UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


MPhil/PhD Handbook

Welcome to the MPhil/PhD Programmes

This handbook is designed to provide an overview of our MPhil/PHD programmes and introduce you to the UCL research community.

You must read this guide in conjunction with the SSEES Student Handbook, where you will find very important general information which can be found on the website.

We wish you the greatest success in your studies and look forward to meeting you during induction week.

Programme Overview

Enrolment and Registration

Enrolment and Registration is when you enrol as a student of UCL. It is very important that you attend for enrolment on the date and at the time specified in the e-mail which you will have received from the Registry. Fees are paid to the Registry. If your fee payment has not been processed at this point, your enrolment is provisional until your fees have been paid. At this stage, you will also collect your Student Identity Card, which is essential for many purposes, including registration in all UCL libraries and the University of London Library.

UCL has a student system, known as Portico – the UCL Student Information Service.  This enables you to take ownership of your own personal data by logging on to Portico. You will be expected to edit your own personal data – e.g. update your home and term addresses, contact numbers and other elements of your personal details.  Access is available via the web portal. You will be issued with a UCL User-id and password once you have enrolled. Please remember that your password will automatically expire after 150 days, unless it has been changed. Warnings to re-set it are sent to your UCL email address during a 30 day period prior to the expiry of your password.


All research students will have a primary and a secondary supervisor. In some cases, joint supervision can be arranged within SSEES and between SSEES and other UCL Departments. Students should meet regularly with their supervisor(s) to include tutorials, the discussion of previously submitted written work, and other relevant topics. Regular contact is essential for steady progress and a successful outcome. Supervisors fill out termly progress reports on each of their students, which are reviewed by the Head of Postgraduate Research. Should a supervisor be unable for any reason to continue in his or her role, the Head of Postgraduate Research will appoint a new supervisor. Any problems in this area should be communicated to the Head of Postgraduate Research. More information on the responsibilities of students and supervisors can be found in the UCL Code of Practice.

The Doctoral School Research Student Log

The Doctoral School Research Student Log provides a framework for recording the stages of progress of all research students and is a mandatory element of graduate research at UCL. Completion of the Log will be checked at various stages of your programme, including the Upgrade and Submission. The Log allows you to chart your progress through the degree programme, including key supervisions, self-assessments, and the development of academic and transferable skills during your time at UCL. You are strongly advised to make maximum use of the Log throughout your time as a UCL research student.  

The Doctoral School organises Induction Sessions in order to introduce new research degree students to the Doctoral Skills Development Programme and the Research Student Log.  The Doctoral School runs three such sessions during the year, but you only need to attend one. For dates and information on how to register, please see the Doctoral School website.

Training Needs Analysis and Participation in SSEES MA Courses

SSEES provides a full range of general and discipline-specific research training, and students can supplement this training by taking courses offered by the UCL Doctoral School. Research students should use the Personal Training and Development Planning tool in the Research Student Log to identify, in discussion with their supervisor, which training courses they need to attend, and then select a range of courses to be taken over the full period of their research degree.

New research students must meet with their principal supervisor within the first two weeks of the start of term and complete a Training Needs Analysis form, which should be returned to the Postgraduate Administrator. The Training Needs Analysis form must be completed at the start of each academic year.

Once training needs have been identified, research students may participate in MA course options taught at SSEES on the recommendation of their supervisor. Please note, however, that regulations prevent MPhil/PhD students from taking part in MA examinations.  Attendance is subject to there being sufficient room on the course and the permission of the tutor concerned. For updated information on which courses are running, please see the Module Catalogue.

Though it is expected that research students already possess the necessary level of language knowledge, additional training may also be required. Students may be allowed to take MA language courses, though please be aware that they must participate fully so that their presence is not disruptive to MA students. New languages are available to students with no prior knowledge of the language or of a closely related language. Intermediate and Advanced language training is offered in some languages, though interested students will have to pass a qualifying exam to establish their current level. If you are interested in language training, please discuss this with your supervisor as soon as possible, as places on language courses are limited.

SSEES MA Level Languages (including Russian)

PhD students at SSEES have the unique opportunity to participate in taught MA language classes if this is needed for their academic and/or professional purposes. The option to be part of a small, interactive and very intensive class requires full commitment to follow the course syllabus, this includes fulfilling all the requirements set before the MA students accepted to these modules in relation to attendance, submitting formative assessment, participating in class discussions, completing homework on time and other activities set by the tutor. These requirements might vary depending on specifics of each particular module and are essential as having non-prepared and lagging behind participants in a small group could jeopardise study for MA students for whom these classes are compulsory. Students should consult with the module leader prior committing themselves to the module. Failing to meet these requirements for the module can lead to student’s removal from the language course.

PhD students can’t be formally registered on Portico for these classes. Students on Russian courses are strongly recommended to commit themselves to take all assessments, including summative end-of-module exams if applicable. The module won’t appear on the official UCL transcript, but SSEES will issue a Certificate of attendance and successful completion of MA language classes with an option of the exam mark being stated on it.

In order to be admitted to one of the MA language classes, PhD students (who are not beginners) are required to complete a placement test during the induction week and present an endorsement for the class from their Supervisor (in form of an e-mail to ssees-research@ucl.ac.uk and, for Russian language, also to s.mcmillin@ucl.ac.uk)  - In order to progress to the next level of study (if one is available in the selected language) in the following year, a PhD student has to take the placement test again in the following year.

Please, note:

  1. Placement test for the Russian language modules (Tuesday, Induction week) is compulsory for all new students (except beginners). If for some reason you cannot attend the Russian entry test, please, contact MA Russian Coordinator Dr Svetlana McMillin (s.mcmillin@ucl.ac.uk) and an alternative time will be arranged for you.
  2. Depending on your performance we may recommend you put in extra work over the summer to bring yourself closer to the next level if you would like to continue with your language study. Please discuss your options with your language tutor and the MA Language Coordinator.

Other options available to research students for studying language at UCL:

  1. Attend/audit SSEES off–track language classes (these classes are two hours a week and are less intensive than the MA language modules, there is no exam at the end). This is subject to place availability and support from your Supervisor. Please contact ssees-research@ucl.ac.uk.
  2. Attend evening classes; a fee reduction is available to all PhD students at SSEES. Please contact eveningcourses@ssees.ucl.ac.uk.

SSEES PhD Training Workshop

All first year MPhil/PhD students must attend the SSEES PhD Training Workshop (PTW). Attendance to the PTW is mandatory, and part of the departmental prerequisite for the upgrade to PhD status. Students who cannot attend the training workshop for well-founded reasons are required to submit the full workshop materials and worksheets as a part of their upgrade portfolio. The PTW is design to assist  students in the first stages of development of their research project, covering topics which range from the structure of a PhD thesis to communication and dissemination strategies. Details can be found on the dedicated SSEES MPhil/PhD Student Information Page on Moodle.

Methods and discipline-based training

All research students at UCL are expected to take full advantage of the training on offer and should be aiming to participate in the UCL Doctoral Skills Development Programme and/or appropriate other activities to a degree equivalent to two weeks per year (20 points). UK Research Council funded research students are required by their funding bodies to participate in skills development training to a degree equivalent to two weeks per year of their funded studentship. Each training activity on the Doctoral Skills Development Programme website is assigned a number of points. A point is worth approximately ½ day of training: two weeks of training per year is therefore equivalent to 20 points per year (i.e. 60 points over 3 years, or 80 points over 4 years).

SSEES offers a variety of discipline-based and methods training courses, which research students can choose from in consultation with their supervisor, and according to the specific needs of their research project. Most full time research students are expected to complete their basic methodological training  during their first year (two years for part-time students), unless they can demonstrate prior equivalent training. A list of the basic and advanced training courses offered by SSEES can be found below:

All students may take additional training courses according to their needs and interests. Options should be discussed with supervisors and recorded on the Training Needs Analysis form.


Your upgrade from MPhil to PhD should take place between 9 and 18 months from registration (Part-time students: within 40 months). The process is set in motion by the submission of an application letter to the Departmental Graduate Tutor, briefly describing the research project and progress on it to date and indicating a preferred two-week period during the term for the upgrade viva.

An upgrade has possible outcomes: a pass; a fail; or resubmission of part(s) of the portfolio within no more than one month. Should a student fail the upgrade, the reasons will be discussed and detailed feedback and advice given. All students have the right to make a second attempt, which normally takes place approximately three but no longer than six months after the first attempt. (Part-time students: no longer than 10 months after the first attempt.)

You can find more detailed information about the Upgrade on the PhD Moodle page.


You can find comprehensive information the Viva examination on the current student pages. This explains the viva process, how to prepare, what will happen on the day and what the possible outcomes are. Please ensure you read this information carefully to ensure you have completed all the necessary steps for a successful examination.

Typical Timetable for SSEES MPhil/PhD Students

First Week

Meeting with Head of Postgraduate Research (Induction week)

Assignment / Confirmation of Supervisor(s)

Doctoral School Orientation & Introduction to the Research Student Log

Completion of ‘Training Needs Analysis’ form in consultation with supervisor

Within 1 month

Field of study agreed

Agreement of timetable for supervisory meetings and progress reports

Provision of necessary research equipment and facilities

Within 3 months

Agreement of thesis work plan, research method and timetable as far as the upgrade session

Agreement of and attendance at Skills Programme and making of arrangements for any further required training
By the end of the first 3 months (5 months for part-time students)

Presentation of a Literature Review, highlighting the principal trends in the literature and the leading conceptual problems. Approx. 3000 words.

6 months

Submission and assessment of progress report to supervisor (Research Student Log)
12 months

Application to Head of Postgraduate Research for Upgrade from MPhil to PhD (required of all students at start of second year except those wishing to remain in the MPhil programme)

Schedule of Upgrades for Autumn Term

Agreement of programme with supervisor for second year of study
12-15 months (15-30 months for part-time students)Upgrade Session for possible transfer of registration from MPhil to PhD
15-18 months (25-40 months for part-time students)Second Attempt at Upgrade (where necessary) for transfer of registration from MPhil to PhD

24 months

Submission of second year progress report

Agreement of thesis structure and strict timetable for thesis writing
30 monthsEntry for examination
36– 48 monthsSubmission of thesis


Research Activities at SSEES

Following student engagement and feedback, the School’s Research Committee has decided that from 2019/20 academic year, all PhD/MPhil SSEES students should affiliate with one or more of SSEES’s research centres and/or seminar series and be encouraged to become involved in their events and activities. The aim of this is to help our PGR students become more involved in the School’s research community, be further supported to develop as researchers and to develop their internal and external research profiles. Once you have decided which centre and/or series you wish to be involved with, please inform ssees-research@ucl.ac.uk.

Research Centres

Most forms of collective research are run through the School’s Centres. You should look out for notices or notes in your pigeon hole detailing when the Centres whose concerns most relate to your area of studies are planning an occasion. Such occasions range from weekly informal seminars to colloquia with prominent personalities or international conferences or study days. You are encouraged to become involved in the Centres as soon as you have found your way around SSEES and the Directors of the Centres will welcome a visit from you. For their preferred times, please refer to their office hours, or see if you can make an appointment.

Please see the SSEES website for the most up-to-date information on seminars and other research activities organised by the Centres.

Centre for New Economic Transitions

UCL hosts the Centre for New Economic Transitions to support the development of research in five broad areas:

  1. Institutions, innovation, and growth
  2. Financial markets, banking and financial fragility
  3. Social exclusion, political participation and migration
  4. Natural resources, energy, and security
  5. Statistics, in particular for the CEE region

The Centre provides a research environment for UCL faculty and PhD students. Its activities include running a regular seminar series and international workshops, editing a Working Paper Series, and supporting research financially.

The Centre comprises 14 co-investigators and 15 affiliate members from UCL and from universities in the UK and abroad (including Russia, the Czech Republic, Korea, Mexico, etc.).

The FRINGE Centre for the Study of Social & Cultural Complexity

The FRINGE Centre explores the roles that complexity, ambivalence and immeasurability play in social and cultural phenomena. A cross-disciplinary initiative bringing together scholars from the humanities and social sciences, FRINGE examines how seemingly opposed notions such as centrality and marginality, clarity and ambiguity, can shift and converge when embedded in everyday practices. Our interest lies in the hidden complexity of all embedded practices, taken-for-granted and otherwise invisible subjects. Illuminating the ‘fringe’ thus puts the '‘centre’ in a new light.

Post-Soviet Press Group

SSEES’s famous Post-Soviet Press Group (PSPG) provides a weekly opportunity to keep up with developments in the former USSR. We discuss Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic States, Moldova, the South Caucasian states and Central Asia, covering a wide range of topics, such as politics, the mass media, business, environment, NGOs, human rights, culture, economics and religion.

Members choose an area of interest to follow and report on and reports are normally provided on the full range of countries. Several guest speakers are normally scheduled each year. Past speakers have included Maria Alyokhina (Pussy Riot), Boris Akunin (Russian novelist), Shaun Walker (The Guardian), and Edward Lucas (formerly of The Economist).

Russian Cinema Research Group

The Russian Cinema Research Group is affiliated to the Centre for Russian Studies and was founded in the autumn of 2002. It draws upon the holdings of the SSEES film collection and on the expertise of staff working on Russian film in SSEES, UCL and other British universities.

The research group holds regular work in progress seminars and welcomes visiting scholars working in the field. It has hosted over 70 speakers, from the UK, Russia, the USA, Kazakhstan, France, Germany, Spain and Australia.

Research Student Seminar Series

SSEES MPhil/PhD students are expected to present their work in the SSEES Postgraduate Research Student Seminar Series. The Seminar is designed to give an opportunity to research students to present their work in front of a diverse audience which includes other research students, academic members of staff, graduate and undergraduate students, as well as external visitors. The nature of presentations varies according to the different stages of a PhD. MPhil students are required to deliver a presentation as a mandatory component of the upgrade to PhD; this first presentation is therefore focused on broader issues of structure, research design, conceptual and theoretical issues, and methodology. Students at more advanced stages can choose to present a recently completed chapter, discuss the results of fieldwork, or get some initial feedback on a paper prepared for publication. Details of upcoming seminar events will be sent to you via email, and further information about the seminar series can be found on the SSEES Website and on the SSEES MPhil/PhD Student Information Page on Moodle.

SSEES International Postgraduate Conference

As the name suggests, the SSEES Postgraduate Conference is an event driven and organised by SSEES graduate students, with financial and logistical support from the SSEES Research Committee. The conference takes place once every two years, and is designed to provide an opportunity for research students to present their work to a diverse international audience of young scholars working in related fields, as well take part in the increasingly internationalised network of researchers in Area Studies and all disciplines covered in SSEES. Previous conferences have been very successful in attracting high-calibre keynote speakers, participants from across Europe and North America, as well as financial support from a variety of external agencies. All SSEES research students are encouraged to join the conference organisation committee, which is usually formed during the summer before the conference is due to take place.


Flagship "SSEESing" evening events bring together both SSEES-based and external scholars and commentators to discuss and illuminate topics of interest to the general public relating to the SSEES region. The goal of these events is to help audience members navigate the multiple dimensions of topical issues, highlighting the expertise of SSEES members, as well as the School's engagement with non-academic actors and audiences. 

Study of Central Europe Seminar Series

The Study of Central Europe Seminar Series  seeks to promote research and teaching on the history, languages, literature, political culture, music, arts and society of those lands once part of the Habsburg Monarchy and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from the Middle Ages to the present, as well as on German-speaking Europe and the Baltic. These countries (in their present borders) include Austria, Belarus, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine. The approach to the region is multi-disciplinary, comprising history, languages and literature, culture, politics and economics.

South-East European Seminar Series

The South-East European Seminar Series promotes knowledge and discussion of South-East Europe through a variety of events (study days, seminars, briefings, conferences) and also plays host to the Alexander Nash Albanian Studies Programme.

Its activities are supported by the SSEES Library, whose holdings on South-East Europe comprise some 50,000 volumes including, notably, the Moses Gaster collection of old Romanian books, the collection bequeathed by Sir Arthur Evans, the Seton-Watson archive, and the wartime archive of King Zog of Albania.

Russian Studies Seminar Series

Every year, as part of the Russian Studies Seminar Series, SSEES presents a number of mini-series and one-off events (including the 'Modern Russian History Series' and 'Культура и общество современной России') which provide a forum for profiling cultural, historical, linguistic, literary and social sciences research into Russia, past and present. It promotes knowledge and discussion of Russia in the broader academic community and with the public at large.

Politics and Sociology Seminar Series

The SSEES Politics & Sociology Seminar Series brings together people interested in cutting-edge social science research relating to the SSEES region.

Involvement with Publications

The Slavonic and East European Review (SEER)

Founded in 1922, SEER is the oldest English-language journal of its kind. It is published quarterly for the School and is managed and edited by an Editorial Board comprising academic staff from the School and from other British universities, and an Editorial Secretary.

Articles on the languages, literature, history and societies of Russia and Eastern and Central Europe are complemented by a large review section. SEER receives from publishers 400-500 books a year, and the editors are always keen to hear from anyone interested in becoming a reviewer. A questionnaire for would-be reviewers is available from the Editorial Secretary, Barbara Wyllie.

Central Europe

Central Europe publishes original research articles on the history, languages, literature, political culture, music, arts and society of those lands once part of the Habsburg Monarchy and Poland-Lithuania from the Middle Ages to the present. It grew out of The Masaryk Journal, established by Katya A. M. Kocourek, then a postgraduate student of the School. The current editors are Dr Uilleam Blacker and Dr Thomas Lorman and more information can be found on their website.

Slovo: a Journal of Contemporary Russian, East European and Eurasian Affairs

Slovo, edited and managed by postgraduate students at the School, is an online journal which discusses and interprets contemporary Russian, East European and Eurasian affairs in an historical, political, social and cultural context. The journal provides a forum in which new ideas and interpretations of significant issues can be presented in an analytical rather than empirical form. The chief aim is to provide space for research students’ work, but contributions from academic staff are also welcome. Slovo is a refereed journal and is respected worldwide; it gives many postgraduates the opportunity of publishing their academic work for the first time. Any postgraduate interested in contributing articles/reviews or in assisting with the editing and production of the journal should contact the editors via e-mail slovo@ssees.ucl.ac.uk

Useful Programme Contacts

MPhil/PhD Programme Coordinator and Head of Postgraduate Research: Dr Kristin Roth-Ey 

Room 527, 16 Taviton Street


tel: +44 (0) 20 7679 8823

A&H Faculty Graduate Tutor: Dr Andrew Flinn 

Email: a.flinn[at]ucl.ac.uk 

UCL Postgraduate Administrator: Svetlana Smirnova 

Education and Student Support Office – Room 341, 16 Taviton Street


tel: +44 (0) 20 8138 7027 

The SSEES building is located at 16 Taviton Street, London WC1H 0BW.

The mailing address of the Department is:

School of Slavonic and East European Studies

University College London

Gower Street

London WC1E 6BT

IMPORTANT! If you encounter any academic or personal problems that may affect your studies, please contact Kristin, Svetlana or your supervisor as soon as possible! We are here to listen and help you. Always use your UCL email to contact UCL staff and include your student number; make sure you regularly check the UCL account (including Moodle) also during the second year.

Education and Student Support Office

The Student Support Office is based in Room 341 on the third floor of the SSEES building.   

Contacting the Office

Emailing your Programme Administrator: ssees-research@ucl.ac.uk  is the preferred and most effective method of communication with the Education and Student Support Office. The ESSO aims to provide a response or an update email to all student queries within 3 working days. While contracts will vary, UCL’s core working hours are Monday to Friday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. You should not expect academic and administrative staff to be available, check e-mail, and/or to respond to non-emergency requests outside these hours. For out-of-hours welfare support, please see www.ucl.ac.uk/students/support-and-wellbeing/evening-and-weekend-support

If you need to visit the Education and Student Support Office in person, the front desk is open during the following times: 

10:00 am – 4:00 pm on Monday-Friday

How we contact you

Email Communication

SSEES will mainly use email to contact you about various matters. When you register with Information Systems you will be allocated a UCL email address - this is the address which will be used to contact you. It is very important that you check your UCL email regularly.

Once your email has been set up, please ensure that you have set up a standard signature that shows your name, student number and programme. This will speed responses to your queries up when you email the Programme Administrator or other departments at UCL.

If you are unsure who to contact, please email ssees-student@ucl.ac.uk

You can also book an appointment in for a MS Teams call with your Programme Administrator.

Other Administrative Departments you may need to Contact

The academic administration of your course is managed locally at SSEES, but for most other administrative tasks you will need to contact central UCL administrative departments. Offices that it may be useful to be aware of include:

Term Dates

TERM                              DATE

First Term                    Monday 25 September 2023 to Friday 15 December 2023 

Second Term               Monday 8 January 2024 to Friday 22 March 2024

Third Term                   Monday 22 April 2024 to Friday 7 June 2024

College Reading Weeks are the weeks beginning Monday 6 November 2023 and Monday 12 February 2024

Closures and Bank Holidays

Christmas: 5:30pm on Friday 22 December 2023 to 9:00am on Tuesday 2 January 2024

Easter: 5:30pm on Wednesday 27 March 2024 to 9:00am on Thursday 4 April 2024

Bank Holidays: Monday 06 May 2024, Monday 27 May 2024 and Monday 26 August 2024

All Bank Holidays, and the College closure dates based on them, are the standard dates and may be subject to change by government.

The UCL Calendar 2023/24

Key Documents

There are several important documents that include key information relating to your programme, your responsibilities as a student, and the rules and regulations that govern your registration. These can all be accessed via the ‘Current Students’ page of the SSEES Website: Postgraduate Resources.

Student Handbook

The Student Handbook contains key information relating to the operation of your programme within SSEES, including details about key dates, coursework submission, penalties that may be applied to your assessment, and contact details. This document is updated annually to reflect any changes in policy and it is important that you ensure you refer to the handbook for the appropriate academic year.


Please ensure that you check the timetable regularly for any changes, including changes to the location of your classes.

Support for Students

Starting a course at a new university, possibly in a new city or even country can be a daunting experience for anyone, regardless of age or background. The most important thing to remember is that there are many sources of advice and support available for every aspect of your life at UCL from the moment you arrive until you graduate and beyond.

Full details of the support available to you can be found on the New Students pages and on the Support & Wellbeing pages. You’ll also find some key links below.

Students with physical or mental health concerns are encouraged to make contact with the available support services as early as possible so that UCL can put in place reasonable adjustments to support them throughout their studies. However, there may be occasions when a student’s physical or mental health, wellbeing or behaviour is having a detrimental effect on their ability to meet the requirements of their programme, or is impacting on the wellbeing, rights, safety and security of other students and staff. In such cases UCL may need to take action under the Fitness to Study Procedure.

Further Information

Support to Study Policy

Fitness to Study Procedure

Student Disability Services

Student Psychological Services

Student Support and Wellbeing

UCL Union

UCLU Advice Service

Student Enquiries Centre