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Current Postgraduate Students


First Year Probationary Review Requirements

You need to submit a report as part of the first year probationary review assessment process, as well as attending the compulsory elements of our training programme.  You can find detailed information regarding the first year probationary review here.

What follows are the most important and relevant parts of this, also including information specific to the Chemistry Department.

In your first year, you are registered for the PhD (Probationary) in Chemistry. Towards the end of your first year you will need to write a report for the probationary review process, in which your progress and aptitude for continuing to doctoral research is carefully assessed. If all goes well, you will emerge from this process registered for the PhD; if it goes less well, a range of options exist to try to help get you back on track or if necessary, to bring you to a suitable exit point.

Apart from some formal requirements for the opening pages the format of the dissertation is not strictly laid down however, in addition to covering the research work completed in this year it should contain a review of the appropriate literature and a clear indication of the way in which you expect your PhD project to develop.  There is no minimum length but it must not exceed 12,000 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 (Notes 1–3). The Degree Committee will not normally accept any reports that go over the word limit and some of the best reports are well under; 12,000 is a maximum, not a target.

Your Supervisor will advise on length, style and content and will have examples of recent dissertations you can look at: you should also find a ‘good’ report or thesis in your lab before you start to give you an idea of what you should be aiming for. Please also take note of the plagiarism rules before you begin.


What to Submit and Where?

Should you wish to make a voluntary disclosure of any disability/chronic illness that might affect the conduct of your viva please complete this disclosure form and email a copy to the Degree Committee.

You should do this up to two months in advance of the submission deadline to allow the Degree Committee to make appropriate arrangements for your viva - you should not wait until you are ready to submit to notify the Degree Committee as this could delay the date of your viva (see here for more information).

By the deadlines stated below, all students need to submit the following to the Graduate Student Co-ordinator, Office 148B, Department of Chemistry:

  1. Two soft bound copies of your first year report;
  2. Signed hard copy Probationary Review Declaration & Certificate of Submission form (Submitting your first-year report, Note 4);

In addition, by 5.00pm on the same deadline day, all students must upload to the Degree Committee Student Submissions course in Moodle:

  1. A pdf of your report, exactly as submitted to the Graduate Student Co-ordinator’s office;
  2. Scanned copy of your Probationary Review Declaration & Certificate of Submission form (Submitting your first-year report);

When to Submit?

You are required to submit by the following deadlines, which vary according to when you begin your PhD:

  • Michaelmas starters (2018) submit by noon, 28th June 2019.
  • Lent starters (2019) submit by noon, 4th October 2019.
  • Easter starters (2019) submit by noon, 17th January 2020.

Assessment should ideally be completed within 2 months of submission and within 4 weeks of submission wherever possible .

If you are unable to meet your submission deadline then, where there is a genuine problem, it may be possible to obtain an extension. You should contact the Graduate Student Co-ordinator as soon as you anticipate having to submit late.

** Please note that if you need to obtain approval from an Industrial sponsor before submitting your report this should be taken into account during the planning stages of your report. Sponsor approval DOES NOT constitute a valid reason for applying for an extension to your deadline for either a First Year Probationary Report or ultimately your PhD.


In light of the Submission Deadlines, When to Print?

Each student is entitled to have two copies of their first year report printed and soft bound, funded by the Department.  In order to allow for the printing to take place in time for the deadline, we ask that you please submit your report to our Reprographics Service (Room 258 - by 4.00pm on the Wednesday prior to the submission deadline for a guaranteed print in time to submit the soft bound copies to the Graduate Student Co-ordinator before the Friday deadline.  


How do I organise my viva?

1. Around a month before your submission date you will be informed as to who your two Assessors will be: neither of whom is your Principal Supervisor, one of whom is your Academic Mentor and one recommended by your Supervisor, both officially appointed by the Degree Committee.  We will also invite you to submit a form if you wish to make a voluntary disclosure of any disability that might affect the conduct of your vivaYou will need to submit the form (should you require it) and your provisional viva date to the Graduate Student Co-ordinator at your earliest convenience.

2.  You may then contact your Assessors to arrange a provisional viva date and time: in order to allow sufficient time following submission for checks, release of reports to Assessors and completion of pre-oral reports, please arrange this no sooner than two weeks from submission date.  No provisional vivas should be arranged to take place before this and you may find that some Assessors prefer to wait until your report is in hand before they agree to set the provisional viva date.

Please also note that no reports should be submitted by students to Assessors via email: you may only be Assessed on the soft bound copies which you submit to the Graduate Student Co-ordinator in the Department and/or the electronic copy (which is exactly the same) that you upload to Moodle.

If you have any difficulty organising your provisional viva date, please let the Graduate Student Co-ordinator know and we will assist you.


What Happens After Submission of the Dissertation?

  1. The Graduate Student Coordinator will give the Assessors each one of the soft bound copies of your report, shortly after you have submitted it and it has been checked.
  2. If you do not already have your provisional viva date and time set, you need to do so as soon after submission as possible. 
  3. The Assessors will read your report and each prepare a brief independent preliminary report on it before the oral examination.


What Happens in the Viva/Oral Assessment?

  1. You should be prepared to give a 10 minute talk, introducing your project background, aims, results and projected future work to your Assessors (check with them beforehand the best format for this, e.g. projecting ppt onto a screen, using ppt on the computer, ‘chalk and talk’).
  2. You will be asked about all aspects of your report and often about your Training Record by the Assessors in a session usually lasting for around one hour, sometimes longer (which can be for a range of good reasons).


What Happens After the Viva/Oral Assessment in Straightforward Cases?

In most cases, the situation is straightforward and the following process occurs:

  1. The Assessors submit their independent pre-assessment and joint post-assessment reports to the Graduate Student Co-ordinator; these are then uploaded to Moodle and the Degree Committee then make their recommendation as to whether you should be registered for PhD.
  2. The Degree Committee will send the Assessors’ reports to you as feedback. The reports will also be sent to the Department's Graduate Education team and to your Supervisor. 
  3. Your Supervisor will be asked to comment on your progress in the light of the Assessors’ reports by email, and to indicate his or her support for the assessors recommendation, as well as to confirm your PhD project title. 
  4. The Department's Graduate Education team will consider the Assessors’ reports together with your Supervisor’s comments and recommend an outcome to the Degree Committee on CAMSIS. The Degree Committee will then confirm to Student Registry on the details of your registration, and your status on CAMSIS should change shortly thereafter. 


What Happens if There is a Negative or Inconclusive Recommendation?

In such cases, the Degree Committee will consider appropriate future steps in consultation with the Department. You can see the available options here.  You should be aware that every year, around 3% of students leave at the end of the first year with either a CPGS or MPhil for a variety of reasons.  Around 5–10% will have challenges in getting through this first year hurdle: the hurdle is put in place so that both you and we can work out if progression is the best route forward for you. Although most often that does turn out to be the case, sometimes it does not.  Anybody for whom Assessors recommend some specific action (e.g. resubmission of the 1st year report) or who are experiencing difficulties at the end of the first year will be interviewed by one of our Departmental Tutors and members of the Graduate Education Team so that, in conjunction with advice from your Supervisor, your Assessors and yourself, we can work out how best to support you at this stage and give the right outcome.  For more detailed information regarding Departmental policy and procedures in this area, please see Pathways Following the First Year Probationary Review.


Note 1: Derivations, code and spectra should routinely be included in the first year report as Appendices, unless they form part of the connected argument presented in the report. 

Note 2: Experimentalists who find that their experimental section is taking them over the 12,000 word count should retain only the key compounds in the Experimental Section (part of the main report body, i.e. included in the word count); all other compounds (including preparation method and experimental data) should be moved to an Appendix entitled 'Supporting Information', i.e. rendering them excluded from the word count.

Note 3: Occasionally, it may be necessary to submit information electronically that it is not possible to include in the printed version, e.g. datasets, movies/simulations or computer code.  If you need to take up this option, you need to make a case to submit a CD-Rom or DVD by filling out the application form (available from the Graduate Student Co-ordinator - - your Supervisor needs to approve this), at least one month before the submission deadline. This will then be supplied in addition to the soft bound copies submitted in the Department.  It will not be included as a part of the materials uploaded onto Moodle in the Degree Committee submission process.

Note 4: For the first year report, there is no requirement to include a declaration at the beginning of the report because the declaration is all included in the form which you submit.  For a PhD however, a Declaration is required as part of the thesis; details of what this needs to say can be found at