Postgraduate researcher FAQs

Updated 27 November 2020

Can I access campus?

Campus is open, but we are asking everyone, including PGRs, to work from home whenever possible in order to limit the number of people there.  However, we recognise that for some people, access to research facilities is needed to progress with work.  In most cases, you will already be liaising with your supervisor and your School, and will have started to access what you need.  If you haven’t, please speak to your supervisor.

The library is open and is offering a click and collect service and bookable study space across campus is available.  The Edge and catering outlets are open offering facilities for those on campus, and if you need any face to face support when you are there, there are four new Student Information Points that are able to help all students and PGRs.

Stringent safety measures have been taken to ensure that campus is a safe place to be.

Do I need to be in Leeds?

Campus is open, but PGRs are currently still being asked to work from home whenever possible. However, for some PGRs, access to research facilities is needed to progress with work. These access arrangements will be managed by academic schools.

If your particular research project can be progressed without being on campus, you may continue your research remotely (whether overseas or in the UK) during the 2020/21 academic year.

If you are in your overtime period you will not be required to return to Leeds during the 2020/21 academic year, unless you wish to return and you are able to do so.

The position will be reviewed and further guidance issued plans to fully return to campus develop. We will continue to monitor Government guidance and if and when this changes, we will advise you accordingly.

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

If you are in your standard period of study, and your particular research project can be carried out remotely, we will support you to continue your research degree remotely, provided that you intend to return to Leeds to complete your research degree studies as soon as circumstances allow.

If you are in your overtime period there is no requirement for you to remain in the UK. You will not be required to return to Leeds unless you wish to return and you are able to do so. If you will not be returning to the UK (for example if you will be submitting your thesis and taking your viva remotely), we may not be able to continue to sponsor you under Tier 4. Please contact the International Student advice team. Please use your full name and Student ID in any correspondence.

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’ workflow in GRAD.  This is so that the Graduate School knows where you are based and can support you during this period. The University is not currently required to report your change of study location to UKVI.

Supervision meetings should continue as outlined above, and should be recorded in GRAD.

Please see our visas and travel pages for further advice.

Should I be having supervision meetings and how?

Yes, please continue to have regular meetings with your supervisors 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.   Meetings can be arranged via video streaming (e.g. Teams) or telephone, and if you and your supervisor deem it to be necessary, they can now take place in approved spaces on campus with social distancing measures in place.  If you would like to do this, please speak with your supervisor.

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

Find out what to do it 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.

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 during this very unusual time.  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 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. We have already indicated that we will treat sympathetically all extension requests from PGRs whose work has been affected by Covid-19. By this, we mean that we expect to support all requests for additional time which have the support of your supervisor(s) or Director of PGR Studies. At Leeds, we normally only accept extension requests within three months of the end of your standard period of study  (as stated in GRAD under the “Expected thesis submission date” field ). This is still our preferred approach, but if you wish to flag that you anticipate that an extension will be needed you can do this now via GRAD. Contact your Graduate School if you need advice on how to do this.

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

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

We also continuing to explore whether we are able to expand our support for funded extensions, and unfortunately we do not have any more information on this at present.  The University’s Hardship Fund is available if you find yourself in financial difficulty.

I am a PGR employed by my School as a teaching assistant or demonstrator, what do I need to know?

There are a series of FAQs specifically for PGRs who teach and/or demonstrate.  If you have questions not covered here, please contact your Faculty HR Manager.

Many classes are being delivered online this academic year, so you may be able to continue working remotely.  Please contact your School or Faculty for further information.

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 2021. 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 have my First Formal Progress Review or Annual Progress Monitoring meeting coming up, how should I proceed?

First Formal Progress Reviews and Annual Progress Reviews are continuing as normal. Please contact your Graduate School if you feel that your progress has been affected by the current situation, and they will be able to advise you on how we can best support you.

You will be able to record any impacts on your research plans as part of your progress review form in GRAD.  These review points will provide an important opportunity for you to discuss adjustments, contingency plans or other action that might be needed.

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 to download.

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.

How can I submit my thesis?  Will I need to submit a printed copy?

In response to the current situation, we have moved to online thesis submission 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.

The University has also withdrawn the requirement to submit a hard bound copy of your final, corrected thesis for the award of your degree. You only need to upload a PDF copy of your thesis to White Rose Etheses Online. This can be carried out remotely.

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

At the current time, the expectation is that the majority of final vivas will continue to be held by video-streaming. The policy on video streaming is available to download.

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 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.

We are aware that some PGRs may need to arrange to be on-campus for their viva due to the nature of their research. Please contact your Graduate School so arrangements can be considered if this is applicable to you.