1. Applying for change of status
You will remain a PRS for your first year and will apply for your transfer of status to DPhil or MSc at the same time as all the other students who started at the same time as you, 12 months after your start date.In most cases this will be at the start of Michaelmas Term, however students starting in Hilary or Trinity terms will go through their transfer of status in the same term of the following year. The Graduate Office may make an exception on the timing of your Transfer of status if you have been forced to suspend your status or if there are other exceptional circumstances.
2. Confirmation of status
Confirmation of status is intended to provide an important indication that if work on the thesis continues to develop satisfactorily, then consideration of submission of the thesis within your funded period/four years (for DPhil) would appear to be reasonable. It therefore provides a second stage of formal progress review in the four years of the student's overall research programme.
The requirements for confirmation of status:
- approval sought (via GSO.14 application form) regarding thesis format
- all applications must be reviewed by two assessors (usually the same as for your transfer);
- you will be asked to produce a brief written report about your research achievements to date. Your supervisor(s) will arrange a meeting with your assessors. Prior to the meeting you should submit a 2 page document to include (i) thesis chapters; (ii) very short 3-4 line abstract for each chapter; (iii) short statement about the status of each chapter.
- an interview with your assessors, which should allow you the opportunity to summarise and discuss your research to date.
Following your confirmation assessment you and your supervisor will be provided with feedback, which will include an assessment of your progress and the likelihood that you will be able to submit your thesis within the planned timescale (as set out by you on the GSO.14 application form).
If your first application for confirmation of status is not approved, you may make one further application normally within one term of the original application. An extension of time of one term will be granted if necessary to make the second application.
Full guidelines are available: https://www.mpls.ox.ac.uk/graduate-school/information-for-postgraduate-research-students/progression
3. Thesis preparation
The doctoral thesis is constantly evolving and there are a few ways to make writing up easier: if you can, try to write as you go along, and try to submit papers to peer-reviewed journals. Recently there has been a tendency in the Department for the thesis to be prepared as a series of self-contained papers (Integrated Thesis), rather than as a monograph. This makes it easier for examiners to read what can be a substantial volume and it certainly facilitates conversion of individual chapters into scientific papers for submission after your thesis viva, which is very important for your career progression in science.
Examination by Integrated Thesis: https://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/2017-18/rdtm-palifesciedivi/
An integrated thesis may either be a hybrid of conventional chapters and high-quality scientific papers, or be fully paper-based. Regardless of the format, the content of the thesis should reflect the amount, originality and level of work expected for a conventional thesis. It should not be assumed that the act of publication (in whatever form) means the work is of suitable academic quality and content for inclusion in a thesis, and students should discuss all papers in detail with their supervisor before including. It would be anticipated that the candidate would be a lead contributor, rather than a minor author, on at least some of the papers in order to consider this format. There is no minimum, or maximum, number of papers a candidate is expected/allowed to include as part of such a thesis and it will remain a matter for the examiners to conclude whether the contributions are equivalent to that which would be expected of a standard DPhil.
Any papers utilised must concern a common subject, constitute a continuous theme and conform to the following guidelines:
(i) If a candidate for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy wishes to be examined through an integrated thesis, they should apply for permission to be examined in this way when they apply for confirmation of status, as detailed in the relevant departmental handbook. A candidate for the Degree of Master of Science by Research should normally apply for permission to be examined in this way six months before submitting their papers for examination. To revert to being examined by a conventional thesis rather than an integrated thesis, the candidate must inform their department of the change as detailed in the relevant departmental handbook.
(ii) Work can be included regardless of its acceptance status for publication but candidates may be questioned on the publication status of their work by the examiners.
(iii) Any submitted/published papers should relate directly to the candidate’s approved field of study, and should have been written whilst holding the status of PRS or a student for the MSc (by Research), or DPhil.
(iv) The collection of papers must include a separate introduction, a full literature review, discussion and a conclusion, so that the integrated thesis can be read as a single, coherent document.
(v) The candidate must ensure all matters of copyright are addressed before a paper’s inclusion. A pre-print version of any published papers should be included as standard.
(vi) Joint/multi-authored papers are common in science based subjects and thus acceptable if the candidate can both defend the paper in full and provide a written statement of authorship, agreed by all authors, that certifies the extent of the candidate’s own contribution. A standard template is available for this purpose.
The University Offices issue guidelines on thesis preparation and submission and these can be downloaded from http://www.ox.ac.uk/students/academic/graduates/forms/. Failure to follow these guidelines can result in a waste of an awful lot of time reformatting etc. It is also advisable to discuss as early as possible with your supervisor the appointment of appropriate examiners for your viva. Rely on your supervisor for advice but remember that you should at least discuss your preferences with him/her. To enable the official appointment of examiners you must complete Form GS0.3. To avoid delays in the examination process students are advised to submit this form at least 4 weeks before you intend to submit your thesis. If you need to change the title of your thesis at the time of submitting your thesis you may do this on the "Appointment of Examiners" Form GSO.3 under section 1.
For information on digital copy (in addition to the paper copy) follow the link: The digital copy of your thesis.
4. Viva voce
After your thesis has been submitted, you will have an oral examination that will typically last between 2-4 hours. You will be examined by one internal (who is a member of a faculty or sub-faculty) and one external examiner, though if circumstances make that impossible two externals can be appointed to act .The internal examiner is responsible for organising the viva, except when there are two externals when help is available from the Director of Graduate Studies, or his/her deputy (e.g if the Director of Graduate Studies is also the student’s supervisor).
You will find that most of your on-going queries can be answered by a visit to the Graduate Studies Office or by using the Zoology Graduate Handbook:
Online Graduate Supervision System (GSS)
The Graduate Supervision System will capture information reported by both student and supervisor(s), with details relevant to each student only being available to his or her supervisory team.
The Graduate Supervision System will invite the student via email to logon to the system at the beginning of week 6 of each term to submit a self-assessment report. GSS is open for students to write their reports from Monday of week 6 to Friday of week 7 each term. The student will be prompted to list completed training and training which is still required, as well as provide a comprehensive overview of their progress. They will also be able to set a flag to indicate if they have concerns with their academic progress, and this will be highlighted to their Supervisor, Director of Graduate Studies, and College Adviser. Whilst it is not mandatory for students to complete a self-assessment report, it is a useful tool for them to reflect on their achievements and provides an opportunity to communicate any concerns to their teaching staff.
Supervisors will receive an email to logon to the system at the beginning of week 8 each term to complete a report on their students' progress, and this will be available for the student to view, as well as their Director of Graduate Studies, College Adviser and the appropriate administrators, when released.
Further details regarding use and access to the system can be found at http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/gss/.