THE PHD PROCESS
General guidance for Research Degrees / UCL Registry
Criteria for Upgrading
Outcome of the process
The PhD Thesis
The requirement for the award of a PhD is the submission of a thesis of no more than 100,000 words (excluding references and appendices). Normally this reports an in-depth, original programme of work which makes a significant contribution to knowledge through the exercise of critical powers, and/or through the acquisition and interpretation of fresh data. Although publication is not a necessary criterion, it is expected that this work will be of sufficiently high quality to merit publication. The key requirement is the achievement of a significant contribution to knowledge.
The research work required for the thesis is generally carried out individually, but it can be a distinct part of work within a research group. In the latter cases, the candidate is expected to indicate and demonstrate that a substantial aspect of the work has been his or her own contribution. The UCL Graduate School offers a wide range of courses relevant to a PhD (e.g. planning and writing a PhD thesis, use of library and electronic resources, bibliographic reference software, tailored language courses, research methods and statistics, computer packages).
Upgrading from MPhil to PhD - Guidelines
First-year students are registered as MPhil students until they have qualified for an upgrading to PhD.
Full-time students: Tthe upgrading interview will be in the first term of their second year, usually in December (between 12 and 18 months of their initial registration). If a student does not pass the first upgrading, they will be permitted to attempt a second within 6 months of the first.
Part-time students: the upgrading interview will be within 20-30 months of their initial registration. If the first upgrading is not passed, they will be allowed a second attempt within 10 months of the first.
For their upgrading all students will need to be sure that they have acquired a sufficient understanding of psychoanalysis to either apply or to investigate within their PhD thesis. Both full-time and part-time students must attain 80 credits from courses to enable them to upgrade from MPhil to PhD. Credit bearing courses can be selected from within those offered in the Psychoanalysis Unit or from the wider Psychology & Language Sciences Division or the Brain Sciences Faculty recognized courses.
Criteria for upgrading
- Commitment to pursuing research at UCL to a PhD level
- Satisfactory progress in the work so far.
- Evidence that the work carried out to date is the student’s own.
- Ability to formulate at least one viable hypothesis or research question that can be addressed in the time frame of a PhD.
- Formulation of a viable plan for the work over time.
- Sufficient understanding of psychoanalysis to either apply or to investigate within their PhD thesis or sufficient understanding of relevant historiography for candidates undertaking a historical study.
- Satisfactory generic and specific skills development.
- Proficiency in spoken and written English.
- 80 credits of accredited taught courses including the Discussion Group and Work-in-Progress Workshops and from the list of available courses.
- Completion of the student research log. Further information about the role of the Research Log can be found here.
- Completion of 20 Robert’s Points of transferable skill development via Graduate School courses.
Documentation for upgrading
The current requirements are that at the time stipulated by the Graduate Tutor, the student submits a chapter of their thesis. This should be between 6,000 and 10,000 (maximum) words and written to the standard required for an international peer-reviewed publication.
- An empirical paper or succinct empirical chapter OR a conceptual or historical chapter. This should include:
a) A research question and hypothesis
b)An introductory section giving the context of the work along with the necessary background literature review;
c) A section on methodology;
e) For empirical research a preliminary results section / For conceptual or historical work a provisional chapter breakdown.
- An outline of the research to be undertaken in the next year or two with appropriate milestones (e.g. conference presentations, papers submitted for publication, skills needed) and the expected time-line for completion.
The Supervisor submits a report on the progress of the student to date.
The upgrading interview will be conducted by the Graduate Tutor and the Advisor. If there is a conflict of interest or if the Graduate Tutor is also the student’s Advisor the relevant person will be replaced by another senior member of the university competent to assess the student’s work. The student will be informed in advance of the interview who will be on their upgrading panel.
The upgrading interview will comprise (1.) the student presenting their work orally, usually with a powerpoint presentation, for 10-15 minutes. (2). the student addressing questions from their panel about their research and future plans. The student is then asked to leave briefly while the panel discuss their upgrading.
Outcome of the upgrading procedure
This can be a straight pass. If a pass is not given, the student is allowed to resubmit in the time frame outlined above. Written criteria for re-submission will be given to the student. These will vary and may be a request to re-submit some or all documentation in which case a second up-grade interview may or may not be required.
Potential outcomes of upgrading are:
- The student is upgraded from an MPhil to a PhD.
- The student is given a date by which to re-submit documentation, and/or fulfil other upgrading requirements, with the requirement for a second upgrading interview.
- The student is given a date by which they should re-submit documentation and/or fulfil other upgrading requirements, without the need for a second upgrading interview.
Potential outcome of a second attempt:
- The student is upgraded from an MPhil to a PhD.
- The student is not recommended for upgrade and remains registered for the MPhil.
The panel will produce a joint report on the upgrading (co-ordinated by the Chair of the panel who is usually the student’s second supervisor). This is signed by the graduate tutor and copied to the student, their supervisors and the Head of Department.