Find all of the essential information you need to know while undertaking a research degree at City.
Duration of Study
You can find more information about the duration of your degree programme in the Senate Regulation 24 document.
You must attend a Doctoral College induction at the start of your studies usually, which is held twice per year, in October and February. Your School will also deliver a local induction.
The sessions are designed to provide you with essential information to help you while studying for a research degree and provide a great opportunity to meet your fellow doctoral researchers.
You will also be introduced to the Doctoral College and to key members of staff, including our Vice-President for Research, Professor Miguel Mera.
Please contact Beth Guilding at the Doctoral College should you have any queries regarding induction.
Our student progress platform Research Manager is used to record, monitor and report on doctoral supervision and research student progress across the institution, and is where our researchers:
- record details and notes of supervisory meetings
- complete research degree milestones such as annual progress reviews and transfers
- request any changes to registration, for example changes in mode of attendance or interruptions to study
- book onto researcher training and development sessions
- can view progress and upcoming deadlines.
Appointment of your supervisor(s)
During the initial stages of your application, you will be appointed at least two supervisors. One member of the supervisory team will be identified as your first supervisor and will be your main point of contact during your period of candidature.
Your supervisory team will ensure that your research project is within the scope of the department’s resources. They will guide you so that your topic is not so large that it cannot be completed in the maximum period of candidature nor so restricted that you are unable to demonstrate research ability and critical judgement or to make an original contribution to your field of research.
Changing your supervisor(s)
It may be necessary for a change in supervisory arrangements to be recommended during your period of candidature. This could be because:
- Your supervisor is on sabbatical leave
- Your supervisor has left City
- You are experiencing difficulties in the relationship between you and your supervisor(s).
If you need to discuss a change in supervisors please do so with your supervisors and your Senior Tutor for Research at the first available opportunity. City will support you as far as possible and if necessary a change of supervisors may be arranged subject to the availability of research expertise.
You should agree with your supervisors how frequently you should meet both formally and informally, for full-time students this should be a minimum of a monthly formal supervision meeting, for part-time students once a term.
You should maintain up to date records of what was discussed and agreed in your meetings in Research Manager, as well as actions/progress to be completed before the next meeting.
You may also wish to hold separate or joint meetings with your other supervisors or consultant on a less frequent basis to get their advice.
International students should note that supervisory meeting records are used as part of monitoring your engagement with your degree programme, and failure to keep records up to date may risk your student visa becoming invalid.
The consideration of whether planned research has any ethical implications and addressing any issues arising are key aspects of good practice in research.
All research undertaken at City University of London must be conducted according to the principles of integrity, academic excellence, accountability, inclusiveness and professionalism.
It is vital that ethical approval is sought where required and that staff and students abide by the terms of any approval given.
No research participant should be recruited or contacted until all necessary approval has been obtained.
Guidance on City’s ethics policy and the approval process can be found on our Research Ethics pages.
You will normally meet with your first supervisor within two weeks of registering. At the first meeting, the following points will be clarified between yourself and your supervisors:
- Your research topic;
- The plan and project outline for your research;
- The methodological skills required for your research and whether additional training will be required.
In some disciplines your research topic will already be agreed before you have registered (for example, if you have been recruited to work on an already defined research project).
It is crucial that you and your supervisory team agree your research topic early on in your first year in order to ensure that your progress is managed appropriately.
An outline for the first year of study may include:
- frequency of meetings between yourself and your supervisor(s)
- expectations of undertaking a research degree with City
- attendance of courses, conferences or seminars and research methods and skills training, as well as the completion of a Training Needs Analysis on Research Manager
- tasks relating to literature reviews, pilot studies or research techniques
- meetings with other researchers.
The frequency with which you meet your supervisor(s) will vary as you progress through your research. It is anticipated that you will meet more regularly with your supervisor(s) in the earlier stages of your research and during the examination stage.
As a full-time student you should expect to meet with your supervisor(s) at least twice each term while part-time students should expect to meet with their supervisor(s) at least once each term.
International students should meet with their supervisor(s) at least once per month and record these meetings on Research Manager.
Please review the frequency with which you and your supervisor(s) meet as you progress through your research.
The objective of these meetings is to review your progress, ensure your aims and objectives are still relevant and that your progress reflects these aims and objectives.
Your supervisor will want to ensure the next stages of your research will progress well and will review this with you to ensure you understand the expectations they have.
Annual progress review and re-registration
Your progress in your first year of study will be reviewed formally after six months of registration. Your progress will also be reviewed annually.
The purpose of these reviews is to ensure that you and your supervisor(s) are content with your progress and to allow you to raise any difficulties that you think might be inhibiting your progress or for you to both discuss ways in which your progress could be improved.
You are reminded that all students are required to re-register each year subject to satisfactory annual progress.
Transfer from MPhil/PhD to PhD (or equivalent)
You will normally register as an MPhil/ PhD research student before proceeding to doctoral stage. Transfer from MPhil/PhD to PhD is to show that you are capable of carrying out research at doctoral level.
You will only proceed to doctoral stage after you have fulfilled the statutory minimum period of candidature for the completion of an MPhil and satisfied the specific criteria agreed by the School for transfer of registration. You should discuss what is expected of you with your supervisor(s) at the earliest opportunity.
The examiners also reserve the right to recommend that you be awarded the degree of Master of Philosophy rather than the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the viva voce examination should you not meet the requirements of a doctoral degree.
You will normally be asked to:
- provide a piece of written work
- attend an oral examination and/or
- present your research to peers within your department.
You will normally be assessed by a minimum of two members of academic staff who are not part of your supervisory team, but you should discuss the arrangements with your supervisor(s).
Subject to satisfactory progress, your supervisor(s) and the Senior Tutor for Research may make a recommendation to the City Doctoral College Board of Studies that you be permitted to transfer registration from MPhil/PhD to PhD (or equivalent).
Your supervisors may also recommend that you consider submitting material for the degree of Master of Philosophy should you not meet the criteria for transfer to Doctor of Philosophy.
A Master of Philosophy is an award of considerable distinction in its own right and part of your assessment will be by viva voce examination on the subject of your thesis.
You should familiarise yourself with the qualification descriptors in the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
As a research student, it is likely that you will spend time away from City in order to carry out field work.
You should discuss and agree any time spent away from City for any period longer than two weeks (either within the UK/EU and/or overseas) with your supervisor(s) in advance of leaving City and agree, using the relevant form in Absence section of Research Manager, how your engagement will be monitored while you are away.
Engagement monitoring should take place at least once a month and can be through any type of contact such as a Zoom/Teams meeting or email correspondence.
Please note: research students on a Student visa will receive notification from City’s Visa Compliance Team confirming that the Home Office has been advised of a temporary change of location and to remind students of their ongoing responsibilities while spending time away from the institution.
Transfer to writing up
We advise you to begin writing sections of your thesis as you progress through your research and as soon as you are in a position to do so.
You may reach a stage in your research, however, where you no longer require regular and frequent supervision but do require additional time to finish writing-up your thesis.
Your first supervisor, at this stage, may recommend to the School Board of Studies that you transfer to writing-up.
You will need to have met the following criteria before transfer to writing-up may be recommended:
- You have served the minimum period of candidature
- You no longer require supervision.
Transfer to writing-up is an academic judgment and will not be permitted for financial reasons.
Neither will you be transferred to writing-up at the end of the maximum period of candidature for the degree on which you are registered should it be judged that you still require supervision.
Please be aware that in some subject areas the period of writing-up is not utilised and you may be expected to proceed direct to examination instead.
The role of your supervisor at this stage is restricted to reviewing draft copies of your thesis.
You will be required to pay a nominal registration fee and will be expected to provide your supervisor(s) with regular reports on your progress on Research Manager until you present your thesis for examination.
You will normally be registered as writing-up for a maximum period of 12 months as a full-time research candidate and 18 months as a part-time research candidate.
You are advised that you will normally be reverted to full registration if you not have submitted your thesis for examination within the normal time-frames.
Please note: The Home Office requires that students continue to engage with City while they are writing-up.
Before transferring to writing-up, research students who are studying in the UK on a Student visa must meet with their supervisor(s) to discuss and agree where the writing-up will take place, how they will continue to be monitored and whether a Student visa is still required.
City’s Visa Compliance Team will advise the Home Office if there has been a change of circumstances or if a visa is no longer required and will inform the student once this report has been made.
All Student visa students are advised to discuss any visa implications due to a change of circumstances with the International Student Advice Team in the Student Centre.
Once we have received written confirmation from your examiners confirming that the degree may be awarded you will be sent a letter of award which will include details of your graduation ceremony. Your research administrator will be able to provide you with further details regarding graduation.
Students registered on a validated research degree will graduate at the ceremony provided by the institution at which they studied.
Changes in registration status
A change in personal circumstances may mean you wish to change your registration status, which means that you may want to consider one of the following policies, which can be found in the Doctoral Research policies page:
- Extension policy
- Interruption of Studies
- Change of mode
- Doctoral Researcher led withdrawal
- Parental leave.
We are committed to ensuring that you get the most out of your time at City and encourage feedback from our researcher community.
You can provide feedback on any aspect of our service provision either informally through your supervisors and your Senior Tutor/Associate Dean for Research, or formally through your doctoral researcher representative within your School, Department or Research Centre.
Doctoral researcher representatives form a critical part of our City Doctoral College Board of Studies, representing the views and interests of doctoral researchers on matters relating to the academic experience, as well as the impact of the wider student experience on academic issues.
Please talk to the Student’s Union and your supervisors if you are interested in becoming a doctoral researcher representative.
You are also encouraged to provide feedback on our provision through the biannual Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES), developed by the Higher Education Academy, and through the Research Student Development Group facilitated by the Students' Union.
International Doctoral Researchers
Our International Student Advice team provide help and support for international students at City, University of London. They can help you get the most out of your studies, and your time in London and the UK.
International travel for Doctoral Researchers
If you are undertaking international travel as part of your doctoral research programme, you need to complete an International Travel Request (ITR) to ensure that your travel is approved and that you are covered by university insurance.
You should select your Supervisor from the list provided and they will authorise your trip.
You must also complete either a TF2 or TF3 form, depending whether your trip might be considered high-risk or low-risk, and attach a completed form to the ITR before submitting it.
The links to access these forms are given in the ITR. There are more links embedded within the ITR to help you understand whether your travel should be categorised as high-risk or low-risk.