Engagement & progress monitoring (compulsory)

Outlining the compulsory student engagement progress.

Monitoring student engagement and progress

For each year of study, research students have four compulsory points of engagement which will be recorded by your supervisor(s) and monitored by the Graduate School.  The engagement points have been chosen to ensure that progress is steady and that problems are detected in time to take corrective action. It is School Policy that these engagement points are met by all research students.  The engagement points are detailed on the pages below:

First year

Second year

Third year

Submission year (and subsequent years)

Some PGR students make rapid and steady progress throughout their studies and finish on time without having encountered problems of any kind. But research is not risk-free; for instance, there is no way to guarantee that the results you are working on will not be published by somebody else a few months before you finish writing them up. And learning to do research is not easy. So it is inevitable that some students will have difficulties and experience delays. Supervisors are responsible for monitoring progress and providing advice and assistance in such circumstances. But sometimes a supervisor does not recognise a problem or is not able to provide the right kind of assistance. 

Formal annual review

An annual Progression Review is required for every PhD and MPhil student up to the point that they submit their thesis for examination (see the Postgraduate Assessment Regulations for Research Degrees). The principal supervisor will convene a review panel of at least 3 members, including the supervisory team and at least one independent member of staff who has not been involved in the supervision of the student involved.  The review should take place in month 10 whether the student has submitted a thesis proposal on time or not, as inability to produce a thesis proposal is itself a sign that progress needs to be reviewed.

Postgraduate Assessment Regulations for Research Degrees

Independent member of the PhD review panel

A description of the role of the Independent member of the PGR Review Panel can be found below.

Successfully completing a research degree at the University of Edinburgh involves planning and execution of an individual research project, under supervision, leading to production of a thesis within a certain period of time.  For a full-time PhD student, three years is the "Prescribed Period of Study", with up to one additional year to finalise the thesis for submission and examination. Although the course of research study is largely driven by the curiosity, creativity and inclinations of each individual student, experience has shown that additional structure, with periodic milestones and progress checks, is required in order to achieve this goal.  Research does not always proceed as planned and adjustment of topic, scale of ambition, approach, tasks, and methods along the way is practically inevitable. Formal Annual Reviews are the University's official record of the progress of a PGR student. They are completed by the student, principal supervisor, assistant supervisor, then signed off and acted on by the Deputy Director of Graduate School. The first year review is particularly important since it forms the basis for the decision on confirmation of degree registration. These forms are available online through EUCLID and automatic reminders will be sent four months prior to the required submission date, on a student by student basis. The Graduate School will monitor the completion of these forms

Independent Member Role description

Information and guidance on the new EUCLID annual reporting procedure

Institute annual review meeting

All of the School’s Research Institutes are strongly encouraged to adopt mechanisms for monitoring the progress of their PGR students. Whilst it is accepted that local Institute practice may vary, the outline structure of this process should be uniform across the School.

Each Institute should have an annual student review meeting to consider the progress of their PGR students.

Graduate School will assist with the preparation of statistics and reports prior to this meeting, mainly via the live Theon Portal (below).

The Director of Institute, or whoever he or she delegates coordinating this meeting to, must schedule the institute meeting at least one month in advance of the meeting itself. This is to allow time for the relevant reports on students to be prepared for the meeting. The primary supervisors are responsible for submitting to the meeting coordinator the relevant report on each of their students prior to the meeting. The relevant report they must submit is as follows:

  • If the date of the institute meeting is more than 10 months since the student's last formal annual review form was submitted, then that student's progress should be reported to the meeting via a new formal annual report. Completing this new formal annual report will require a formal review of the student by a review panel, consisting of at least one external member.   Details about how to hold a formal review are given above; click on the relevant year for the student in question.
  • If the date of the institute meeting is less than 10 months since the student's most recent formal annual report was submitted, then that report should be submitted together with a short paragraph that updates the meeting on the progress of that student since that last report was written.

The meeting should normally be scheduled for the first few weeks of September; so the scheduling of meeting must happen by the beginning of August (i.e., at least 4 weeks prior to the date of the meeting). All active supervisors are expected to attend the meeting, with the Deputy Director of the Graduate School and the Institutes PGR Selector also present. A member of the Institute's admin team should also be present to take minutes and a note of actions to be taken. Each PGR student is discussed at least briefly. Any actions should be assigned to the Director of Institute, who will be responsible for ensuring that appropriate concession requests, personnel changes or programme updates are implemented in accordance with Graduate School guidance. Institute admin staff can access submitted annual reports via the 'iss/igs/admin/annual-reports/phd' shared directory, and save all review meeting documentation using the appropriate 'iss/igs/admin/annual-reports/institute-review'file space.

Theon Portal