The Code of Practice requires all postgraduate research (PGR) students to undergo a formal review of their progress on an annual basis, known as an Annual Progress Review (APR).  This review assesses your progress against the research proposal and plan that was submitted as part of the Project Approval process.   


The first APR should take place approximately 9 months after your initial registration.  Thereafter the APRs should take place every 12 months.  The School/Institute is responsible for determining the date of the APR Panel and communicating it to you and the Panel members.

APR Process

The Annual Progress Review involves the following stages:


Student’s Submission to the APR Panel

The APR requires you to complete a form in ePortfolio which prompts you to reflect on the progress made in relation to various areas of your research.  This includes commenting on whether or not ethical approval has been obtained, the frequency of supervisory meetings, whether training needs have been identified and addressed, and the progress made in relation to the project plan.  You are also asked to upload documents to provide evidence of your progress.  These documents can include the submission of a piece of work or evidence of the research training undertaken.

You can choose to make your form visible to your supervisor(s), but if you prefer not to do this, the form will be visible only to the APR Panel, the Head of School and the Dean of Postgraduate Studies (or their nominees).

Supervisors’ Submission to the APR Panel

Supervisors are required to complete a form in ePortfolio to provide their view of your progress.  Supervisors are asked to identify any risks that may affect your progress and to confirm that the required number of supervisory meetings have taken place.  They are also asked to comment on training needs and, for non-native speakers, English Language competency. 

Forms completed by the supervisors cannot be hidden from their students. 

The APR Panel

The forms submitted by you and your supervisors are considered by an independent review panel, the membership of which should be the same (or equivalent) to the panel that reviewed and approved the research project as part of the Project Approval process.  The Panel reviews the completed forms and documents, but may also ask you to attend a meeting to deliver a presentation on your research or undergo a viva or interview. 

After considering the evidence, the Panel prepares a written report and determines whether the research project will meet the standards for the award.  The following recomendations are available to the Panel:

  1. Performance is satisfactory and the student can proceed to the next stage;
  2. Overall performance is satisfactory and the student can proceed to the next stage, despite some concerns;
  3. Performance is unsatisfactory and a further assessment should be held within two months to determine whether progress on the programme will be recommended;
  4. Performance is unsatisfactory and that the student should be transferred from a PhD to an MPhil;
  5. Performance is unsatisfactory and the student’s candidature should be terminated.

The exact wording of the outcomes of the progression panel, can be found in the Doctor of Philosophy Degree Progress Regulations (Section J, sub-section 21).

If the Panel chooses the third option, it must also set out what you and your supervisory team must do to put the research project back on track prior to a reassessment.

Head of School/Institute Approval

The Head of School (or nominee) is invited to review and comment on the reports submitted by you, your supervisor and the APR panel before submitting the form for approval by the Dean of Postgraduate Studies.

Dean of Postgraduate Approval

After reviewing the forms, the Dean of Postgraduate Studies (or nominee) can choose to endorse the recommendation made by the Panel or refer it back if they feel insufficient information has been provided to assist you.  The Dean must approve the Panel’s recommendation before the forms can be viewed by you and your supervisor(s).

Notification of Outcome

If your progress is confirmed as being satisfactory (outcome 1 & 2) then you will receive an automated email advising you of this from the ePortfolio system once the Panel’s recommendation has been signed off by the Dean.  In the case of all other outcomes, you will be notified via an email sent by Research Student Support Team or Medical Sciences Graduate School.  In all cases your supervisors will be notified and you will be able to login to view the full comments in ePortfolio.

Reassessment Arrangements

In the case of an outcome of unsatisfactory performance (outcome 3) then a date will be set by your School/Institute for a further panel to take place.  You should work with your supervisors to address the requirements set out in the Panel’s report and, at the appropriate time, complete a new APR submission in ePortfolio.  The APR Panel may request to meet with you again to consider whether progress has been such that the research project will now meet the standards for the award.  Where the evidence demonstrates this, the Panel will recommend that you continue your studies or, alternatively:

  • If the Panel is not satisfied that supervisory arrangements are adequate and appropriate, but considers that you would otherwise be able to achieve the standards of the award, it may recommend that all or part of your supervisory team should be replaced;
  • If the Panel is satisfied that supervisory arrangements are adequate and appropriate but that you are unlikely to be able to achieve the standards for the award, it may recommend that you are registered for a lower degree where you are likely to be able to achieve the standards or, if you cannot meet the standards for those awards, that your registration is terminated.

On-going Monitoring of Progression

Throughout your degree your supervisors will monitor your progress to ensure you remain on course to achieve your project plan.  If, however, your supervisors identify any concerns, they will inform you in writing and invite you to a meeting to discuss this.  At this meeting your supervisors may request that you complete some additional work by an agreed date.  If your progress is still considered to be unsatisfactory, then you will be informed in writing that a referral will be made to the APR Panel.