The life of a research degree student

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The life of a research degree student


Admission is a two stage process - enrolment and registration.


Enrolment is the payment of fees and admits you as a member of Sheffield Hallam University. After you have been offered and have accepted a place you will automatically receive the standard email asking you to complete the pre-enrolment task. You will be asked to provide photographic identification eg passport and will be enrolled. Finance will send you an invoice for your fees. Once enrolled you receive a SHUCard which acts as an identity card and gives you access to the library. There are 3 start dates for PhD students: 1st October, 1st February and 1st May.

You now get on with your research and research training, working closely with your Director of Studies and other supervisor(s). You have up to three months full-time and six months part-time to work on your application for registration. Registration is the approval of the research project by the Research Degrees Committee (RDC).

You should make an application for registration on form RF1, which is available on the research students Blackboard site. You fill the form in with your Director of Studies. You must give an outline of your proposed research and details of your supervisory team.

RF1s are submitted to the Graduate School and considered by a rapporteur, on behalf of RDC, who will provide feedback on your application.

Confirmation of registration

Once registered for PhD, you must submit an application to confirm your registration. The confirmation stage consists of

  • an RF2A form
  • a written report which should comprise a brief review and discussion of the work already undertaken and a statement of the intended further work, including details of the original contribution to knowledge which is likely to emerge. The report should not be more than 6000 words.
  • an oral presentation at a faculty research seminar, or equivalent

Transfer should occur within

  • 12 months for full-time students
  • 24 months for part-time students

The application for confirmation is considered by one rapporteur, appointed by the Faculty and finally approved by RDC.

It is important that the confirmation stage occurs within the guidelines, or you will be referred and lose your first opportunity to submit.  There is concern that late confirmation is contributing to poor completion rates. The report should be your launch pad and can be the blueprint for the remainder of your work for the thesis.


An application for the approval of the examining team and thesis title should be submitted to the Student Systems (Research) four months prior to the submission of the thesis. This should be done two weeks prior to the date of the RDC meeting on form RF3.

The examining team should be made up of at least two and normally not more than three examiners, of whom at least one must be an external examiner. If you are also a member of staff, two external examiners must be appointed.

Submission of thesis

Copies of the thesis should be submitted to Student Systems (Research) (SSR) in the Oneleven building. For each external and independent internal examiner and an independent chair. The thesis should be bound in soft binding such as perfect-binding which is sufficiently secure to ensure pages cannot be added or removed. This can be arranged by the University Print Unit, which is located in the Adsetts Centre, City Campus.

The oral examination should be held four to six weeks after the submission of the thesis. It is the responsibility of the Director of Studies to make arrangements for the oral examination and let the SSR know the date, time and location. The SSR will then send out formal notification to you and the examiners and co-ordinate the submission and exchange of the examiners' preliminary reports.

Following the oral examination, examiners will make one of the following decisions

  • Pass
  • Pass subject to minor amendments and corrections
  • Re-examination
  • Fail

Only one re-examination is permitted and you have up to a year to do corrections and re-submit your thesis.

For details of current and past thesis titles, please see the relevant web pages


Upon being awarded the degree, a purple bound copy of the final version of the thesis needs to be submitted to the SSR, for the Learning Centre. If the decision of the examiners was to award the degree subject to minor amendments a memo should also be submitted by the internal examiner confirming that all corrections have been completed. The SSR will then prepare a draft certificate and forward details to the Conferment Office.

Other stages

There are other stages in the life of a research student, which will apply to some, but not all. There are forms for completion and approval by RDC for the following

  • changes in the supervisory team
  • extensions
  • suspensions
  • change in mode of study
  • withdrawals
  • transfer between universities

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