School Research Committee
The School Research Committee meets regularly and will discuss issues that concern PGR students. Meeting minutes are available to all PhD students.
The current PGR representative in the committee is Dr Bonaventura Majolo. If you wish to add something to the agenda then please contact your representative in the first instance.
Your main supervisor will continually review your progress. The School Research Committee assesses the progress of all doctoral students each year during the Summer Term. You will be required to give a 20 minute presentation in a School Internal Seminar (perhaps during a PGR session in the annual student conference). For example, as a first-year student you may choose to present a literature review and/or experimental design, or as a second-year student you may decide to present one of your thesis chapters or a draft journal manuscript.
This assessment determines the appropriate registration for the following year. For most students, the recommendation will be to continue with their current status. For some, who have completed their empirical work and are writing up their thesis, the recommendation will be to move to ‘Thesis Pending Fees Status’ (please consult with Research Degrees Handbook). However, exceptionally the recommendation will be to terminate the student’s doctoral programme.
Entry into the next year of a doctoral programme is conditional on evidence that the student is engaging successfully with doctoral study and likely to submit a high quality thesis within the period of maximum registration indicated in your original offer letter. To make such a recommendation the School Research Committee must be assured that the quantity and quality of your work over the academic year is commensurate with the award of a doctoral degree. The source of evidence includes (1) your presentation/report on work completed during the academic year, and (2) your main supervisor’s report.
All research requires ethical approval before it begins.
Resources and Research Expenses
Conducting research and research training is expensive. The School is fully committed to supporting the work of all PGR students and every effort is made to support realistic research plans. Problems in relation to funding or resources should be first raised with your main supervisor who may then consult the Director of PGR and the School Research Committee.
Upon confirmation of your registration, you will be allocated a desk area and a computer in the School Postgraduate Room. You have rights to access school teaching and research resources, such as stationary, printing/photocopy costs, school database of questionnaires and other experimental materials, school-owned equipment, and technician help.
Working Out of Hours
Out of hours are considered to be before 8am or after 6pm weekdays, at weekends or during University closure days. Where possible, we would encourage postgraduate students not to work alone out of hours. In the case of postgraduate students and postdocs it is the responsibility of the main supervisor to ensure that the individual has received training to be able to conduct research safely out of hours and that they are familiar with emergency procedures.
If possible, research should not be conducted out of hours, although it is understood that this may be necessary based on the nature of the research (including pressure on equipment, subject recruitment). All research conducted out of hours should have undergone a risk assessment by your main supervisor.
The School supports a high level of research activity of various kinds that is related to psychology and this is reflected by weekly school research seminar and routine research group meetings. The School works well when its members are not only getting on well with their own particular endeavours but also taking an active interest in what others are doing. New ideas and insight about one's own research problem can arise from understanding ideas from a different area in psychology or related discipline. Consequently research students are expected to attend all school research seminars and their own research group meetings. PhD students are encouraged to go for dinner with the external speakers when the speaker's talk is related to their research area.
Award of a doctorate degree indicates that a researcher has developed advanced skills in conducting and communicating specialised research. Researchers are expected to be able to present and discuss their research. The best way to become an accomplished presenter is to begin with a small, supportive and familiar audience of the kind provided by supervisors, supportive faculty and fellow postgraduates. It is recommended that you present your work to your research group at least once a year, especially at the key stages of your study, such as at the completion of your experimental design, or at the completion of data analysis of your first major study. In addition, you are strongly encouraged to present your work at the University Annual Postgraduate Conference.
You should also present your work at one or two national or international conferences. You may need to apply for additional funding to do this. Your main supervisor can identify appropriate sources and help you make such applications.
Prior practice is very important when writing a thesis. You should begin writing in your first year. You are strongly encouraged to submit your work to relevant journals from your second year onwards. It is usually helpful to include your supervisor as a co-author and learn from his/her approach to publishing research papers. Discussing reviewers’ comments (and how to respond to them) with your supervisor is an especially useful learning experience in preparing yourself to defend your thesis. Adding published (or “in press”) to your curriculum vitae before you finish your doctorate will also help you compete for postdoctoral positions.
Your first/main supervisor is the most important person for the management of your study. You and your main supervisor are responsible for managing your work so that you complete your thesis within an agreed period of funding (e.g., the funded period or within 5 years for self-funded full-time students and 8 years for part-time students). You also have second supervisor (and in some cases a third supervisor) who complements the expertise of the main supervisor. Supervision arrangements with second supervisors are coordinated by main supervisors.
You are entitled to receive regular supervision in face-to-face, email or telephone meetings. Formal face-to-face supervision meetings should occur at least once every two weeks. The university requires that all such formal supervision meetings between PGR students and their supervisors are documented. Your supervisor can explain this process to you and you can consult with your Research Degrees handbook.
It is good practice for you to keep a record of all your supervision meetings including a brief note of topics discussed and actions agreed. Your supervisor can check this for you from time to time.
Very occasionally, problems arise in a supervisory relationship. For example, if a student's interests change, or for other reasons, the assignment of a supervisor no longer seems suitable. In such circumstances, the possibility of changing supervisor should be discussed by student and supervisor and with the Director of PGR. It is not good practice to discuss such problems with other faculty members. Initially, any such problems should be explicitly discussed with your supervisors in supervision time. Areas of agreement and disagreement should be listed and, ideally, agreed upon in writing. If problems persist, the PGR student should discuss these with the Director of PGR (Kun Guo). You may also find it helpful to make an appointment with a Student Advisor at the Student Centre.
Please note that we expect postgraduate students to submit their theses within their funded period. This is important to your future employment prospects. It is not in students’ or the School’s interests for students to be late in submitting their theses.
Seminars and practical classes play a large part in the undergraduate psychology programmes. Graduate Teaching Assistants are required to contribute up to 6 hours per teaching week as part of their contract with the School. Other PhD students who are part-funded by internal School funds are also expected to engage in some teaching. Subject to School financial arrangement, self-funded student could also be encouraged to take some teaching activities. Having some teaching experience can be very helpful later in your career, when applying for academic positions. Doctoral students teaching hours are monitored to ensure that their teaching workload does not compromise their research progress.
The University Graduate School offers induction and various generic training courses for all PGR students.
Some of them are specifically designed for students from the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities. If you need specific subject-related training, please contact your supervisor.