E9 Research project

  1. A candidate must apply for project confirmation approval by the designated college committee. This must be completed within three months of registration for full-time candidates and within six months of registration for part-time candidates.
  2. The project confirmation proposal will include:
    • confirmation of the research project title
    • proposed research methods
    • outline of the schedule of work
    • supervision arrangements
    • development needs analysis and training plan
    • where relevant, matters relating to ethics approval, collaboration, funding, intellectual property matters and data management and access.
  3. Outcomes of the committee’s consideration will be:
    • Confirmed – the research project can proceed or
    • Not yet confirmed – further adjustment and reapplication for confirmation is necessary prior to the commencement of research.
  4. Should a project confirmation proposal not be approved, a candidate will have the opportunity to adjust the proposal and reapply. The timescales from notification will be four weeks for full-time candidates and eight weeks for part-time candidates.
  5. Starting active research without project confirmation approval contravenes academic regulations and the UWE Bristol Code of Good Research Conduct.
  6. Any major changes to the approved project confirmation proposal during the candidate’s registration period will require approval by the designated college committee.


Professional Doctorate awards and project confirmation

This procedure links to regulation E9.i-ii.

  1. Professional Doctorate awards may be subject to specific requirements for project confirmation as detailed in the relevant Programme Specification.

Major changes to the research project

This procedure links to regulation

  1. Examples of acceptable reasons for change include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • a change in the Postgraduate Researcher's (PGR) employment
    • lack of successful development of the project in its original form
    • a change to a collaborative agreement or contract, including funding
    • a change in access to resources or data previously agreed that cannot be resolved
    • a change in methodology or research data collection arrangements, or other change due to restrictions required by prevailing conditions at the time.

Please note: In such circumstances, a change in the composition of the supervisory team may also be necessary to ensure ongoing subject expertise.

Roles and responsibilities

Responsibilities of the PGR candidate

  1. Responsibilities of the PGR include:
    • Submit the confirmation proposal to the Doctoral Academy by the deadline indicated in the written terms and conditions of their award registration and complete all online training modules that form part of the confirmation process. The link to the training module is embedded in the CP1 – PGR confirmation of project form (DOC).
    • Work with their Director of Studies (DoS) on the development of an ongoing research data management plan for the project.
    • Make an application for ethical approval with guidance from the DoS, where the nature of the project requires this.
    • Discuss their training plan with their DoS, including identification of appropriate modules they will take.
    • No active data collection may start until the project proposal has received confirmation.

Responsibilities of the Director of Studies

This procedure links to regulation E9.iii.

  1. Responsibilities of the DoS at this stage include:
    • To work closely with the PGR in preparation for the submission of the project confirmation proposal and provide guidance on the development of the associated schedule of work and reading.
    • To ensure that the project proposed is:
      • within the PGR’s capabilities and interests
      • within the expertise of the supervisory team
      • practical in terms of available resources and the arrangements for research data collection, management, storage and preservation are appropriate
      • appropriate in terms of the requirements of the University’s Code of Good Research Conduct and other governance and policy requirements, for example Intellectual Property (IP) requirements (see also the Research Governance section of the Doctoral Academy Handbook)
      • realistic in terms of completion within the permitted registration period.
    • To work with the PGR in the development of the ongoing plan for the management of research data for the project.
    • To ensure that any ethical approval required has been applied for and obtained before active data collection begins.
    • To conduct a development needs analysis with the PGR and develop a training plan which will develop the PGR’s knowledge and skills to be an effective researcher (see Vitae researcher attributes), and will meet the accredited training requirements and any other requirements for the award. This may also include informal or non-assessed elements as appropriate.
    • To support the PGR in the development of their understanding about their role and responsibilities regarding their own research work.
    • To advise the PGR on the completion of any further work following feedback from the College Research Degrees Committee (CRDC) or designated committee in the case that the confirmation proposal needs further adjustment.

Responsibilities of the CRDC (or equivalent designated committee)

  1. The responsibilities of the CRDC (or its designated equivalent) include:
    • consider and confirm the project proposal
    • provide feedback on the submission and highlight any additional adjustment required if the proposal cannot be confirmed at first presentation
    • consider the selection and credit value of Masters level modules proposed as part of the training and development plan and advise alternatives if they are not appropriate
    • on the advice of the relevant personal circumstances panel, note requests for extensions to the submission deadline and/or suspension of registration as appropriate in the light of personal circumstances submitted by the PGR
    • communicate the outcome decision and provide feedback to the PGR and Director of Studies.

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

Further information about the project confirmation proposal

Proposal length and content

  • Detailed guidance notes on the completion of the CP1 will be available on the research degree forms webpage. You are also expected to upload an outline of your proposed research in a maximum of 1,500 words. The file space for this file upload is quite small, so aim to be well within the world limit. The CP1 should cover:
    • main aims and objectives
    • proposed research methods
    • a maximum of ten literature references
    • expected dates of achievements or milestones, for example, expected conference presentations, paper publications, exhibitions, etc.
  • If you are a self-funded PGR this should confirm the research proposed in your application. If you are a funded PGR this will provide an outline of the research that was awarded funding. If you are a Professional Doctorate PGR who has developed the research project in a module in the taught phase of your award, then the CP1 will include an outline of that project including any amendments that might have been required at that time by examiners.
  • You should aim to be concise and ensure that you state clearly what research question or issue your project is going to address and how you plan to address it – what are you going to do? And in your methodology, how are you going to do it? You should also include an indication of the original contribution to knowledge you hope to make.
  • Include a maximum of ten references in the background and methods section. There should be enough to illustrate the areas of existing research you propose to investigate or challenge, not a list of everything you have ever read or hope to read.
  • Do include a timeline/schedule or Gantt chart showing when you plan to undertake each major area of activity within the project. This is an initial indication and can change over time. Include anticipated achievements or milestones such as completion of data collection, conference presentations, intended publication points and progress milestones.
  • Remember, this is confirmation of your research project proposal – it is not a mini-thesis in its own right.

Projects requiring ethical approval

  • If your research will involve animals or human participants, their tissue or data in any way, you will need ethical approval by the University's Research Ethics Committee (UREC) or one of its College Research Ethics Committees (CRECs) in accordance with the operating procedures set out in chapter 6.3 of the Code of Good Research Conduct. This will be the case even if you plan to use anonymous questionnaires or to incorporate anonymised participant data in your research.
  • Research which involves NHS or social care organisations or involves human tissues may also require review by an NHS Research Ethics Committee (REC) or the social care REC.
  • You should ask your Director of Studies for advice and guidance about applying for ethical approval. You can also find further information on the University’s research governance and research ethics pages.
  • If your project does require ethical approval you will be required to confirm that this has been obtained at your next progress milestone. 

If you cannot apply for Accredited Learning

If you are told you cannot apply for ‘Accredited Learning’ for all the 60 Masters module credits (PhD, MPhil, DPhil) the following may apply:

  • The Committee will normally permit some of the credit requirement for the award to be met through accredited learning, but it is unlikely that it will permit all of the requirement to be met in this way (see the Professional development section of the Doctoral Academy handbook section for more details).
  • Postgraduate researcher training is designed to enable PGRs to develop effective and independent researcher skills and attributes in line with the requirements of the doctoral qualifications descriptor and at a more advanced doctoral level than required for a Masters qualification.
  • Professional Doctorate awards follow a prescribed diet of modules detailed in the Programme Specification for the award.

Doctoral Academy Handbook sections