The major research project is submitted in the summer term of the third year, usually on the penultimate Friday in June. Almost all trainees complete their thesis within this time scale, but some do not, for a variety of reasons. There are two possibilities for later submission: a brief extension or a longer deferral.
Brief extensions of the hand-in date are given in the case of life events that affect the completion of the thesis (for example, illness or bereavement), or other problems that impeded the progress of the research (e.g., substantial recruitment problems). The maximum extension is normally two weeks, in order that the examiners can have sufficient time to read the thesis before the viva in September.
Deferrals are given for longer-term delays in submission, i.e., which go beyond the two weeks generally granted for an extension. They typically result from more severe problems – extreme circumstances which seriously impede the trainee’s ability to conduct the research or write up the thesis. With any deferral there is the risk that the student will not be examined along with their cohort in September, and so will be delayed in graduating. This risk increases the later you submit, as we cannot reasonably ask examiners to receive a thesis too late - they need time to read and consider it.
Some deferrals are relatively short, e.g., for 4 weeks after the official hand in date. Sometimes, in such circumstances, it is possible for the student to be examined along with the rest of their cohort, in September. In other, thankfully rare, circumstances deferrals need to be longer. They may be for six months (i.e., a late November hand-in date for a January or February viva) or for an additional academic year (i.e., a June hand-in date for a September viva). Thus the trainee will qualify later than normal, which may mean that their pay is reduced if they work in the NHS. Trainees should discuss this with their prospective employer and with course staff.
Trainees who are considering an extension or deferment should discuss it with their UCL research supervisor and then submit the relevant form to the research director by email, copying in their supervisor. The timing of this is not set in stone, but it is preferable to wait until mid-May so that you have a concrete sense of how much time you will need. Until that point you should aim for the standard deadline, but hold in mind that we will always approve extensions and deferrals where there is a good reason.