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Changes to doctoral regulations to come into effect from the start of academic year 2024/25

Significant changes are being made to Regulation 16, the main policy document related to doctoral study. This is due to come into effect from 1 September 2024.


Factsheet

The new version of Regulation 16 will apply to all current and new doctoral students and was approved by Senate following consultation with doctoral students and staff. It is designed to provide a clear and helpful reference point for doctoral students and the staff supporting them. The regulation document has been completely re-structured and fully updated, in an attempt to enhance the usability of the policy, clarify and standardise some of the content, and address the requirement to respond to sector developments and current external regulator and funder expectations.

Key changes include:

  • Students are no longer required to provide a printed hardbound copy of their completed thesis following examination for their award to be confirmed
  • The potential viva outcomes have changed to better differentiate between a pass with minor or major corrections, and outcomes have been standardised across doctoral degrees where possible
  • The minimum and maximum periods of registration for existing and new part-time PhD students have changed to reflect the fact that they are expected to work at 0.5FTE (50%). The new maximum registration for part-time PhD students is eight years
  • “Writing up” status has been renamed to “Submission Pending” status. This is to reflect that doctoral students are encouraged to write the thesis throughout their programme rather than solely at the end (where appropriate) and to reflect expectations of this status comprising a short duration and close proximity to completion. Any requests to switch to Submission Pending status must now be supported by a workplan to completion. The option to prepare a submission without supervision, paying only an administration fee, will be removed from September 2025, for reasons of academic quality and equality of access to the remaining reduced fee status (formerly Continuation, now Submission Pending)
  • There has been a change of emphasis relating to rules on Extensions of Registration to using the maximum time as the limiting factor (i.e. 12 months for full-time mode of study and 24 months for part-time)
  • Re-registration has been revised, so that a limited period of two months can be requested if registration elapses due to passage of time. It has been clarified that Suspensions of Registration for reasons of parental leave, work placements or election as an SU Officer do not count towards the usual 12-month limit on suspensions
  • For work placements or internships, a usual maximum of six months duration has been specified.

These changes, and others, have been developed and compiled by a Task & Finish Group (TAFG), sponsored by the Associate PVC Research (Doctoral), which has consulted widely with stakeholders, including doctoral students and staff, in compiling the revised content of the regulation. The changes have also been scrutinised and approved by University Doctoral Studies Committee (UDSC) and Senate.

The work of the TAFG has been conducted separately to that of the End-to-End review of doctoral processes and progression currently being undertaken by the Department of Planning, Performance and Strategic Change, and any changes that may result from that wider review are likely to require further amendments to the text of Regulation 16. However the new structure of the regulation should make that process simpler.

A list of potentially helpful questions and answers around the regulation changes will be published on the University website shortly. Equally, the new version of Regulation 16 will be published on the website in time for the academic year 2024/25 along with other updates to regulations.

If you have any questions about the changes to Regulation 16, please direct them to your Doctoral College Administrator.

Key dates:

All changes come into effect on 1st September 2024 with the exception of:

End of writing up administration status: Requests to transfer to this mode of study that are supported with a workplan to completion (of less than 12 months duration) and a rationale explaining why supervision is no longer needed will still be considered by Board of Studies (Doctoral) during academic year 2024/25, but this mode of study will be withdrawn from 1st September 2025.

Re-registrations: Students are expected to make reasonable progress, manage their workload, and submit a thesis/portfolio prior to their registration end date (or funding end date, where applicable); from 1st September 2024 any request to re-register that is received less than three months prior to the registration end-date will only be approved in exceptional circumstances, and any re-registration to facilitate a submission following a lapsed registration will be limited to two months duration. However, during academic year 2024/25 the Board of Studies (Doctoral) may consider re-registration requests outside of these new limitations if exceptional circumstances can be demonstrated.

Section What has changed? Why has it changed?
1 General: The regulation now only covers level 8 (doctoral) programmes and the level 7 MPhil degree (research). Material relating to stand-alone Postgraduate Taught degrees (MSc or MRes) is covered in regulations 13 and 15. To accurately reflect the significant differences between taught postgraduate and research degrees.
References to integrated PhDs and Doctoral Training Entities (DTEs), like Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) and Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs), have been incorporated throughout. To reflect developments in the sector, where integrated PhDs and DTEs have become more common as an important part of postgraduate research degree provision.
The MPhil has been removed as a direct entry award To help us streamline our research programme offering, in response to changes in the research training landscape. An exit award of MPhil will continue to exist for those candidates that do not meet the full requirements of doctoral study (level 8) but do meet the assessment criteria for an MPhil (level 7).
3 Admissions: Information on English language requirements has been updated to specify a common minimum English Language standard for admission to a doctoral programme at Bath. To bring our information on admissions requirements in line with UKVI (visa) requirements and to be clear about cases in which there may be exceptions to the standard entry qualifications.
Common minimum academic qualifications for entry onto a Bath doctorate have been set, with clear provisions for permitted exceptions from this standard. The updates do not mean any change to current admissions criteria for any individual doctoral programmes but rather help to articulate the common criteria already shared between them.
Admission of members of staff to doctoral degrees (Staff Method A) has been moved to the admissions section. The Doctor of Policy Research and Practice has been added to the list of programmes that members of staff may apply for. To provide clarity on what the provisions of Staff Method A are, namely provisions for the admission of members of staff to doctoral study at Bath. Once admitted, members of staff will be subject to all relevant general and programme regulations for their doctoral programme.
6 The minimum and maximum periods of registration for part-time PhD students have changed so that they reflect the fact that they are expected to work at 0.5FTE (full-time equivalent) To align to common sector practice which expects part-time doctoral study to equate to 0.5FTE. This is also in line with UKRI terms and conditions. This change therefore also means that the maximum registration period will match the established rate of stipend payments and tuition fee billing to part-time PhD students.
8 Content related to the Programme of research and professional development was added from the University’s Quality Assurance Code of Practice that sets out the principles for doctoral study (QA7). To move policy-level information from QA7 into the regulations to create a single point of regulatory reference.
9 Where students have completed the Academic Integrity test as part of previous study at the University, they will be required to repeat it as part of their doctoral degree. To address a frequently asked question and provide clarity of what is expected from doctoral students.
11 Content was added to the Supervision section from QA7. To move policy-level information from QA7 into the regulations to create a single point of regulatory reference.
13 Holiday entitlement - clarified that Bank Holidays and closure days are additional to the 25 days leave permitted. To match UKRI terms and conditions.
14 New section stating that attendance requirements are agreed at Candidature. To provide reference for how attendance is agreed as registration may be terminated for a lack of progress or attendance, yet attendance requirements were not previously clearly stated in the regulation.
16 Changed rules for requesting a change of mode of study to say it will not normally be permitted during the final six months of registration of the normal maximum registration period of any degree programme To meet current UKRI expectations (previous limit was 12 months), allowing more flexibility to students.
17 Detail added around transfer between programmes. To set out the order of events when a student wishes to transfer. Establishes that DoS will be pivotal in determining whether the students’ transfer is appropriate and what part of the programme the student can join – subject to BoSD approval.
19 Detail added around changes to thesis / portfolio title. To clarify that the thesis title must be accurately captured for University records, to meet funder requirements and for ATAS (Academic technology Approval Scheme) purposes. A minor change in title can be simply managed, a change in title that is linked to a change in research topic will require BoSD approval and if a new research project is to be started then new parameters of the registration will need to be agreed.
20 “Writing up” status has been renamed to “Submission Pending” status. To reflect current sector practice and emphasises the expectation for students to plan and manage progression towards submission. A definition of this status is now set out, removes the ambiguity in the old wording and states that this status carries a reduced fee in recognition of the fact that students will require fewer University resources.
“Writing up (Administration)” status to be removed: Only a single reduced fee status will be available to all students because the option to switch to paying an Administration fee only has been removed. The removal of the Admin fee option is based on the principle that doctoral students should always be provided with supervisory support prior to submission. In addition, as this status is not accessible for visa holding students, it is being removed to provide greater equity to access a reduced fee status.
21 Suspensions of Registration for the purpose of attending work placements are now normally limited to six months duration. To provide a framework for BoSD decision making on such requests. This takes into account that students should not be away from their research for too long.
Clarification has been added to explicitly state that it is expected that active study (and fee-paying status) will resume at the lapse of the agreed suspension period. To emphasise the significance of the agreed suspension dates and to reduce incidences of students failing to get back in touch at the end of a suspension period.
Clarification has been added to state that Suspensions of Registration for reasons of parental leave, to attend a work placement or election as an SU Officer do not count towards the usual 12-month limit. To recognise the fact that students undertaking these activities should still have access to full suspensions allowance.
22 There has been a change of emphasis relating to rules on Extensions of Registration away from limiting the number of requests to using the maximum time as the limiting factor. However, each request will need to be accompanied by a workplan to completion. To allow for more than one request without having to seek Senate approval (as was the case under the previous regulation). The amount of time permitted for extensions has not actually changed.
23 New limits have been set for Re-registration, particularly to clarify that the option to re-register when registration has lapsed is not a path to additional extensions. To emphasise the expectation that students will plan and manage their time towards on-time submission, but that the option remains to re-register for a short period (i.e. two-month limit) to allow submission after registration has lapsed.
24 New reason for Termination of Registration added: “A student’s failure to meet the requirements of the taught phase or to meet the requirement to progress to the research phase of a professional doctorate or integrated PhD programme.” To reflect current practice, as the Board of Studies (Doctoral) ratifies academic fail and withdraw recommendation from Professional Doctorate Boards of Examiners for Programmes.
25 Content related to Confirmation has been moved from QA7. Timescales have been adjusted to reflect the new 0.5FTE part-time work rate. To move policy-level information from QA7 into the regulations to create a single point of regulatory reference.
26 Students are no longer required to provide a printed hardback copy of their completed thesis following examination for their award to be confirmed. Students are welcome to continue to print hardback copies for their own purposes, but they do not have to do so to be able to graduate. To reduce the environmental impact, address space constraints in the Library and to reduce costs for students. An electronic copy of the final thesis will still need to be submitted and can be stored in the University thesis repository.
It has been made clear that thesis/portfolio submissions will undergo electronic plagiarism checks. To reflect current practice and requested during consultation.
Clarification has been added on the responsibilities of the Board of Examiners and for students to confirm upload of e-thesis to University systems. To provide clarity around the requirements before Board of Studies (Doctoral) can make an award.
27 Information on the composition and nomination of Boards of Examiners imported from Ordinance 15 and QA7. To move policy-level information from QA7 into the regulations to create a single point of regulatory reference.
28 The potential viva outcomes for doctoral students have changed to better differentiate between a pass with minor or major corrections, and outcomes have been standardised across doctoral degrees. To standardise viva outcomes based on consultation feedback and sector standard practice. There is now a clear distinction between minor and major corrections and how much time would be expected for each of these.
More flexibility on who can examine a corrected thesis. To allow for either of the examiners to examine and confirm minor or major corrections, and not limit this to only the internal examiner. This provides more flexibility should the internal examiner not be available to carry out this work.
Clarification has been added as to what happens if corrections need further work (i.e. four weeks max can be added). To provide more information on this scenario, based on current practice.
29 Award of Degrees: The assessment criteria for doctoral awards have been amended to include demonstration of an understanding of the context of the research in a “professional context”. To standardise assessment criteria across doctoral degrees, particularly regarding professional doctorate programmes, and to generates a single reference point on examination practice, as requested in consultation.
Clarification on reasonable adjustments for viva voce examinations has been moved from QA7. To generate a single reference point on examination practice, as requested in consultation.
EngD Provisions for the Doctor of Engineering programme have been kept in a separate section from the rest of the provisions and the text has been aligned to the rest of the document but not changed in meaning. To reflect the fact that this doctoral programme will no longer be offered once the current students have graduated. These provisions will then be removed from the regulations.
MD/MS Minor amendments have been made to update the provisions for the Degrees of Doctor of Medicine and Master of Surgery. To align to other doctoral provision, where appropriate, and to facilitate smoother registration and examination processes.
Staff Method Minor amendments have been made to update the provisions for the award of Degrees to members of staff (Method B). To align to general updates to the regulations and to facilitate smoother processes for registration and examination.
DSc/DLitt Minor amendments have been made to update the provisions for the Degrees of Doctor Science and Doctor of Letters. To provide more clarity around principles for this type of degree and to facilitate smoother processes for registration and examination.

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