A higher tier of research doctorates, awarded on the basis of a formally submitted and substantial body of published research outputs of high distinction indicating a sustained, consistent and significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge or scholarship through research, and a beneficial impact for communities, a sustainable economy and/or society more broadly.

See regulations at PGR1.8.1R. The following awards may be granted to persons who provide evidence of work of high distinction in accordance with the Academic Regulations:

  • Doctor of Letters (DLitt)
  • Doctor of Science (DSc).

Regulations about higher doctorate awards: Applications, eligibility and submission

PGRAPP1.1. Application

PGRAPP1.1.1R The Academic Board shall delegate its authority to consider applications for higher doctorates and to determine whether to grant such awards on behalf of the University to the Research Degrees Award Board, hereafter referred to as RDAB, or the Board.

PGRAPP1.1.2R Applications, specifying the higher doctorate applied for, as listed in PGR1.8.1R shall be made in writing to the Officer to the Research Degrees Award Board.

PGRAPP1.2 Eligibility to apply

PGRAPP1.2.1R Applicants will be leading authorities in their field or fields of study, as evidenced by, inter alia, an established reputation in an academic community, evidence of citation of published work, or a significant and sustained contribution to the public domain.

They will also be:

a. Current or previous members of UWE Bristol staff, or of an affiliated academic institution, having been employed by the University or the affiliated academic institution on permanent contract for a period of no less than four years, and being holders of at least four years standing of a doctoral level degree awarded by a UK University or recognised equivalent academic institution;


b. Alumni of the University of at least seven years standing being also the holders of a doctoral level award of at least four years standing awarded by UWE Bristol or another UK University or recognised equivalent academic institution;


c. Individuals with a close, long standing and significant research association with the University that has resulted in a sustained record of collaborative research of considerable impact upon the advancement of knowledge at the highest level and who are invited to apply by the Executive Dean of the Faculty in which field the research lies, or by the Vice-Chancellor. Such individuals are normally be expected to already hold a doctoral level degree and, in all other respects, would be subject to the same assessment process as applicants a or b.

PGRAPP1.3 Submission criteria

PGRAPP1.3.1R The application shall comprise a completed and signed application form and the following:

a. A specimen set of research outputs that the applicant wishes to submit in support of their application for the award;

b. A statement of the extent of the applicant’s individual contribution to each of the outputs submitted where joint authorship or other types of collaboration are involved;

c. Where relevant, a statement confirming which part of the work, if any, has previously been submitted for another academic award;

d. A curriculum vitae and full list of publications and other significant research outputs;

e. A statement of no more than 6,000 words in support of the application which should set out the applicant’s view of the nature and significance of the body work submitted in relation to:

  • its contribution to knowledge at the time of publication;
  • its impact and influence on subsequent research and the development of knowledge in the field or fields of study;
  • its impact outside the academic field, to show how it has led to benefits to communities, a sustainable economy and/or society more broadly;
  • an indication of the relationship, if any, between the various topics covered by the work;
  • the ways in which the submitted work demonstrates a sustained and consistent contribution to advanced scholarship over a number of years.

PGRAPP1.3.2R Parts b, c, d and e of the application shall be in English. Part a of the application shall normally be in English unless the field of study is another language or unless the subject matter involves substantial language and related studies. Permission to submit in another language will need to be considered as part of the application taking account of expertise and examining arrangements.

PGRAPP1.3.3R Written research outputs submitted within the specimen set may include scholarly texts (journal articles, books, parts of books, conference articles, working papers), research reports, research-informed policy documents (usually of national significance or above), patents (published or in application), translations, and case studies of innovative work at the highest level.

PGRAPP1.3.4R Other research outputs submitted within the specimen set may include artefacts, devices, products, exhibitions, performances, compositions, portfolios, designs, software, digital/visual media or other material that provides evidence of original research of significance and impact at the highest level. These outputs should be represented by a written and/or visual record of the output or details of how they can be freely accessed.

PGRAPP1.4 Application and examination fees for higher doctorates

PGRAPP1.4.1R The applicant shall pay such fees and at such time as are determined by the University, and published in its fees policy.

PGRAPP1.4.2 The fee payable by the applicant shall be in two parts:

  • the first part to be submitted with the initial application and,
  • the second, where relevant, before formal examination of the submitted research work. Fees are non-refundable.

Procedures about higher doctorates: applications, eligibility and submission

PGRAPP1.5 Submission of the initial application

PGRAPP1.5.1 Applications shall be made in writing to the Officer of the Research Degrees Award Board as prescribed at PGRAPP1.3 using the application form published by the University for the purpose. The applicant should mark the covering email or envelope as ‘Higher Doctorate’. The body of research submitted in support of the application shall have been published already, may constitute any of the types of output listed in PGRAPP1.3.3R and shall normally be submitted in the form in which it was published. Where an output to be considered is of a nature which does not enable copies to be submitted, the applicant must provide a written and/or visual record of the output or details of how they can be freely accessed.

PGRAPP1.6 Preliminary consideration: Establishing a prima facie case for proceeding to examination

PGRAPP1.6.1 On receipt of an application, the Officer shall notify the Chair of the Research Degrees Award Board who will appoint a panel to undertake a preliminary consideration of the application and make a recommendation to the Board on whether the application should proceed to examination.  The panel will comprise:

  • The Chair of the Research Degrees Award Board (who will also chair the panel);
  • The PGR Director for the faculty in which the field of research is located;
  • A senior member of University staff who has significant subject expertise and who is an established and active member of the research community within the field in which the submitted research is located.  This person may be a member of the University Professoriate, or other such senior research active member of the permanent staff. They may or may not be a member of the Research Degrees Award Board.

PGRAPP1.6.2 Where appropriate, the panel may seek advice from an individual external to the University and wholly unconnected to the applicant or their research, regarding the appropriateness of the application for examination and/or the identification of two suitable external examiners. The Officer shall supply any such external advisor with a copy of the application.

PGRAPP1.6.3 Taking into account the recommendation of the panel, the Board will decide whether the application can proceed to examination. If it decides to proceed to examination, the Board will also decide the names of at least two persons to be invited to act as external examiners who have expertise in the field of study under consideration and who have experience of examining at least at doctoral, and preferably at higher doctoral level.

PGR APP1.6.4 The Officer shall notify the applicant of the Board’s decision on whether to proceed to examination and of the further requirements for submission to the formal examination stage, administer all examiner arrangements and payment of the examination fee by the applicant now ‘candidate’.  Note: In the case of an unsuccessful application, there will be no refund of the application fee.

Regulations about examining higher doctorates

PGRAPP1.7 Criteria for appointment of external examiners

PGRAPP1.7.1R There shall be a minimum of two external examiners for higher doctorate awards who shall be:

a. pre-eminent in the field of study of the submission;

b. experienced examiners to at least doctoral level (examiner of at least ten doctoral level awards) and preferably at higher doctoral level;

c. wholly unconnected with the University, the candidate or their research.

PGRAPP1.8 Consideration by the examiners

PGRAPP1.8.1R The time permitted for the consideration of submitted research outputs by the examiners and submission of examiner reports to the Graduate School will be five months from the date of circulation of the submission to the examiners.

PGRAPP1.8.2R The examiners will report independently in detail on the extent to which the application satisfies the criteria set out below and on the appropriateness of the specific award sought by the candidate.  They will each make an independent recommendation to the Research Degrees Award Board regarding the granting the award (PGRAPP1.9.1R refers):

a. that the research work submitted is of high distinction;

b. that it constitutes an original and significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge or to the application of knowledge or to both; and

c. that the work and other supporting evidence (cv and full publications list) has established that the applicant is a leading authority in the field or fields of study concerned having made a sustained and significant contribution to advanced scholarship, as evidenced by, inter alia, an established reputation in an academic community, citation of published work, demonstration of contribution to the public domain and impact outside the academic field e.g. via benefits to communities, a sustainable economy and/or society more broadly.

PGRAPP1.8.3R The examination shall be undertaken by reference to the submitted material only, there will be no viva voce. If the examiners recommendations do not accord, the Board may appoint a third external examiner to carry out a further independent assessment of the body of research work submitted.

PGRAPP1.8.4R The Board  may, at its discretion, invite the applicant to discuss his or her submitted work with representatives of the Board (normally including those who served on the panel at preliminary consideration (PGRAPP1.6.1) and/or the appointed examiners.

PGRAPP1.9 Possible outcomes of the assessment of the submission

PGRAPP1.9.1R Taking into account of the recommendations of the examiners, the Board may decide:

a. to grant the award of the higher doctorate degree, specifying which award is being granted (DSc or DLitt);

b. not to grant the award of the higher doctorate degree.

PGRAPP1.9.2R There shall be no resubmission opportunity, no option to award a lower level of degree and no opportunity for appeal against the decision of the Board. Unsuccessful candidates may reapply after a minimum period of three years as long as they remain eligible.

PGRAPP1.9.3R While there will be no detailed process for feedback to the candidate, in notifying a candidate of a decision not to grant the award, the Board may decide to provide general feedback, or comments that examiners have indicated they particularly wish to be passed to the candidate.

PGRAPP1.9.4R The result of the candidate’s assessment and the award granted will be produced by the Graduate School, signed by the Chair of the Research Degrees Award Board, and published in the format approved by the University. 

PGRAPP1.9 5 The successful graduand will be required to submit one copy of the following to the University’s electronic research repository on an open access basis:

  • The supporting statement as at PGRAPP1.3.1Re;
  • A bibliography comprising the list of research outputs submitted in support of the application and a list of other publications and significant research outputs.

PGRAPP1.9.6 Material submitted in hard copy as part of the application will either be returned to the candidate if requested, or will be otherwise disposed of. Hard copies will not normally be retained by the University.

PGRAPP1.10 Post-graduation obligations

PGRAPP1.10.1 An individual granted a Higher Doctorate will normally be required to give a public lecture within one year of conferment of the award.

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