Guidance and Forms for PGR Students and Staff

Please Note:  Keele University has recently undertaken a major review of its postgraduate research processes, taking into account both internal developments and best practice in the sector. This review has culminated in the new Code of Practice on Postgraduate Research Degrees. Work to update the PGR guidance and forms on this part of the website is ongoing and will be published online at intervals over the next few months, between August 2017 and Spring 2018. We thank you for your patience in the meantime.

The ‌New Website Structure for Postgraduate Research (PDF, 273KB) document provides a breakdown of the revised structure of PGR web pages and signposts you to where you can find particular resources and forms.

If you wish to submit feedback on any of the 'Current PGR Students' web pages, or have questions about any of the guidance documentation or forms, please contact‌.


The guidance and forms below describe the processes surrounding each milestone in a Keele postgraduate research student's degree. There are also sections which cover procedures for changing registration status as well as withdrawing or transferring from the institution.


Please consult the information below, together with that contained in Section 7 of the PGR Code of Practice. Further detailed guidance and form are in development and will be published in due course.

New resources include (1) an Appointment to the Supervisory Team Form, (2) a Supervisor Handbook, and (3) guidelines for students on changing Supervisor.


Students and Staff


Roles and Responsibilities of Students and Supervisors (PDF, 93KB)




Approval of Supervisors and Mentors (PDF, 78KB)


Approval of Supervisors Form (PDF, 161KB)

Annual Progress Review

Please use the resources below. Further detailed guidance on the Annual Review process, and fully updated guidance and forms, are in development and will be published in due course.


At Keele, each postgraduate research student must have an Annual Progress Review as a formal check of their progress and to evaluate the support needed as they work towards their intended qualification. These should take place approximately 10 months into each year of registration:

  • Annual Progress Review – Year 1: Student completes Year 1 requirements and attends an Independent Panel interview (excluding members of their supervisory team) for the confirmation review of their status. For Level 8 students this review forms doctoral progression.
  • Annual Progress Review - Year 2: Student completes Year 2 requirements and attends an interview with their supervisory team to assess progress and plan the work to be completed to achieve the deadline for submission.
  • Annual Progress Review - Year 3: Student completes Year 3 requirements and attends an interview with their supervisory team to assess their readiness to submit their thesis. It is for this reason the review could take place earlier than 10 months into this year.








Year 1

Doctoral Progression Form (Word, 116KB)

Year 3


Pre-Submission Review Form (Word, 95KB)

Amendments to PGR Student Status

Please use the resources below. Detailed guidance on the changes of status below, and updated forms, are in development and will be published in due course.


Status Change



Change of Status               


  • Voluntary transfer from PhD to MPhil
  • Transfer from FT to PT
  • Transfer to Continuation status
Change of Status Application Form (Word, 103KB)


  Extension Application Form (Word, 99KB)

Leave of Absence

  Leave of Absence Form (Word, 102KB)

Voluntary Withdrawal and Institutional Transfer

Detailed guidance on the processes for Voluntary Withdrawal and Institutional Transfer are in development and will be published in due course.

Postgraduate Research Placements and Visiting Students

Please use the resources below. Further detailed guidance, and an updated combined forms, are in development and will be published in due course.


Area Guidance Form

Research Placement

  Research Student Placement Form (Word, 104KB)

Visiting Student

  Visiting Student Application Form (Word, 109KB)

Postgraduate Research Partnerships

Detailed guidance on Postgraduate Research Partnerships will be published in due course.

Submission of a Postgraduate Research Thesis

Please use the resources below. Further detailed guidance on thesis submission is in development and will be published in due course.


Submitting a thesis 

You must present the following documents to the front desk of the Student Services Centre in the Tawney Building (open 9:30am-4:30pm on weekdays) once you are ready to submit your thesis:

If your submission date falls on a weekend day, bank holiday, or religious holiday, you have until 12:00 (noon) on the next working day to submit their thesis.

The Student Services Centre will give you a receipt on submission of your thesis.


Guidelines for resubmission

The academic requirements of a resubmission are the same as for the original submission above. This includes the completion of a new Academic Honesty Declaration Form (Word, 90KB) and Thesis Submission Form (Word, 96KB).

In addition, you must pay the resubmission fee of £300 to the Income Office in the Tawney Building prior to resubmission. Please present the proof of payment/payment slip with your resubmission.


Binding a thesis

The standard guidelines for binding a thesis before submission are:

  • For a first submission, or a resubmission, the thesis should be soft bound (using a comb binder)
  • For final lodging in the Library, after completion of corrections and approval of the final award, the thesis should be hard bound 

The binding standards required at both stages are described in the 'Binding and Depositing' section of this web page. 

Below is a list of companies offering dissertation and thesis binding services. As students, you are responsible for ensuring that your thesis is bound to the correct specifications.

Binding Companies

Nomination of the Examination Panel

The procedure for nominating a student's examination panel should be taken in consultation with the Lead Supervisor and student; the form should be submitted to the Research Degrees Committee for approval three months before submission of the thesis. Further detailed guidance is in development and will be published in due course.



Approval of Examiners and Chair of Oral Examination (PDF, 220KB)


Exam Panel and Thesis Title Approval Form (Word, 101KB)

Guidance on the Oral Examination

Further detailed guidance on the oral examination (viva) process is in development and will be published in due course.


Guidance for Students and Staff

University Criteria for Research Degree Awards

Oral Examination Procedures

  • Oral Examination Procedures (PDF, 95KB) describes the process of the oral examination (viva) in detail and outlines the roles and responsibilities of students, examiners, and the Independent Chair in its operation.


The Viva




The oral examination known as the viva voce ('by or with the living voice') or viva is the culmination a student's research degree examination, and takes the form of a verbal defence of their thesis.


The purpose of the viva at Keele is to evaluate whether you have met the standards for the award (see the 'University Criteria for Research Degree Awards' document at the top of this web page).

Within the examination process, the viva has the following objectives:

  • to confirm or revise the examiner’s initial views about the standard of your research, based on the thesis
  • to identify and discuss any amendments to the thesis which may be required to meet the standard for the award
  • to determine as far as possible whether the Part 1 Declaration made by the student on submission of the thesis is true.

These objectives will be achieved through the examiners discussing the research and the thesis with the student, to gain clarification, probe background knowledge, and assure themselves of the student’s full understanding of the relevant issues. 


In general, the viva is scheduled to commence between 8 and 10 weeks after a student submits their thesis. This date can be sooner or later, and depends in part on the availability of the examiners appointed.            

Examiners and Chair

The viva will feature one External Examiner, one Internal Examiner, and an Independent Chair. In exceptional cases, a student's Lead Supervisor may be present.

If the student is a member of staff at Keele or no appropriate Internal Examiner is available, a second External Examiner will be appointed.


A viva tends to last between one and two hours.


At the end of the viva, the independent Chair will ask you to leave the room while the examiners reach a decision.

On completion of the viva, examiners should indicate to the student any amendments and corrections to the thesis which are required.

The outcome is subject to approval by Research Degrees Committee, acting under delegated authority from Senate.  You will be notified of the outcome after the Research Degrees Committee meeting.

The final approval of your award is made by Senate.


Preparing for the Viva

It is is important for students to familiarise themselves with the contents of their thesis and prepare to address questions in the following areas:

  • Explanation of the structure of the thesis
  • Justification for the inclusion or exclusion of material
  • Explanation for and justification of the use of particular research methods and techniques
  • Defence of the original contribution of knowledge, or new application of exisiting research, the thesis makes to the research field and how it relates to the work of others
  • Clarification of any points of ambiguity within the thesis
  • Justification for the conceptual approach taken in the thesis
  • The depth of knowledge of the contextual background to the subject of the thesis

Oral Examination by Video Link

In exceptional circumstances, an oral examination may need to take place using video link software where either an examiner or the student is unable to be physically present at the same location. Please see the guidance below for information on how to proceed in such cases.

The document also includes a form to complete, which needs to be considered by, and receive the approval of, the Research Degrees Committee.

Guidance for Research Degree Oral Examinations by Video Link (Word, 45KB)

Binding and Depositing a Postgraduate Research Thesis

Further detailed guidance on binding and depositing (lodging) a postgraduate research process is in development and will be published in due course.



Thesis Deposit Agreement


Preparation and Presentation of a Research Thesis (PDF, 182KB)


Timeline for awarding your research degree

If you lodge your thesis with the library by the required date, usually at least two weeks before the Senate meeting date, then you can be recommended to Senate for your award.

When Senate agree to the award, you will be able to begin using the appropriate title e.g. "Dr".

Your degree certificate and transcript will be issued by Student Records & Examinations.  This will take up to eight weeks, especially if your award is being considered for approval at the June Senate along with the majority of undergraduate students.


Depositing your thesis in the Library

Once your examiners have approved the corrections requested to your thesis, you will receive a letter from the University telling you that you are eligible to lodge your thesis with the Library.

The version you lodge should be the final version including the revisions.

Please Note: The year of award (which should appear on the cover and spine and title page) is the year you will be awarded the degree by Senate.  

ExampleIf it is December when you lodge with the library, it will be the following year when you are considered by Senate.  If you are in any doubt, please contact Student Records & Exams to avoid a mistake.

You must send the hard bound copy of your thesis to the library, along with a completed Thesis Deposit Agreement. The Thesis Deposit Agreement allows you to permit and restrict electronic access to your thesis.


E-deposit of your thesis


University Regulation 2D stipulates that all Keele postgraduate research students enrolled from September 2011 onwards must deposit an electronic copy of their final approved thesis for uploading to the University’s open access Research Repository. The University strongly encourages candidates who commenced their degrees before September 2011 to e-deposit their thesis.

This is in addition to the required bound paper copy, which remains the authoritative version.  Where possible, the electronic version should be the same as the hard copy, but there will be some exceptions, which the guidance explains.

What are the benefits?

Like most universities, Keele has established a Research Repository to capture, store, index, preserve and redistribute the University’s scholarly research in digital formats.

Your thesis will be uploaded to the repository, becoming exposed to internet search engines and harvesters, as well as being made available to EThOS  and linked to Index to Theses

As a result, your research is more readily available, searchable and more visible worldwide. This has potential implications for your career progression and research success.

What changes to do I need to know about?

Online access to theses constitutes publication and requires more sensitivity to copyright, confidentiality, Intellectual Property Rights and co-sponsorship issues.


Thesis Deposit Agreement


 Library Administrators

Research Repository

Planning and Academic Administration


Please read the guidance below as soon as possible after you have started your research degree, and in conjunction with the PGR Code of Practice.








 Third Party Copyright

Copyright in theses is covered by the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. Third party copyright is where the rights are owned by others – you may have included published extracts, quotations, images, maps, tables, diagrams, music scores or other third party copyright material in your thesis. Third party copyright also includes extracts from publications that you have authored and use depends upon the agreement you entered into with the publisher. If you have included unpublished material, such as manuscripts and photographs, remember that much unpublished work remains in copyright until 2039. For the purpose of examination, it has been acceptable to quote from copyrighted works without seeking permission from the rights holder. However, electronic availability is a form of publication, and so permission must be obtained from copyright holders before including extensive and significant third party copyright material in your ethesis.

Fair dealing

Under ‘fair dealing’, it is not necessary to seek permission from the copyright holders where extracts are short and insubstantial and are cited accurately. It is important to reference correctly to avoid accusations of plagiarism. However, the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 does not define what constitutes short or insubstantial, so if in doubt, you should seek permission. Inclusion of images and music extracts in copyright will certainly require permission. When making a judgement, consider whether you would be happy for others to copy a similar quantity of your work in such a way.

Contacting copyright holders

When seeking copyright clearance to include ‘substantial’ material from published books or journals in your thesis, contacting the publisher is usually the best starting point. Contact addresses can be found on publishers’ websites and the larger companies usually have Rights and Permissions departments (or search under ‘copyright’ and ‘clearance’). Seeking approval can take time, so don’t leave it until the last minute. Be aware that images from publications usually have different rights holders who need to be contacted separately. Where permission has been granted, remember to include evidence in your full thesis, e.g. ‘Permission to reproduce…has been granted by…’ You might find the following sample text helpful when contacting rights holders:

Sample permission letter 1

I am completing a research degree thesis at Keele University and I am contacting you to request permission to include the following material within the electronic version of my thesis:

[Insert citation details of the original work and a full description of the excerpts and/or specifics relating to content to be reproduced] [“the Material”]

An electronic version of my thesis will be deposited in Keele University’s Research Repository. Once available in digital format, access to the thesis will be freely available via the Web and through the ‘Electronic Thesis Online Service’ (EThOS). The User of the thesis will be required to agree that they shall only use the thesis for non-commercial research, private study, criticism, review and news reporting, illustration for teaching, and/or other educational purposes in electronic or print form.

I would be grateful if you, or the company you represent, could grant me permission to include the Material in my thesis and to use the Material, as set out above, royalty free in perpetuity. 

If you are not the owner of the copyright in this material I would be most grateful if you would confirm this and advise me who to contact.

Sample permission letter 2

I am the author of [insert full citation details for the work] [“the Work”] which was published by [insert publisher’s name] in [insert name of publication/s] and which was assigned to [you or your company] by an agreement dated [insert date].

I would like to include the Work in my research degree thesis, ‘[title of thesis]’. My thesis will be made available electronically in Keele University’s Research Repository. Once available in digital format, access to the thesis will be freely available via the Web and through the ‘Electronic Thesis Online Service’ (EThOS). The User of the thesis will be required to agree that they shall only use the thesis for non-commercial research, private study, criticism, review and news reporting, illustration for teaching, and/or other educational purposes in electronic or print form.

I would be grateful if you, or the company you represent, could grant me permission to include the Work in my thesis and to use the Work, as set out above, royalty free in perpetuity.

Editing your eThesis

Where approval from a rights holder has not been obtained, or where a publication fee is being requested and you do not wish to pay this, then the ethesis should not be made available online, unless you first remove the relevant third party copyright material from the e-version. Remember, you should not compromise what is included in your hard copy thesis as this is the authoritative copy. The Thesis Deposit Agreement gives the option to deposit an abridged electronic version. Where third party copyright material has been removed from the ethesis, you should include reference to where this material can be found. On the title page of an edited ethesis, you should include wording similar to:

‘This electronic version of the thesis has been edited solely to ensure compliance with copyright legislation and excluded material is referenced in the text. The full, final, examined and awarded version of the thesis is available for consultation in hard copy via the University Library’


Where a student or supervisor believes a thesis may contain intellectual property with potential commercial value, this should be brought to the attention of Directorate of Engagement and Partnerships before any disclosure takes place. If you are seeking to patent an idea, it must not have been published already. Electronic availability of your thesis constitutes publication, so do seek advice. You may decide to place a time-limited restriction on access to the hard copy and the electronic thesis, or to place an embargo on the electronic version only. The duration of an embargo is most commonly between 2 and 5 years. Please refer to the options on the Thesis Deposit Agreement


 Where a studentship is funded by an external organisation and governed by a formal contract, in order to prevent a possible breach of contractual obligation, advice should be sought from Directorate of Engagement and Partnerships.  It might well be decided to place a time-limited restriction on access to the hard copy and electronic version, or to restrict access to the ethesis only. Embargoes do not usually exceed 5 years. Please see the access options on the Thesis Deposit Agreement


 Many publishers are not concerned about availability of theses in repositories and do not consider them to be equivalent publications. However, if you are seeking to publish your research and are concerned that electronic availability of your thesis could constitute prior publication, do consult your supervisor and contact your publisher to ask for their policy on etheses. After consultation, it may be decided to restrict access to both print and electronic versions. In such cases, an embargo period of between 2 and 5 years is advisable. Access options can be found on the ‌ 


Plagiarism can occur in any medium. By making your thesis available electronically, it becomes easier to discover whether your work has been plagiarised and appropriate action can then be taken. As your research becomes widely available, it can be recognised and acknowledged as your work and appropriately referenced. Keele’s Research Repository and EThOS both operate an immediate thesis take-down policy, should issues arise. Further guidance on plagiarism can be found in the Postgraduate Research Degrees Code of Practice


Before your degree can be awarded by Senate, both hard copy and electronic copy of your thesis must be deposited in the Library, along with your completed Thesis Deposit Agreement

The ethesis should be the full and final approved thesis, unless an edited version is being deposited for reasons relating to Copyright. There may be some delay before your ethesis is uploaded to the Research Repository as we need to check it against the hard copy and create metadata.

If you are placing an access restriction on your thesis (see guidance on Intellectual Property, Co-sponsorship and Publishing) you must still deposit a full electronic copy with the Library for preservation. The ethesis will be accessed by authorised persons only and uploaded to the Research Repository once the embargo has expired.

The ethesis should be deposited as a single PDF on CD, as PDF is a recognised international standard and will ensure retention of the original layout. The file should be readable text and not digitised images of the pages of your thesis. Ensure that the CD is clearly labelled.