Upgrade MPhil to PhD

Upgrade Panel

The decision on whether to upgrade students from M. Phil. to PhD status or be advised to withdraw, is explicitly governed by UCL regulations. The principal purposes of the upgrade procedure are to ascertain whether the student can:

a) communicate their research in writing and orally,

b) ‘defend’ their research programme,

c) be aware of their subject area and related fields.

The upgrade procedure is a key element of monitoring. It is intended to highlight any deficiencies and provide an opportunity to amend them. In order to be upgraded, the student has to meet with their Upgrade Panel (UP). The TC can also be the Upgrade Panel (UP). Under UCL Graduate School rules, the Primary Supervisor should provide input via a written upgrade report on the student’s work,  which must be submitted in advance of the upgrade viva to the Upgrade Panel and the Student. The Primary Supervisor cannot be a member of the UP.

In GEE, the UC can have the same composition as the student’s TC but the department reserves the right to draft in additional academic staff to take part in the upgrade evaluation and ensure sufficient objectivity in the decision.

Upgrade Meeting

The student will be informed at least one month before of the meeting with the UP. They are required to submit a formal report to the UP. The required contents of the report are outlined on the UCL Graduate school website.

Also, the student must give a formal presentation (~15 mins.) to the UP at the upgrade meeting.

There are two upgrade opportunities: a first attempt after 9-15 months, and, if the student fails the first attempt, the second between 18-24 months for full-time students. The period between the first and second attempt should normally be no more than 6 months.

A student who fails the first upgrade will be given a set of goals to be achieved by the second upgrade. A student that fails the second upgrade will only be able to submit their work as an MPhil.

Note that the great majority of students are upgraded without any significant problems, at the first opportunity.


The UP has the lead responsibility for whether to upgrade a student. The decision will take account of the student’s upgrade report, oral presentation, viva and an upgrade report from the Primary Supervisor. The written recommendation of the UP will be communicated to the student, Primary Supervisor and Departmental Graduate Tutor. To this effect, once the upgrade has been completed satisfactorily, the UP members should  fill out the Panel Upgrade Report, obtain the Graduate Tutor’s signature and provide a hard copy to the graduate administrator. The student must also upload an electronic version of this form on their E-Log. A Registry Notification Form  should also be completed and posted to the Registry for the student’s records to be updated accordingly.


If there is a serious disagreement between the UC and the Primary Supervisor that cannot be resolved by the Departmental Graduate Tutor, the case will be referred to the Faculty Graduate Tutor for Research Degrees. Similarly, if a student rejects the decision of the UC, the matter will be referred to the Departmental Graduate Tutor and if necessary to the Faculty Graduate Tutor for Research Degrees.

Upgrade Guidelines

See Guidelines for Upgrade from MPhil to PhD for details (PDF) and on the link to guidelines for upgrade.

Page last modified on 26 nov 13 11:28