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Current Postgraduate Students

 

The University are regularly updating its advice for all students - https://www.cam.ac.uk/coronavirus/students.

Degree committee has also provided some additional information which can be found here - https://www.dcpc.physsci.cam.ac.uk/coronavirus-degree-committee-guidance.

MPhil Students:

You will have all begun your MPhil students in October and therefore around 6 months of research already completed.

Some of you will be undertaking computational projects that can still be effectively completed from home. In some cases, accessing software and other computational resources away from Cambridge may present some barriers to complete your research away from the Department. Please talk to your supervisor about your individual situations, how much research you are able to carry on with and construct a clear plan of your work over the next coming weeks.

In the case of wet laboratory based projects, some of you may have many results but some of you may have very few. This is absolutely fine and just the nature of research. We recommend that you complete your MPhil degree with a mixture of the experiments that have already been undertaken (both successful and/or unsuccessful) and an extended written thesis that may include one or a combination of an extended literature review, critical evaluation of past and future experiments (including that might address any issues raised by your data). Where possible, some computational analysis could be incorporated into the MPhil theses to expand on results. The exact nature of your thesis is likely to be dependent on your research area, which we recognise varies hugely across the Chemistry Department.

Please work with your Supervisor to develop the format of your thesis and to make sure you have the resources you need to complete it. It’s important to now begin thinking about this with your supervisor and other support structures.

The focus of a thesis may need to change to take into account less experimental results than were originally planned. It might need to include more theoretical work or reworking of existing material than was originally planned. So yes, a thesis can include fewer original results but it must still include enough material to meet the requirements for the degree to be awarded, i.e.: 

1. provides evidence of a useful contribution to the field of study;
2. shows understanding of knowledge and critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights in the field of study;
3. includes critical evaluation of current methodologies and wider research in the area of study;
4. provides evidence of an understanding of applicable techniques for research and advanced academic enquiry;
5. and finally, the quality and quantity of the thesis is expected to amount to one year of full-time postgraduate research and study. 

We aim to keep examining as similar to the usual schedule as possible, including submission dates. The possibility of on-line vivas will be explored and further information will be provided in due course. We understand that all of you have different availability of resources at home and so we aim to accommodate this where we can.

PhD Students:

Year 1

First Year PhD students should proceed as per MPhil guidance above to prepare a 1st year report with the data you have, by the usual deadline.  The mode and timing of examinations is yet to be decided and we are exploring the possibility of online vivas for this part, if that can work for both student and assessors. We fully recognise that this may poses some difficulties with regards to transition period from 1st to 2nd year when you get back to Cambridge, which will be dealt with sympathetically, on a case by case situation.

Years 2-4

The issues related to PhDs will be many and varied but in almost all cases it is clear that several months working at home (or in College for those students who can’t go home) can be very productively used in writing a thesis-ready introduction, materials and methods section, collating results, having discussions etc., as well as undertaking additional online training in transferable or project-specific skills. It would not be appropriate to intermit, as highlighted above, as you can be working at home very productively using University resources. Students are able to apply for extensions on future submission dates, if required. These should not be applied for until close to their final submission deadline when it is clear just how much more time will be required. In addition, examiners will be encouraged to be flexible and pragmatic when assessing theses and examining students who have been affected by events following the Coronavirus outbreak.

 

NOTE: There are still some questions regarding extensions in the future and funding beyond 3/4 years for PhD students. You will certainly be notified as soon as any decisions are made.