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Degree Committee for the Faculty of Physics & Chemistry

 

We understand this is a very uncertain time, and you may be worried about how coronavirus will affect your studies. The University is working hard with Departments to minimise the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on your studies and examination. You can find the latest advice, including a section specifically for research and taught postgraduate students, here. Do regularly check the page as it will be updated in response to the developing situation.

Although the University has shut its buildings, your supervisor, Department Postgraduate teams, Degree Committee and College are all still available remotely. We remain dedicated to giving you the support you need over this challenging period.

We have provided the following advice to postgraduate students in this Faculty, their supervisors and examiners. 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 online supervision, online lecture and online seminars. They are undergraduate-focussed but will still provide useful tips for postgraduate taught and research students and supervisors. 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.

 

PhD and MPhil by thesis students

Study outside of the University

  • 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 you should apply to work away through your CamSIS self-service. You do not have to do this if you are remaining in Cambridge. If you have been granted leave to work away because of coronavirus disruption and your requested end date is approaching please do not submit a new application at this point. Student Registry will contact you as soon as possible about options for extending your period away as appropriate. We appreciate that you might not be able to work at the same rate or carry out all activites and you might need more time for 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 you could consider applying for non-medical intermission (doing so may have funding and visa implications). Applications will be considered by Student Registry without going through the usual approval chain.

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. Until further notice all students should continue to work from home. 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.

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 their research 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 adaptions, 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 University facilities will return to full operation.

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 should apply for medical intermission (you don’t need to submit medical evidence).

Funding

  • Cambridge Trust and Gates Cambridge Trust funded students can apply for extensions to 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 UKRI FAQs and the UKRI Coronavirus Guidance pages for further information.

Fieldwork

  • If you have working away approved but no longer intend to travel please inform all approvers so we know where you are (your supervisor, Department Postgraduate Office, College, Degree Committee and Student Registry at recordsandexams@admin.cam.ac.uk);

  • If you are unable to return to Cambridge after an approved period of fieldwork you should apply to extend your work away through your CamSIS self-service if you are able to continue working on your studies, or intermission/extension if you cannot. You should advise the Insurance Office of any extended periods working away.

  • If you are coming to the end of your fieldwork you are advised to consider returning home rather than back to Cambridge (unless Cambridge is your home), if travel restrictions allow. If you decide to return home after your fieldwork please notify Student Registry at recordsandexams@admin.cam.ac.uk.

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. Students will be sent a link by the Degree Committee Office on receipt of their 'Intention to submit' form;

  • The Student Services Centre is not open to receive hardbound theses. Student Registry have arranged with JS Wilson Bookbinders to accept an electronic copy of your thesis for pinting and binding. They will store any hardbound theses bound by them until such time as the Student Services Centre re-opens. JS Wilson will inform Student Registry when your thesis has been bound and that date will be taken as the date of submission of your hardbound thesis. You can contact JS Wilson at https://www.jswilsonandson.co.uk/. If you do not use JS Wilson you may need to apply for an extension for the submission of your hardbound thesis explaining why you are unable to user their service – you can do this by emailing recordsandexams@admin.cam.ac.uk. You should continue to submit your e-thesis as normal unless informed otherwise by Student Registry.

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. Students will be sent a link by the Degree Committee Office on receipt of their 'Intention to submit' form;

  • Shortly before you submit 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 residence 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 remotely according to our published meeting schedule;

  • Confirmation of approval of corrections will continue as normal.

 First year assessments

  • If you submitted your first year report by 1 March 2020, your assessors should already have been in contact to make arrangements for your oral by video conference. If you have not yet heard from your assessors yet please get in touch with the Degree Committee office;

  • If you started in Michaelmas Term 2019 you should receive communication from your own Department Postgraduate Office no later than 13 April 2020. Their email will outline 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 financial need due to coronavirus you can apply for funding from the University's 'Postgraduate Hardship Funding' to cover unforeseen expenses (application should be made through your College Tutor);

  • Questions of academic support should be directed to your Department Postgraduate Office who are working remotely;

  • Questions about examination should be directed to the Degree Committee office who are working remotely.

 

MRes and MPhil by Advanced Study

Study outside of the University

  • 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. Applications will be considered by Student Registry without going through the usual approval chain. If you have been granted leave to work away because of coronavirus disruption and your requested end date is approaching please do not submit a new application at this point. Student Registry will contact you as soon as possible about options for extending your period away as appropriate;

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

Health

  • If you are self-isolating you may still be able to study. If this is not possible you should contact the 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.

  • At this time we still expect final results to be available for Degree Committee consideration at our September 2020 meeting.

 

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 Board of Graduate Studies, and Degree Ceremonies:

2019-20

2020-21