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Research Degree FAQ's

On this page you will find information on studying for a research degree at the UCL 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.

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. For more information about eligibility requirements, selection criteria, how to apply and important dates, visit the following page:

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/scholarships/graduate/UK-EU_Res/grs

For more funding opportunities, visit https://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/scholarships

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.

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. For more information about eligibility requirements, regulations, how to apply and important dates, visit the following page:

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/slms/aco/gc-etcf/etcf

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

Set stipend payment dates for the for each academic year: 

  • September
  • December
  • March
  • June

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/slms/aco/gc-etcf/gcf

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. For more information about the Log as well as an introduction course, visit the following page:

https://researchlog.grad.ucl.ac.uk/

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. 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. For the information of Points on each activity, visit http://courses.grad.ucl.ac.uk/ login using your UCL userID and password and go to ‘My Department Training’. To register your Robert Points simply go to https://researchlog.grad.ucl.ac.uk/ log in and follow the instructions of the site.

 

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.

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. 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

Q: When can I transfer from MPhil to PhD?

A: You can transfer after 12 months of registration, but most students usually transfer approximately 18 months in for full time and 24-30 months for part-time. 

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. 

UCL advises that your subsidiary supervisor should chair your upgrade presentation but your viva should be private with the two examiners, unless supervisor presence is specifically requested.

These two academics are not allowed to participate in your final PhD viva as internal examiners.

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

A: Although it depends on each PhD programme, a typical full-time PhD will last 3-4 years (part time registration is for 5 years plus 2 years at CRS) including the CRS year (see below).

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

Fileupgrade_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, see 

for further information: 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. 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. However, we can be flexible with this time limit and would simply request this form is submitted prior to the submission of your thesis. This form must also 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 Student Centre https://www.ucl.ac.uk/students/new-ucl-student-centre/about-student-centre.

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

A: No, if you use one of the binders listed on our webpages they will usually deliver it on your behalf. Alternatively, you can post the thesis to the Student Centre or arrange for a third party to deliver it.

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: No. The thesis must be correctly bound. For information on binding see 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 (Dr 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 dispatched?

A: Your thesis will usually be dispatched by special delivery within 24 hours of your examiners being appointed.

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

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 Student Centre.

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 Student Centre.

* 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 two soft-bound copies of your thesis to the Student Centre 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) in addition to the soft bound copy submitted to the Student Centre. The electronic copy (also known as your e-thesis) should be deposited via RPS prior to the receipt of your final soft bound copy. 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

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