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Progress Reviews for Research Students

In order to ensure that research students are making sufficient progress and receiving adequate supervision, the department undertakes regular reviews of each research student. The most important aim of the reviews is to help the student's progress at various stages.

The first review takes place roughly 6 months from the date of initial registration, the second one at roughly 1 year, and subsequent ones yearly. The 6-month review generally focuses on assessing project definition, methodology, and planning. The 1-year review (2-year review for part-timers) also serves as the departmental examination for the transfer of registration (MPhil to PhD), if progress has been sufficient. Subsequent reviews focus on progress toward the completion of the thesis.

For the PhD transfer to be successful, the student needs to demonstrate that she/he has settled on a well-defined and feasible research project, and made successful initial steps in executing that project. Students with any uncertainties about how these broad criteria apply to their own projects should consult the Graduate Tutor for further advice.

It is the responsibility of the student's principal supervisor to organise the progress reviews in a timely manner. The Graduate Tutor has oversight on the progress review process for the department on the whole.

The Review Procedure

1. At least one week before the review meeting, the student should submit the following items to her/his principal supervisor, who should then distribute copies to all members of the review panel.
  • Progress report (1,000-1,500 words)
  • A print-out of your Research Student Log showing a record of your MAD activities. 
  • Sample of written work (optional for 6-month review, required for other reviews)
  • Projected table of contents of the thesis (required for MPhil/PhD transfer)

Progress report

  • For each review, the student should submit a progress report of 1,000-1,500 words, summarising the progress made since the last review and giving a brief plan of work until the next review. 
  • The format of the progress report is not fixed. Students uncertain about what to put into the report should consult the Graduate Tutor. If desired, it may be formatted to serve also as a report required by funding agencies.

Record of MAD activities

  • The student should also submit a summary of activities undertaken under the rubric of the departmental Methodology and Academic Development (MAD) programme, which also satisfies the training requirement for students funded by research councils. A printout from the Research Student Log is sufficient for this purpose. STS list of MAD points available is here (link).

Sample of written work

  • With the exception of the 6-month review, the progress report should be accompanied by a sample of written work for the review. Typically this will be the draft of a chapter of the thesis, or part of a chapter; a full research proposal is also acceptable up to the MPhil/PhD transfer. Students are strongly advised to consult their supervisors about what to submit.
  • For MPhil/PhD transfer, a projected table of contents of the thesis should also be submitted.

Projected table of contents

  • It is very helpful to have a table of contents of the whole dissertation, both for the student and the review panel.

Confidential reports (optional)

  • If there are any questions or issues that the student or the supervisors want to discuss confidentially, these should be raised with the Graduate Tutor or the Head of Department on a separate occasion. Students and supervisors are invited to make such confidential reports at any point, even apart from the regular reviews.
2. The review meeting
  • Each review will centre around a meeting between the student and a review panel. It is the responsibility of the student's principal supervisor, advised by the Graduate Tutor as necessary, to appoint the review panel and schedule the review meeting in each case.
  • The review panel, consisting of two or more teaching staff, must include at least one person who is not a supervisor to the student; preferably, the meeting should be chaired by someone other than the principal supervisor. If appropriate, staff from outside the department may be invited to serve on the panel. For a review that doubles as the MPhil/PhD transfer exam, the panel must include the principal supervisor, and either the Graduate Tutor or the Head of Department; this is not necessary for ordinary reviews.
  • The chair of the panel should conduct the review meeting according to the departmental guideline for progress review meetings, which also serves as the form on which to make notes from the meeting for departmental records. The completed form should be submitted by the chair of the panel to the Graduate Tutor, and to any of the student's supervisors that were not present at the meeting.
  • At the review meeting, the panel should offer specific comments on the student's progress report and any other written material submitted by the student.
  • The student has the option of making a brief informal presentation at the start of the review meeting, but this is by no means a requirement.
3. After the review meeting, the student should fill out the relevant sections in the Research Student Log, and get the content approved by both supervisors. This rule applies to all pre-CRS students.
  • It has been a college requirement since September 2001 that research students keep a record of their progress in the Research Student Log. This includes a record of formal supervisory sessions at regular intervals; in our department, the custom is to make these records after progress reviews. It is now mandatory that all new students will use the electronic version of the Research Student Log .
  • The Graduate Tutor will be monitoring the use of the Research Student Log.
4. MPhil/PhD transfer
  • consult UCL guidelines for MPhil/PhD upgrade (link)
  • The decision on MPhil/PhD transfer will be communicated to the student by the Graduate Tutor within a week of the review meeting; the decision communicated at that point may be a conditional one. The outcome should not be announced during the review meeting itself.
  • If the decision is positive, it is the student's responsibility to make sure that the transfer form is completed and submitted to the Registrar's Division.
  • If the decision is negative, the student, the supervisors and the Graduate Tutor should meet shortly afterwards to discuss the plan of action. Under normal circumstances the student will be offered a chance of an ad hoc review meeting to serve as another transfer attempt. If the transfer is still not successful, the matter will be referred to further discussion by the Graduate Tutor and the Head of Department. The student has the right to appeal against the final departmental decision, according to college procedures specified in the UCL Academic Manual.
5. Departmental assessment
  • After the review meeting, the Graduate Tutor should make an overall assessment of the student's progress and supervision. If the Graduate Tutor is the student's principal supervisor, the overall assessment should be made by the Head of Department.
  • In order to faciliate this process, the chair of each review meeting should submit a copy of the standard form with notes from the meeting to the Graduate Tutor.
  • At the conclusion of a review, it is the Graduate Tutor's responsibility to take any actions as necessary in order to promote the student's future progress.

Page last modified on 27 aug 13 08:59 by Joe Cain


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