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Purchasing goods and services for doctoral project activities

Information for Doctoral students on University systems for purchasing goods and services.

As a doctoral student you may need to purchase equipment or to claim other project-related activities.

Your access to funding

You may or may not have access to dedicated funding, known by various titles including Research Training Support Fees/Grant or Bench Fees.

Students without dedicated funding

It’s important that you talk to your supervisor to identify any other sources of funding that may be available. Some supervisors have their own funding that they can use, and some departments have funding set aside for doctoral students.

There are various other University and external potential sources of funding to support research activities. The Doctoral College has tried to collate some of these, along with links to other support such as Money Advice, Disability, Sick leave, but this is not an exhaustive list.

Students with dedicated funding

It’s important that you talk to your supervisor to determine the budget, the project code and what can and can’t be purchased, which will vary between funding schemes.

Your supervisor will often be the budget-holder for the funding and is responsible for authorising and monitoring expenditure.

Make a purchase for your doctoral project

Project codes

All funding must be allocated to a specific project/budget, which will have its own, unique project code. When purchasing or claiming for expenditure, you must quote this code.

Where you have obtained funding from another source, for example, funding to attend a conference, this will either be added to your existing project code (if you already have funding) or a new project code will be set-up (if you do not have funding in-place).

Project codes, as well as budget/expenditure to-date, can be obtained from your supervisor, from the Studentships Team or from your Faculty/School finance team:

Purchase goods and services

Goods and services should wherever possible only be sourced from internal service providers and approved external contracted suppliers.

Suppliers on the e-marketplace include:

  • catering
  • computers & IT
  • imaging, design & print
  • furniture (including remote/home working)
  • laboratories
  • translation & interpreting
  • video production services

Agresso is the University’s system to purchase goods and services. There are various guides from the Purchasing section of the University Finance System including purchasing products from the Marketplace, from non-Marketplace suppliers and ordering from internal suppliers.

The University has appointed specific suppliers to ensure quality and safety of products, amongst other factors. Where a corporate purchasing agreement has been established, this contract must be used. It’s possible that cheaper alternatives could be sourced through other routes to market, but these could create risks to the University reputation and may not meet sustainable and ethical standards. There is also no guarantee as to their quality or compatibility with existing systems.

If you are unsure whether an internal service provider or contracted supplier exists for your requirement, or if you have concerns over the costs of specific items, contact your supervisor or your Faculty/School finance team or email

Other suppliers

If purchasing an item from a supplier that is not on Marketplace, for example, specialist equipment not available from one to the University’s suppliers, you are strongly advised to keep a record of why this was the case, in case of subsequent auditing checks. You should check with your supervisor before making any purchases.

Purchases for working from home

When working from home, the advice about contacting your department to borrow, rather than purchase equipment, remains. However, where resources aren’t available, Buying for remote working is also available to you and includes some reasonably-priced chairs and desks.

Book travel

All Travel should be booked through Clarity including rail tickets, flights, accommodation, and car hire.

Booking travel through Clarity ensures quality of provision and also enables the University to keep a record of where our students might be located in the event of an emergency, for example, natural disaster or terrorist activity, as an important aspect of its duty of care.

Claim an expenditure

Agresso is used to monitor and authorise expenditure – you will use this to claim for expenditure. The University Finance System provides useful guidance on how students can make a claim and how to track its progress, as well as how to request an advance.

As your supervisor is often the budget-holder they will need to sign-off any orders, so it will be good practice to ask them to look out for the Agresso request.

Unfortunately, as you are not the budget-holder, it is not easy to enable you to have access to Agresso to monitor expenditure. Students would need to be individually added to the project setup as a viewer of the project which is impractical to set-up for everyone. However, if it is essential and your supervisor agrees, contact your Faculty/School Finance team.

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