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First Year Report

First Year Report

Formal annual reports are the University's main official record of the progress of a PhD student. They are completed online by the principal supervisor, after consultation with the other supervisors and also with the panel that formally reviewed the student's PhD proposal. The report is then signed off and acted on by the Director of Graduate School. The first year report is particularly important since it forms the basis for the decision on confirmation of degree registration.

The first year report is a record of achievement to date as well as providing an opportunity to confirm that the original conditions of registration (if any) have been met, and to make a recommendation concerning degree registration. The topic of study, as described in the thesis proposal, should be indicated on the form.

The supervisors must make a recommendation to the Head of Graduate School on the course that registration should take, in the light of the student's abilities and aspirations and based on the outcome of the first year review. The student has no formal right to be involved in this decision, although it should come as no surprise since the review panel that examined the student's thesis proposal will have provided written feedback following the first year review and the report should be consistent with that feedback.


A variety of recommendations are open to the supervisors:

1. Confirmation of registration for PhD;

If the supervisor has recommended this action, then the student must deposit their PhD proposal into the online repository, as <a href="">instructed here</a>.

2. Registration for a lower degree (MPhil);

3. Extension of the probationary period. (Save for part-time students, such extension is considered to be exceptional and in no circumstances should the probationary period last for more than 18 months from date of first registration);

Should the supervisor choose this course of action, then the annual report must include the written details of what the student must achieve so as to pass the extended probationary period. The student will have to submit a revised thesis proposal, which must be formally reviewed by the review panel again (the proposed date for this formal review must be included in the annual report form that recommends extended probation). A new first year annual report will  need to be completed at the end of the probationary period, detailing the outcome of extended probation and what the next stage should be (which can be any of the options 1, 2, 4 or 5).

4. Registration for a postgraduate taught degree (MSc) or diploma can be contemplated if the student has been undertaking the coursework for that qualification in the first year of study; 

5. Discontinuation of registration at the end of the first year.

Assuming that progress is satisfactory, the student's degree registration should be confirmed (option 1). If there are doubts about a candidate's ability to complete a PhD successfully then options (2) or (3) should be considered. If there are serious doubts as to the candidate's research capability, then options (4) or (5) should be considered.

Although these may be painful decisions to take, it is not in anyone's interest to allow a student to continue on a course of study that is unlikely to lead to a successful conclusion. If the recommendation differs from the outcome of the first year review then the student should be given, in writing, an explanation of the reasons for the recommendation.