Skip to main content

How we use student feedback to improve your student experience

Find out how your feedback is used from the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) and the Professional Doctorate Experience Survey (PDES).

What are PRES and PDES?

PRES and PDES are surveys that are run every two years, in the spring, in order to understand and improve the doctoral student experience within the University.


PRES is a national survey run by Advance HE that the University can use to understand and evaluate student satisfaction towards the overall doctoral student experience. The survey evaluates themes such as supervision, research culture, student support and professional development.


PDES is an institutional survey run by the University to understand and evaluate student satisfaction on professional doctorate programmes towards the overall doctoral student experience. The survey evaluates themes such as learning and teaching, supervision, research culture, student support and professional development.

Highlights from 2023 PRES and PDES Surveys

Our Postgraduate Researchers are among the most satisfied in the UK, according to the 2023 PRES. Overall satisfaction rate is 83%, up from the 80% rate we achieved in 2021. This places Bath 16th out of 100 institutions and in the first quarter (in 2021 we were 40th out of 89 institutions and in the second quarter).

Of particular note is Bath’s excellent performance in ‘Resources’ where we came first in the country.

For the PDES, overall satisfaction rate was equally impressive with 89% of respondents satisfied with the quality of their programmes. Strong performances are particularly noted in teaching, research supervision, and resources. Eighty-nine per cent of respondents would recommend their programme to a friend.

Action plans have been developed to further improve our doctoral student experience.

Research Culture

Based on your feedback about research culture, these are some examples of things that departments and programmes are doing.

Students in the lab from the CSCT doctoral training centre

Faculty of Engineering and Design

  • New Faculty Research Culture Awards are being introduced, which are open to doctoral students and staff (Faculty of Engineering and Design).
  • All researchers are invited to monthly ‘Pizza and Poster’ events in the newly established E-Hub meeting room (Electrical and Electronic Engineering).
  • Project titles and office locations are being added to doctoral student ‘who’s who’ boards (Chemical Engineering).

School of Management

  • Re-instituting monthly online HEM research symposia (DBA).
  • Introduced a new scheme to match recent DBA graduates with those in thesis phase in a ‘thesis coach’ relationship (DBA).

Faculty of Science

  • Re-started the CS student conference (Computer Science).
  • Weekly seminar programme for doctoral researchers and postdocs (Life Sciences).
  • Doctoral researchers participate in research seminars (attendance; delivering talks; organisation) (Maths).
  • Regular research group seminars and journal clubs (Physics).

Faculty of Health and Social Sciences

  • Integration into networks via in-person and hybrid residentials and workshops (DPRP).
  • Book launch events during summer schools and online departmental seminars (EdD).
  • Research presentation days and supporting trainees to present at national and international events (DClinPsy).
  • Informal online monthly catch up meetings led by students (DHealth).
  • Doctoral Co-Convenor added to research groups, bringing a doctoral perspective to strategic decisions (Education).
  • Weekly Research Strategy Seminars (Economics).
  • Monthly 'Department Rounds' with free lunch (Health).
  • Weekly events and research seminars (PoLIS).
  • Introduced regular meetings between DOS and student representatives to co-develop ideas for greater and higher quality staff-student interactions and collaborations (Psychology).
  • Newsletter with articles and announcements, informal events to encourage interaction (Social and Policy Sciences).

Community Building

Based on your feedback on community building, these are some examples of things that departments and programmes have been doing.

A group of students talking
  • Monthly coffee afternoons (Chemical Engineering).
  • Cross department activities for doctoral researchers and staff such as first aid sessions and coffee mornings (Chemistry and Life Sciences).
  • Doctoral seminars and events (SPS).
  • Monthly activities such as international lunches and craft workshops (Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering).
  • Extended peer mentoring scheme (Psychology).
  • New appointment to leadership team with responsibility for engagement in the research phase (DHealth).
  • Regular social activities such as Thursday Coffee (Computer Science).
  • Doctoral contribution to weekly newsletters (Education).
  • Continuing Coffee and Cake on Wednesdays and SAMBa coffee on Fridays (Maths).
  • New CPD events at department level (Health). -Doctoral lunches (Physics).
  • Weekly doctoral events and inclusion in department seminars (PoLIS).

Student Voice

Based on your comments about responding to your feedback and student voice, these are some examples of things that departments and programmes are doing.

Students talking at doctoral network stalls at welcome reception 2023
  • Closing the feedback loop, demonstrating responsiveness to student concerns (Computer Science).
  • Improving communication by putting more information on the department wiki and inviting doctoral student input into decision making (Life Sciences).
  • Developing a system for letting students know how their feedback has been acted on (EdD).
  • Student rep working on a communication strategy (Education).
  • Doctoral forum being established with at least one representative from each research group, and regular 'you said, we did' updates (Health).
  • More proactive promotion of routes to engage (PoLIS).

Progress and Assessment

Based on your feedback about information on progress and assessment, these are some examples of things that departments and programmes are doing.

A student giving a workshop
  • More tailored one to one support for the transfer to research stage of the programme (DBA).
  • 'Reinduction' sessions being designed for second and third year researchers (Management).
  • Workshops on confirmation planned (Computer Science).
  • Improved guidance for transition to the research stage (EdD).
  • 'Reinduction' session introduced (Maths).
  • Seminars being introduced on specific milestones, expectations and progression processes (SPS).
  • 'Finishing your PhD' session introduced (Physics).
  • Assessment guidance being reviewed (DPRP).
  • 'Preparing for Viva' seminar introduced, practice vivas being recommended to supervisors (Economics).

Support for Doctoral Researchers

Based on your feedback about support issues, these are some examples of things that departments and programmes are doing.

A group of students outside the student support centre.
  • Independent Advisors for Postgraduate Research Students invited to department induction to introduce their service (Chemical Engineering).
  • Sources of support highlighted at induction, with annual reminders (DBA).
  • Make ‘using your DBA in career development’ session from ICHEM conference available to all DBA students (DBA).
  • Talk Teaching coffee and cake sessions to discuss and resolve any UG demonstrating problems (Chemistry).
  • Students to have professional development plans, with periodic review within research groups (Computer Science).
  • Regular supervisory training for all staff who supervise PhD students (Physics).
  • Providing access to wider university information including via the HR Respect and Dignity information process (DClinPsy).

Other ways you can give us your feedback

In addition to our student surveys there are plenty of other ways in which you can give us your feedback to improve your experience. Find out some of the ways you can give us feedback.

Academic Reps

These are elected individuals in your departments and programmes who represent your views at Faculty and School Staff-Student Liaison Committees (SSLCs) throughout the year. Find out who your Academic Reps are in your departments and programmes.

The SU

You can give your opinions through the SU through the Postgraduate Officer, the Doctoral Executive or attending a doctoral forum. The SU and the University meets regularly to discuss student feedback. Find out how you can give feedback through the SU.

Department meetings and forums

Most Departments have meetings with their doctoral students throughout the year. Attending these meetings are useful ways in which you can provide feedback to your Department. Contact your Director of Studies to find out the schedule for these meetings.

Doctoral College Co-Production Group

A recently formed group of doctoral researchers and staff who work together to produce and inform strategic initiatives. If you would like to be involved in this group please email the Academic Director for Doctoral, Dr Rachel Arnold