Timetable for Subsequent Years
||Draft thesis and progress report
||Supervisor completes formal annual report
Months stated in the column 'Sept Start' are indicative for full-time students who commence study in September. Students with other start dates should adjust these accordingly.
The Graduate School will provide administrative support to aide the timely completion of all formal annual reports.
Few students are expected to reach this stage. For those who do, the aim must be to plan for submission within a small number of months.
The progress report should document changes with respect to the previous year’s progress report, including a schedule for the remaining work, and will normally be relatively brief. No progress report is required if the supervisor is able to guarantee that thesis submission is genuinely imminent. The student is no longer required to submit an annual progress report to the Graduate School, but may still be required to submit one to their Institute.
The progress report should be submitted together with current draft version of the thesis, which need not be in a consistent state. The progress report should indicate the status of each chapter, including how close it is to completion. At this point, the schedule will normally be a chapter-by-chapter summary of time required for completion, allowing time for supervisor feedback.
The School hosts a series of Transkills workshops intended to support the thesis writing and viva preparation aspects of the final year. Attendance at these events is strongly recommended for students who are beyond third year, particularly for those who haven’t previously attended these workshops, or where a refresher session is deemed necessary. Additional information is available online.
If the original research goals have not been achieved by now, then the best course of action is normally to complete writing up what has been done and submit.
The principal supervisor will convene a review panel of at least 3 members, including the supervisory team and at least one independent member of staff who has not been involved in the supervision of the student involved. The reviewers are often the same as for the previous reviews but they need not be. The progress review should take place on schedule whether the student submits a progress report or not.
There is some variation in the details of arrangements for reviews across Informatics, but in general the review will begin with an oral presentation by the student, briefly outlining what is in the progress report, which the reviewers are expected to have read beforehand. (The reviewers are not expected to have read the draft thesis - this is submitted as evidence about its state of completion.) This will be followed by questions and discussion. The review concludes with a private discussion among the panel members. The panel will then provide written feedback to the student, with a copy to the Graduate School office. This is typically drafted by the principal supervisor and agreed, perhaps after amendment, by the other reviewers. It should be completed within one week of the panel meeting.
The main objective of this review is to check that there is a clear path from the student’s current state to submission of an acceptable PhD thesis within months, including clear contingency plans to deal with foreseeable risks.
The panel should be as frank as possible about any difficulties that have arisen. If difficulties are apparent, constructive suggestions for addressing them should be given. Some obvious questions are: Is completion within a few months realistic? Can the plan be adjusted to achieve this? Is trimming of ambition appropriate? Is it likely that the planned thesis will be worthy of a PhD?
In case the review is unsatisfactory or a major change in plan is recommended, a further review may be appropriate to check on progress or to check the revised plan. A close watch on progress at this point is important.
The report should show what has been achieved since the last review. The report should also indicate the target date for submission of the thesis. If a recommendation for re-registration for MPhil or for discontinuation is made, and this differs from the outcome of the review, then the student should be given, in writing, an explanation of the reasons for the recommendation.