Psychoanalysis Unit




Students are expected to submit a written PhD thesis at the end of their degree program. For full-time students, this lasts for three years and for part-time students it is five years.

Completing Research Status (CRS)

If extra time is needed, students are permitted to apply for an extension for Completing Research Status (CRS). The maximum extension is one year for full-time students or two years for part-time students. Only one extension will be granted. Further details and how to apply

Entry to the Exam

All full-time students are expected to submit their thesis within 4 years (maximum) of their start date and part-time students, within 7 years (maximum).

To begin the process, you must submit a Research Degree Examination Entry Form to Student Records in the Registry 4-6 months before your thesis submission date, which is the last date of your registration - please check your student record on Portico record for the exact date - normally it is 15th September, but it depends on your original enrolment date. You may not submit your thesis until you have entered for the examination using this form and your examination may be delayed if you have not done this.

Download the Exam Entry Form

Appointing Examiners

Your supervisor is responsible for arranging the appointment of your examiners. This should be done at the same time as you complete your examination entry form, about 4-6 months before you are due to submit your thesis. Examiners are appointed by UCL for their professional services as examiners with expert subject knowledge. A minimum of two examiners, one from outside UCL and (normally) one from UCL are appointed to co-examine all research degree candidates.

Download the Examiner Nomination Form

Completion of Your Final Draft for Examination

The final deadline for submission is usually around 15th September in either Year 3 or 4 for full-time students; Year 5 or 7 for part-time students, depending on when you choose to submit your work.

To avoid delays and unnecessary stress to both student and supervisor, students are recommended to send a final draft of their thesis by email to their supervisor/s by 15th July in the year they are completing. This allows a reasonable amount of time for the supervisor to review the work, make comments and suggestions and for these amendments to be incorporated by the student into the examination copy submitted on 15th September. Please bear in mind that both students and supervisors may take annual leave in the period between 15th July - 15th September and sending a final draft earlier rather than later makes allowance for this.


Word Length:

The maximum word length for a PhD degree: 100,000 words.
The maximum word length includes footnotes, tables and figures but excludes bibliography, appendices and supporting data.

We recommend using the APA (American Psychological Association) style for references.

General guidance on formatting from Registry

Submitting the Thesis

When your thesis is ready you must submit two blue soft-bound copies to the Student Centre in the Registry for dispatch to the examiners.

Thesis Binding

List of binders and printers provided by UCL Many will include printing and delivery to UCL as part of the service. There is also a print shop on the ground floor of the ULU building on Malet Street (next to Waterstones)

Where is the Student Centre?

The Student Centre is located on the ground floor of the Chadwick Building on the Gower Street Campus. As you enter the main gate from Gower Street the Chadwick Building is the large building on your right. Just past the Front Lodge Reception on your right you will see a large glass door which leads into the Chadwick Building. You can reach the door via steps or a ramp. The Student Centre is through this door and is the first room on your right.

Open 10am to 4pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and 11am to 5pm on Wednesdays, excluding college closure days and public holidays.

Preparation for the Viva

Your supervisor will liaise with you and your examiners to arrange and confirm a mutually convenient time and place to hold the viva examination. It should take place at UCL and will usually be held in your supervisor's office. Your examiners should have your thesis at least six working weeks before the viva and this should not be arranged until you have submitted your thesis. Your viva should then take place within three months of the dispatch of the thesis to your examiners.

The most obvious form of preparation is to re-read your thesis. Try to anticipate questions, comments and criticisms, and think how you would respond. Although you may not be able to anticipate actual questions to be asked by the examiners, this approach will encourage you to think actively about your work.

You should also refresh your memory of the relevant literature. Do not attempt to re-read every paper in the bibliography of your thesis; instead, re-read carefully some of the more recent key references. If you have left university after submitting your thesis you may be unaware of very recent work. Ask your supervisor a couple of weeks before the viva whether any work of direct relevance to your thesis has been published since you submitted your thesis.

A good way to prepare for your viva is to practice. Your supervisor should give you a mock viva, or arrange for this to be undertaken by a member of your upgrade panel.

During the Viva

A viva is an academic interview at which your examiners will be looking for an understanding of the subject matter of your thesis, an appreciation of its significance to established knowledge in the field, and an awareness of the breadth of the subject area. Your supervisor will be invited to attend your viva examination, unless you request otherwise; you must indicate this on your examination entry form. Your supervisor does not have the right to participate in the viva examination but may contribute if invited to do so by the examiners.

The examiners will expect you to:

Show a critical analysis of your own work and of that of others
Appreciate the limitations of the methods employed and the results obtained by yourself and others
Understand how the broad conclusions of your thesis support, add to or conflict with previous work
Know the major concepts and recent developments in your subject.

There is no formal procedure laid down for the conduct of the viva examination. Some examiners prefer to work through the thesis in the order in which it is written. Other examiners prefer to discuss topics. Very few examiners will perform a page by page criticism. You may be asked to prepare a presentation of your work in a suitable format.

You are not expected to know your thesis by heart, but to refer to the appropriate page when the examiners wish to discuss a specific point. Please ensure that you bring to the viva examination a copy of your thesis paginated in the same way as the copies you have submitted to the Research Degree Examinations Office.

Do not answer simply 'yes' or 'no' to questions; on the other hand do not give a prepared exposition. Try to answer the question as it is put, remembering that you are engaged in an academic conversation.

Be prepared to justify your ideas and conclusions. If the examiners challenge your interpretation but you feel that your case is a good one, muster your arguments and be willing to present your case firmly but courteously. However, if the examiners have identified a genuine weakness, concede the point gracefully. Even if you feel the examiners are unreasonably critical do not become argumentative or allow the discussion to become heated. You can agree to differ and to reconsider the point. If you make any comments to your examiners which put them under moral pressure (eg alluding to the consequences of failure for you) or if you offer any incentive to your examiners to pass you, they must terminate the examination and report to the Chair of the Research Degrees Committee via Research Degrees in the Registry.

Full details of the viva process

Outcome of the Viva Examination

The following are the three most common results and subsequent procedures:

Minor Corrections
18 Months Resubmission
Other Results

See details of the specific proceedures involved with each outcome.

Final Submission

You will receive a letter from Registry, which will be copied to your supervisor, instructing you to submit the following documents to Student

One final soft-bound copy of your thesis
An e-copy of your thesis and a Thesis Deposit Agreement form should be deposited to the Library via UCL's Research Publications Service (RPS). If you have any queries regarding this aspect of the process, please contact the Library directly at: open-access@ucl.ac.uk

Library e-copy instructions

Once you have submitted these, Registry will send a letter containing the confirmation of award and your reports to your contact address as you have recorded on Portico. The degree certificate will follow between two to four months after the official award date. UCL will also contact you about the date of your graduation ceremony.

General guidance for Research Degrees / UCL Registry