Registration and periods of active study

The registration process and periods of active study for postgraduate research degrees at UWE Bristol.


Maximum active study period

The maximum active study period is the total number of months, commencing on their notified start date, that a Postgraduate Researcher (PGR) candidate is permitted to complete all the required elements of their award. This includes passing required taught modules, undertaking the research project, and submitting the thesis or specified work for final assessment.

This period does not include any approved suspensions of study or other ‘time out’ from active study approved for any other reason.

Maximum registration

Maximum registration is the maximum length of time a PGR candidate can remain registered on a research degree award of the University. This includes all approved suspensions of study, any approved extension of the maximum active study period, and other ‘time out’ from active study approved for any other reason.


E6 Registration periods

  1. General registration requirements are set out in regulation B2 in the University's Academic Regulations.
  2. Normal minimum and maximum active study periods and the maximum periods of registration are set out in Appendix 1 of the University's Academic Regulations.
  3. A candidate must demonstrate satisfactory progress for registration to continue as set out in regulation E13 and regulation E14.
  4. A candidate may apply to make the following changes relating to their registration:
    • research project
    • supervisory team
    • mode of attendance
    • registration status
    • milestone deadlines
    • PhD to MPhil transfer.

    MPhil candidates who wish to transfer to the PhD award must reapply to register on the PhD award and withdraw from the MPhil if successful.

  5. Suspension from active study may be approved where there are valid reasons and supporting evidence. Suspensions will not normally be approved for longer than 12 months.
  6. The maximum active study period may be extended where there are valid reasons and supporting evidence but will not normally be approved for longer than 12 months.
  7. Withdrawal of registration may be initiated by the candidate or the University at any time in accordance with the published postgraduate research withdrawal policy (PDF). The decision to withdraw a candidate’s registration is the responsibility of the Examining Board on recommendation from the appropriate committee.

Procedures about registration and periods of active study

Initial registration

This procedure links to regulation E6.ii.

  1. Initial registration on the award will take place at the PGR's start date, and PGRs are required to re-register each year until their completion of, or withdrawal from, the award. Annual fees are due at the start of each year. Registration for DPhil or MPhil by publication is on a part-time basis only.
  2. Normal minimum and maximum periods of active study are set out at Appendix 1 of the University’s Academic Regulations, and are reproduced here for ease of reference:

Degree programme



Master of Philosophy (MPhil) (FT)

18 months

36 months

Master of Philosophy (MPhil) (PT)

30 months

48 months

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) (FT)

24 months

48 months

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) (PT)

36 months

96 months

Professional Doctorate (FT)

36 months

48 months

Professional Doctorate (PT)

48 months

72 months

Doctor of Philosophy by publication (DPhil) (PT)

12 months

72 months

Master of Philosophy by publication (MPhil) (PT)

12 months

48 months

Changes to PGR candidate’s registration or the project registration details

This procedure links to regulation E6.iv.

  1. The designated college committee, normally the College Research Degrees Committee (CRDC), is responsible for confirming approval of applications to make changes to a PGR's registration (for example, mode of study full or part-time), or active study status as listed in regulation E6.v-vi where supported by appropriate evidence), and for making recommendations to the Examining Board or designated body for withdrawal of registration under the PGR withdrawal policy (see regulation E6.vii).
  2. Changes to other aspects of the PGRs research studies such as a significant change in the nature, scope or topic area of the project, or changes in the composition of the supervisory team are also subject to consideration by the CRDC (or equivalent).
  3. Candidates applying for a change to their registration, or their project registration may only do so with the support of their Director of Studies (DoS)/Supervisory team and must complete the relevant form.
  4. Candidates applying to change from doctoral to MPhil registration must do so before submitting their final thesis.
  5. MPhil candidates wishing to transfer to the relevant doctoral award as at regulation E6.iv, must submit a new application. If successful, the candidate will then be required to submit a new project registration proposal appropriate to the requirements of the doctoral award. Where appropriate the committee may discretionally take existing work undertaken on the MPhil into account.
  6. A UWE Bristol DPhil candidate wishing to be considered for transfer to the PhD award should contact the Doctoral Academy in the first instance. There is no guarantee that such a transfer will be granted. In such cases candidates should be aware that work published prior to their initial registration with the University cannot be included in the PhD thesis.
  7. A UWE Bristol PhD candidate wishing to be considered for transfer to the DPhil award by publication and who is an eligible employee of the University or an affiliated academic institution under regulation E6.iv, should contact the Doctoral Academy in the first instance. There is no guarantee that such a transfer will be granted.
  8. Candidates wishing to submit their thesis or specified work for final assessment before the minimum period of active study has elapsed must request permission from the designated college committee to do so (normally the CRDC).
  9. Candidates reaching the end of their maximum active study period without having submitted for final assessment will be withdrawn and no award will be made unless a relevant personal circumstances application has been approved (see changes to active study status).
  10. Candidates who exceed their maximum registration without seeking an exceptional extension as at regulation in the University's Academic Regulations will be withdrawn automatically and no award will be made.

Schools may, by delegation, undertake some of these responsibilities subject to local agreement.

Changes to active study status

This procedure links to regulation E6.v-vi.

Changes to active study status – suspension and extension, and progress milestone extensions using the PGR personal circumstances process.

See also regulation E11 and related procedures about personal circumstances and the PGR personal circumstance guidance notes (PDF).

  1. The designated college committee’s personal circumstances panel (normally that of the CRDC) is responsible for confirming approval of applications from candidates via the PGR personal circumstances process for:
    • extensions to individual progress milestone deadlines which do not affect a PGR candidate’s active study status or maximum active study end date
    • changes to a PGR candidate’s active study status (suspension, extension of the maximum active study period, or elective withdrawal due to circumstances) 

    Designated School Committees may, by delegation, undertake some of these responsibilities subject to local agreement.

  2. Candidates should note that:
    • milestone extensions, suspension from active study, and extensions to the maximum period of active study must be discussed with their DoS before a personal circumstances application is submitted
    • personal circumstance applications (other than a five day self-certification) must be supported by relevant evidence
    • extensions to the maximum period of active study will normally be considered only once the candidate has successfully passed stage three progress review and has entered the final completion stage of their project
    • extensions to the maximum period of active study will only be recommended to the Examining Board or body by the committee’s panel where there are acceptable reasons, together with appropriate supporting evidence and a realistic plan showing the timeline for the completion and submission of the final thesis/submitted work
    • the decision to approve an extension to a candidate’s maximum period of active study is the responsibility of the Examining Board or Committee.

Additional circumstances for withdrawal or suspension

This procedure links to regulation B2.iv in the University's Academic Regulations.

  1. In addition to the conditions described within the PGR withdrawal policy (PDF) the University may require the PGR to leave the award for reasons described at regulation B2.iv in the University's Academic Regulations and the associated policies. For PGR candidates registered on Professional Doctorate awards where there are concerns regarding continuing professional suitability or fitness to practice the professional suitability policy and procedure will be invoked.

Role and responsibilities

Responsibilities of new PGR candidates

  1. PGR candidates must ensure that they:
    • complete provisional registration or annual re-registration
    • pay fees and any relevant project fees, or ensure arrangements are in place to pay these, for example if sponsored by a home government or employer
    • present originals of relevant qualification certificates and formal photographic identification documents as requested
    • inform the Doctoral Academy and their DoS if they are going to be late arriving at UWE Bristol to begin their research studies.
  2. PGR candidates on a student visa (formerly Tier 4) should also familiarise themselves with the University’s requirements, resources and guidance for international students.
  3. New PGR candidates are strongly recommended College or School induction events to which they are invited, together with the Doctoral Academy, welcome event.

Responsibilities of the Director of Studies

  1. The DoS must ensure that:
    • PGR candidates register without delay at the start of each annual registration period.
    • They discuss with the PGR candidate what work can begin prior to arrival where a new PGR has informed the University that they are going to arrive late (but does not wish to defer their place), to avoid delays in submitting the project for registration.
    • They provide a one-to-one induction or orientation during the initial supervision meeting with new PGRs. In addition, PGRs will be invited to a College or School induction and the Doctoral Academy welcome event, which they should be encouraged to attend.
    • For re-registering PGR candidates, the DoS must ensure that PGRs are aware of upcoming progress review milestones and the requirements for these.
  2. DoS and supervisors should:
    • be aware of PGRs’ individual registration details and work with the PGR to request any proposed changes to registration, to their active study status, or to other aspects of their research study, for example, changes to the project or supervisory arrangements (see the Supervision section of the Doctoral Academy handbook)
    • consider if any proposed change is appropriate and in the PGR’s best interest
    • direct PGRs towards help and specialist support services available to them within the University if appropriate, for example, the Wellbeing Service and Disability Service.

Responsibilities of the College Research Degree Committee (or equivalent committee)

  1. Changes to progress milestones, active study status, or candidate registration on the award:
    • When considering approval of progress milestone extensions, changes to active study status (for example, suspensions, and extensions after PR3) or to a PGR's registration (for example, change of mode of attendance, change of award, or withdrawal) the Committee and its personal circumstances panel will act fairly and consistently when making decisions based on the information and evidence provided.
    • The Committee must ensure that any conditions of approval are clearly defined and communicated to the PGR candidate and the DoS.
    • When considering the withdrawal of a PGR candidate the Committee must inform the candidate of their intention in accordance with the policy, and must provide the candidate with details of any relevant help and support available to them.
    • When considering requests for a suspension from active study, the Committee personal circumstances panel must consider whether it is likely that the PGR will be able to complete the project after returning from the proposed period of suspension.
    • When considering requests for an extension of maximum active study period (normally after PR3), or the withdrawal of a PGR candidate under the PGR withdrawal policy the Committee will make a recommendation to the designated Examining Board or body.
    • Personal information and details of circumstances will be handled sensitively by the personal circumstances panel – it will not normally be necessary to disclose these to the wider Committee.

Schools may, by delegation, undertake some of these responsibilities subject to local agreement.

Responsibilities of the designated Examining Board or body

  1. The designated Examining Board or body is responsible for making the final decision about any extension to the maximum active study period or the withdrawal of a PGR's registration altogether. The Board will consider the recommendation of the CRDC (or equivalent committee), in conjunction with the information and evidence submitted by the PGR and their supervisory team.

Expectations and further guidance about working, holidays and other absences

How many hours you should spend a week on your research

  • UWE Bristol expects PGRs to spend time on their research appropriate to their mode of attendance. Full-time PGRs are expected to spend between 35 and 40 hours per week throughout the year actively engaged in their research. The majority of this time should be between Monday and Friday during normal University hours to ensure availability of contact with supervisors. Attendance and engagement is monitored via supervisory meetings, and a regular record of scheduled supervision meetings should be kept.
  • PGRs in receipt of bursary or studentship funding awarded by the University or other partner must comply with any attendance expectations specified within the terms and conditions of that studentship.
  • Part-time PGRs are expected to spend approximately 16 hours per week engaged in their research as a minimum. It is accepted that the agreed pattern of study for part-time PGRs will vary according to work or other external commitments and in the case of Professional Doctorates upon any expected attendance patterns specified for the award. However part-time PGRs must ensure that they are sufficiently available during normal University hours to maintain regular contact with their supervisors.


  • It is very important that PGRs are able to take reasonable breaks away from their studies for rest and relaxation. PGRs are entitled to take holidays and a maximum of eight weeks in the year including public holidays is recommended for full-time PGRs, pro-rata for part-time PGRs. Students on a student visa (formerly Tier 4) must ensure that they remain compliant with the requirements of their visa when taking breaks away from the University.
  • Holidays or annual leave should be agreed in advance with the DoS to ensure that key research periods are not disrupted, for example, time-limited access to resources such as lab equipment. However, DoS are expected to be reasonable in considering requests for annual leave and to consider PGR's commitments outside their research, such as those with school age children. PGRs working in collaboration with non-academic partners are expected to consider their obligations to those partners in planning leave.

Pregnancy, maternity and adoption

  • Support for PGR candidates during pregnancy, maternity and adoption follows the University’s Student pregnancy, maternity, adoption and partner policy (PDF). In addition, where candidate’s research study is funded by the University through a bursary, studentship or stipend, funded maternity leave aligning to the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) standard terms and conditions for funded studentships may be available. To find the current details about maternity leave, primary adopter leave, paternity leave and parental leave please refer to the Guidance about maternity and adoption and partner leave for PGRs (PDF).
  • PGR candidates on a student visa (formerly Tier 4) and international students who wish to take leave of absence from their studies for maternity should contact the Student Visa Support Team to discuss their available options in good time prior to their expected due date.

Other periods of absence

  • PGRs should agree any short period of absence in advance with their DoS and refer to regulations and guidance at regulation E11 about suspension from active study, or extensions to progress milestone deadlines if affected by personal circumstances beyond their control.

Working while registered on a research degree award

  • Full-time PGRs should not engage in other work (paid or otherwise) that will have a detrimental impact upon the time that they have available to engage with their research studies. Full-time PGRs in receipt of UWE Bristol or other bursaries or studentships particularly may put continuation of their bursary at risk if they are found to have taken on other paid work that prevents them from committing the expected number of hours per week to their research. Pressure of other work will not normally be considered an acceptable reason to support a request for an extension to a progress milestone or other submission deadline for full-time PGRs.
  • Full-time PGRs who wish to undertake teaching activities are encouraged to do so where opportunities are available, but must comply with regulation E7.iii and the University’s Postgraduate research teaching policy (PDF) about the number of hours that they may teach per year.

Guidance for international students

Approval for authorised absence for PGRs on a student visa (formerly Tier 4)

  • Situations do arise that require some students to be absent from UWE Bristol, for example, a family emergency in your home country, a period of sickness which requires time away from studies to recover, or time required to undertake data collection and research abroad for a thesis.
  • Approval must be obtained in advance for any authorised absence from the University's Visa Support Team and PGRs should discuss this in advance of taking any leave. This is for any time away for a period longer than 14 days and up to a maximum of 60 days. Approval is given on a case-by-case basis and must have support from an academic member of staff such as the DoS. A PGR may be able to receive an authorised absence for up to 60 days but this cannot be granted in all cases.
  • The authorised absence rule can only be applied if the PGR will not require a visa extension, or require an extension to their research degree end date as a result of taking time out from their studies.
  • In these situations PGRs will need to apply for an authorised leave of absence first as above, and use the personal circumstances form (DOC) as the means of informing the Doctoral Academy and the CRDC (or equivalent committee) about their absence, including as part of their supporting evidence the notification of approval by the Visa Support Team.

Further information about how to obtain an authorised absence is available in UWE Bristol's guidance on enrolment and attendance monitoring.

Working in the UK if you are on a student visa (formerly Tier 4)

  • UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) are very strict about the type and amount of paid work that students with a student visa are allowed to do while in the UK. As part of your visa application, UKVI will require you to demonstrate that you have enough money to support yourself during your studies.
  • PGR students are considered to be “in term time” for the entirety of their course (until they have submitted their final thesis).

Student visa (formerly Tier 4) annual registration requirements

  1. Registration sessions:
    • PGRs with a student visa must attend a documents check every year to complete Home Office requirements and PGRs will be informed of these details directly by the University's Immigration Advice Team. This will include a passport check, visa and qualifications check and collection of your biometric residence permit (BRP).
  2. General visa advice:
    • You can obtain support and guidance about your student visa from the UWE Bristol Immigration Advice Service. Drop in sessions with the Immigration advice team are available on Frenchay Campus several times each week. You may then be offered a bookable one-to-one appointment with an immigration adviser. These appointments can be in person or by phone.
    • Part-time international PGRs whose study is based in their home country who need to attend UWE Bristol on a short-term basis will need to apply to the Home Office for the appropriate visa. Please note that it is the PGR's responsibility to arrange and to pay for the visa, travel and other expenses relating to the visit. Questions about visa applications should be sent directly to the University's Immigration Advice Team.

Doctoral Academy Handbook sections