With the new academic year just around the corner I thought I’d write a little about what’s expected of PhD students as we transition from one year to the next. Obviously for us this is a very different process to Undergraduate students. We don’t sit exams (although we are assessed) and we don’t receive marks to pass or fail on particular days. We do however have certain admin requirements to meet departmental and graduate school regulations.
1st Year or Probation
I’ve previously written much more extensively about the probation review process and you can find my post here. To sum it up, at the end of your first year you have to submit an 8000 word report, you’re then assessed by your probation review panel (PRP) who decide if they think you’ll be capable of completing a PhD within your maximum registration period. In addition you have to have a monthly meeting with your supervisor in year 1, this meeting needs to be written up in an online system called PROSE, your supervisor has to approve your meetings which is a way of making sure you’re on the same page about what you’re discussing in those meetings.
After the stress of passing probation second year is a bit of an admin dream. Supervisory meetings are only required every other month (although they do still have to be written up in PROSE) and at the end of the year you only have to submit a 2000 word report. When you get to the end of second year it’s likely you’ll need to write your report on a single part of your PhD as 2000 words definitely isn’t enough to cover everything you’re working on. I submitted my second year report on 1st Sept and on Monday I have a meeting with my panel. My panel hasn’t changed since last year, but this meeting is more of a progress check – they don’t report back to the graduate school on progress at this point. Once this meeting is complete my paperwork will be transferred to officially make me a third year PhD student from Oct 1st. At this point I have a thesis plan although it’s still in the early stages and isn’t yet as detailed as I’d like it to be.
In third year the requirement to have, and write up, supervisory meetings every other month remains. This is obviously a very busy year where you’re really cracking on with getting what you need for writing your thesis. In preparation for this at the end of third year you have to submit a report in the form of a thesis results chapter. This lets you get feedback from your PRP and gives you a head start on thesis writing.
So that’s a run down of the basic admin requirements as part of your PhD. In addition to what’s listed here you also fill in an online progress form for the graduate dean each year and re-register as a PhD student.
The requirements I’ve spoken about are the department of genetics interpretation of the graduate school regulations, each department will have their own, but as a minimum you have to submit 2000 words each year.
While I was writing this blog I was thinking of how lucky we are to have quite a light admin burden placed on us as PhD students, unfortunately about an hour after I started writing it I got an email detailing addition monthly requirements to monitor our attendance. These don’t currently fit with the graduate school requirements so I’m waiting for clarification on these, hopefully they don’t mean more time then necessary doing admin tasks! When I hear back I’ll update you.
I hope this was a useful insight into what’s expected of you by university administration in order to progress from one year to the next of your PhD.