Swansea University

Guide to Progress Monitoring

Guide to Progress Monitoring

Progress Monitoring of Research Students

Progress Monitoring

During the course of a research student’s candidature the student is expected to meet regularly with his/her supervisors (for example on a fortnightly basis), and at most meetings it is likely that the student’s progress will be monitored in an informal manner. A minimum of three formal supervisions is compulsory each year. During these supervisions  the student’s progress is discussed and formally recorded.

The stages at which the student’s progress is assessed are outlined below:

Figure 1:  Progress Reporting Arrangements

Figure 1:  Progress Reporting Arrangements

The Academic Board (Postgraduate Research) has a formal process for monitoring each student’s progress and deciding whether the student should be allowed to proceed with his/her research. The College will give the student a written copy of the criteria and procedures by which the student’s progress will be assessed. Colleges must ensure that their specific criteria and procedures are sufficiently robust to ensure that students who are unlikely to be able to successfully complete the relevant research degree can be clearly identified.

Confirmation of Candidature

The College is required to confirm the candidature of a student to the Postgraduate Research Award and Student Cases Board within three months of the initial enrolment of the student. In doing so, the College is confirming that the student has fulfilled the specified administrative requirements and is academically prepared to undertake the agreed research project. In particular:

  • The candidature details held in the central database are correct: in particular the start date, the minimum candidature date, the maximum submission date, the names of the supervisors, the mode of study, the subject of study;
  • The student has matriculated for entry to the University;
  • The student has arranged funding for the duration of his/her candidature;
  • A request to submit their thesis in Welsh has been submitted to the College and thereon to the Academic Registry;
  • A request to submit the thesis in a language other than English / Welsh (where this is for academic reasons or where submission of the thesis in another language is a requirement of the specific programme) has been submitted to the Academic Board (Postgraduate Research);
  • A research plan has been agreed between the student and the supervisors and a brief project summary (approximately 300 words) has been submitted to the Academic Board (Postgraduate Research);
  • Ethical aspects of the research have been considered;
  • As far as can be reasonably assessed at this stage, the facilities and resources necessary to complete the proposed project are available, or will be made available as required;
  • A Training Needs Analysis has been completed;
  • The student has received the relevant documentation, such as the College’s Postgraduate Handbook;
  • The necessary safety training has been identified and either the student has completed it or an adequate schedule for its completion has been agreed;
  • The student has attended or will attend any compulsory University or College training courses.

Some of the above items require an action on the part of the student. For instance, the student is expected to prepare and agree a research plan with the supervisors and produce a brief project summary.

A report of all non-confirmed candidatures will be made to the Postgraduate Research Award and Student Cases Board three months after enrolment. If the College cannot confirm candidature for a student after three months, the Academic Board (Postgraduate Research) will require the student either to suspend or to withdraw from the programme (see the Guide to Suspensions and Extensions for Research Students and the Guide to Transfer and Withdrawal of Research Students).

After confirmation of candidature has been completed a student is not permitted to significantly change his/her topic of research, as such a change would invalidate the confirmation of candidature. If a student wishes to significantly change his/her topic of research, the student should be required to withdraw from the current degree and re-apply for the new topic of research.

Progression Stages

At each stage of progression a formal report on progress is produced by the student’s supervisors. The student should sign the report, making comments on the form in the section provided if necessary. The report is then submitted to the Research / Postgraduate Committee of the College for consideration. The College Research / Postgraduate Committee agrees a progress recommendation and brief statement for the student which is entered to the on-line reporting system. The progress recommendation will be reviewed by the Postgraduate Research Progression Board which reaches a formal decision regarding the student’s progress and continuation.

In cases where a supervisor has concerns regarding the progress of a student, the supervisor may request that a formal progression report be produced for that student and presented to the next meeting of the Postgraduate Research Progression Board.

It is the responsibility of the student to make the Academic Board (Postgraduate Research) aware of extenuating circumstances which could have an effect on his/her progress.  Academic appeals based on extenuating circumstances which could have been brought to the attention of the Academic Board (Postgraduate Research) prior to the meeting of the Postgraduate Research Progression Board shall not be considered.

The student will be informed in writing of the Progression Board decision. If the student is unhappy with the decision reached, and thinks that there are sufficient grounds, he/she can appeal against the outcome of this review using the Regulations for Academic Appeals.

Probation Stage Report

At the end of the first full-time year of doctoral level research degrees Colleges must submit to the Progression Board a formal report on the student’s progress with a recommendation regarding the outcome of the probationary period of study. Part-time students are reported on after two years regarding the outcome of the probationary period of study, with an interim probationary report supplied at the end of the first year.  

During the probationary period the student will be expected to demonstrate the ability to proceed with further research and will be expected to meet the criteria set by the College to measure the performance of the student during the probationary period. Different Colleges may have different procedures and criteria for reaching these decisions, but they must be made clear to the student via the handbook or other written information. The following general criteria are used for all students when assessing whether the student has successfully completed the probationary period:

  • The student shows a good knowledge and understanding of their subject and associated methods and techniques;
  • The student has carried out a comprehensive literature review;
  • The student has demonstrated potential to make an original contribution to his/her field of study;
  • The student can present and communicate his/her work orally, and in writing, in a successful manner;
  • The student has satisfactorily completed the training modules or courses which were identified at the start of his/her studies;
  • The student can evidence competency, both written and spoken, in the language of submission (English or Welsh).

The Progression Board can reach one of the following decisions:

  1. Satisfactory. Pass Probation. Progress is satisfactory, the student successfully complete probation. The next progress report is due in one year (unless the student was previously required to be reported on a 6 monthly basis).
  2. Moderate, Cause for Concern. Pass Probation. Next report 6 months. Progress is moderate, the student successfully completes probation and is allowed to proceed to the supervised research period. However there are some concerns regarding progress therefore the next progress report is due in 6 months.
  3. Extend Probation. Progress is moderate but the probation criteria have not been met. The probation period should therefore be extended by 6 months (even for P/T candidates) and a new probation report submitted at the end of this extended period. It should be made clear to the student what is expected of him/her in order to complete the probation successfully. This decision may have been reached because the student has not yet been able to complete one of the formal requirements for passing probation. This decision is available once only.
  4. Required to Withdraw. Progress is unsatisfactory and the student is required to withdraw. This recommendation is made when the student has made so little progress or shown so little potential that it is deemed to be impossible to complete the research within the maximum candidature period. This recommendation must be accompanied by a statement from the College giving full details of the concerns identified. The final decision will rest with the Progression Board. The student will have the right to seek a review or appeal (see the Regulations for Academic Appeal).
  5. Student Voluntary Withdrawal. The student has voluntarily withdrawn from the programme of study.
  6. Suspended. The student is currently on suspension. An application for suspension of candidature must have been submitted and approved by the Postgraduate Research Award and Student Cases Board (or the Postgraduate Research Executive Group). This decision should only be used if the student has been suspended since the last Progression Board, otherwise a decision that reflects academic progress since the last Progression Board should be used.
  7. Transfer Programme. It is recommended that the student transfers to a more appropriate programme. This recommendation should be used when the student is:
    1. transferring between a research master’s programme and a doctoral programme provided the student is within minimum candidature for the doctoral programme;
    2. transferring between a doctoral programme and a research master's programme provided you are within minimum candidature for the doctoral programme.

    If the student is being transferred to a lower degree he/she will have the right to seek a review or appeal (see the Regulations for Academic Appeal).

  8. [Part-time students only] Satisfactory Progress - Year 1. Progress is satisfactory, the student’s next progress report is due in one year when he/she is expected to successfully complete probation.
  9. [Part-time students only] Progress a Concern. Repeat in 6 months. Progress is causing concern and will be reviewed in 6 months. Probation not completed.

Progression Stage Reports

Once a student has passed probation, or if the student is following a programme to which probation does not apply, formal progress reports will be submitted on a yearly basis or more frequently if required. These reports seek to establish whether the project is proceeding according to schedule. The report can also highlight any concerns or difficulties encountered and action taken or needed to resolve these issues. The College will recommend one of the following outcomes to the Progression Board:

  1. Progress Satisfactory. Progress is satisfactory. The next report is due in one year (unless the student was previously put on a 6 monthly reporting basis).
  2. Moderate, Cause for Concern. Report in 6 months. Progress is moderate. There is some cause for concern regarding the likelihood of the project being completed in time. The student’s progress will be monitored again in six months time.
  3. Required to Withdraw. Progress is a very serious concern. This normally implies that the student will not be able to finish the project within the maximum candidature period. The student’s record will be closed. This recommendation must be accompanied by a statement from the College giving full details of the concerns identified. The final decision will rest with the Progression Board. The student will have the right to seek a review or appeal (see the Regulations on Academic Appeal).
  4. Student Voluntary Withdrawal. The student has voluntarily withdrawn from the programme of study.
  5. Suspended. The student is currently on suspension. . An application for suspension of candidature must have been submitted and approved by the Postgraduate Research Award and Student Cases Board (or the Postgraduate Research Executive Group). This decision should only be used if the student has been suspended since the last Progression Board, otherwise a decision that reflects academic progress since the last Progression Board should be used.
  6. Transfer Programme. It is recommended that the student transfers to a more appropriate programme. This recommendation should be used when the student is:
    1. transferring between a research master’s programme and a doctoral programme provided the student is within minimum candidature for the doctoral programme;
    2. transferring between a doctoral programme and a research master’s programme provided the student is within minimum candidature for the doctoral programme.
  7. If the student is being transferred to a lower degree he/she will have the right to seek a review or appeal (see the Regulations on Academic Appeal).

Completion Stage Reports

At the end of the normal supervised period of candidature the student is expected to have completed his/her research and to be ready to submit the thesis. The student’s College must submit a formal report on progress to the Progression Board with a recommendation indicating whether the student is ready to submit the thesis within six months.

Different Colleges may have different procedures and criteria for reaching these decisions, but they must be made clear to the student via the handbook or other written information. Typically, some of the following completion criteria are used in order to asses when the student will be able to submit the thesis:

  • The main body of research is completed (i.e. fieldwork)
  • A first draft of most of the thesis chapters has been produced and reviewed by the supervisors
  • Full supervision is likely not to be required
    • Supervision is focused upon reviewing drafts of thesis chapters and/or editing, or
    • Supervision is now limited to reviewing drafts of remaining chapters (e.g. results and discussion chapters), including final refinements and/or editing
  • The student has produced an agreed work plan with the supervisors to ensure that submission will realistically occur within 6 months

The Progression Board can reach one of the following decisions:

  1. Submission Expected. The student is expected to submit the thesis by the end of the month of the Board meeting
  2. Continuing (Satisfactory). The student has completed the main body of research, are now in the continuation phase of the thesis and is on track to submit within the next six months.
  3. Continuing (Moderate, Cause for Concern). Progress is moderate. The student has completed the main body of work and can progress to / is in the continuation period. However progress is a concern and concentrated effort is needed to ensure that the student submits within the next six months.
  4. Continue as Full Fee Paying. The student has reached the end of the minimum candidature. However the student is still carrying out a significant amount of actual research work under full supervision and should therefore not progress to the continuation phase. If enrolment is due then the student should re-enrol as a full fee paying student.
  5. Lapsed - Not Expected to Submit. The student is not expected to submit within maximum candidature. The student will not be sent any reminders to re-enrol and the student’s record will be closed as soon as the current enrolment record lapses. This recommendation must be accompanied by a statement from the College giving full details of the concerns identified. The final decision will rest with the Progression Board. The student will have the right to seek a review or appeal (see the Regulations on Academic Appeal).
  6. Out of Time. The student has not submitted and are now out of time. The student’s record will be closed.
  7. Student Voluntary Withdrawal. The student has voluntarily withdrawn from the programme of study.
  8. Suspended. The student is currently on suspension. An application for suspension of candidature must have been submitted and approved by the Postgraduate Research Award and Student Cases Board (or the Postgraduate Research Executive Group). This decision should only be used if the student has been suspended since the last Progression Board, otherwise a decision that reflects academic progress since the last Progression Board should be used.
  9. Transfer Programme. It is recommended that the student transfers to a more appropriate programme. This recommendation should be used when the student is:
    1. transferring between a research master’s programme and a doctoral programme provided the student is within minimum candidature for the doctoral programme;
    2. transferring between a doctoral programme and a research master’s programme provided the student is within minimum candidature for the doctoral programme.

    If the student is being transferred to a lower degree he/she will have the right to seek a review or appeal (see the Regulations on Academic Appeal).

  10. Submitted. The student has submitted the thesis and is waiting for the result.
  11. Resubmitted. The student has resubmitted and is waiting for the result.

The On-line System

Following the decision of the Progression Board the student will be given intranet access to the on-line system, where he/she can read the comments and recommendation made.

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