Purpose of progress review

  • To demonstrate that the postgraduate researcher (PGR) is continuing to make satisfactory progress with their project, and is on track to complete and submit their work for final assessment on time.
  • To provide formative feedback to the PGR to support ongoing progress, and identify and agree appropriate targets for the next stage of the project.

How progress is measured

  • The University uses the Doctoral and MPhil qualification descriptors (see Part 2 of this handbook) as the benchmark for measuring progress. An independent reviewer and the PGR’s Director of Studies (or other member of the supervisory team where appropriate) will consider evidence of progress submitted by the PGR from the approved list at PGR12.4.1 and discuss this with the PGR at a progress review meeting.
  • The progress review meeting may take place face-to-face or online as long as all participants agree on the chosen format.
  • PGRs must continue to demonstrate satisfactory progress to be able to continue with the next stage of their research degree.

Milestone objectives

In particular, the reviewers must be confident that the PGR, supported by their supervisory team, has done/is continuing to do the following:

  • Is actively engaged in working on the research project and continues to make progress in line with objectives agreed at the registration of the project (RD1) and reviewed and/or amended at progression examination or subsequent progress review points;
  • Has taken action to progress any specific targets or objectives agreed at the previous review point;
  • Has a realistic plan of the work remaining that will be required to complete their project on time;
  • Where the PGR indicates that they intend to incorporate research outputs in their final thesis submission, that they have generated sufficient outputs/material thus far to justify this approach, that they have a realistic plan for the production of any further research outputs prior to submission, and that they will be able to complete the project on time.

    Note: The incorporation of research outputs is available for PGRs on PhD/MPhil completing stage 3 (PR3) review on or after 1 October 2020 only. Scroll down to see additional information below (PGR12.4.5).
  • Has been actively engaged in any professional development or training activities identified at RD1 stage or recommended at progress review subsequently, and is on track to achieve the accredited training requirement by the time they complete their project;
  • Continues to be compliant with ethical requirements where this is appropriate, and that arrangements are in place for the ongoing management, storage and preservation of the core research data underpinning the thesis (e.g., within a research data management plan);
  • Is aware of the importance of academic integrity and author authenticity, intellectual property and copyright requirements within the work that they are producing towards their final submission.

Note: Where ethical approval for the research undertaken is required, the degree will not be awarded if it cannot be demonstrated that appropriate approval has been obtained and complied with prior to the submission of the thesis for final assessment.


PGR12.1 Regulations about progress review

PGR12.1R Postgraduate researchers (PGRs) must demonstrate continuing satisfactory progress in order to progress to the next stage of their award and continue their registration.

PGR12.2 Progress review

PGR12.2.1R A review of academic progress must be completed by the end of each stage of the PGR’s award subsequent to the progression examination.

PGR12.2.2R The possible outcomes of the progress review are:

  • Satisfactory progress – progress to the next stage;
  • Unsatisfactory progress – refer for further work and resubmission.

In the case of unsatisfactory progress, the reviewers’ report must also indicate the nature of the additional work or evidence needed in the resubmission to demonstrate that the project is back on a satisfactory footing. Additional work or evidence tasks must be reasonable and achievable within the time permitted for the resubmission.

PGR12.3 Deciding the outcome of the progress review

PGR12.3.1R Faculty Research Degree Committees (FRDCs) will consider the recommended outcome report of the progress review for each PGR and agree an outcome decision.

PGR12.3.2R Failure to submit both the review form and evidence of progress by the deadline specified without good reason accepted by the FRDC will be deemed unsatisfactory and will result in loss of the submission opportunity.

PGR12.3.3R No PGR may be withdrawn at resubmission without the opportunity to submit the required additional work and have a further review meeting with the reviewers.

PGR12.3.4R Continued unsatisfactory progress at resubmission or failure to resubmit by the deadline specified without good reason will result in withdrawal of registration on the award by RDAB; no further resubmission will be permitted.

Procedures for the progress review process

PGR 12.4 Evidence of progress

PGR 12.4.1 One item from the following list:

  • At Stage 2: a thesis outline; OR a synthesis of outputs/data/activities; OR a presentation on progress; OR a presentation of output; OR a draft thesis chapter.
  • At Stage 3: a draft thesis/part thesis; OR a presentation of findings; OR other evidence to demonstrate that timely completion of the project and submission of the thesis will occur.
  • A published paper(s) may be submitted as supplementary evidence at Stages 3, but the PGR must demonstrate how this will contribute to the thesis submission as a whole and set the paper(s) in the context of other draft thesis material submitted.
  • Professional doctorate PGRs may select the draft thesis/part thesis at their Stage 2 progress review if this is appropriate to their award, as specified in programme handbooks/ published requirements. In such cases, this will then be deemed to be their stage 3 progress review (PR3).

PGR 12.4.2 The PGR and their Director of Studies should agree in advance what kind of material from the approved range of options should be submitted as evidence which best reflects both the nature of the project and the research culture of its disciplinary context.

PGR 12.4.3 It is important to note that the range of options aims to reflect the material that a PGR might normally be expected to produce as part of the work plan for their project at that stage, rather than to create additional workload. PGRs should not be required to draft extensive material from scratch unless it has direct and transferable relevance or demonstrable benefit to the completion of the project itself.

Note: Unless there is a clearly stated rationale to support the contrary, only one representative example of evidence should be submitted and the PGR should be ready to discuss how this demonstrates their progress. Where a published paper is submitted as supplementary evidence of progress, the PGR will be expected to be able to show how this will contribute to the final thesis/critical commentary. PGRs should avoid overloading reviewers with multiple or ancillary evidence.

PGR12.4.4 It is not the purpose of Stage 3 Progress Review to provide a summative assessment of a complete draft thesis or critical commentary, but to form a view as to whether the draft material that the PGR has submitted shows sufficient progress to be able to complete the project and submit the finished thesis by the end of their registration on the award, and what level of supervision they will need to do so. PR3 must be satisfactorily completed before the PGR can progress to the grace period/completion stage.

Note: In addition to the progress review process, all PGRs are required to submit a full draft of their thesis/critical commentary to their supervisory team for comment and receive those comments prior to final submission (see regulation PGR13.1.2R).

PGR12.4.5 Postgraduate researchers registered on MPhil or DPhil by publication awards who have not made their final submission will be required to submit evidence of ongoing progress and undergo a progress review meeting at the end of each stage of their registration as appropriate. The evidence submitted will need to be appropriate to the nature of the award and may comprise, for example, an updated publication plan for any final outputs expected and/or a draft of the critical commentary.

Changes from 1 October 2020

PGR12.4.6 From 1 October 2020 onwards, eligible PGRs may indicate their intention to incorporate research outputs in the body of work to be submitted in their written thesis. The evidence of progress submitted at PR3 must demonstrate that they have generated or will have generated sufficient outputs during their registration to justify this approach, eg. the research outputs thus far and a realistic plan for the production of any further research outputs prior to submission.

Note: Eligibility: this option is available to PGRs registered on PhD/MPhil awards who are due to complete stage three review (PR3) on or after 1 October 2020 only. Not available for PGRs who are due to complete PR3 before this date. Not available for PGRs registered on Professional Doctorate programmes, or PhD/MPhil PGRs on approved creative practice focussed programmes whose submission will follow a different format (see PGR1.5.3R); not available for PGRs registered on the DPhil/MPhil award by publication.

View additional guidance from the Graduate School (PPTX).

PGR 12.5 Timing of the review

PGR12.5.1 Deadlines for the review will be in accordance with the dates specified in the agreed terms and conditions for each postgraduate researcher. The progress review process for each stage of registration should be fully completed as follows:

  • Stage 2: by maximum 24 months for FT registration, by 26 months for PT registration, Professional Doctorate as per published programme;
  • Stage 3: by maximum 36 months for FT registration, by 54 months for PT registration, Professional Doctorate as per published programme.

PGR12.6 Responsibilities of the PGR

  • To submit evidence of progress chosen after discussion with the Director of Studies from the list of options at PGR12.4.1 and by the deadline indicated in the written terms and conditions of their award registration;
  • To ensure that any third party material included in the work submitted has been appropriately attributed and, where this work will be included in the final thesis (eg within draft thesis chapters, papers for publication etc), that the appropriate permission has been obtained from the owners of the copyright as necessary (see additional guidance below);
  • To complete the relevant sections of form PRa as requested by their Director of Studies;
  • To attend a progress review meeting on the date and at the time agreed by the Director of Studies;
  • Where a disability, ongoing health condition or specific learning difficulty has previously been disclosed, to discuss with the Director of Studies and the Graduate School any reasonable adjustments or other support needs required for the progress review if these have not already been agreed;
  • In the case of a resubmission outcome, to submit additional or amended work to the deadline required. The Independent Reviewer and the Director of Studies will provide oral feedback on the day of the review and written feedback (via the FRDC outcome notification) as to the additional work/evidence which is required, but it is the ultimately PGR’s responsibility to decide how to re-work or improve the material submitted.

PGR12.7 Responsibilities of the Director of Studies

  • To ensure that an independent reviewer is in place for progress review points subsequent to the progression examination. This will normally be one of the progression examination reviewers. Where the Director of Studies (DoS) wishes a different reviewer to be appointed they must seek approval from the FRDC;
  • Supervisors are normally expected to act as an independent reviewer for other PGRs in proportion to the number of PGRs which they themselves supervise;
  • To discuss with the PGR at an early stage what the relevant evidence submitted will be. Note: It is expected that the evidence submitted should draw on work already carried out by the PGR rather than produced in addition to existing work/outputs – it should not place an additional or unreasonable burden upon the PGR;
  • Where there is a faculty/department or disciplinary expectation about the kind of evidence which will normally be submitted the DoS must ensure that the PGR is aware of this. If after consideration the DoS and PGR decide that a different form of evidence (still chosen from the approved list) is more appropriate, the DoS must ensure that the independent reviewer is aware of this in good time prior to the review meeting;
  • If there is disagreement between the DoS and reviewer as to the type of evidence to be submitted, the DoS should seek advice from their Associate Head of Department for Research where appropriate, or the PGR Director for the Faculty;
  • To organise the date of the progress review meeting in accordance with the deadlines in the PGR’s terms and conditions of registration, such that the whole review process can be completed in line with the relevant timings at PGR 12.5.1 above;
  • To discuss with the PGR and the Graduate School any reasonable adjustments or other support needs as soon as possible;
  • To return the PRa form completed and signed, to the Graduate School no less than five working days prior to the progress review meeting;
  • To arrange the venue or mode and time of the review meeting and notify attendees;
  • To conduct the progress review meeting mindful of equal opportunities, diversity and disabilities requirements and in accordance with guidance provided by the Graduate School and other relevant UWE Bristol specialist services as appropriate;
  • To ensure that the joint PRb review outcomes report is completed (typewritten), signed and returned to the Graduate School within five working days of the review meeting;
  • In the case of satisfactory progress at stage 3 progress review, to consider what level of supervision if any the PGR will need to complete the project and submit on time.
  • If the reviewer and DoS are unable to agree a joint outcome recommendation, each should submit an independent report to the Graduate School for consideration by the FRDC.

PGR 12.8 Responsibilities of Independent Reviewers

  • Must be a member of UWE Bristol academic staff independent of the research project, the candidate and the supervisory team;
  • Must be an experienced researcher with a general understanding of the candidate’s chosen project field, but need not necessarily be a leading subject expert in that field;
  • Is responsible for assessing whether the PGR is making satisfactory progress towards completion, and has achieved any specific targets or objectives agreed at the last progress review point;
  • Will conduct the progress review meeting mindful of equal opportunities, diversity and disabilities requirements and in accordance with guidance provided by the Graduate School and other relevant UWE Bristol specialist services as appropriate;
  • Will be mindful of the requirements of the University’s Code of Good Conduct in Research (including the requirement for all projects to have a research data management plan see PGR10.4), and University policy and requirements on ethics and ethical approval, academic integrity and assessment offences;
  • Will provide the PGR with appropriate oral feedback and an indication of the recommended outcome at the end of the meeting;
  • Will provide appropriate written feedback contained within the outcomes report (PRb), and in the case of a recommended resubmission outcome will indicate what additional work the PGR is required to do to demonstrate that progress is back on a satisfactory footing;
  • In the case of satisfactory progress at stage 3 Progress Review, to consider what level of supervision if any the PGR will need to complete the project and submit on time;
  • If the reviewer and DoS are unable to agree a joint outcome recommendation, to submit an independent report to the Graduate School for consideration by the FRDC.

PGR 12-9 Responsibilities of the Faculty Research Degrees Committee

  • To consider and approve any nomination for independent reviewer for Progress Review where this is different from the reviewer appointed for the progression examination;
  • To note any necessary reasonable adjustment to a candidate’s progress review arrangements;
  • On the advice of the Personal Circumstances panel, to 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;
  • To consider personal circumstances submitted in relation to the progress review and requests for extension to progress review deadlines and/or suspension of registration as appropriate;
  • To consider the joint reviewer/DoS report (PRb) and recommended outcome, and decide the final outcome;
  • Where the reviewer and the DoS are unable to agree a joint outcome recommendation to consider the independent reports from each and decide an outcome. 

    the FRDC will consider both reports but will normally uphold the recommendation of the independent reviewer;
  • In the case of a resubmission outcome due to unsatisfactory progress, to set a maximum deadline for resubmitted work/evidence to be submitted;
  • To communicate the outcome decision and feedback to the candidate in writing emailed from the Chair;
  • The FRDC may attach conditions to any ‘satisfactory’ outcome where it has concern about a candidate’s ability to continue to progress satisfactorily in the following stage, eg to produce an action plan identifying specific objectives;
  • In the case of a satisfactory outcome at stage 3 Progress Review, to consider what level of supervision the PGR will need if any to complete the project and submit on time based on the advice from the reviewer/DoS in the PRb. This will be communicated to the PGR in the official outcomes notification.
  • Where the agreed final outcome after resubmission continues to be ‘unsatisfactory’, to make a recommendation to the Taught and Research Degrees Award Board (RDAB) that the PGR’s registration to be withdrawn. This will normally be executed by Chair’s Action as soon as possible.

PGR 12.10 Responsibilities of the Taught and Research Degrees Award Board (RDAB)

  • To receive and note data about progress review outcomes on a regular basis;
  • Note: extensions to registration should not normally be considered in cases where the PGR has been referred at Progress Review and is required resubmit further work/evidence. The purpose of this review requirement is to get the project back on track as soon as possible, not to let it drift further;
  • To consider FRDC recommendations for withdrawal of the PGR’s registration following failure to demonstrate satisfactory progress at resubmission;
  • To consider any late personal circumstances submitted following a withdrawal decision.

Completion and copyright

Third party copyright requirements

If you include any third party material in work to be assessed or included in your final thesis submission (ie. material generated or owned by someone else), you must ensure that you attribute this material appropriately in the body of your work as well as in any bibliography. This is extremely important with material you intend to incorporate in your final thesis. It is likely that you will need permission from the copyright holder before your thesis can be published on the Research Repository. Obtaining third party copyright permission can be time consuming; consult the Guide on Copyrighted Materials in your Thesis (PDF) provided by the UWE Bristol Library and investigate requirements while you are drafting your thesis.

Note: It may delay the award of your degree if you do not obtain the relevant third party permissions.

The completion period

Period of grace

Following successful completion of Stage 3 Progress Review (PR3), PGRs are eligible for a fee free period of grace, for a full-time PGR this will be three months, for a part-time PGR it will be six months. If the thesis is submitted for final assessment within the grace period, then no further tuition fees will be due (this does not include re-examination fees).

If the thesis is not submitted for final assessment within this period of grace, then the PGR will become eligible for a completion fee.

Completion period supervision and fees

  • At PR3 Review, it will be agreed what level of supervision is still required in order for the PGR to complete their research ready for submission of their thesis for final assessment.
  • The level of completion fee will be one of the following:
    • Completion fee without supervision - The PGR must have completed all their research and be finalising their thesis, and therefore not need supervision. As a registered student of the University, they will continue to be entitled to access to general UWE Bristol facilities. The supervisory team must provide comments on a full draft of the thesis prior to submission for final assessment.
    • Completion fee with supervision – 40% of current tuition fee – entitles the PGR to some supervision, usually with just one member of the team.
    • Full fee – continued support from full supervisory team.
  • Once it has been agreed that a PGR is eligible for a completion fee, they will remain on this status until they submit their thesis for final assessment or their maximum registration expires.
  • However, if a PGR or supervisory team feels that more or less supervision is required, an application can be made to the FRDC to reduce/increase the completion fee with/without supervision.
  • Please note the ‘completion fee without supervision’ is a set annual payment and there is no refund available if the PGR submits early.
  • The ‘completion fee with supervision’ can be paid in monthly instalments, if requested, and in agreement with credit control, and is payable until submission of the thesis for final assessment.

Note:  PGRs who reach the end of their registration (i.e. their maximum registration end date) without having submitted for final assessment, and who have not submitted a valid personal circumstances application will be withdrawn and no award will be made.

Further advice about the completion period and completion fees is available from the Graduate School.

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