These guidelines have been approved by the Board of Studies in the School of Sport, Health & Exercise Sciences (SSHES) for the management of the research training and the support of postgraduate research students (PGRs) in the School. They supplement the Bangor University and College of Health and Behavioural Sciences guidelines and regulations and are consistent with the QAA for Higher Education UK Quality Code for Higher Education. They are intended to provide both students and supervisors with an understanding of the specific research training management procedures in SSHES and with their rights and responsibilities. The guidelines are written with full time PhD students in mind. However, the management of part time PhD students and full and part time MPhil students should utilise the same procedures wherever possible. Any time limits mentioned apply to full time students and should be adjusted appropriately for part time students. Similarly, the guidelines are written with the assumption that students start their studentships at the beginning of the academic year. Any dates mentioned should be adjusted appropriately for students commencing their studies at other times of the year.
The aim of our research training programme is to develop students' potential as independent researchers who operate from a theory-driven perspective and can address both theoretical and applied questions using a wide variety of research methods. Our students are expected to develop a very sound understanding of a broad range of analytical techniques, underpinned by a strong conceptual grasp of research processes and their underlying philosophies. Flexibility and adaptability in selecting ways of answering particular questions are encouraged. We aim to develop strengths in written and verbal communication and presentational skills so that students are able to effectively communicate with both expert and lay audiences through a variety of formats. Our emphasis is very much on research training in a broad sense, rather than just training to produce a particular thesis. Thus we are also committed to the all-round academic and professional development of our students. To this end, our students are actively involved in the research, teaching and administrative aspects of the School's work and, where appropriate, work opportunities external to the School. The School is well-known for its learner-centred approach to both undergraduate teaching and postgraduate research training and has been a leader in developing this ethos throughout the University.
Overall management of research training in the School is the responsibility of the Director of Postgraduate Research, under the direction of the Head of School. The Director's specific responsibilities are:
Formal applications are channelled through the University's Admissions Office or, in the case of international students, through the International Education Centre. Potential students will normally have a Masters degree or at least a First Class undergraduate degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline and be able to demonstrate an acceptable level of understanding of research methods and data analysis appropriate to their discipline.
In many cases applicants will already have identified a member of staff as a potential supervisor and discussed with him or her the topic of the research. In cases where a potential supervisor and research topic have not been identified, applicants are required to present a brief proposal of the research topic that they are interested in pursuing. The Director of Postgraduate Research will seek to match such applicants with an appropriate supervisor. Where a successful match is found, and the applicant has funding, the Admissions Office will make a formal offer of a place to the potential student. The first year of registration will in all cases be provisional. Students will proceed to full registration in year two subject to satisfactory progress as outlined below. Students whose first language is not English will normally be expected to have achieved a score of at least 6.5 on standardised English language tests (IELTSs). The School operates an equal opportunities policy with respect to PGR admissions. Special provision can be made for students who wish to submit their work through the medium of Welsh.
At the heart of the research training management process is the Thesis Committee, whose role is to oversee the student's research training and professional development and to monitor and evaluate progress towards a timely completion of the thesis. The intention is to identify and cater for individual student needs, to spot problems as early as possible and to implement mechanisms for recovery from such problems.
The Thesis Committee will typically consist of a principal supervisor, a second supervisor, a chairperson and the student. The Chair will be selected by the supervisor with the agreement of the student. The responsibilities of the Chair are to assist in monitoring the progress of the student's research training and thesis, to monitor the quality of supervision provided and to ensure that a good student-supervisor relationship is maintained. A chair for the Thesis Committee should be identified and introduced to the student no later than two weeks after the student has started.
All supervisors will be approved by the Head of School. New supervisors (those who have not previously supervised at least one research degree to completion) will be supported by a second, more experienced supervisor. In line with University regulations, no member of staff can be a principle supervisor for more than six PGR students. New members of staff should discuss these Guidelines with the Director of Postgraduate Research at the earliest opportunity.
The Thesis Committee will ensure that the procedures for PGR development reviews and progression decisions are followed and PGR reports completed, as decribed in Development Review, Monitoring and Progression below.
In the first instance, it is the Thesis Committee Chair's responsibility to deal with unsatisfactory progress. If the problem persists then the matter is referred to the Director of Postgraduate Research who may take action or may refer the matter on to the Head of School.
The Thesis Committee Chair can be a strong source of social and academic support for both the student and the supervisor. The Chair should, therefore, take an active interest in the student's research training. They should meet formally or informally with students on a regular basis (at least once per semester) to discuss progress.
The First Supervisory Meeting
Normally, the aim of the first supervisory meeting is to establish and clarify the expectations, rights and responsibilities of each member of the supervisory team and should address the following issues:
Each student's training needs will be identified at the start of the studentship by the supervisory team and reviewed as the research progresses. Most training is arranged and provided for on an ongoing basis by the supervisor(s). Typically, if they have not already done so, PGR students will complete the SSHES Masters level module Research Skills (20 credits).
The University's Doctoral School offers a wide range of workshops in research methods, professional development and transferable skills for PGR students. Students are strongly encouraged to take full advantage of this provision.
Registration is probationary in the first year. Full PhD registration is confirmed at the end of the first year subject to satisfactory progress and successful verbal and written presentations, as outlined below. Students can be withdrawn from the PhD programme or downgraded to MPhil at any point in their studentship if progress is deemed unsatisfactory by the Thesis Committee and Director of Postgraduate Research, after being given sufficient warnings and time and support to get back on track.
The principal supervisor will keep a record of Thesis Committee meetings and decisions. Records of the meetings will normally be taken and written-up by the student and endorsed as correct by all members of the Committee.
Supervisor(s) and students are encouraged to keep a brief record of all supervisory meetings which will be written-up by the student and endorsed by the supervisor(s)
The School operates a process of PGR development review and monitoring, in line with the University and Doctoral School requirements. The aims of the process are:
The development review process is focused on a set of criteria which outline the expected progression in students' capabilities in the following areas:
The review forms the basis for the completion of annual monitoring forms (PGR1 and PGR2, available from the U: Drive at U:\College of Health & Behavioural Sciences\SSHES\Teaching and Learning\PGR Annual Review) required by the University and Doctoral School. Full details of the development review and monitoring processes can be seen here and also found on the U: Drive at U:\College of Health & Behavioural Sciences\SSHES\Teaching and Learning\PGR Annual Review.
The Interim Proposal
During the fourth month of the first year (normally January for the standard Autumn start) students will deliver a verbal research presentation to the School. The content is flexible and will be agreed with the supervisor(s) and could be a proposal of planned studies, a general outline of the research area or questions of interest or a presentation of data. The content must be work generated since the start of the PhD (i.e., not work done previously at Masters level). The presentation will last 20 minutes and there will be 10 minutes for questions. Whenever possible an Interim Proposal Day will be arranged where several students present together. In addition, by the time of the Interim Proposal students will submit a written document of at least c.5000 words to their supervisor(s) to accompany the verbal presentation. Following the presentation the Thesis Committee will meet with the student to discuss progress and provide feedback. The supervisor(s) will complete a brief progress report pro-forma to submit to the Director of Postgraduate Research.
The Formal Proposal
During the ninth month after initial registration (normally June for the standard Autumn start) students will give a formal verbal presentation to the School of their research proposal and/or the results or preliminary results of their first study/studies, and a proposal for future studies. The presentation will last 30 minutes and there will be 20 minutes for questions. Whenever possible a Proposal Day will be arranged where several students present together. Immediately following the presentation the Thesis Committee will meet without the student to discuss the student's progress and development and, based upon the verbal presentation and written work completed to date, determine whether sufficient progress has been made to warrant progression beyond the probationary period. For this meeting the Committee will co-opt at least one other member of staff who is independent of the student's supervisory team. The student will then be invited to join the meeting to discuss the Committee's decisions and recommendations. The Committee will formally record:
Supervisors should be familiar with the following documents:
The specific responsibilities of the supervisor(s) with respect to full time PhD students are:
1. To give guidance to the student in choosing an appropriate research topic, in understanding the nature of a higher degree and the standards expected, in planning the research programme, in registering for appropriate ERDPmodules, in coordinating other aspects of the student's research training and in preparing and submitting the thesis.
2. To ensure, right from the start of the studentship, that the student is aware of the issues surrounding the ownership of intellectual property. In particular, the supervisor and student should come to an agreement about the issue of order of authorship of publications that may arise from the student's research. These issues should be re-addressed periodically throughout the studentship.
3. To maintain contact through regular meetings (normally weekly).
4. To be accessible to the student at all other reasonable times.
5. To create a supportive environment in which the student feels comfortable in discussing their social and personal well-being, and to help overcome any problems should they arise.
6. To request written work as appropriate and within agreed time limits and to return such work with detailed constructive comments within a reasonable time. As a rough guideline, such written work might be requested about once per month and students might normally expect to have it returned within two weeks.
7. To ensure that students take an active part in the management of their own research training.
8. To identify weaknesses and to ensure that students are made aware of any inadequacies in their work or progress and to help them overcome any such weaknesses or inadequacies.
9. To ensure, where appropriate, that the student is socially integrated into the School and that they take an active part in the School's activities.
10. To act as the student's line manager for any work that they do within the School and to ensure that the student is not exploited in any way within the School (see the Guidelines for Postgraduate Teaching-Related Work).
11. To assist, where appropriate, in the further academic, professional and personal development of the student.
12. To make every effort to ensure that full time students submit a thesis within three, or at very most, four years of commencing their studies.
Students should be familiar with the following documents:
1. Students should familiarise themselves with the Univerity regulations on time limits and submission of theses.
2. Students can expect to receive supervision at least to the level described in the previous section.
3. Students will receive all the normal benefits of registration for a higher degree provided by the University including access to the library and computing facilities, the Student's Union and the University sports and recreational facilities. In addition, full time students will be provided with as much office space as is reasonably possible within the SSHES building, a desk, lockable filing cabinet and other storage space, and a key to the building and their office. They will have access to stationary and a telephone and will be given a photocopy code to allow unlimited access to the photocopying facilities. Students are expected, however, to exercise appropriate restraint in their use of stationary, the telephone and the photocopiers and they will be billed for personal telephone calls. The School will provide as many high specification personal computers and printers etc. as is possible, linked to the University network and hence e-mail and the internet, for the sole and unlimited use of research students. Students will have virtually unlimited access to Inter-Library Loans, although again reasonable restraint is expected and all such loan requests must be channelled through the supervisor.
4. Students are expected to take an active part in the management of their own research training. They should be prepared to discuss the student-supervisor relationship and their perceived training needs in a frank and open manner in meetings with the Thesis Committee and/or its individual members.
5. Students can normally expect to receive some financial support from the School to attend conferences provided that they are presenting at the conference and that they also make the presentation to the School (normally prior to attending the conference).
6. Students are expected to contribute up to 100 hours per year in assisting with teaching and other duties within the School. This figure may be adjusted to comply with funding agency guidelines in the case of externally funded students. Such work must be developmental in nature. That is to say, it should contribute to the student's academic/professional development. This might include lecturing, running/assisting with seminars or labs, some types of marking, etc. The student's supervisor will be the line manager for this work and will normally have first call on their own student's time. It is up to the student and supervisor together to ensure that these hours are not exceeded (unless it is agreed to be in the student's own interests) and that the work is appropriately developmental. Other, paid work may be available from time to time. Any such work opportunities within the School will be offered to the student(s) deemed to have the appropriate skills for the task, taking into account overall workloads and training needs.
7. Each year the research student body will elect two student representatives. These will be in at least the second year of their studies. The representatives' role is to represent student opinion to the School and the Director of Postgraduate Research, to disseminate information to other students on behalf of the Director of Postgraduate Research, and to represent the School's research students to the University's Postgraduate Forum.
8. Students are normally expected to attend the Research Seminar Programme in the School and are encouraged to make presentations themselves on the Seminar Programme.
9. Students are normally expected to take a full and active part in the life of the School and are expected to be seen working in the School on a regular basis. The expectation is that students will work at least 37 hours per week for 44 weeks per year.
10. It is the student's responsibility to inform their supervisor when they are away on holiday etc. and of any change in circumstances or problems that may affect their work.
11. Students should try to deal with any disputes or problems with their supervisor directly with the supervisor him or herself in the first instance. If this fails or is not possible, they should speak to their Thesis Committee Chair or the Director of Postgraduate Research. Students may also approach the Head of School. Problems are usually more easily and satisfactorily resolved at the most local level, however, and an early and frank discussion with the supervisor will usually prevent small problems from becoming big ones.
12. Wherever possible, disciplinary matters will be dealt with within the School by the Director of Postgraduate Research and/or the Head of School.
13. Like all members of the School, students have a responsibility to maintain the security of the SHES building and to ensure a healthy and safe working environment. Students should ensure that the building is always locked after six o'clock in the evenings and at all times at weekends and should report any potential health and safety problems to the Health and Safety Officer.
The thesis will be examined in accordance with Bangor University Regulations. The examining board will consist of the Director of Postgraduate Research (or a deputy) as Chair, the external examiner and the internal examiner (or two external examiners in the case of a staff candidate). The supervisor may not act as internal examiner, but may be invited to attend the viva voce examination with the prior consent of the candidate. At the end of the viva voce students will be given the opportunity to comment on the supervision they have received in the absence of the supervisor. Students will normally be informed of the examining board's decision immediately after the viva voce examination.
Any enquiries about research student admissions or any other research student affairs should be directed to the current Director of Postgraduate Research: