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Current Graduate Students


Once you are registered for a PhD, you are usually expected to complete all your research work including completion of the thesis within three years of your arrival although this varies according to the funding that you have. Although the Student Registry officially allows you up to four years in which to submit before your name is removed from the Graduate Register, you cannot expect laboratory or office space, or financial support during the fourth year unless your sponsor/supervisor has confirmed the funding: sponsors may provide funds for three years, three and a half years or four years – if in doubt, check with your Supervisor your precise situation.

At least two months before you expect to submit your dissertation, you should give the Degree Committee notice so the process of appointing your examiners can begin.

Regulations: Your PhD thesis must be prepared in accordance with the University regulations, which state that the thesis is not to exceed, without prior permission of the Degree Committee, 60,000 words, including summary/abstract, tables, and footnotes, but excluding table of contents, photographs, diagrams, figure captions, list of figures/diagrams, list of abbreviations/acronyms, bibliography, appendices and acknowledgements (Note 1).

Your thesis will be examined by two examiners neither of whom will be your Supervisor: usually one will be internal (from this Department) and one will be external (from a different University).

Submission of your PhD thesis within four years of starting your PhD is essential both for you and for the DepartmentFrom your perspective, if you do not, you will be at a significant disadvantage compared with those who do submit within four years:

  • You will be removed from the register and you will not be allowed back on without support from the Department and your Supervisor
  • Your CRSID will no longer work
  • Often, funding will no longer be available to support you
  • College accommodation is usually unavailable beyond four years
  • If you need to move away, finishing writing up is often problematic due to a lack of access to facilities you need in the Department
  • If you begin a job elsewhere and have not finished writing up before you do that, the whole process can become very drawn out, your research gradually less and less relevant and the chance of successful submission greatly reduced.

In addition, funds for future students may be jeopardised if current students do not submit on time: the four year submission rate is a key metric often employed by funding bodies when they decide who to fund.  Even if you submit just one day late, e.g. 1st October vs 30th September for Michaelmas starters, you are classed as failing to meet the four year deadline and become part of the statistics which may work against us when we try to get funds to support your successors. 

If you have any doubt about completing your PhD within four years, always raise your concerns with your Supervisor or Mentor as early as possible.

For further information on PhD submission please see ‘Examinations’ on the Student Registry website, and the Degree Committee for the Faculty of Physics and Chemistry website. 

Once the Chemistry Department is notified by the Student Registry that your thesis has been submitted, you will be asked to submit your Training Record to our Graduate Student Co-ordinator, if you have not already done so.

You may seek permission through the CamSIS Self Service page to submit a CD-Rom or other item with your dissertation. Datasets supplied on a CD as a separate item or an additional volume connected to the printed thesis but not included within it require this permission. This process should be initiated prior to the soft bound submission.

Further information about the whole process and the PhD Appointment of Examiners form you need to complete and submit can be found here

Information regarding submission of your hard copy (2 copies if you are a Theoretician) can be found here:

Note 1: Appendices are relevant to the material contained within the dissertation but do not form part of the connected argument. Specifically, they may include derivations, code and spectra, as well as experimental information (compound name, structure, method of formation and data) for non-key molecules made during the PhD studies.  If the Experimental Section is not taking the thesis over the allowed word count, all compounds may remain in the main thesis body Experimental Section.