Progress monitoring and completion

You need to make good progress on your research and writing. In your own interests you should be producing written work from an early stage of your research. It is normal for supervisors to ask you early on to produce a literature review, to write papers on methodological questions, and to produce draft chapters or sections of chapters. Accordingly, the University lays down certain stages that your work should reach and also requires that your overall progress be monitored by the College.

Specific information for funded students

Students in receipt of funding to support their studies are required to maintain good annual progress throughout their studies. Progress is assessed as part of the University’s Annual Monitoring Review (further details below). You should be aware that failure to maintain satisfactory progress may result in the withdrawal of funding. Doctoral students are also required to have upgraded to PhD before they enter their final year of funding or their funding will be withdrawn.


National quality assurance frameworks require the University to have a procedure for monitoring your progress, to identify any problems, to suggest solutions and to make decisions about your registration, in line with the University’s Code of Good Practice for Annual Monitoring of Research Students

The Annual Monitoring Review is an important process in ensuring that all students receive appropriate and timely support and feedback on their progress in their doctoral studies. In the few situations where student progress is not satisfactory, it also triggers clear and focused communication to the student which should help to address the identified problem. Please note carefully the following points: 

  • Monitoring is compulsory for all research students. Any student who does not follow the College procedure may find their registration terminated.
  • Progress monitoring provides an opportunity for you to reflect on your own progress and to raise any problems that you feel may be affecting your work.
  • You will only be allowed to proceed in your degree and to continue your registration if you receive satisfactory reports on your progress. 

University policy on monitoring states that the purposes of monitoring are:

  • To assist the University in ensuring parity of provision and treatment for students across the University;
  • To identify problems either in a student’s programme of study or in the student-supervisor relationship;
  • To assess student progress in order to give feedback to the student;
  • To monitor the nature and frequency of research supervision and other facilities offered to postgraduate research students; and
  • To assist in making formal decisions about continued registration.

Your progress is monitored on an on-going basis through the MyPGR system. Alongside this, there are review points built in during the year. 

Submission of report

All students (including those on Full time, Part time, interrupted or Continuation status or who have submitted but waiting to do corrections or resubmission of their thesis this year) are asked to complete a report and you will be asked questions relating to your progress in your studies and your supervision. The forms will be made available on MyPGR and you will receive an email at the appropriate point in the year to let you know when they are available. 

Students and supervisors are required to complete independent annual report forms which are considered by a College review panel, which then makes recommendations on each student’s progression to the next year of study. The panel currently consists of the College Director of Postgraduate Research (CoDPGR), the relevant discipline DPGR, and the PGR Support Officer.

Where a student’s progress is deemed to be unsatisfactory their supervisor, on advice from the discipline DPGR/the College DPGR and/or the PGR Support Officer, is required to take appropriate action, in accordance with the University’s Code of Good Practice – Unsatisfactory Progress and Engagement. This will normally be a request that a formal written warning be issued to the student, specifying the work they are required to undertake, within a designated period of time, to rectify the situation. Where appropriate, this may also take the form of an action plan which should be placed on the student’s official College file and uploaded to MyPGR. This initial warning is usually issued by the PGR Support Officer. 

Supervisors are strongly encouraged and advised to raise matters of concern as and when they arise, rather than leaving issues until the annual monitoring review process.

Students should be mindful that the College can recommend de-registration on academic grounds outside of the annual monitoring process. This decision is never taken lightly and will only be recommended in cases where the student has been given prior written warning that their work is very unsatisfactory, or where the student has been given written notice of an appropriate period of time to produce satisfactory work, and the work has continued to be very unsatisfactory since the warning was issued.

The University lays down certain maximum periods of study for each programme. Full details can be found in the TQA manual

It is imperative that you submit your thesis, and that you are examined, in good time. The College and the University are closely monitored by funding bodies and the government to ensure that graduate students – whether publicly funded or not – complete their work in a timely fashion. The aim, in the case of a full-time PhD, is to ensure submission for examination after 3 years of registration and completion – that is, the deposit on Open Research Exeter (ORE) of an examined and (where necessary) revised thesis – within 4 years of registration. 

Unless an extension has been approved, registration is automatically terminated when the maximum period of study has been reached. In such circumstances students will not be allowed to submit a thesis and will not be eligible for the award of a degree.