Postgraduate researcher FAQs

Updated 1 June 2020 16:55

We are closely monitoring government advice and we’ll be regularly reviewing our approach and updating this web page as matters develop.

Now that the University campus is closed, what should I do about my research?

PGRs are asked to work from home wherever possible and not to try to access labs or other research facilities.  Please discuss with your supervisor how you can continue to progress your research remotely.  This might mean making some adjustments to the order in which you were planning to do things or to the type of work you were planning to be undertaking at this stage.  Please try to be flexible wherever possible.

Should supervision meetings still be taking place?

However you are affected by the current situation, please continue to be in regular (monthly) touch with your supervisors.  Meetings can be arranged via Skype, Teams or telephone.  Record notes of all meetings in GRAD, and please document there any impacts on your work of the current situation (Including anything that you are unable to do: for example, accessing labs, archives or other facilities or carrying out fieldwork).

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

As far as possible, we expect all progress monitoring to continue as normal.  However, 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 (for example, by delaying the date of the monitoring meeting).  It has been agreed that our usual regulations about the need for progress reviews to take place via face-to-face meetings can be relaxed under the current circumstances.  This means that First Formal Progress Review and Annual Progress Monitoring are allowed to be ‘paper-based’ exercises only, recorded on GRAD in the usual way.  Your Graduate School can provide further advice if 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 stream is available to download.  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 agreeing a delay to the date of the Transfer viva).  

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

Final vivas should go ahead via video streaming wherever possible.  The policy on video stream is available to download.  If you prefer to postpone and rearrange your viva, we will be happy to support this.  If you are not going to be able to meet the expected deadline for submission because of the current situation, please contact your Graduate School and we will help you to arrange an extension if needed.

I cannot get my thesis bound and/or come onto campus to submit it, what should I do?

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.

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

If you choose to return home, rather than remaining in the UK, we will of course continue to support you remotely. If you return home, you will need to complete a ‘Change of Study Location’ workflow in GRAD.  This is so that the Graduate School knows your whereabouts and can support you during this period.  Supervision meetings should continue as outlined above, and should be recorded in GRAD.

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.

What should I do if I become unwell?

Should you become unwell, please follow the advice on the university’s website regarding self-isolation.  You can also find sources of support there.  If you are unwell, we do not expect you to continue to progress your research or continue with supervision meetings.  Please complete the ‘Authorised Absence’ workflow in GRAD to inform your Graduate School of your absence.

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 within your period of study. You can apply for a suspension via GRAD.  Please contact your Graduate School for advice if needed.  They will also be able to advise on how this would affect your funding if this applies to 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 usual during this very unusual time.  Your Graduate School should be your first point of contact for any PGR-related issues.  You can also contact the Doctoral College on doctoralcollege@leeds.ac.uk and we will be able to put you in touch with the best person to answer your query.  The following sites may also be helpful:

Due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, I am likely to need to go into my ‘overtime’ year in October 2020. 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 agreed to waive the overtime year fee for all PGRs whose overtime year fee would normally be due in October 2020. You do not need to apply for this fee waiver: it will be applied automatically.

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 the standard time period for your candidature (as stated on your offer letter). 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 Faculty Graduate School if you need advice on how to do this.

I am a final-year PGR and I have funding for my PhD research from the Wellcome Trust or one of the UK Research Councils and I have heard that I can apply for a funded extension. How will this work?

If you are a final-year PGR with funding from the Wellcome Trust or one of the UK Research Councils your funder should already have written to you to tell you about its plans to offer funded extensions of up to six months to enable you to complete your research. We will write to you individually within the next week with full details of how to apply. Please look out for this email as the deadlines are quite tight.

I am a final-year PGR and I have funding for my PhD research from the University of Leeds. Can I apply for a funded extension?

Yes. If you are a final-year PGR with a University of Leeds scholarship (whether a University scholarship, such as a Leeds Doctoral Scholarship, or a School of Faculty Scholarship) and your work has been significantly affected by the current situation, the University will also give you the opportunity to apply for a funded extension of up to six months to enable you to complete your research. You can apply using the usual extension request process in GRAD, but we will write to you individually within the next week with full details of this process.

What are the criteria against which applications for a funded extension will be judged?

We will consider your application for a funded extension if you can demonstrate one or more of the following:

  • you have been redeployed to work on covid-19 related research or other actions and have been unable to work on your PhD;
  • critical activities for your research have been significantly postponed, where alternatives are not available and the impact cannot be mitigated;
  • you have had to take on additional covid-19 related caring responsibilities.

If the impact on you is already covered by existing procedures (eg for sick leave, compassionate leave, or in the case of the non-availability of your supervisors at this time) you should use those existing procedures rather than applying for a funded extension. Contact your Graduate School for advice if uncertain.

Can I apply for a funded extension to prepare material from my thesis for publication?

No. Extensions are exclusively intended to allow PGRs to complete their doctoral work, and theses should be submitted as soon as they are ready for examination. Please only apply for the time that you need in order to complete your thesis to a submissible standard.

I am not in my final year and/or do not have funding from either the University of Leeds, the Wellcome Trust or the UK Research Councils. Can I still apply for an extension? Is any financial support available?

In these cases we can still offer extensions of time (as set out above) but cannot offer funded extensions at the present time, although we are continuing to work with funders to explore what additional support might be available in future. The University has a Hardship Fund, to which you can apply if you need to, for help with covering any additional costs incurred due to the covid-19 outbreak. Read more about accessing the Hardship Fund

I am a first-year PGR and my Transfer viva is due soon. Will it go ahead as normal? What special arrangements are in place for Transfer at the present time?

Please note that Transfer meetings will be taking place online until further notice.  We are not recommending 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.  Scholarship-holders whose Transfer is delayed due to Covid-19 will continue to receive their stipend as usual.  Download our policy on the video-streaming of Transfer vivas

What arrangements are being made for the reopening of campus and the resumption of normal activities?

The University is working on its arrangements for the eventual reopening of the campus, once it is safe to do so. For more information about this, see the email sent to staff on 7 May 2020