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Academic Development Directorate

Section C: Research Students

Committees:
  • Faculty Research Committee [FRC]
  • Faculty Board
  • Learning and Teaching Quality Committee [LTQC]
  • Academic Board
Advice:
  • Faculty Administrators
  • Associate Deans (Research)
  • Registry, especially the Postgraduate Research Manager
  • Secretary to LTQC (Quality Assurance Manager)
Sections: 

The School’s Postgraduate Research Handbook contains the requirements which apply to research students. Particular attention should be given to the Code of Practice for Research Degrees and the Procedures in Respect of Research Degree (MPhil/PhD) Registration. The handbook, which also contains more general information of use to SOAS students, is given to students at registration. Those supervising research students are expected to familiarise themselves with the handbook, which is updated each year.

It is also important to note that external requirements for the supervising and monitoring of research students are slightly more prescriptive than those concerning undergraduate students, because the Research Councils have agreed that certain of their requirements should be audited through the QAA. A summary of external requirements can be found in the QAA's Quality Code, Chapter B11: Research Degrees.

C.1 Admission

The form for recording recommendations to admit research students is accompanied by detailed guidelines on the process and the conditions which applicants must meet to be suitable for consideration. Both form and guidelines are available from the Registry. A decision to recommend admission should be signed by two members of staff, including the Departmental Research Tutor or Head of Department. The School’s Admissions Policy provides further information on this.

C.2 Monitoring
C.2.1 Logbooks

The introduction of logbooks for research students was identified by the QAA as a feature of good practice in the School's 2007 Institutional Audit, and all students admitted subsequently have been supplied with a compulsory electronic logbook on the BLE (blackboard).

Logbooks can be particularly useful in the unfortunate case that difficulties arise between a student and supervisor; but even when the student's studies are problem-free, they provide a valuable record of discussions, decisions and achievements such as publications and presentations. Although completion of the logbook is the responsibility of the student, supervisors may find that their encouragement is needed to ensure its most productive use. The logbook should continue to be maintained during periods of approved fieldwork.

C.2.2 Annual reviews

Annual reviews are compulsory for all research students. The form is sent by Registry to the supervisor, who should complete it in full. The form includes space for the student's signature, to indicate that they have seen their supervisor's comments, though return of the form should not be delayed by waiting for the student's signature if for some reason it is not promptly obtainable. The annual report form also has a section for the student to complete, which is returned directly to the Registry: supervisors should encourage students to return this form. The supervisor's report should be copied and kept in the logbook; the student's report may be logged or not, as the student wishes.

C.3 Assessment

Details for students and supervisors of other aspects of the examination procedures can be found in the University of London’s publication Regulations for the Degrees of MPhil and PhD. Responsibility for the assessment of research degrees remains primarily the responsibility of the University, although from 2008/09 SOAS is responsible for the appointment of examiners, the procedure for which is available on the registry web pages. Examiners’ reports from PhD viva examinations are sent to the Registry, who forward them to supervisors and Associate Deans. Associate Deans are asked to note any recurrent themes, whether positive or potentially concerning, in their annual reports to LTQC. Associate Deans also discuss with the supervisor any cases where the thesis is referred or failed.