Graduate School Handbook Part 12 - Progress review in stages 2 and beyond

Information about the progress review in stages 2 and beyond.


Purpose of progress review

  • To demonstrate that the postgraduate researcher (PGR) is continuing to make satisfactory progress with their project, and is on track to complete and submit their work for final assessment on time.
  • To provide formative feedback to the PGR to support ongoing progress, and identify and agree appropriate targets for the next stage of the project

How progress is measured

  • The University uses the Doctoral and MPhil qualification descriptors (see Part 2 of this handbook) as the benchmark for measuring progress. An independent reviewer and the PGR’s Director of Studies (or other member of the supervisory team where appropriate) will consider evidence of progress submitted by the PGR from the approved list at PGR12.4.1 and discuss this with the PGR at a progress review meeting.
  • PGRs must continue to demonstrate satisfactory progress to be able to continue with the next stage of their research degree.

Milestone objectives

In particular the reviewers must be confident that the PGR, supported by their supervisory team, has done/is continuing to do the following:

  • Is actively engaged in working on the research project and continues to make progress in line with objectives agreed at the registration of the project (RD1) and reviewed and/or amended at progression examination or subsequent progress review points;
  • Has taken action to progress any specific targets or objectives agreed at the previous review point;
  • Has a realistic plan of the work remaining that will be required to complete their project on time;
  • Has been actively engaged in any professional development or training activities identified at RD1 stage or recommended at progress review subsequently, and is on track to achieve the accredited training requirement by the time they complete their project;
  • Continues to be compliant with ethical research requirements where this is appropriate;
  • Is aware of the importance of academic integrity, intellectual property and copyright requirements within the work that they are producing towards their final submission.


Regulations about progress review

PGR12.1R Postgraduate researchers (PGRs) must demonstrate continuing satisfactory progress in order to progress to the next stage of their award and continue their registration.

PGR12.2 Progress review

PGR12.2.1R A review of academic progress must be completed by the end of each stage of the PGR’s award subsequent to the progression examination.

PGR12.2.2R The possible outcomes of the progress review are:

  • Satisfactory progress – progress to the next stage;
  • Unsatisfactory progress – refer for further work and resubmission.

In the case of unsatisfactory progress the reviewers’ report must also indicate the nature of the additional work or evidence needed to demonstrate that the project is back on a satisfactory footing.

PGR12.3 Deciding the outcome of the progress review

PGR12.3.1R Faculty Research Degree Committees will consider the recommended outcome report of the progress review for each PGR and agree an outcome decision.

PGR12.3.2R Failure to submit both the review form and evidence of progress by the deadline specified without good reason accepted by the FRDC will be deemed unsatisfactory and will result in loss of the submission opportunity.

PGR12.3.3R Continued unsatisfactory progress at resubmission, or failure to resubmit by the deadline specified without good reason will result in withdrawal of registration on the award by RDAB; no further resubmission will be permitted.

Procedures for the progress review process

PGR 12.4 Evidence of progress

PGR 12.4.1 One item from the following list:

  • At Stage 2: a thesis outline; OR a synthesis of outputs/data/activities; OR a presentation on progress; OR a presentation of output; OR a draft thesis chapter.
  • At Stage 3: a draft thesis/part thesis; OR a presentation of findings; OR a published paper; OR other evidence to demonstrate that timely completion will occur.
  • Professional doctorate PGRs may select the draft thesis/part thesis at their Stage 2 progress review if this is appropriate to their award, as specified in programme handbooks/ published requirements. In such cases this will then be deemed to be their stage 3 progress review (PR3).

PGR 12.4.2 The PGR and their Director of Studies should agree in advance what kind of material from the approved range of options should be submitted as evidence which best reflects both the nature of the project and the research culture of its disciplinary context.

PGR 12.4.3 It is important to note that the range of options aims to reflect the material that a PGR might normally be expected to produce as part of the work plan for their project at that stage, rather than to create additional workload. PGRs should not be required to draft extensive material from scratch unless it has direct and transferable relevance or demonstrable benefit to the completion of the project itself.

NB.  Unless there is a clearly stated rationale to support the contrary, only one representative example of evidence should be submitted and the PGR should be ready to discuss how this demonstrates their progress.  For example where a published paper is submitted, the PGR will be expected to be able to show how this will contribute to the final thesis/critical commentary.  PGRs should avoid overloading reviewers with multiple or ancillary evidence.

PGR12.4.4 It is not the purpose of Stage 3 Progress Review to provide a summative assessment of the thesis or critical commentary, but to form a view as to whether the PGR has made sufficient progress to be able to complete and submit on time as they near the end of their project and what level of supervision they will need to do so, if any. PR3 must be satisfactorily completed before the PGR can progress to the grace period/completion stage.

NB. In addition to the progress review process, all PGRs are required to submit a full draft of their thesis/critical commentary to their supervisory team for comment and receive those comments prior to final submission (see regulation PGR13.1.2R)

PGR12.4.5 Postgraduate researchers registered on MPhil or DPhil by publication awards who have not made their final submission will be required to submit evidence of ongoing progress and undergo a progress review meeting at the end of each stage of their registration as appropriate. The evidence submitted will need to be appropriate to the nature of the award and may comprise, for example, an updated publication plan for any final outputs expected and/or a draft of the critical commentary.

PGR 12.5 Timing of the review

PGR12.5.1 Deadlines for the review will be in accordance with the dates specified in the agreed terms and conditions for each postgraduate researcher. The progress review process for each stage of registration should be fully completed as follows:

  • Stage 2: by maximum 24 months for FT registration, by 26 months for PT registration, Prof Doc as per published programme;
  • Stage 3: by maximum 36 months for FT registration, by 54 months for PT registration, Prof Doc as per published programme.

PGR12.6 Responsibilities of the PGR

  • To submit evidence of progress chosen after discussion with the Director of Studies from the list of options at PGR12.4.1 and by the deadline indicated in the written terms and conditions of their award registration;
  • To complete the relevant sections of form PRa as requested by their Director of Studies;
  • To attend a progress review meeting on the date and at the time agreed by the Director of Studies;
  • Where a disability, ongoing health condition or specific learning difficulty has previously been disclosed, to discuss with the Director of Studies and the Graduate School any reasonable adjustments or other support needs required for the progress review if these have not already been agreed;
  • In the case of a resubmission outcome, to submit additional or amended work to the deadline required. The Independent Reviewer and the Director of Studies will provide oral feedback on the day of the review and written feedback (via the FRDC outcome notification) as to the additional work/evidence which is required, but it is the ultimately PGR’s responsibility to decide how to re-work or improve the material submitted.

PGR12.7 Responsibilities of the Director of Studies

  • To ensure that an independent reviewer is in place for progress review points subsequent to the progression examination. This will normally be one of the progression examination reviewers. Where the DoS wishes a different reviewer to be appointed they must seek approval from the FRDC;
  • Supervisors are normally expected to act as an independent reviewer for other PGRs in proportion to the number of PGRs which they themselves supervise;
  • To discuss with the PGR at an early stage what the relevant evidence submitted will be. Note, it is expected that the evidence submitted should draw on work already carried out by the PGR rather than produced in addition to existing work/outputs – it should not place an additional or unreasonable burden upon the PGR;
  • Where there is a faculty/department or disciplinary expectation about the kind of evidence which will normally be submitted the DoS must ensure that the PGR is aware of this. If after consideration the DoS and PGR decide that a different form of evidence (still chosen from the approved list) is more appropriate the DoS must ensure that the independent reviewer is aware of this in good time prior to the review meeting;
  • If there is disagreement between the DoS and reviewer as to the type of evidence to be submitted the DoS should seek advice from their Associate Head of Department for research where appropriate, or the PGR Director for the Faculty;
  • To organise the date of the progress review meeting in accordance with the deadlines in the PGR’s terms and conditions of registration, such that the whole review process can be completed in line with the relevant timings at PGR 12.5.1 above;
  • To discuss with the PGR and the Graduate School any reasonable adjustments or other support needs as soon as possible;
  • To return the PRa form completed and signed, to the Graduate School no less than five working days prior to the progress review meeting;
  • To arrange the venue and time of the review meeting and notify attendees. Note: the Graduate School can help with room bookings etc, but ultimately the review meeting is the Director of Studies’ responsibility;
  • To conduct the progress review meeting mindful of equal opportunities, diversity and disabilities requirements and in accordance with guidance provided by the Graduate School and other relevant UWE Bristol specialist services as appropriate;
  • To ensure that the joint PRb review outcomes report is completed (typewritten), signed and returned to the Graduate School within five working days of the review meeting;
  • In the case of satisfactory progress at stage 3 progress review, to consider what level of supervision if any the PGR will need to complete the project and submit on time.
  • If the reviewer and DoS are unable to agree a joint outcome recommendation, each should submit an independent report to the Graduate School for consideration by the FRDC.

PGR 12.8 Responsibilities of Independent Reviewers

  • Must be a member of UWE Bristol academic staff independent of the research project, the candidate and the supervisory team;
  • Must be an experienced researcher with a general understanding of the candidate’s chosen project field, but need not necessarily be a leading subject expert in that field;
  • Is responsible for assessing whether the PGR is making satisfactory progress towards completion, and has achieved any specific targets or objectives agreed at the last progress review point;
  • Will conduct the progress review meeting mindful of equal opportunities, diversity and disabilities requirements and in accordance with guidance provided by the Graduate School and other relevant UWE specialist services as appropriate;
  • Will be mindful of the requirements of the University’s Code of Good Conduct in Research, and University policy and requirements on academic integrity and assessment offences;
  • Will provide the PGR with appropriate oral feedback and an indication of the recommended outcome at the end of the meeting;
  • Will provide appropriate written feedback contained within the outcomes report (PRb), and in the case of a recommended resubmission outcome will indicate what additional work the PGR is required to do to demonstrate that progress is back on a satisfactory footing;
  • In the case of satisfactory progress at stage 3 Progress Review, to consider what level of supervision if any the PGR will need to complete the project and submit on time;
  • If the reviewer and DoS are unable to agree a joint outcome recommendation to submit an independent report to the Graduate School for consideration by the FRDC.

PGR 12.9 Responsibilities of the Faculty Research Degrees Committee

  • To consider and approve any nomination for independent reviewer for Progress Review where this is different from the reviewer appointed for the progression examination;
  • To note any necessary reasonable adjustment to a candidate’s progress review arrangements;
  • To consider personal circumstances submitted in relation to the progress review and requests for extension to progress review deadlines and/or suspension of registration as appropriate;
  • To consider the joint reviewer/DoS report (PRb) and recommended outcome, and decide the final outcome;
  • Where the reviewer and the DoS are unable to agree a joint outcome recommendation to consider the independent reports from each and decide an outcome. NB. the FRDC will consider both reports but will normally uphold the recommendation of the independent reviewer;
  • In the case of a resubmission outcome due to unsatisfactory progress, to set a maximum deadline for resubmitted work/evidence to be submitted;
  • To communicate the outcome decision and feedback to the candidate in writing emailed from the Chair;
  • The FRDC may attach conditions to any ‘satisfactory’ outcome where it has concern about a candidate’s ability to continue to progress satisfactorily in the following stage, eg to produce an action plan identifying specific objectives;
  • In the case of a satisfactory outcome at stage 3 Progress Review, to consider what level of supervision the PGR will need if any to complete the project and submit on time based on the advice from the reviewer/DoS in the PRb. This will be communicated to the PGR in the official outcomes notification.
  • Where the agreed final outcome after resubmission continues to be ‘unsatisfactory’, to make a recommendation to the Research Degrees Award Board (RDAB) that the PGR’s registration to be withdrawn. This will normally be executed by Chair’s Action as soon as possible.

PGR 12.10 Responsibilities of the Research Degrees Award Board (RDAB)

  • To receive and note data about progress review outcomes on a regular basis;
  • NB. Extensions to registration should not normally be considered in cases where the PGR has been referred at Progress Review and is required resubmit further work/evidence. The purpose of this review requirement is to get the project back on track as soon as possible, not to let it drift further;
  • To consider FRDC recommendations for withdrawal of the PGR’s registration following failure to demonstrate satisfactory progress at resubmission;
  • To consider any late personal circumstances submitted following a withdrawal decision.

Additional information and guidance

The completion period

Period of grace

Following successful completion of Stage 3 Progress Review (PR3) PGRs are eligible for a fee free period of grace, for a full-time PGR this will be 3 months, for a part-time PGR it will be 6 months. If the thesis is submitted for final assessment within the grace period then no further tuition fees will be due (this does not include re-examination fees).

If the thesis is not submitted for final assessment within this period of grace then the PGR will become eligible for a completion fee.

Completion period supervision and fees

  • At PR3 Review it will be agreed what level of supervision is still required in order for the PGR to complete their research ready for submission of their thesis for final assessment.
  • The level of completion fee will be one of the following:
    • Completion fee without supervision - The PGR must have completed all their research and be finalising their thesis, and therefore not need supervision. As a registered student of the University they will continue to be entitled to access to general UWE Bristol facilities. The supervisory team must provide comments on a full draft of the thesis prior to submission for final assessment.
    • Completion fee with supervision – 40% of current tuition fee – entitles the PGR to some supervision, usually just one member of the team.
    • Full fee – continued support from full supervisory team.
  • Once it has been agreed that a PGR is eligible for a completion fee they will remain on this status until they submit their thesis for final assessment or their maximum registration expires.
  • However, if a PGR or supervisory team feels that more or less supervision is required an application can be made to the FRDC to reduce/increase the completion fee with/without supervision.
  • Please note, the ‘completion fee without supervision’ is a set annual payment and there is no refund available if the PGR submits early.
  • The ‘completion fee with supervision’ can be paid in monthly instalments, if requested, and in agreement with credit control, and is payable until submission of the thesis for final assessment.

Further advice about the completion period and completion fees is available from the Graduate School.

Back to top