examination to be held by video link.   Any decision to hold an oral examination by video link is subject to the appointment of an experienced internal examiner and the written agreement of the candidate, all the examiners and the Independent Chair. If the examination is held overseas, such examinations should normally be held at a British Council office.  Where it is proposed to hold an oral examination by video link, the candidate and Principal Supervisor should submit an application to the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee. In the event that the technology does not permit the oral examination to be conducted with the involvement of all parties to a satisfactory standard, the viva should be stopped and rearranged.  

104. A supervisor may, with the consent of the candidate, attend the oral examination but cannot participate in the discussion unless specifically asked to do so by the Chair of the examination panel.  The supervisor must withdraw prior to the deliberations of the examiners on the outcome of the examination. 

105. The examination panel will make a recommendation to the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee on the outcome of the candidate’s examination and will make a final recommendation to the University on the candidate’s revised or re-examined thesis. 
 
106. In any instance where the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee is made aware of a failure to comply with all the procedures of the examination process, it may declare the examination null and void and appoint new examiners.

107. The power to confer the degree of Professional Doctorate rests with the University; this power is delegated by Academic Board to the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee.

108. Where evidence of cheating or plagiarism in the preparation of the thesis, portfolio or equivalent or other irregularities in the conduct of the examination come to light subsequent to the recommendation of the examiners, the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee will consider the matter, if necessary in consultation with the examiners, and take appropriate action in accordance with the University’s Academic Regulations.

Examiners 109 - 116

109. A candidate will be examined by at least two and normally not more than three examiners, of whom at least one will be an external examiner. 

110. An external examiner should normally hold, or have recently held, an academic appointment in a recognised University.  In certain circumstances, however, it may be appropriate to appoint from outside the higher education system e.g. the professions.  In such cases two external examiners shall be appointed, one with appropriate academic experience.

111.  The candidate’s current or former supervisors or advisers cannot be appointed as examiners.

112. Where the candidate is also a member of the permanent staff of the University or Validated Partner Institution, a second external examiner will be appointed.  

113. Examiners will be qualified to at least doctoral level, be experienced in research in the general area of the candidate’s thesis and have experience as a specialist in the topic(s) to be examined. The examination team collectively should have a minimum of three previous examinations at doctoral level. 

114. The University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee will ensure that the same external examiner is not approved so frequently that his/her familiarity with the School/School might prejudice objective judgment. External examiners should not normally be appointed twice consecutively from the same institution for any one Course.

115. Once the examination team has been appointed by the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee the supervisors and the candidate must not have any contact with the examiners regarding the examination.

116. The University will determine the fees and expenses of the examiners.

The candidate’s responsibilities in the examination process 117 - 122

117. The candidate will ensure that the thesis, portfolio or equivalent is submitted before the expiry of the registration period.

118. At least six months prior to the anticipated submission date, the candidate will notify the Course Director of his/her intention to submit his/her thesis, portfolio or equivalent, who will in turn notify the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee. The title of the work(s) will be finalized at this point.   Any exceptional subsequent changes to the title will require approval from the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee. 

119. The submission of the work for examination will be at the sole discretion of the candidate. While a candidate would be unwise to submit the work for examination against the advice of the supervisors, it is his/her right to do so. Equally, candidates should not assume that a supervisor’s agreement to the submission of work guarantees the award of the degree. 

120. The candidate will take no part in the arrangement of the examination and will have no formal contact with the examiners.  

121. The candidate will confirm that the work has not been submitted for a comparable academic award. The candidate will not be precluded from incorporating in the thesis, portfolio or equivalent work which has already been submitted for a degree or comparable award at the University or another institution, provided that it is indicated in the thesis, portfolio or equivalent which work has been incorporated.

122. The candidate will ensure that a sufficient number of copies of his or her thesis, portfolio or equivalent are made available to the School for submission to the examiners.

The Thesis, Portfolio or Equivalent Work 123 - 138

123. Successful completion of the research component will involve a candidate working on one or  a linked series of research projects or studies. The format of the final assessment shall be agreed as part of course approval and stated in the approved course specification. Some of the credits for the research component may be derived from practice based work. In some cases, the research component will be examined by a research thesis. In other cases, the work to be submitted may be more closely related to professional practice and candidates may submit a work-based research project in the form of a portfolio or report. The work to be submitted could include a permanent record (video, photographic record, CD_ROM, DVD_ROM) of the practical component of the work, if this has been agreed as part of course approval and stated in the course specification.

124. In each instance, the candidate must take part in an oral examination conducted by internal and external examiners.

125. It is the candidate’s responsibility to ensure that the format of the thesis, portfolio or equivalent is in accordance with the requirements of the University, as stated in the course specification. Where a candidate wishes to submit in a format which deviates from the University’s requirements, this will require the express permission of the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee.  


126. All Professional Doctorate degrees must reach a standard of written English and academic communication appropriate for the topic and the level of award, and examiners will be asked to approve this element of the candidate’s work.  All work must be presented in English. 

127. There shall be an abstract of approximately 300 words bound into the thesis, portfolio or equivalent which will provide a synopsis stating the nature and scope of the work undertaken and the contribution made to the knowledge of the subject treated. 

128. The thesis, portfolio or equivalent will include a statement of the candidate’s objectives and will acknowledge published or other sources of material consulted and any assistance received. 
 
129. Where a candidate’s research course is part of a collaborative group project, the thesis, portfolio or equivalent will indicate clearly the candidate’s individual contribution and the extent of the collaboration. 
 
130. The candidate will be free to publish material in advance of the submission but reference will be made in the thesis, portfolio or equivalent to any such work. Copies of published material should either be bound in with the thesis, portfolio or equivalent submitted for examination, or placed in an adequately secured pocket at the end of the work. 
 
131. The text of the thesis, portfolio or equivalent should not exceed 50,000 words (excluding ancillary data in appendices and the list of Works Cited), unless provisions for a more extensive portfolio are approved by the Research Degrees Committee at the time of approval of the project proposal.

132. Candidates should appreciate that the word limit is a maximum and that a well-written thesis, portfolio or equivalent may contain fewer words than the maximum, particularly when supported by other material not in a written form. 

133. Where the submission is accompanied by material in other than written form, or when a portfolio made up of more than one pieces of writing, a written overall commentary should be included. 
 
134. Work should be submitted for examination in a temporarily bound form which is sufficiently secure to ensure that pages cannot be added or removed. An electronic copy of the work should also be submitted. The copies of the work submitted for examination will remain the property of the University but the copyright in the work will be vested in the candidate. 

135. The final thesis shall include the following copyright text:
“This copy has been supplied on the understanding that it is copyright material and that no quotation from the thesis may be published without proper acknowledgement.”

136. Where a candidate or the University wishes the work to remain confidential for a period of time after completion, application should be made to the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee as soon as this is realised. The University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee will normally only approve an application for confidentiality in order to enable a patent application to be lodged or to protect commercially or politically sensitive material. Work will not be restricted in this way in order to protect research leads.

137. The normal maximum period of confidentially permitted is two years from the date of the oral examination. However, in exceptional circumstances the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee may approve a longer period on receipt of an appropriate rationale and supporting evidence.  

138. Where the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee has agreed that the confidential nature of the candidate’s work is such as to preclude the work being made freely available in the library of the University, the work will, immediately on completion of the course, be retained by the University on restricted access and, for a time not exceeding the approved period, will only be made available to those who were directly involved in the project.

The Examination 139 - 145

 139. The examination shall have two stages: 

i) The candidate’s submission of the thesis, portfolio or equivalent and the examiners’ independent preliminary assessment of it; 

ii) The defence of the work by the candidate by oral examination or approved alternative assessment. 

140. In making a judgement on both the submitted work and the oral examination (viva voce), examiners will consider the following criteria: 

i)  Whether the thesis represents a significant contribution to knowledge of the subject through:

  • the exercise of independent critical powers
  • professional research competence in the investigation of the chosen topic(s)
  • professional research competence in undertaking a critical study of the chosen topic(s)  
ii)  Whether the thesis provides evidence of originality;
iii)  Whether the presentation of the thesis is satisfactory and the standard of written English and academic communication is appropriate to the discipline and the level of award;
iv)  Whether the title of the thesis is appropriate;
v)  Whether the thesis abstract is acceptable;
vi)  In the case of a candidate whose research course is part of a collaborative group project, whether the thesis indicates clearly the individual contribution and the extent of the collaboration. 
 
141. The appropriate Professional Doctorate degree shall be awarded to a candidate who has demonstrated: 

i)  the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, through original research or other advanced scholarship, of a quality to satisfy peer review, extend the forefront of the discipline, and merit publication;
ii)  a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge which is at the forefront of an academic discipline or area of professional practice;
iii)  the general ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the generation of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline, and to adjust the project design in the light of unforeseen problems;
iv)  a detailed understanding of applicable techniques for research and advanced academic enquiry.

In addition:

v)  must have presented and defended the thesis by oral examination, or approved alternative examination, to the satisfaction of the examiners.  

142. Each examiner will read and examine the thesis, portfolio or equivalent and will submit, on the appropriate form, an independent preliminary report at least five working days before any oral or alternative form of examination is held. In completing the preliminary report, each examiner will consider whether the submitted work provisionally satisfies the requirements of the degree and where possible will make an appropriate provisional recommendation subject to the outcome of any oral examination. Preliminary reports will be circulated amongst the examining team but will not be made available to the candidate. 

143. Where the examiners are of the opinion that the submitted work is so unsatisfactory that no useful purpose would be served by conducting an oral examination, they may recommend that the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee dispense with the oral examination and refer the submission for further work. In such cases the examiners will provide the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee with written guidance for the candidate concerning the deficiencies of the submission and the candidate will be required to resubmit in line with resubmission regulations below. No subsequent resubmission will be permitted.  The examiners will not recommend that a candidate fail outright without holding an oral examination or other approved alternative examination. 

144. The oral examination of the submitted work will normally involve one or two external examiner(s) and an internal examiner and will be chaired by an independent Chair taken from the list approved by the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee. 

145. Following the oral examination the examiners will, where they are in agreement, submit, on the appropriate form, a joint report and recommendation relating to the award of the degree to the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee. The preliminary reports and joint recommendation of the examiners will together provide sufficiently detailed comments on the scope and quality of the work to enable the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee to satisfy itself that the recommendation chosen is correct. Where the examiners are not in agreement, separate reports and recommendations will be submitted. 

Professional Doctorate Examination Outcomes 146 - 150

146. Following the completion of the examination for a Professional Doctorate degree the examiners will make one of the following recommendations to the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee: 

1) Direct award. The examiners are satisfied that the thesis, portfolio or equivalent and its defence are of doctoral standard. The candidate should be awarded the appropriate Professional Doctorate degree without being required to make any changes to his or her submitted work. 

2) Revisions required. The examiners are satisfied that the thesis, portfolio or equivalent and its defence are of doctoral standard, however the thesis requires revisions. These are normally to be completed within 6 months of the examination (although if numerous, the examiners can recommend up to 12 months).  The following outcomes are available to the examiners: 


i) The candidate should be awarded the Professional Doctorate degree subject to amendments being made to the thesis, portfolio or equivalent to the satisfaction of the internal examiner. It is for the internal examiner to review these amendments, and to indicate to the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee whether they have been carried out appropriately.  
ii) The candidate should be awarded the Professional Doctorate degree subject to amendments being made to the thesis, portfolio or equivalent to the satisfaction of the external examiner. It is for the external examiner to review these amendments, and to indicate to the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee whether they have been carried out appropriately. 
iii) The candidate should be awarded the Professional Doctorate degree subject to amendments being made to the thesis, portfolio or equivalent to the satisfaction of both examiners. It is for the examiners to review these amendments, and to indicate to the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee whether they have been carried out appropriately. 

3) Resubmission.  The examiners are not confident of the doctoral standing of the thesis, portfolio or equivalent and/or its defence, but believe this standard may be reached with further work.    
In such instances significant revisions of the thesis, portfolio or equivalent, and/or significant additional research activities are required, and the candidate should resubmit the work, normally within 12 months of the first examination. A further oral examination will then be held.  Only one resubmission is permitted.  
4) No Professional Doctorate award. The examiners are not confident of the doctoral standing of thesis and its defence, nor do they believe that this standing could be attained. The candidate should not be granted the Professional Doctorate degree and should not be permitted to be re-examined.

The examiners will refer the candidate to the appropriate University Professional Doctorates Assessment/Award Board (for taught awards) for the Board to review the candidate’s assessment marks and determine whether the candidate is eligible for an alternative award of Postgraduate Diploma or Masters degree, in accordance with arrangements stated in the approved course specification for the Professional Doctorate course and the University’s Academic Regulations.

The candidate may be required to successfully complete an alternative piece of research work in order to be eligible for the award of a Masters degree.

147. Where amendments to the thesis, portfolio or equivalent are required these should be made in accordance with the specific requirements of the examiners. 
 
148. Examiners may indicate informally their recommendation on the result of the  examination to the candidate but they will make it clear, through the Chair, that the  final decision rests with the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee. 

149. Where the examiners’ recommendations are not unanimous, the University’s  Research Degrees Sub-Committee may: 
i) accept a majority recommendation (provided that the majority   recommendation includes at least one external examiner);
ii) accept the recommendation of the external examiner; or
iii) require the appointment of an additional external examiner. 
 
150. Where the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee decides that the degree  should not be awarded and that no resubmission be permitted, the examiners will  prepare an agreed statement of the deficiencies of the thesis, portfolio or equivalent  and the reason for their recommendation, which will be forwarded to the candidate. 

Resubmission 151 - 156

151. One resubmission may be permitted subject to the candidate resubmitting within 12  months from the date of the notification of the outcome of the first examination. 

152. The University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee may require that an additional external examiner be appointed, or that alternative external examiner(s) be appointed for the re-examination. 

153.  The University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee may exceptionally approve an extension to the resubmission period. 

154. In all other respects the re-examination shall be conducted as the first examination. 

155. Following the completion of the re-examination the examiners may make a recommendation in accordance with the provisions set out above, excepting that the option for a further resubmission shall not apply.


156. Where the examiners’ recommendations are not unanimous, the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee may: 

i) accept a majority recommendation (provided that the majority recommendation includes at least one external examiner);
ii) accept the recommendation of the external examiner. 

Publication of Results and Completion of the Award 157 - 159

157. The final recommendation of the examination team will be submitted to the next available meeting of the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee which has the authority on behalf of the University to award the Professional Doctorate degrees. 
  
158. The results of the candidate’s assessment and the award for which they are recommended shall be published in an approved form and signed by the Chair of the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee. 

159. The candidate shall have been deemed to have completed his/her award on the date that the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee approves the final recommendation of the examiners, and when an electronic version of the thesis has been lodged with the University.

Certificates and Ceremonies 160

160. Following receipt of the electronic copy of the final thesis the award certificate will be produced and the candidate will be invited to the next available award ceremony.

Review of Decisions made by Examiners after the Final Examination 161 - 164

General Principles

161. The University recognises that following the final oral examination research degree candidates shall have the right to request a review of the examiners' recommendation. Given the existence of procedures to resolve complaints and grievances during the period of study, alleged inadequacy of supervisory or other arrangements before the submission of the thesis, portfolio or equivalent (referred to hereafter as thesis) is not admissible grounds for requesting a review of the examination decision.

162. Requests for a review are therefore permitted only on the following grounds:

i) That there were medical or other circumstances affecting the candidate's performance, which he/she was unable for valid reasons to divulge before the final oral examination.
ii) That there is evidence of procedural irregularity in the conduct of the examination (including administrative error) of such a nature as to cause doubt as to whether the result might have been different had the irregularity not occurred.
iii) That there is evidence of unfair or improper assessment on the part of one or more of the examiners.

DISAGREEMENT WITH THE ACADEMIC JUDGEMENT OF THE EXAMINERS IN ASSESSING A CANDIDATE’S PERFORMANCE CANNOT IN ITSELF CONSTITUTE GROUNDS FOR A REQUEST FOR RECONSIDERATION BY THE CANDIDATE.

163. In the case of medical circumstances, a medical certificate will not be sufficient. A full medical report is required, the costs of which must be borne by the candidate. The report should include, where possible, the precise dates of illness and comment on the effect of the illness on the candidate on the date of and immediately prior to the examination.

164. In the case of procedural irregularity or of unfair or improper assessment, claims must be substantiated with evidence of the allegations made.

Procedures for Considering Requests for a Review 165 - 170

165. Candidates must submit their request for a review within 15 working days of notification of the result, against which the case is to be lodged. The Director of Student and Academic Services, in consultation with the Chair of the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee (or nominee), shall determine whether late submissions will be considered.

166. The request for a review should be submitted in writing to the Director Student and Academic Services. The request must include:

i) The candidate's full name, School and the title of the thesis.
ii) Details of the examination decision, which has prompted the request for a review.
iii) The names of the candidate's supervisors.
iv) Full details of the grounds for the request with supporting evidence.
v) If these grounds relate to illness or other extenuating factors, full and valid reasons as to why this information was not made known to the examiners prior to the examination.

167. The Director of Student and Academic Services shall acknowledge receipt of a request for a review of the decision of the examiners within five working days.

168. The Director of Student & Academic Services (or nominee), together with the Chair of the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee, shall make an assessment of the case to ascertain initially whether the request is based upon approved grounds as outlined in paragraph 128 i), ii) and iii). If the Chair of the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee was involved in the supervision or examination of the candidate, the Director of Student & Academic Services shall nominate another member of the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee who has not been previously connected with the supervision or examination of the candidate. In making that assessment, the Director of Student & Academic Services (or nominee) and the Chair of the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee (or nominee) may consult the examiners, the candidate’s supervisors or other persons as appropriate and may request a copy of the examiner's preliminary and final reports, together with the thesis submitted by the candidate for examination. The assessment shall be concluded and the outcome communicated to the candidate within 25 working days of receipt of the request for a review.

169. Should the Director of Student & Academic Services (or nominee) and the Chair of the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee (or nominee) establish that the request for a review is based upon approved grounds, the case must be dealt with according to the procedure in the following three sections. At this stage the Director of Student & Academic Services shall inform the examiners that a request for a review has been made and tell them that it may be necessary to approach them on issues raised by the candidate. This procedure may involve reference to a Research Degrees Review Panel (paragraph 164).

170. If the Director of Student & Academic Services (or nominee) and the Chair of the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee (or nominee) establish that the request for a review is not based upon approved grounds, then the candidate should receive a written explanation from the Director of Student & Academic Services, which describes the reason or reasons why the request has been disallowed.

A) Procedurefor dealing with cases by candidates whose performance was allegedly affected by illness or other circumstances 170 - 5

171. In a case where the candidate claims that his/her performance was adversely affected by illness or other circumstances and, in the opinion of the Director of Student & Academic Services (or nominee) and the Chair of the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee (or nominee), there appears to be no prima facie case for the decision of the examiners to be reviewed, the Director of Student & Academic Services shall write to the candidate giving reasons why the request is not supported.

172. In cases where the candidate claims that his/her performance was adversely affected by illness or other circumstances, and, in the opinion of the Director of Student & Academic Services in consultation with the Chair of the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee (or nominee), there appears to be a prima facie case for the decision of the examiners to be reviewed, the Director of Student & Academic Services will advise the examiners that there are grounds to review their decision and will ask them to re-convene in order to review their decision. It will not be necessary for the Research Degrees Review Panel to meet.

173. The Director of Student & Academic Services shall inform the candidate that the examiners have agreed to review their decision. The examiners, after considering the information presented to them, shall agree either to amend or to confirm their original decision.

174. Where the examiners agree to amend their decision, but are uncertain as to the most appropriate alternative recommendation, they may seek additional evidence of the candidate's performance through a further oral examination.

175. Where the examiners agree to confirm their decision, this will end the matter in cases based solely on medical circumstances.

B) Procedures for dealing with cases where there is evidence of procedural irregularity in the conduct of the examination 176-183

176. The Research Degrees Review Panel will hear all such cases. Cases will be heard normally no longer than two months after a request for a review has been submitted by the candidate. The Director of Student & Academic Services (or nominee) will arrange the meeting.

177. The Director of Student & Academic Services shall provide the Research Degrees Review Panel with:

i) The application for review with any supporting documentary evidence.
ii) The examiners' final report.
iii) The preliminary reports of the examiners.
iv) The regulations concerning the award of Professional Doctorate degrees.
v) Copies of any other written information considered relevant by the Director of Student & Academic Services.

A copy of the candidate's thesis shall be made available to members of the Panel before and during the meeting of the Review Panel.

178. The candidate shall be invited to attend the meeting of the Research Degrees Review Panel and shall be informed of his/her right to be accompanied by a person of his/her choosing who can speak on his/her behalf. Should the candidate choose to be represented, the name, address and brief biographical details of the representative must be submitted in writing to the Director of Student & Academic Services not less than seven days before the appointed date of the Review Panel.

179. The proceedings of the Review Panel shall remain confidential to members of the Panel and the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee.

i) The candidate (or his/her representative) shall be asked to put his/her case in the presence of the Review Panel and to call such witnesses as s/he wishes.
ii) The Review Panel will interview or receive a written response from at least one examiner with respect to the request for review.
iii) The Review Panel shall have the authority to require the internal and external members of the supervision team and any member of the University staff connected with the candidate's course of research to present an oral or written report on the case under review.
iv) The Review Panel shall have the opportunity to ask questions of each witness called by the candidate. The candidate may agree to answer questions put by the Review Panel as s/he wishes.
v) The candidate (or his/her representative) shall have an opportunity to respond to any statement or report made by the examiners, supervisors or members of the University staff.
vi) The candidate (or his/her representative) shall have the opportunity to sum up their case if s/he so wishes. 
 

180. The Review Panel may recommend:

i) That no grounds for a review of the examiners' decision have been established in which case the application shall be rejected.
ii) That grounds for review have been established, in which case the examiners shall be instructed by the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee to reconsider their decision in accordance with approved regulations and procedures.

181. The examiners shall normally review their original decision as soon as possible after the meeting of the Research Degrees Review Panel, and normally not longer than two months after the meeting. The Director of Student & Academic Services shall inform the candidate that the examiners have been asked to review their original decision. The examiners, after duly considering the information made available to them, shall agree either to amend or confirm their original decision.

182. Where the examiners agree to amend their decision, but are uncertain as to the most appropriate alternative recommendation, they may seek additional evidence of the candidate's performance through a second oral examination.

183. The examiner's decision will be final and there shall be no further right of a request for a review by the candidate.

C) Procedure for dealing with cases where there is evidence of unfair or improper assessment on the part of one or more examiners 184 - 197

184. The Research Degrees Review Panel will hear all such cases. Cases will be heard normally no longer than two months after a request for a review has been submitted by the candidate. The Director of Student & Academic Services (or nominee) will arrange the meeting.

185. The Director of Student & Academic Services shall provide the Research Degrees Review Panel with:


i) The application for review with any supporting documentary evidence.
ii) The examiners' final report.
iii) The preliminary reports of the examiners.
iv) The regulations concerning the award of Professional Doctorate degrees.
v) Copies of any other written information considered relevant by the Director of Student & Academic Services.
A copy of the candidate's thesis shall be made available to members of the Panel before and during the meeting of the Review Panel.

186. The candidate shall be invited to attend the meeting of the Research Degrees Review Panel and shall be informed of his/her right to be accompanied by a person of his/her choosing who can speak on his/her behalf. Should the candidate opt to be represented, the name, address and brief biographical details of the representative must be submitted in writing to the Director of Student & Academic Services not less than seven days before the appointed date of the Review Panel.

187. The proceedings of the Review Panel shall remain confidential to members of the Panel and the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee.

i) The candidate (or his/her representative) shall be asked to put his/her case in the presence of the Review Panel and to call such witnesses as he/she wishes.
ii) The Review Panel will interview or receive a written response from at least one examiner with respect to the request for review.
iii) The Review Panel shall have the authority to require the internal and external members of the supervision team and any member of the University staff connected with the candidate's course of research to present an oral or written report on the case under review.
iv) The Review Panel shall have the opportunity to ask questions of each witness called by the candidate. The candidate may agree to answer questions put by the Review Panel if he/she wishes.
v) The candidate (or his/her representative) shall have an opportunity to respond to any statement or report made by the examiners, supervisors or members of the University staff. vi) The candidate (or his/her representative) shall have the opportunity to sum up their case if he/she so wishes.

188. The Review Panel may recommend:

i) That no grounds for a review of the examiners' decision have been established in which case the application shall be rejected.
ii) That grounds for review have been established, in which case the examiners shall be instructed by the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee to reconsider their decision in accordance with approved regulations and procedures.

 

189. The examiners shall normally review their original decision as soon as possible after the meeting of the Research Degrees Review Panel, and normally not longer than two months after the meeting. The Director of Student & Academic Services shall inform the candidate that the examiners have been asked to review their original decision. The examiners, after duly considering the information made available to them, shall agree either to amend or confirm their original decision.

190. Where the examiners agree to amend their decision, but are uncertain as to the most appropriate alternative recommendation, they may seek additional evidence of the candidate's performance through a second oral examination. The examiners' decision at the end of the process is final.

191. Where the examiners reaffirm their original decision, the Review Panel shall re-convene.

192. The Research Degrees Review Panel shall normally re-convene as soon as possible after the meeting of the examiners.

193. The Review Panel's decision shall be either:

i) to confirm the decision of the examiners.
ii) to advise the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee that the  candidate be re-examined by different examiners on the thesis as originally  submitted.

194. The Review Panel shall not have the authority to recommend the award of the degree.

195. The Secretary of the Review Panel shall communicate to the candidate the recommendation of the Review Panel in writing, with reasons, within seven working days of the conclusion of the hearing.

196. The recommendation of the Review Panel shall be received by the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee.

197. The recommendation of the Review Panel on the request for a review shall be final and there shall be no further right of review or appeal by the candidate.

Membership of the Research Degrees review panel

198. The membership of the Research Degrees Review Panel shall comprise:

i) A Dean (without responsibility for the School in which the course of research was undertaken).
ii) The Chair of the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee (or nominee).
iii) An appropriate external person.
iv) The Dean of the School in which the course of research is being conducted. If the Dean is involved in the supervision or examination of the candidate, he/she should nominate a member of the School who has not been previously connected with the supervision or the examination of the candidate.
v) Two members of the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee with experience of supervising candidates to the successful completion of a research degree and examining research degrees candidates and who have had no previous involvement in the review, or with the supervision or the examination of the candidate.
vi) The Director of Student & Academic Services, if not previously involved in an appeal at an earlier stage.

The Director of Student & Academic Services shall nominate a member of staff to act as Secretary to the Panel.

Disabled students

If, due to a disability, you need us to make adjustments in order that you can attend an interview or hearing, please let us know in advance and we will aim to meet your individual requirements. This could mean us relocating the hearing to a more accessible venue and/or making arrangements for a communicator or advocate to be present at the hearing

 


Staffordshire University’s commitment to equality and diversity means that this policy has been screened in relation to the use of gender-neutral language, jargon-free plain English, recognition of the needs of disabled people, promotion of the positive duty in relation to race and disability and avoidance of stereotypes.  This document is available in alternative formats on request.  If you think we can improve the fairness of this policy, please contact the individual who has responsibility for its update.

 

Appendix A – Format of Thesis, Portfolio or Equivalent

The following requirements shall be adhered to in the format of the submitted thesis, portfolio or equivalent for examination:

i) The thesis, portfolio or equivalent shall normally be in A4 format; the University’s Research Degrees Sub-Committee may give permission for the work to be submitted in another format where it is satisfied that the contents of the work can be better expressed in that format;

ii) copies of the thesis, portfolio or equivalent shall be presented in a permanent and legible form either in typescript or print; where copies are produced by photocopying processes, these shall be of a permanent nature; where word processor and printing devices are used, the printer shall be capable of producing text of a satisfactory quality; the size of character used in the main text, including displayed matter and notes, shall not be less than 2.0 mm for capitals and 1.5 mm for x-height (that is, the height of lower-case x);

iii) The thesis, portfolio or equivalent may be printed on both sides of the paper, which shall be white and within the range 70 g/m2 to 100 g/m2;

iv) The margin at the left-hand binding edge of the page shall not be less than 40 mm; other margins shall not be less than 15 mm;

v) Double or one-and-a-half line spacing shall be used in the typescript except for indented quotations or footnotes where single spacing may be used;

vi) Pages shall be numbered consecutively through the main text including photographs and/or diagrams included as whole pages;

vii) The title page shall give the following information:


a) the full title of the thesis, portfolio or equivalent;
b) the full name of the author;
c) that the degree is awarded by the University;
d) the award for which the degree is submitted in partial fulfilment of its requirements;
e) the Validated Partner Institution, if any; and
f) the month and year of submission.