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Degree Committee for the Faculty of Physics & Chemistry


All potential PhD students in the Faculty are PROBATIONARY in the first year and progression to the second year (and registration for the PhD) will depend on a successful first year review.

  • Almost all research students in this Faculty will undergo a formal probationary review before the end of the first year
  • CDT students whose courses have a 1+3 structure are assessed at the end of the 2nd year of the programme (end of the first PhD year)
  • CDT students whose courses do not have a 1+3 structure will have special arrangements for their assessment - this will happen between the end of the first and second years (you will receive full details on appointment)

In all cases, the processes are based on those for the examination of a PhD thesis. 


Assessor appointment

For the probationary review, the Department nominates and the Degree Committee appoints:  

  • two internal assessors, neither of whom is the student's supervisor and at least one of whom should be from outside their immediate research group.


Assessment process

A brief outline of the assessors' role is set out below. Appointed assessors will be emailed a more detailed Guide to Probationary Review for Assessors, Supervisors and Departments ​and forms for making their reports. These are also available in the Examiners group on Moodle (Moodle Guide for Assessors).

  1. The Degree Committee Office will arrange for you to access the report through Moodle and ask you to contact the student to arrange an oral at the earliest opportunity. To allow sufficient time for appointment of assessors and checking/release of reports we recommend you do not arrange a viva date within the 7-10 days after the report submission deadline.
  2. Prior to the oral, you are asked to complete a brief pro-forma independent report.
  3. Immediately after the oral, you compose a joint report addressing at minimum the following points:
    1. based on the evidence you have seen and heard, is the candidate likely to have the aptitude for doctoral research? and
    2. is the project likely to yield a thesis of doctoral standard within the normal time-scale for a PhD (3-4 years of full-time research, including the probationary year)
  4. Within a few days of viva, all the reports should be submitted to the Degree Committee via Moodle so a decision on registration can progress.

Please note that your reports and recommendations will be made available to the student, the supervisor and the Department as part of our decision-making and feedback processes. You should also feel free to offer the student and supervisor advice on points that need to be addressed to improve the candidate's chances of success in the PhD (e.g. suggesting lecture courses to attend).


Assessor fee

Assessors who are University officers cannot claim a fee. The following positions are not eligible for the fee:

  • Professors / Readers (except honorary) 
  • University Associate Professors / University Senior Lecturers
  • University Assistant Professors / University Lecturers
  • Assistant Directors of Research
  • Senior Assistants in Research
  • Clinical Lecturer
  • Director/Assistant Director (e.g. of an Institute within the University)

Assessors who are College Teaching Officers, Research Associates, Associate Lectures who receive no stipend from the University, and others not employed by the University in the way described above may claim a fee for each assessment they carry out.

Eligible Assessors should complete the claim form for examiners of postgraduate research courses and sent it after the viva to the Degree Committee Office by email or post. Payments are authorised by the Degree Committee but made by Student Registry; in busy periods payment can take up to 12 weeks.


Certificate of Postgraduate Study (CPGS)

The first year registration exercise is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the CPGS, as historically students were examined for this award at the end of their first year of study. This is no longer the case. The assessment is an exercise at the end of the probationary research year to determine if the student should be registered for the PhD, another degree/award, or no award at all. The CPGS is now reserved in most cases as an exit award for students who do not wish to continue to the PhD after one year, or fail the probationary review even after a further attempt. The award can normally be made on the strength of a report submitted for a probationary review or thesis submitted for a masters degree, and viva; if this is the case, you may be asked to say whether or not the report/thesis is suitable for the CPGS.

If, in the unlikely event we ask you to examine a report specifically for the CPGS, the Degree Committee will provide you with the full details of the procedure and report/claim forms.

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

Office closures

The Degree Committee for the Faculty of Physics & Chemistry will be closed from 5pm on Thursday 28 March 2024 and will reopen again on Tuesday 2 April 2024.
Research degree theses should still be submitted by your submission deadline even if that falls over the holiday period.