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Research Degree FAQ's

On this page you will find information on studying for a research degree at the UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology

Starting your research degree

Q: How many supervisors do I need?

A: All UCL research students need two UCL supervisors: a principal and a subsidiary supervisor.

However, more than 2 supervisors can be accepted as appropriate.

Both supervisors need to be approved by UCL before they can start supervising you.

If you or your proposed supervisors are unclear as to whether they have been approved, contact the Education Team for clarification. The first point of contact is the Research Degree Programme Coordinator.

Once your supervisors have been confirmed please let the Education Team know so that they can be formally assigned to you.

Funding opportunities for PhD students

Q: Are there any scholarships available for PhD students?

A: UCL Graduate Research Scholarships aim to attract high-quality students to undertake research at UCL. Up to 20 UCL Graduate Research Scholarships (GRS) are available annually to prospective and current UCL research students from any country. 

The UCL Research Opportunity Scholarships runs in partnership with the Windsor Fellowship and offers full financial support. This scholarship is aimed at particular BAME groups who are underrepresented at the PhD level.

For more funding opportunities, visit https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/scholarships or https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ion/equality-diversity-inclusion/building-your-career-institute.

Q: Where can I find general information and resources on UCL PhD regulations?

A: A good start is the following resources:

Academic Regulations and Guidance for Research Degrees 

General information for current students

UCL Doctoral School

Booklet Code of Practice

Q: What training opportunities are available for a PhD student at the ION?

A: Plenty of opportunities to attend weekly teaching seminars and workshops at the ION. The weekly programme can be found on the IoN Education home page or the IoN PGR News Bulletin (editions available through Moodle).

Q: Are there any opportunities to undertake training outside UCL?

A: School of Life and Medical Sciences is committed to strengthen and develop support for graduate studies at UCL. The External Training Courses Fund aims to provide research students with additional opportunities to undertake training, essential to their research, not available within UCL.

Q: Who should I contact in case I face financial issues?

A: At UCL we understand students can face financial issues and we aim to help and advice you as much as possible. The Student Funding Team offers information online and one-to-one support through appointments and a drop-in counter service, which operates from Student Centre 2 in the Chadwick Building Mon – Fri 10am-4pm. For more information about your funding options, visit the following page https://www.ucl.ac.uk/students/fees-and-funding.

Students also have access to the UCL Financial Assistance Fund and the UCL Emergency Loan depending on their eligibility.

Stipend payments are made into the bank account listed on Portico on the 1st of each month.

Q: Are there any conference and research funds opportunities for PhD students?

A: Presenting your work in national and international conferences is an important part of your experience as a UCL researcher. Funding opportunities for such activities are available at UCL through School of Life and Medical Sciences. For more information about eligibility requirements, regulations, how to apply and important dates, visit the following page https://www.ucl.ac.uk/school-life-medical-sciences/about-slms/office-vice-provost-health/academic-careers-office/graduate-conference-fund.

Research Student Log

Q: What is the Research Student Log?

A: The Research Student Log provides a framework for recording details related to your graduate research programme, scheduled supervisory meeting and activities concerning the development of your academic and keys skills. It is a mandatory component of all UCL research degree programmes. 

Q: What are the 20 ‘Robert’s Points’ and how do I collect them?

A: PhD students are required to complete 20 "Robert’s Points" per year by taking Doctoral School skills training courses. The training courses are provided by UCL or its affiliated member institutions and are booked via Inkpath. The training is free of charge and there is a wide variety of useful courses available. You gain one point per half day of training. Inkpath and the Research Log are now linked so courses will be automatically uploaded onto the Research Log with the equivalent number of Robert's points.

 

Thesis Committees

Q: What are thesis committee's?

A: All MPhil/PhD students registered in the School of Life and Medical Sciences starting after 1st September 2019 will be required to have a Thesis Committee (TC). The role of the TC is for its members to support the Student throughout the PhD programme. The TC comprises the Subsidiary Supervisor and at least two additional members with relevant academic experience, but who are not from the same laboratory as the Primary Supervisor. These members may be UCL staff or external to UCL, but at least one should be a member of UCL academic staff. Please see the TC guidelines below for more information. The relevant TC forms which require completion can be found at the end of the guidance from page 16 onwards.

Research Proposal

Q: What is a research proposal?

A: This is an internal (to QSION) requirement for students typically within the first six months of their registration (only for students who started before 1st September 2019). The research proposal is basically a structured abstract of what research is being proposed and the timeline to which it will be completed.2-4 sides A4 are all that is required. The proposal goes to the QSION Higher Degrees Sub Committee (HDSC) for approval and is noted in our local records. Relevant information can be found on the UCL Institute of Neurology Research Students Moodle page. The enrolment key can be obtained from the Education Team.

Transfer/Upgrade from MPhil to PhD

Q: What do I need to do to transfer from MPhil to PhD?

A.: For students who started before 1st September 2019, your MPhil to PhD upgrade will also require the following:

  • 10,000 word dissertation read & approved by both supervisors. This must be submitted to the supervisors and both viva examiners at LEAST TWO WEEKS before the scheduled upgrade. 
  • 30 minute departmental upgrade presentation followed by a private 30-45 minute upgrade viva with two independent academic colleagues. The presentation must be formally announced to the host department at LEAST TWO WEEKS before the scheduled upgrade. The upgrade must take place within Athena Swan working hours (10am-4pm).There is the option to perform your upgrade presentation privately to your two examiners and the research department tutor but this will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Upgrade examiners are required to complete the upgrade panel report. It is the student's responsibility to ensure both examiners have a copy of the upgrade panel report when they submit their 10,000 word dissertation (See "Upgrade Panel Report").
  • Progress report. 2-3 pages. This report should provide a summary of progress with headings including aims, methods, findings and the remaining work to be completed. A detailed timeline should also be included (see "PhD Timeline Upgrade Template"). Additionally, please include details of the generic skills training you have undertaken and/or conferences and courses attended.
  • Supervisor Report

All upgrade documents should be sent to the Research Degree Administrator within the IoN Education team.

For students who started after 1st September 2019, they will follow the thesis committee guidelines and prepare the following:

  • 10,000 word dissertation read & approved by both supervisors. This must be submitted to the supervisors and both TC members (acting as examiners) at LEAST TWO WEEKS before the scheduled upgrade. 
  • 30 minute departmental upgrade presentation followed by a private 30-45 minute upgrade viva with your thesis committee (chaired by subsidiary supervisor). The presentation must be formally announced to the host department at LEAST TWO WEEKS before the scheduled upgrade. The upgrade must take place within Athena Swan working hours (10am-4pm).There is the option to perform your upgrade presentation privately to your thesis committee and the research department tutor but this will be considered on a case-by-case basis.  It is the student's responsibility to ensure that their thesis committee have a copy of the upgrade panel report when they submit their 10,000 word dissertation (See "Upgrade Panel Report"). 

The dissertation, upgrade presentation and upgrade panel report must be uploaded to the student's Research Log for review after the upgrade is complete. The upgrade panel report must be sent to the IoN Research Degree Administrator.

Q: When can I transfer from MPhil to PhD?

A: You can transfer between 9 and 18 months, from registration, for full-time students and between 15 and 30 months, from registration, for part-time students. If you would like to transfer before or after this time period, please speak to your Research Department Graduate Tutor (RDGT) for advice.

Q. What format should my MPhil to PhD upgrade thesis have?

A: This varies and depends on the amount of data already acquired by the PhD candidate and the projects design. A typical structure includes an Introduction (with literature review on the topic), Hypothesis and study design, any relevant acquired data this far and Discussion-Aims of the PhD studies etc.

Q: Who needs to be at my upgrade?

A: Two independent academic colleagues. They can either be from your research department, or another research department if appropriate. They cannot be from the same lab/group that you belong to. For those with TCs, the upgrade examiners should be your TC members.

UCL advises that your subsidiary supervisor should chair your upgrade presentation and private viva but not act as an examiner.  The primary supervisor should not be present for the viva unless specifically requested by the student.

These two academics are not allowed to be appointed as examiners for your final PhD viva.

Q. How much longer should I expect to continue studying after upgrading?

A: Although it depends on each PhD programme, most students upgrade around half way through their research degree so for a typical 3 year full-time PhD, there should be approx. 18-24 months left of your PhD and for part-time students, there should be approx 24-30 months left of your PhD. 

Q: Where can I find further information on upgrading from MPhil to PhD?

A: You may found the following page useful: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/students/status/research-students/upgrade

Q: Where can I find the panel report form?

A: Download the attachment

File upgrade_panel_report.docx

PhD thesis, viva and the final year

Q: When I move onto Continuing Research Status, do I still have to pay fees?

A: No, once you have moved onto CRS, you will no longer be subject to fees.

Q. As a CRS student, when should I submit my thesis?

A: Full-time students have one year to submit, with part-time students having two years.

Q: What happens if I fail to submit on time?

A: If you do not submit at the end of your CRS period, your record will be closed and you will lose access to UCL facilities (eg. Portico, Library etc). You can still submit your thesis, however your supervisor will need to request special permission to be made and you will also be liable for a late submission fee. For further information, see https://www.ucl.ac.uk/students/exams-and-assessments/research-assessments/extension-fees

Q: Can I obtain an extension to CRS?

A: An extension to CRS can be granted in special circumstances only and your supervisor will need to complete the relevant form through Portico. Full details regarding the extension, including the form, can be found here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/students/status/research-students/completing-research-status.

Q. Do I have to submit the exam entry form four months before submitting my thesis?

A: Ideally the exam entry form should be submitted three to four months before you plan to submit your thesis. This form must be submitted before the examiner nomination form.

Q: When can I submit my thesis?

A: Your thesis must be submitted after the exam entry form has been logged, but can be submitted before the examiners have been appointed.

If you are on CRS status, you must submit before the end of the CRS deadline, otherwise you will incur a penalty (see above).

Q: Where do I submit my thesis?

A: It should be submitted to the Research Degrees office via UCL dropbox. More information can be found here https://www.ucl.ac.uk/students/exams-and-assessments/research-assessment...

Q: Do I have to submit the thesis in person?

A: No, theses are now submitted electronically.

Q: Can I submit my thesis without the examiners being approved?

A: Yes. You can submit your thesis, providing you have already submitted your Exam Entry Form.

Q: Can my thesis be ring bound?

A: Theses are usually now online. If your examiner would like a hard copy, please view information on binding via this page: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/students/exams-and-assessments/research-assessments/format-bind-and-submit-your-thesis-general-guidance

Q: What forms do I need to submit with the thesis?

A: We do not necessarily require any forms with the viva copies of the thesis, but do require the following on/before the final copies are submitted:

UCL Award: Thesis Deposit Agreement form must be uploaded to the Library with your e-thesis. For further information please refer to: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/library/e-theses/deposit

Reproduction of Theses Form

These forms can be submitted along with the viva copies and can be found here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/students/exams-and-assessments/research-assessments/format-bind-and-submit-your-thesis-general-guidance

Q: Who appoints my examiners?

A: Your supervisor must complete the Examiner Nomination Form relevant to your award nominating two examiners, usually an internal and external. This will be initially approved by the Departmental Graduate Tutor (Prof Steve Kennerley), before being submitted to Student Records for Quality Assurance checks. The form is then forwarded to the Faculty Graduate Tutor and the Chair of the Research Degrees Committee (or nominee) for final approval.

Q: How long does this process take?

A: If there are no problems with the nomination, we expect the process to take approximately 2 months from the time of submission. However, this time period is only a guide and the approval process may be quicker depending on the availability of the various signatories, or longer (up to 4 months) if there is a problem requiring clarification from the supervisor.

Q: How do I find out when my examiners are appointed?

A: Your supervisor will receive an email once the examiners have been appointed.

Q: When will my thesis be sent?

A: Your thesis will usually be sent within 24 hours of your examiners being appointed.

Q: Will I be told when the thesis is sent?

A: An email will be sent to you and your supervisor. We will always use your UCL email address.

Q: When should the viva be organised?

A: The viva must only be organised once the examiners have been formally appointed.

Q: Who organises the viva?

A: Usually the viva will be arranged by your supervisor for a mutually convenient date. Occasionally, this responsibility might be carried out by another member of your department.

Q: How quickly will I get the examiners’ reports?

A: Ideally, the examiners should submit their reports to Research Degrees within two weeks of the viva, occasionally this may not be possible, but the reports will be posted to your contact address once they arrive.

Q: What are the common outcomes of the viva?

A: The common results of the viva can be found here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/students/exams-and-assessments/research-assessments/viva

Q: When does the deadline for completing the corrections start?

A: The deadline starts from the date of the result letter sent from Research Degrees. This deadline relates only to the date you should submit the corrections to the designated checker (in the case of three month corrections) or, in the case of a resubmission, to re-enter for the exam and submit the revised thesis to the Research Degrees office.

Q: I have been asked to complete minor amendments, who checks these?

A: The examiners will indicate on the Joint Report who will be checking the amendments, occasionally both will wish to see the corrections. The format by which the corrections should be submitted will be agreed by the designated checker.

Q: I have been asked to resubmit my thesis, what happens now?

A: Once you are satisfied that you have met the requirements laid down by the examiners, you will need to complete the following procedure:

* You will need to submit a new exam entry form to the Research Degrees Office.

* Your supervisor should confirm by email that the examiners are still willing to act and provide their current contact details (normally an email requesting this is sent to your supervisor).

* An email will then be sent to the supervisor and examiners reconfirming their appointment and enclosing the relevant forms.

* You submit your thesis to the Research Degrees office via UCL dropbox for dispatching to the examiners. At this point the resubmission fee will also be added to your record.

If the examiners have requested a second viva, the supervisor should arrange this as they would normally. In these circumstances, the procedure will follow that of a typical PhD examination.

Q: How and why should I deposit an electronic copy of my thesis?

A: Candidates entering their thesis for a UCL award are required to deposit a final copy electronically via UCL's Research Publications Service (RPS). Guidance on depositing your electronic copy is available at the E-theses information pages: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Library/e-theses/

If you need assistance or have questions regarding the deposit of your e-thesis, please contact UCL Discovery.

Q: How long will it take to receive confirmation of my award?

A: Once we have all the reports, confirmation that any corrections have been completed and any fees are paid, we anticipate sending the confirmation of award to the contact address in approximately five working days.

Q: When will I receive my certificate?

A: Your degree certificate will be sent to your contact address two to four months after the official award date. Please ensure this address is kept up to date on Portico.

PhD thesis formatting and binding tips
UCL templates

Q: Are there any UCL templates I could use in my presentations?

A: There is a large number of templates now available that can be amended and edited for use. To download them visit https://www.ucl.ac.uk/cam/brand 

Other useful links

UCL Graduate Research Degrees Code of Practice (CoP) 2020/21:

https://www.grad.ucl.ac.uk/codes/

Post study visa information

Graduate route

Travel, Health and contacting home:

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/maps/public-transport

http://www.visitlondon.com/traveller-information

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/international/before-you-arrive

Travelling in England 

http://www.thetrainline.com/ 

http://uk.megabus.com/

https://www.nationalexpress.com/en 

Here are a few links to help you with health care questions:

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/international/before-you-arrive

http://www.boots.com 

http://www.superdrug.com/ 

http://www.nhs.uk/Pages/HomePage.aspx

For more information visit UCL Research Degrees website