This section provides information about preparing for final submission of the thesis or critical commentary, the actions that need to be completed before the submission is made, and how to make the submission. There is also information for PhD and MPhil candidates about incorporating research outputs into the thesis. All candidates must read this section in conjunction with the published requirements for formatting the final submission.


E15 Final submission

  1. Submission will take place between the minimum and maximum approved period of active study.
  2. In advance of a final submission, the following actions will have taken place.
    • The supervisory team will have received a full draft of the thesis/critical commentary for comment and will have provided feedback to the candidate.
    • The candidate and their supervisory team will have agreed the format and mode of submission, including for creative practice submissions, and will have gained the approval of the Examining Board where this is required.
    • The candidate and their supervisory team will have discussed the candidate’s preference for a face-to-face viva or an online viva subject to examiner agreement.
    • An appropriate examination team will have been identified and appointed.
  3. The candidate has ultimate responsibility for deciding on the content and timing of final submission of the thesis and/or creative work within the permitted maximums.
  4. The Examining Board may approve an alternative to submission by thesis in exceptional circumstances, where it is satisfied that a candidate would be seriously disadvantaged on health, disability or other grounds, and where the proposed alternative is capable of being assessed.
  5. A candidate submitting for an MPhil or DPhil by publication will submit a critical commentary and their collection of published works.
  6. The submission will be formatted in accordance with the requirements for formatting the final submission (PDF) and submitted to the University’s Research Repository on a closed access basis until an award has been granted. It will be replaced by the final version as approved by the examiners.

Procedures about final submission

Understanding the requirements of assessment at final submission

This procedure relates to regulation E2, regulation E3, regulation E7 and regulation E15.

  1. To be awarded an MPhil or Doctoral level research degree candidates must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the examiners that they meet the requirements of the University’s published award descriptor criteria (see regulation E3 and associated procedures).
  2. In addition, candidates must have successfully completed assessment of any required taught credit and fulfil any other academic or professional assessment requirements for their award (see regulation E2.i and regulation E7.ii and elsewhere in published award specifications).
  3. Candidates who reach the end of their maximum approved period of active study for the award without having submitted for final assessment, and who have not submitted an eligible personal circumstances application, will be withdrawn and no award will be made (see regulation E15.i).
  4. The language of the submitted thesis or critical commentary will be English unless an application for an alternative has been approved by the Examining Board, body, or designated committee.

Responsibilities prior to submission

This procedure relates to regulation E15.ii and regulation E16.

  1. The Postgraduate Researcher (PGR) candidate must ensure that a full draft of the thesis/critical commentary is provided to the supervisory team with reasonable time to allow for feedback from at least one of the supervisors (normally the Director of Studies (DoS)) and to make any last adjustments to the work prior to submission for final assessment (see regulation E15.ii).
  2. The DoS is responsible for ensuring that the examining team has been nominated, the format of the viva agreed, and the EX1 – Examination arrangements (DOC) submitted to the Doctoral Academy at least three months and up to 12 months before the candidate submits their work for final assessment (see regulation E15.ii).
  3. The DoS is then responsible for agreeing a date and time for the viva with the examining team, including the Independent Chair, and the PGR. The viva should be scheduled for a reasonable time of day, taking into account any caring responsibilities that the team or the candidate may have outside the standard working day where possible. The DoS must inform the Doctoral Academy of these arrangements (for full details see regulation E16 and associated procedures about examiners).
  4. Any candidate who has previously disclosed an impairment, disability or ongoing health condition for which they need support or reasonable adjustments at final assessment should contact the Doctoral Academy in good time to ensure that the necessary arrangements can be made.

Length of thesis submission for MPhil, PhD, Professional Doctorates

  1. The following list the maximum word limits for MPhil, PhD by thesis and Professional Doctorate awards:
    • Science, engineering and creative practice/performing arts disciplines:
      • PhD 40,000 words
      • Professional Doctorate 35,000 words or as detailed in the programme specification
      • MPhil 20,000 words.
    • For business and management, humanities and the arts, social sciences, health and social care and education disciplines:
      • PhD 80,000 words
      • Professional Doctorate 60,000 words or as detailed in the programme specification
      • MPhil 40,000 words.
  2. Ancillary data, such as appendices and references, are not included in the maximum word limits.
  3. An MPhil or PhD thesis incorporating research outputs within the body of the work to be assessed may be expected to be longer than a written thesis submission that does not incorporate them and may exceed the maximum permitted for that discipline by up to 10,000 words.
  4. Please note that examiners are not obliged to examine additional material included in the thesis beyond these word limits.
  5. The final thesis submission for Professional Doctorate awards may include award specific requirements, and candidates should consult current Programme specifications and/or published Programme handbooks for details.

Incorporating research outputs in the written thesis for assessment

Guidance on incorporating research outputs in your thesis (PDF)

  1. Written research outputs that can be incorporated into ‘the body of work to be assessed’ within the written thesis may include:
    • scholarly texts including journal articles and books
    • parts of books
    • conference articles or working papers
    • research reports
    • research-informed policy documents
    • patents, published or pending
    • translations
    • case studies of innovative work or other written material that provides evidence of original research or advanced scholarship in the field of study.
  2. Other research outputs that could inform the written thesis may include:
    • artefacts
    • devices
    • products
    • exhibitions
    • performances
    • compositions
    • portfolios
    • designs
    • software
    • digital or visual media or other material that provides evidence of original research or other advanced scholarship in the field of study.
  3. Research outputs to be incorporated into the body of work to be assessed must be produced during the candidate’s period of registration on the award. They should be in a publishable state, but do not have to have been published.
  4. The option to include research outputs within the body of work to be assessed in the thesis is available for candidates registered on MPhil or PhD awards by written thesis only. It is not currently available for Professional Doctorate awards. Candidates submitting for MPhil or PhD with an approved creative practice focus have different arrangements.

Published work included in the submission but not in the ‘body of work to be assessed’

  1. Reference should be made in the thesis to any publications that have resulted from the research submitted, but which are not included in the ‘body of work to be assessed’. PDF copies of these publications should be submitted at the same time as the thesis and RD20 – Alternative format of thesis (DOC) must also be submitted. In some instances, the published Programme specification for the award requires that such publications are included in a particular format (for example some Professional Doctorate awards).

Collaborative work in the thesis

  1. Where the thesis is the result of collaboration, a statement must be included to this effect, identifying the separate and distinctive nature of the PGR’s individual contribution to the overall project, both in the thesis and in any supporting published work.

Thesis and creative practice

  1. Where candidates are assessed for MPhil and PhD awards with an approved creative practice focus, the assessment will be by submitted thesis and viva voce but may also include submission of original creative work in any medium undertaken as part of the confirmed research project. This creative work may include but is not limited to one or more scholarly texts, works of fiction, musical or choreographic works, designs, devices and products, short film, exhibition of works, installation or other original artefacts or examples of creative work.
  2. Any submitted creative work must be clearly presented in relation to the argument of the thesis written by the candidate and set in its relevant theoretical, historical, critical or design context.
  3. Where practical, the creative work may be included within the written final submission but is not included in the maximum word count for the thesis itself.
  4. The final deposition of the thesis to the University’s research repository must be accompanied by some permanent record of the original creative work, which may be in written format, or other format including but not limited to an electronic recording, photographic record, musical score, or diagrammatic representation.

MPhil/DPhil awards by publication – length of submission

This procedure relates to regulation E3.

  1. Research awards by publication (including MPhil and DPhil degrees by publication) are assessed by evidence of scholarship through a collection of published work and a critical commentary setting out the nature and significance of the collection in terms of its contribution to new knowledge within the subject field, together with a viva voce examination.
  2. The critical commentary and collection of published work together form the submission for assessment.
  3. The maximum word limit for the critical commentary for MPhil/DPhil by publication is 20,000 words. The expected length may vary depending on the field of research and many commentaries will be significantly shorter than this maximum. There is no minimum word count. Ancillary data, such as appendices and references, are not included in the maximum word limit.
  4. Please note: examiners are not obliged to examine material beyond the maximum word limit.
  5. The collection of published work may include books, original and exhibited creative work in any medium, peer reviewed publications in the public domain, published patents or designs, or other forms of published scholarly output embodying original research. It may include work published prior to the candidate’s registration on the award.
  6. There is no specified minimum or maximum number of published outputs that may be submitted as part of the collection, nor is there a specified minimum level of individual contribution to each output. This is to ensure that the scholarly and publishing practice of differing discipline areas can be reflected appropriately.
  7. The published collection, when combined with the critical commentary and any professional training or development undertaken, must be sufficient to demonstrate that the candidate meets the requirements of the Doctoral or MPhil qualification descriptor (see regulation E3 and associated procedures).
  8. The critical commentary should clearly demonstrate the nature and extent of the candidate’s individual contribution to each of the works presented and how each reflects their own original contribution to current knowledge in the field.
  9. Further information is available in the requirements for formatting the final submission (PDF).

Formatting the submission and what must be included – all awards

Requirements for formatting the final submission (PDF)

  1. The submission must be formatted in accordance with the requirements for formatting the final submission (PDF).
  2. The requirements document provides further advice about including research outputs in the PhD/MPhil written thesis, and guidance for DPhil/MPhil candidates about the collection of published works. It also includes guidance about formatting the submission so that it is accessible for anyone to access, read or reformat using assistive technology (such as screen readers).
  3. Any candidate wishing to submit part or all of their written thesis other than in the standard written format required must apply for permission to do so from the Examining Board. The RD20 – Alternative format of thesis (DOC) must describe how the contents can better be expressed in the preferred format and how it is capable of being assessed, and must be made as early as possible in the candidate’s registration. Applications cannot be made after the final examination arrangements have been approved, and all applications must have the support of the candidate’s DoS.

Optional Covid-19 impact statement – all awards

  1. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may have affected your ability to undertake your research as planned. If this was so, the University would like to give you the opportunity to explain any enforced changes to your thesis/critical commentary in order to demonstrate to your examiners that your work still meets your award criteria (see especially the third criterion on both Doctoral and MPhil descriptors).
  2. Candidates may submit a Covid-19 impact statement (DOC) as part of the accompanying paperwork to the thesis/critical commentary, in which they can detail the changes to their research project as planned enforced by covid-19 and/or the restrictions prevailing at the time.

Making the submission for final assessment – all awards

This procedure relates to regulation E10.

  1. All submissions must be submitted to the UWE Bristol Research Repository. Once submitted for assessment the candidate may not make further amendment unless required to do so by the examiners. At the same time the submission is made, the RD14 – Initial submission declaration (DOC) must be completed and submitted to the Doctoral Academy. The declaration requires information about whether the submission has been used as part or all of another award; confirmation that the necessary copyright permissions have been obtained for any items in the submission that are not the candidate’s original work; and confirmation that the submission has been uploaded to the University’s Research Repository.
  2. Each time the submission is revised to comply with examiner requirements the complete revised submission must be uploaded to the repository following the same format as the first submission.
  3. All copies of the submission will be held in a secure area of the UWE Bristol Repository until the examiners have approved the final version. Designated members of university staff will have access to submissions, as will appointed examiners where required for examination purposes.
  4. The final version of the submission as approved by the examiners must be uploaded before any award can be conferred. This final version will be made public unless approval to restrict access has previously been granted by the Examining Board, body or designated committee (see regulation E10 and associated procedures).
  5. The candidate must also ensure that they have complied with the requirements of their research data management plan, regarding the storage of research data relating to their submitted work (see regulation E10.i and associated procedures).
  6. See guidance on how to upload your submission to the UWE Bristol Research Repository.

Doctoral Academy Handbook sections