The University's Code of Practice for

Regulations, Codes and Processes Committee
QAA UK Quality Code for Higher Education – Part B: Assuring and enhancing
academic quality – Chapter B11: Research degrees
In June 2012 QAA published Chapter 11: Research degrees of the Quality Code which
supersedes the Code or practice for the assurance of academic quality and standards in
higher education (Code of Practice), section 1: Postgraduate research programmes (2004).
This Chapter is a reference point for the purposes of reviews carried out by QAA from June
Chapter B11 sets out the following Expectation about research degrees which higher
education providers are required to meet:
Research degrees are awarded in a research environment that provides secure
academic standards for doing research and learning about research approaches,
methods, procedures and protocols. This environment offers students quality of
opportunities and the support they need to achieve successful academic, personal
and professional outcomes from their research degrees.
This Expectation is accompanied by a series of 18 Indicators that reflect sound practice,
and through which higher education providers can demonstrate they are meeting the
Evidence of University of Hull adherence
The table provides information on the way that the University is adhering to the Indicators set out in Chapter B11: Research degrees (June
2012) of the UK Quality Code.
Higher education providers that are research degree awarding
bodies have regulations for research degrees that are clear and
readily available to research students and staff, including
examiners. Where appropriate, regulations are supplemented by
similarly accessible, subject-specific guidance at the level of the
faculty, school, department, research centre or research
Higher education providers develop, implement and keep under
review codes of practice for research degrees, which are widely
applicable and help enable the higher education provider meet
the Expectation of this Chapter. The codes are readily available
to all students and staff involved in research degrees, and
written in clear language understood by all users.
Higher education providers monitor their research degree
provision against internal and external indicators and targets that
reflect the context in which research degrees are being offered.
Evidence of institutional adherence
 Quality Handbook Section L: including Postgraduate Research
Students Code of Practice; Standards and Criteria for Research
Degrees; Criteria for Progress in PGR students.
 ‘Documents and Forms’ section of the Graduate School website
contains information for student access:
 Departments and Faculties are expected to include information for
PGRs in their Postgraduate Student Handbooks and eBridge sites.
 Some information in the centrally-managed online Student
Handbook is out of date.
 The Postgraduate Research Students Code of Practice (L1) and
University Programme Regulation PhD by Thesis (Chapter Xll) were
revised in September 2012.
 L3b Formal Assessment Procedure for PhD is currently under review
(RDC meeting 14 January 2013).
 The Quality Handbook (Section L) can be reached via the Graduate
School website.
 Documents on the Graduate School website summarise regulations
in more accessible language than the Quality Handbook.
 4 and 7 year completion rates are monitored against external
(QAA/Research Council KPIs) standards and internal targets.
 A IS still limits range of data we can monitor, eg. pass, referral,
withdrawal and fail rates.
 There is no annual monitoring or QER procedure (as for
Higher education providers accept research students only into
an environment that provides support for doing and learning
about research, and where excellent research, recognised by
the relevant subject community, is occurring.
Higher education providers' admissions procedures for research
degrees are clear, consistently applied and demonstrate equality
of opportunity.
Only appropriately qualified and prepared applicants are
admitted to research degree programmes. Admissions decisions
involve at least two members of the higher education provider’s
staff who have received training and guidance for the selection
and admission of research degree students. The decisionmaking process enables the higher education provider to assure
itself that balanced and independent admissions decisions have
been made in accordance with its admissions policy.
Evidence of institutional adherence
 Research support and training are provided by the Postgraduate
Training Scheme (PGTS), GVRE (Graduate Virtual Research
Environment) and PhD experience Conference.
 Departments, Faculties and supervisors provide research seminars
and more specific information about research communities and
centres of research activity.
 Application procedures are available via the online Student
Handbook and the Graduate School website, including guidelines on
writing a research proposal.
 Departmental websites also provide admissions advice.
 All PhD applicants must now be interviewed by two academic staff
(See RDC 22 /10/12: Proposed Amendment to General Policy for
Student Admissions’.
 The ‘MyAdmin’ application procedure is unwieldy and does not allow
students to upload research proposals of more than 2,000 words.
 Equality of opportunity is mandatory but may need to be more clearly
A mandatory admissions interview requirement was introduced in
2012-13, to involve two academic staff per interview (see above)
Guidelines for these interviews exist, but formal training has not
been provided.
Other staff may be involved in the pre-interview stage (eg. reading
work samples, advising by email).
Higher education providers define and communicate clearly the
responsibilities and entitlements of students undertaking
research degree programmes.
Research students are provided with sufficient information to
enable them to begin their studies with an understanding of the
environment in which they will be working.
Higher education providers appoint supervisors with the
appropriate skills and subject knowledge to support and
encourage research students, and to monitor their progress
Each research student has a supervisory team containing a
main supervisor who is the clearly identified point of contact.
Higher education providers ensure that the responsibilities of
research student supervisors are readily available and clearly
communicated to supervisors and students.
Evidence of institutional adherence
 Online Handbook for Research Students available from the
Graduate School website, which includes relevant Codes of
 Departments are also required to provide Postgraduate Handbooks.
K01 Template 3 includes sections on ‘Responsibilities of Research
 The Graduate School provides Induction events at the beginning of
each semester and in April (if required).
 Departmental/Faculty inductions support central induction provision.
 All PGR students have access to online Postgraduate Handbooks.
Research Degrees Committee approves supervisor lists submitted
by departments.
Graduate School provides new supervisor training (4 sessions) in
Semester Two of each year.
Mandatory annual CPD for supervisors introduced in 2012-13, to be
achieved by a supervisors’ conference, online training documents,
and update/discussion seminars in the Graduate School.
Progress monitoring procedures were revised for 2012-13 session.
‘Approval of PhD Supervisor’ guidelines revised at RDC (22/10/12)
Postgraduate Research Students Code of Practice (LH1) states
responsibilities of Supervisors (revised 2012).
Responsibilities of research student supervisors are published in the
Postgraduate Research Students Code of Practice (LH1) and
Postgraduate Students’ Handbooks.
Supervisor Training events reinforce guidelines and good practice
set out in the handbooks and Codes of Practice.
Higher education providers ensure that individual supervisors
have sufficient time to carry out their responsibilities effectively.
Higher education providers put in place clearly defined
mechanisms for monitoring and supporting research student
progress, including formal and explicit reviews of progress at
different stages. Research students, supervisors and other
relevant staff are made aware of progress monitoring
mechanisms, including the importance of keeping appropriate
records of the outcomes of meetings and related activities.
Evidence of institutional adherence
 Faculty/Departmental workload models should regulate this aspect
of workload.
 The advisory limit for supervisors is 6 PGR students, but limitations
of AIS preclude reliable monitoring or enforcement of this limit.
 2013 internal data collection will investigate spread of supervisory
 Monitoring regulations were revised and standardized at the start of
2012-13 academic year, publicised through meetings for GRDs and
PG Research Directors, and discussion at Senate.
 New proformas have been introduced for annual progress meetings,
6 monthly review, supervisory meetings (12 per year), and
emergency review meetings.
 Limitations of AIS mean that some record-keeping must still be done
manually. Progression data remains unavailable.
Research students have appropriate opportunities for developing
research, personal and professional skills. Each research
student's development needs are identified and agreed jointly by
the student and appropriate staff at the start of the degree; these
are regularly reviewed and updated as appropriate.
Higher education providers put in place mechanisms to collect,
review and respond as appropriate to evaluations from those
concerned with research degrees, including individual research
students and groups of research students or their
representatives. Evaluations are considered openly and
constructively and the results are communicated appropriately.
Supervisors meet with PGRS at start of year to discuss training
PGTS well established, supported by GVRE.
Training progress is monitored and recorded at 6-monthly and
annual monitoring interviews.
University has participated twice in the Postgraduate Research
Experience Survey (PRES: 2007; 2011); responses now being
evaluated by a PRES Working Group coordinated through the
Graduate School.
PGTS modules from 2012-13 will be collecting feedback using the
new standardized Module Evaluation Questionnaires.
Evaluations need to be publicly displayed and discussed eg. with
staff-student groups.
Higher education providers that are research degree awarding
bodies use criteria for assessing research degrees that enable
them to define their academic standards and the achievements
of their graduates. The criteria used to assess research degrees
are clear and readily available to research students, staff and
Evidence of institutional adherence
 See ‘Standards and Criteria for Research Degrees’ (L5), ‘Transfer of
Registration: Masters by Thesis to PhD (L3a) ‘Formal Assessment
Procedure for PhD’ (L3b) in Quality Handbook.
 Codes of Practice are available to PGRs on the Graduate School
website, and are sent to external examiners for PhDs.
 ‘What is Expected of Candidates for a Research Degree’ and
‘Checklist of Key Stages of the Research Degree Process’
documents available to students on the Graduate School website.
Research degree final assessment procedures are clear and are
operated rigorously, fairly and consistently. They include input
from an external examiner and are carried out to a reasonable
timescale. Assessment procedures are communicated clearly to
research students, supervisors and examiners.
Higher education providers put in place and promote
independent and formal procedures for dealing with complaints
and appeals that are fair, clear to all concerned, robust, and
applied consistently. The acceptable grounds for complaints and
appeals are clearly defined.
An external examiner attends the PGTS exam board in July.
Individual examiners appointed to examine PhD theses are required
to submit report forms before and after the viva.
The online Student Handbook includes a section on ‘How a
Research Degree is examined’.
Supervisors can access information from the Quality Handbook on
the Portal and via supervisor training sessions.
Section E of the Quality Handbook explains the procedure for
handling formal complaints.
Grounds for Academic Appeals and Complaints are defined in the
online Student Handbook.