Postgraduate researcher FAQs

Updated 20 September 2021

Research study and progression arrangements

Wellbeing and support

Suspensions and extensions

Thesis examination

Do I need to be in Leeds?

We are looking forward to welcoming all our postgraduate researchers (PGRs) onto campus. However, for the start of the 2021-22 session, we realise some PGRs may not be able to travel to Leeds, or may not want to, due to the ongoing pandemic and travel restrictions.

If you are in your standard period of study:

  • You will only need to be on campus for the start of the 2021/22 session if you need access to research facilities to progress, have scheduled face-to-face teaching or your sponsor requires this.
  • If you do not need to be on campus for your research, you can choose whether you would like to be on campus or work remotely (this remains subject to supervisor agreement) up until 6th April 2022.
  • If you request remote study we need you to complete a ‘Change of Study Location’ request in GRAD if you have not already done so – see I am an International PGR with a Student Visa (formally called Tier 4), is there anything else that I need to do?

Under Government guidance for Student Visa (formally Tier 4) holders, we can continue to provide distance learning for sponsored international students who will transition to face-to-face (or blended) learning in the UK before 6 April 2022.

We expect that all PGRs will have transitioned to face-to-face learning in Leeds by 6 April 2022.

However, we also recognise that there may be questions around the return to campus arrangements as we get nearer to April. We will continue to monitor Government advice and will be able to offer further information and guidance in early 2022.

If you are in your overtime period

You will not be required to remain in (or return to) Leeds unless you wish to return and you are able to do so.

After 6 April 2022

For Student Visa (formerly Tier 4) holders, we must follow the guidance given by the Home Office which sets out a requirement for transition to face to face (or blended) learning to take place before 6 April 2022.

However, we also recognise that there may be questions around the return to campus arrangements as we get nearer to April. We will continue to monitor Government advice and will be able to offer further information and guidance in early 2022.

We are confident that this approach will allow us to return as safely as possible to an on-campus PGR experience, and make adjustments to our activity depending on the course of the pandemic.

What safety measures are in place on campus?

Please check our Working together to stay safe webpage for up to date information.

My home address is in a ‘red list’ country, is there assistance available to cover quarantine costs?

If you are required to enter managed quarantine in a hotel, we will provide the full government set cost of £1,750  if  you have booked on  or  before 11 August, or £2,285  if  you book  on or  after 12 August. This will be for each student who is self-financing their living costs and travelling from a home address in a red-list country or region.

The eligibility for this support is assessed on a case-by-case basis. To check if you qualify for the financial support, please complete our quarantine rebate eligibility check form. We will start processing completed forms from Monday 23 August and we aim to notify you of the outcome within seven working days.

Please keep evidence of your quarantine booking confirmation and receipt, as you will need these when you submit your claim.

In normal circumstances, the reimbursement will be paid via a credit on your fee account as a deduction to your second tuition fee instalment. If you have paid your tuition fees in full, other payment options will be discussed with you after you have submitted your claim.

Our policy is based on countries that are or have been on the red list up until 26 August and may be subject to change if there are UK government updates to travel policy and costs, and if alternatives to managed quarantine are available.

Should I be having supervision meetings and how?

Yes, please continue to have regular meetings with your supervisor/s and record the meeting notes in GRAD as usual. You should continue to record in your meeting notes any impact on your research plans or progress.

Where will PGR supervisions take place?

You and your supervisor have choices about how your supervisions are held. You can have your supervisions in person, remotely (eg via Microsoft Teams or other video streaming technologies), or as a hybrid set up (some parties are face to face whilst others in the meeting are video streaming).

With ‘hybrid’ working now being an accepted way of working we understand that both you and your supervisor(s) are likely to seek a flexible approach to supervision, with some meetings being in person and others remote. Together you should agree a meeting format that works for you.

It is recognised that with safe distancing measures in place, not all supervisor’s offices are currently suitable for meetings. In this instance, where face to face supervision is the preference, an appropriate meeting room should be booked by your supervisor via the University room booking system or via your local School/Faculty booking process. Please contact your Graduate School if you have any further questions.

I am an International PGR with a Tier 4 visa, is there anything else that I need to do?

For Student Visa (formerly Tier 4) holders, we must follow the guidance given by the Home Office which sets out a requirement for transition to face to face (or blended) learning to take place before 6 April 2022.

If you will be continuing your research remotely for the time being, or returning home in your overtime period, you will need to complete a ‘Change of Study Location’ request in GRAD.

This is so that the Graduate School knows where you are based and can support you during this period. Please indicate in the request that you are working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you have further questions, please contact the International Student advice team using your full name and student ID in any correspondence.

Can I amend my research project / timetable / plans?

Adjustments to individual research projects and plans can be supported to enable you to complete to your original (or an adjusted) timetable. This may include changes to the methodology, experimental design, plans for data collection, or refining the scope or the emphasis of the original project. You should discuss with your supervisor/s or Graduate School for further advice and support.

If you do need to adapt your research project, you can submit a COVID-19 impact statement alongside your thesis. This impact statement will be shared with your examiners. Please see our guide to the thesis examination process for further advice.

I have my Transfer viva coming up, how should I proceed?

We are expecting Transfer vivas to go ahead via video streaming wherever possible.  The policy on video streaming is available online.

We do not recommend delaying Transfer unless this is really necessary, but we acknowledge that some flexibility over both timing and the quantity of work submitted will need to be applied.  You will be able to record any impacts on your work as part of your progress review form in GRAD.

Please contact your Graduate School if you have difficulties with this or if you feel that your progress has been significantly affected by the current situation, and they will be able to advise you on how we can best support you (for example, by considering a delay to the date of the Transfer viva).

If you are disabled and you think that you need any reasonable adjustments or additional support to undertake your Transfer viva, please contact Disability Services who will be able to help you.

Where can I find more advice and support if I need it?

We are doing all we can to support you as effectively as we can. Your Graduate School should be your first point of contact for any PGR-related issues, and you can also talk to your supervisor or Director of PGR Studies. You can contact the Doctoral College and we will be able to put you in touch with the best person to answer your query if you are unsure where to go. The following sites may also be helpful:

What should I do if I become unwell with COVID-19?

Find out what to do if you have symptoms, test positive, or are required to self-isolate. You can also find out about support you can get. If you are unwell, we do not expect you to continue to progress your research or continue with supervision meetings, but please complete the ‘Authorised Absence’ workflow in GRAD to inform your Graduate School of your absence. You can find this under the Change Request menu on the right hand side of your GRAD record.

If you need to self-isolate, but feel able to continue with your research, you do not need to complete the authorised absence workflow, but you should let your Graduate School know if you need support.

What if I prefer to suspend my studies at the present time?

As is normally the case, you may choose to suspend from study for family reasons/special circumstances for up to a 12-month period, or if you are unable to progress your research at this time due to access to the resources you need or travel or other restrictions. You can apply for a suspension via GRAD (using the suspension/extension workflow under the change request menu). Please contact your Graduate School for advice if needed. They will also be able to advise on how this would affect your funding or Tier 4 visa if this applies to you.

It may also be possible to arrange a short, authorised absence from your studies. Please contact your Graduate School for advice if needed.

My work has been delayed due to the measures applied during the coronavirus pandemic. Can I apply for an extension?

Yes. Extension requests agreed between PGRs and supervisors and/or Directors of Postgraduate Research Studies will be approved when work has been affected by COVID-19. No additional fees are charged for a period of extension.

We accept extension requests within six months of the end of your standard period of study (for example in the last six months of your third year of full-time study, as stated in GRAD under the “Expected thesis submission date” field) as this will mean you will be in a good position to fully assess disruption, the amount of time lost and the length of extension required. This is a change in practice – previously we only accepted them within three months of the end of your standard period of study.

We have made it as easy as possible for a COVID-19 extension to be given, and the following light-touch arrangements are in place:

You can make your extension request earlier than normal under University policy (in the last 6 months of your standard period of study).

  • You can make your extension request earlier than normal under University policy (in the last 6 months of your standard period of study).
  • You only need to provide a very brief summary (1 or 2 lines) of the reasons for the extension and confirm the period of time needed so that we can better understand what support you might need.
  • You will not need to provide any additional documentary evidence in support of a COVID-19 extension request.
  • These arrangements will remain in place for any PGR who has been registered for study during the time of the pandemic.
  • Any COVID-19 suspension or extension which is approved will not count towards the maximum period of suspension or extension normally permitted under University regulations (24 months for full-time PGRs, 36 months for part-time).
  • If you would prefer not to document personal information into the GRAD workflow please contact your Graduate School, who can help with applying outside GRAD.

It is still our preferred approach that you wait until the final six months of your standard period of study to request an extension as by this point you will be in a much better position to assess the impact of COVID-19 on your project and timetable, and the amount of time needed to complete. However, if you wish to flag that you anticipate that an extension will be needed you can do this at any stage via GRAD. Contact your Graduate School if you need advice on how to do this.

You should continue to discuss with your supervisor/s any difficulties and disruption caused by the pandemic, and keep a record of this in your GRAD supervision meeting records. Keeping a log of issues and lost time in this way will make it easier when you come to make any extension request.

Why are blanket extensions not being given?

We want to ensure that there is no detriment to you in terms of the time you have available to complete and submit your thesis, but it is not possible to have a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Our approach seeks to be sensitive to this and to recognise the broad range of academic and personal impacts on individual PGRs and their projects. For this reason we are not putting in place blanket extensions of a pre-determined length for all PGRs. Instead, we will approve all requests which have been agreed with your Supervisor/s. We want to give you the length of extension you and your Supervisor have assessed is needed, based on how you and your project were affected by the pandemic, whether this is fairly short or for a much longer period of time. Please see the previous FAQ for more detailed advice.

Due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, I am likely to need to go into my ‘overtime’ year. Will I have to pay a fee for this?

In recognition of the potential disturbance to the usual timelines for PGR study caused by the current situation, we have decided to waive the overtime year fee for all PGRs whose overtime year fee would normally be due at any point up to 30 September 2022. You do not need to apply for this fee waiver: it will be applied automatically, but due to the way that our systems work, it will appear on your record as a scholarship to cover the amount of the fee charged.

I was not eligible for a funded extension. Will the University be able to help me further?

The University’s Hardship Fund is available if you find yourself in financial difficulty. Please remember that this fund is available to PGRs and you should seek advice from the specialist teams before deciding that you are not eligible for it.

I have my final examination coming up, how should I proceed?

Thesis submission is now online only. Theses should be submitted via GRAD as a PDF; bound hard copies are not required. The date of submission will be recorded as the date that the PDF was uploaded to GRAD.  Your Graduate School can provide advice and support if needed.

Arrangements will remain in place during the 2021/22 session for your viva to take place by video streaming, with all parties completing this process remotely. Arrangements for re-opening buildings and rooms on campus are progressing and depending on the circumstances and preferences of you and your examiners it may be possible to arrange a full or partial on campus viva, whilst ensuring that institutional and local health and safety guidance is followed. Your internal examiner will contact you about the arrangements for your viva after you have submitted your thesis. Please contact your Graduate School if you have any further questions.

You can find further information about the viva process in our  Guide to the Thesis Examination Process. A range of support is also available in the Doctoral College Minerva organisation.  Organisational Development and Professional Learning (OD&PL) are also offering mock video-streamed vivas for those with upcoming video-streamed vivas which will allow you to explore the video streaming environment and try out some general viva questions in a mock set up. If you are interested, please contact Dr Tony Bromley by email: t.p.bromley@adm.leeds.ac.uk.

If you are disabled and you think that you need any reasonable adjustments or additional support to undertake your final viva, please contact Disability Services who will be able to help you.

Can I inform my examiners about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on my thesis or my research plans?

Yes. We recognise that in some cases your research plans, and your thesis submission, may have to change from what you originally intended.

You can submit an impact statement alongside your thesis which discusses any impacts of COVID-19 on your research plans, and the choices made to respond to this. A template is available for this, which you can upload to GRAD alongside your thesis submission. Please see our guide to the thesis examination process for further advice. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) has produced advice on Doctoral Standards for Research Students and Supervisors which you may also find helpful.

The impact statement will be sent to your examiners with your thesis for examination.

A discussion of the impact may also be incorporated into the thesis, if appropriate. Your supervisor/s will be best placed to advise you on the most appropriate location and form for this discussion.

What is happening about graduation?

Please check our student FAQs for further information.