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Degree Committee for the Faculty of Physics & Chemistry

 

We understand this is an uncertain time and you may be worried about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on your studies. The University is working hard with Departments and Colleges to minimise the disruption to your studies and examination. Preparations are now being made to welcome students to Cambridge for the academic year 2020/21.

The latest University advice, including a section specifically for research and taught postgraduate students, can be found here. Do regularly check the page as it is frequently updated in response to the developing situation.

Your supervisor, Department Postgraduate teams, Degree Committee and College remain dedicated to giving you the support you need over this challenging period. Do get in touch if you need any assistance.

Additional advice to postgraduate students in this Faculty who started their degrees in or before ET2020 follows. It should be read in conjunction with the University's advice, and anything provided by your College or Department. Contacts for further help and advice are also available below.

 

All current students

Teaching, learning and supervision online

  • The Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning has developed guides for teaching remotely, including sections on supporting postgraduate students, online supervisions, and lectures, classes & seminars. Recording online supervisions may be possible until face-to-face teaching resumes, subject to University conditions and appropriate permissions.
  • Cambridge University Press Online Learning Services have recorded Remote Teaching webinars available. Topics include maintaining student engagement remotely, communicating ideas online, keeping the conversation going, planning your course, and creating and managing your learning community.

Supervision reporting 

  • Supervisors should continue to submit termly reports through PFRS as usual, even if their students are working away from Cambridge.

 

Current PhD and MPhil by thesis students

Study outside of the University in Lent and Easter Terms 2020

  • You should continue to regularly ‘meet’ with your supervisor remotely;

  • You may wish to make your supervisor aware of any obstacles you are facing or challenges in your environment that might impact your ability to work. Doing so should help you agree realistic milestones or ways in which your work might be adapted;

  • Keep clear records of your work, progress and the disruption experienced due to COVID-19 to serve as a useful evidence base should one be required to support applications for extensions to funding and/or submission deadlines;

  • Try to maintain contact with other students in your group, and in your Department and College;

  • If you are studying remotely outside of Cambridge in LT or ET2020 you should apply to work away through your CamSIS self-service. You do not have to do this if you are remaining in Cambridge. See the Work Away pages for more information. We appreciate that you might not be able to work at the same rate or carry out all activites you would in Cambridge, and therefore might need more time to work on your thesis. Because of this you can apply to an extension to your submission date when you have a clear idea of the amount of additional time needed;

  • If there is absolutely nothing you can do on your project and you are not yet able to return to your department you could consider applying for intermission (doing so may have funding and visa implications).

PhD

  • Please talk to your supervisor to plan what work you can effectively do from home/outside of your department and what resources you need to carry on 'as usual' as far as is possible. Possible activities to discuss with your supervisor include background reading, collating results and data analysis, online training, and writing up work for thesis or publication.
  • The University is making plans to re-open buildings for research under strict protocols to meet social distancing requirements. This is a complex task and will take time. As the lockdown is eased, some postgraduate research students will be given permission to return to Cambridge to continue with their research. If this applies to you, you need to follow the advice from your Department or place of research. Otherwise, until instructed, students should continue to work from home. For further guidance you should read the University's protocol for the return of postgraduate research students to conduct research on University premises. If you are intending to take up College accommodation or to use College facilities in the coming months, you need to read the guidance for returning to College.

MPhil by thesis

  • The University is working on a plan to reopen buildings and research facilities when it is safe to do so, but this will not be immediate and buildings may not return to full occupancy for some time. As the lockdown is eased, some postgraduate research students will be given permission to return to Cambridge to continue with their research. If this applies to you, you need to follow the advice from your Department or place of research. For further guidance you should read the University's protocol for the return of postgraduate research students to conduct research on University premises. If you are intending to take up College accommodation or to use College facilities in the coming months, you need to read the guidance for returning to College. Not all students will be able to return. You should prepare for the possibility that you might not be able to return before your thesis submission deadline.
  • Students working on theoretical or computational projects should be able to complete their research effectively from home. Please talk to your supervisor about your individual situation, what you can realistically achieve with the resources available to you, and construct a clear plan for completion of your research and write up according to the usual timeframe where possible.
  • Students working on laboratory-based projects may have managed to acquire many results before lockdown, and some very few. This is understandable. We recommend that you complete your research using a mixture of the experiments you have already undertaken (both successful and/or unsuccessful) with extended written sections such as an extended literature review, critical evaluation of past and future experiments (including that might address any issues raised by your data), reinterpretation of pre-existing data, or computational analysis to expand on results. The exact nature and structure of your thesis will be dependent on your research area. Please work with your supervisor to develop the format of your thesis and ensure you have access to the resources you need to complete it.

  • We recognise that your thesis might not be what you originally planned to write but with appropriate adaptations, you should still be able to submit a timely piece of research that meets the requirements for the MPhil degree. You and your supervisor will be invited to provide a joint written statement on the impact of COVID-19 on your research and write-up, which will be used by your examiners to contextualise your thesis.

  • If your progress has been impeded by coronavirus and you need additional time you may apply for an extension to your submission deadline through your CamSIS self-service. We will be sympathetic to extension requests but before applying please do consider how an extension may affect your personal circumstances (financial, visa, future plans) and understand that we do not yet know when all University facilities will return to full operation.

Study from Michaelmas Term 2020

Supervisor guidance

  • Board of Graduate Studies guidance for supervisors of research students can be found here. It includes guidance on maintaining contact, student progress and support, first year assessment, final examination and other forms of support.

  • Supervisors should not be making any arrangements or provisional arrangements with their students for return to study in Cambridge.

Health

  • If you are self-isolating you may still be able to work on your research. If this is not possible you can take the period of self-isolation as part of your annual leave or apply for non-medical intermission;

  • If you contract COVID-19 you can apply for medical intermission until you are well enough to resume study (you don’t need to submit medical evidence).

Funding

  • UKRI funded doctoral students in their final year who have been impacted by COVID-19 can apply for a costed extension of up to 6 months. Students who have not yet submitted their thesis and whose funded period ends between 1 March 2020 and 31 March 2021 are eligible. See the UKRI Coronavirus Guidance pages for further information.

 

Submitting your thesis

PhD

  • Student Registry offices are closed and therefore are unable to receive soft-bound theses. Until normal operation resumes the Degree Committee will accept electronic thesis submission through a dedicated Moodle course. You will be sent a link by the Degree Committee Office on receipt of your 'Intention to submit' form;

  • The Student Services Centre is not open to receive hardbound theses but arrangements have been made with JS Wilson Bookbinders to bind and store theses, and record a date of hardbound thesis submission. See University guidance for more information.

MPhil by thesis

  • ​The Degree Committee office is closed and therefore is unable to receive soft-bound theses. Until normal operation resumes the Degree Committee will accept electronic thesis submission through a dedicated Moodle course. You will be sent a link by the Degree Committee Office on receipt of your 'Intention to submit' form;

  • Shortly before you submit your thesis the Degree Committee will ask you and your supervisor for a joint written statement on the impact of COVID-19 on your research and write-up;

  • You will be granted an automatic exemption of the requirement to keep Easter Term 2020 resident in Cambridge.

 Examination

  • While face-to-face contact is restricted vivas may take place by video conference if all parties agree, or be delayed until an in-person examination is possible. Additional arrangements may be required for revised examinations;

  • Examiners will be sent information about viva by video conference when they are appointed;

  • All parties must understand that in the event of any failure with the technology, before or during the viva, it will not be possible for the examination to continue and it will be necessary for the viva to be rescheduled. If the video conferencing link fails during a viva, the viva should not be resumed until the video link is up and running.  This is the case even if this means deferring to another day.  The viva should not be resumed via telephone;

  • Queries about research degree examination be directed to the Degree Committee office.

 Confirmation of outcome of examination

  • The Degree Committee and Board of Graduate Studies will continue to conduct its business according to our published meeting schedule;

  • Confirmation of approval of thesis corrections will continue as normal.

 First year assessments

  • If you started in Michaelmas Term 2019 you should have received email communication from your own Department Postgraduate Office outlining the submission deadlines and arrangements for your first year report. We understand your progress may have been affected by the coronavirus. If your circumstances prevent you from submitting your report by your deadline you may apply for an extension.

  • If you started in Lent Term 2020 advice will be available later in the summer. Arrangements made will depend on how long coronavirus restrictions are in place. Please be patient while we finalise the arrangements. In the meantime, you should proceed with your research and preparations for submission of your report according to the usual timelines.

Help and advice

  • Questions about pastoral care, welfare, finance and counselling should be addressed to your College. If you find yourself in unexpected financial need due to coronavirus you can apply for University Hardship Funds;

  • Questions of academic support should be directed to your Department Postgraduate Office;

  • Questions about examination should be directed to the Degree Committee office.

 

Current MRes and MPhil by Advanced Study students

Study outside of the University in Lent and Easter Terms 2020

  • Your Course Director will provide advice about studying from home;

  • You should continue to regularly ‘meet’ with your supervisor remotely;

  • If you are studying remotely outside of Cambridge you should apply to work away through your CamSIS self-service. You do not need to do this if you have remained in Cambridge. See the Work Away pages for more information;

  • You will be granted an automatic exemption of the requirement to keep Easter Term 2020 resident in Cambridge.

Health

  • If you are self-isolating you may still be able to study. If this is not possible you should contact your Course Director for advice;

  • If you contract COVID-19 you should notify your Course Director and apply for medical intermission (you don’t need to submit medical evidence).

Examination and assessment

  • Departments have reviewed all outstanding teaching and assessments for the academic year. For many of you, it will be possible to work effectively on remaining assessments from outside the University with the continued support of your Course Director, supervisor or relevant project supervsisor. Tools for online teaching, submission and assessment of work and for presentations will be used;

  • If the expected form of assessment for your course will change due to coronavirus your Course Director/Senior Examiner will have contacted you with relevant information by 3 April 2020. If you have any doubt about your assessment please contact your Course Administrator/Director directly;

  • Requests for intermission based on changes to modes of teaching and assessment put in place as a result of the current pandemic do not meet the criteria for intermission. Therefore, an application to intermit on this basis is unlikely to be approved, except in the most exceptional circumstances;

  • The Degree Committee expects to consider results and approve degrees at our September 2020 meeting as usual.

 

Offer holders for admission in 2020-21

Latest guidance for offer holders can be found here.

If you can't find the page you are looking for or find a broken link do let us know (please use the 'Contact us' link below).

Office closures

The DC 'remote' Office will be closed from 3pm on Friday 28 August 2020 for the August Bank Holiday. We reopen at 9am on Tuesday 1 September 2020.

Meetings schedule

Meetings of the Degree Committee and Degree Ceremonies:

2019-20

2020-21