Graduate School Handbook Part 16 - Quality assurance matters

This section includes PGR representation, consultation, academic complaints, monitoring and evaluation, PGR related Committees and the Research Degrees Award Board (RDAB).


PGR 16.1 PGR Representation

PGR 16.1.1R All Academic Board Committees concerned with the provision of postgraduate research degrees will have opportunities for postgraduate researcher (PGR) representation within their membership. These include Faculty Research Degree Committees (FRDC), the Graduate School Committee (GSC) and the Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee (RKE).

PGR 16.2 Consultation and feedback

PGR 16.2.1R The Academic Board requires faculties and Academic Partners to establish and promote arrangements for securing consultation with, and feedback from, all students including postgraduate researchers. The Graduate School will provide mechanisms to enable those concerned with postgraduate research programmes to provide regular feedback both collectively and individually.

PGR 16.3 Complaints about PGR academic provision

PGR 16.3.1R An academic complaint is defined as a matter of concern to a student, including a postgraduate researcher, about the delivery, management, assessment methods and procedures of an award that includes supervised research which has not been resolved through the normal consultation process.

PGR 16.3.2R Procedures for dealing with complaints from students, including postgraduate researchers, about academic matters are available on the University complaints webpage.

PGR 16.4 Annual Monitoring and evaluation

PGR16.4.1R All provision contributing to MPhil and doctoral awards of the University is subject to annual monitoring to an approved format and in accordance with policies and procedures established by Academic Board.

PGR 16.5 University Committees relevant to PGR

A complete list and formal terms of reference for each of the University’s Academic Board Committees may be found on the UWE website.

There are a number of Committees which have particular responsibility for PGR at UWE.

PGR 16.5.1 Faculty Research Degrees Committees (FRDC)


To contribute to the development and local implementation of the UWE postgraduate research strategy in consultation with Faculty RKE Committees and the Graduate School Committee and promote high quality postgraduate research across  all disciplines.

To be responsible for the implementation of PGR regulations, procedures and Graduate School Committee policies for all stages of PGR registration on research awards at UWE from recruitment to the point of final submission for assessment. 

To make recommendations to the Research Degree Award Board about the extension or withdrawal of PGR registrations and approval of PGR final assessment arrangements. 

Committees are chaired by the Research Degrees Director (or equivalent, normally the overall faculty lead for PGR activity) and members include appropriate Associate Deans and Associate Heads of Department. The formal terms of reference for FRDCs can be viewed via the link above.

Further information

The Faculty Research Degree Committee (FRDC) is involved in all decisions regarding:

  • Admissions;
  • Registration;
  • Appointment of the Director of Studies and supervisory team;
  • Changes to the supervisory team;
  • Changes to the mode of study;
  • Progress review, including the progression examination, appointment of progression examiners/ progress reviewers;
  • Applications for personal circumstances, suspension or extension of registration;
  • Recommendations to RDAB regarding arrangements for final assessment, including appointment of examiners
  • Applications to the FRDC should be made on the relevant Research Degrees (RD) forms and signed both by the PGR and the supervisory team and submitted to the Graduate School Office to be taken forward to the committee.
  • Following each meeting of the FRDC the Graduate School Office will write to PGRs to confirm when a change to their registration has been approved and to notify all other decisions and outcomes of the committee.

    PGR representation on FRDC

    Each FRDC membership includes two PGR representatives (elected by the Student Representation Committee). The business of the FRDC is separated into Part A, dealing with matters of policy and procedure which may be attended by PGR representatives, and Part B, dealing with confidential individual PGR cases which may not be attended by PGR representatives. More information about becoming a PGR representative.

    Key contacts for the FRDC in each Faculty are:

    Faculty Chair Officer
    Arts, Creative Industries and Education Dr David Greenham Yasmin Al Rehani
    Environment and Technology Dr Alistair Clark Marisa Downham
    Business and Law Dr Svetlana Cicmil Helen Frisby
    Health and Applied Sciences Dr Tim Moss Carolyn Morgan

    Please email

    FRDC dates can be found on the Graduate School website.

PGR 16.5.2 Graduate School Committee (GSC)


To be responsible to the Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee (and where appropriate, the Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Committee) for the implementation of the Graduate School, its processes and policies with the aim of supporting a sustainable, high-quality postgraduate research student experience at the University. The committee is chaired by the Graduate School Director and includes Faculty Directors of Research and representatives from the Professoriate. The formal terms of reference for GSC can be viewed via the link above (at PGR16.5)

Further information

The GSC works closely with FRDCs and meets 5 times a year. Meeting dates and minutes are available on the Graduate School website.


PGR16.5.3 Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee


To be responsible to Academic Board for the development and implementation of the University’s academic strategies for research and knowledge exchange. The Committee monitors Faculty Research and Exchange Committees, the Graduate School, the University Research Ethics Committee and the Human Tissue Sub-Committee. The formal terms of reference for RKE can be viewed via the link above at PGR16.5.

Research Degrees Award Board

PGR 16.6 Research Degrees Award Board (RDAB)

PGR 16.6.1 Purpose

The Research Degrees Award Board will receive the recommended outcome from the viva voce examination alongside outcomes in taught modules from field boards and on this basis will make recommendations for the award of the appropriate research degree. See also Academic Regulations at PGR14.11 within this handbook.

PGR16.6.2 Terms of Reference

The Research Degrees Award Board is responsible for determining postgraduate research degree awards and its terms of reference are to:

  • 1. ensure that the academic quality and standards of the examination process are being maintained;
  • 2. confirm whether a research candidate has complied with the requirements to receive an award;
  • 3. note outcomes from Faculty Research Degree Committees (FRDCs) where a candidate’s progress is satisfactory and their registration may continue;
  • 4. consider recommendations from FRDCs for the extension of a candidate’s period of registration;
  • 5. consider recommendations from FRDCs to withdraw a candidate’s registration in accordance with the UWE PGR Withdrawal Policy;
  • consider requests for:
    • a. restriction of access to individual theses (PGR10.8);
    • b. variation to the prescribed submission format (PGR15.2.5R);
    • c. variation to the final assessment examination by viva voce (PGR14.2.6R);
    • d. variation to the location of final assessment viva on exceptional grounds (PGR14.2.7R);
  • 7. grant postgraduate research degrees awards on behalf of Academic Board, having regard to the candidate’s overall profile of assessment under the regulations for the programme, and subject to such limitations as are set out in the University’s Ordinances and Academic Regulations and Procedures;
  • 8.consider any personal circumstances applications affecting the performance of a candidate in relation to an award or continuation of their registration on an award;
  • 9. note the outcome of the investigation of a candidate who has committed an assessment offence and to consider and agree the appropriate penalty to be imposed from the range available at PGR15.2.1R in relation to the outcome of the award;
  • 10. identify any relevant matters arising from the work of the Board which it wishes to draw to the attention of the appropriate faculty and University committees.

NB. RDAB will not assume responsibility for the progression examination, which will remain with faculties.

PGR16.6.3 Composition

  • a) Chair (Vice Chancellor’s nomination);
  • b) Faculty Directors of Research Degrees (or equivalent role-holders with responsibility for postgraduate research students in the Faculty) (4);
  • c) Director of the Graduate School
  • d) RDAB Officer;
  • e) One representative of each affiliated institution registering a significant number of PGR candidates with the University;
  • f) Chief External Examiner for research degrees programmes.

PGR16.6.4 In attendance

The Board may have in attendance such other persons, associated with the research degree programmes as may be designated by the Chair to assist the Board in the exercise of its responsibilities.

PGR16.6.5 Quorum

Two thirds of the members eligible to attend in categories a to d in above. An Award Board which does not include the Chief External Examiner either in person or via a video, telephone or other link is not authorised to assess research candidates for an award or to recommend the grant of an award to a candidate.

PGR16.6.6 Chief External Examiner

The Chief External Examiner for research degrees programmes will have wide experience of both research and the assessment of research degrees. They will have a broad understanding of research across a range of disciplines and have had experience of applying regulatory frameworks to research degree programmes and will:

  • a. confirm that the academic quality and standards of the examination process are being maintained;
  • b. ensure that the procedures and arrangements for the examining board are conducted in accordance with the requirements of the University’s Academic Regulations and Procedures;
  • c. ensure that the examining board discharges its responsibilities relating to any matters concerning assessment offences and consideration of personal circumstances affecting individual research candidates;
  • d. advise the examining board on any issues relating to the eligibility of a candidate for an award;
  • e. approve the award recommendations made by the award board
  • f. attend examining boards in person as required;
  • g. provide an annual report to the University by a specified date each year, upon receipt of which the Chief External Examiner fee is paid.


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