Academic Appeals - research degrees

Academic Appeals are initiated by the student in accordance with Regulation B6. The purpose of the Research degrees appeals process is to allow all students to appeal against the recommendations to Senate of the Research Degrees Committee provided that they have grounds.

Research Degree students may appeal against the following decisions of the Research Degrees Committee:

(i) Doctoral progression procedures
(ii) Requirement to withdraw for not maintaining good academic standing
(iii) Award following examination

For Research Degrees students appeals may only be made on the following grounds:

(i) procedural irregularities;
(ii) exceptional circumstances, providing that these circumstances were not known by the Board of Examiners/Research Degrees Committee at the time it made its decision, that these circumstances can be substantiated, and that there is a valid reason for not notifying the Board of Examiners/Research Degrees Committee in advance in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Code of Practice on Postgraduate Research Degrees;
(ii) inadequacy of supervision or facilities. (However you should note that alleged inadequacy of supervisory or other arrangements during the period of study must be raised at the time, in accordance with procedures set out in the  , and does not constitute grounds for appeal following the submission of the thesis.)

You must submit your appeal on the approved Appeal Form no later than 28 calendar days (not including University closed days or Bank Holidays, but including weekends) from the date of the email or letter informing you of the decision of the Research Degrees Committee.

If you wish to appeal against an award you must inform the University of your intention to appeal before Senate confirms the decision of the Research Degrees Committee. Information of how to do this will be given in the email or letter informing you of your award. Your name will then be removed from the list of awards submitted to Senate for approval. You should note that this could mean that you will be unable to graduate at the next available opportunity.

Upon receipt of your appeal, the Student Appeals, Complaints and Conduct Team will email (to your Keele email account) to confirm its arrival. If you do not receive an email within two working days of sending your appeal, you must contact the team to check that your form has arrived. As the staff can be very busy processing appeals at certain times of the year (particularly June/July and September), it would be appreciated if contact is by email if possible. Emails will normally be responded to, within the same working day. During the processing of your appeal, the Team will communicate with you via your Keele email so please check your email on a daily basis.

Appeal cases will be considered in the first instance (Sifting Stage) by the Head of Academic Quality and Student Conduct and a member of the University Academic Appeals Committee to decide if there is a case for the appeal to be considered. This Sifting Stage of the appeals process consists of an initial assessment of readily available documentation which will include your appeal submission, information on the student database (SCIMs), previously submitted exceptional circumstances, and initial comments from the School or Service, as appropriate. Where such initial comments from the School or Service are going to be taken into consideration in the Sifting Stage, you will be given the opportunity to respond to these comments before a decision is made.

In cases where the case is deemed to be straight forward and the evidence to be sufficiently compelling, your appeal may be referred back to the Board of Examiners for consideration with a recommendation to uphold the appeal. However the final decision regarding the outcome of the appeal rests with the University Academic Appeals Committee.

Where the case is deemed to be more complex or requires further exploration of the evidence, your appeal will be considered by the University Academic Appeals Committee. Appeals will normally be considered based on documentary evidence. However if the Appeals Committee is of the opinion that a decision cannot be made solely on the documentary evidence available, you will be invited to a meeting of the Appeals Committee

Where the Head of Academic Quality and Student Conduct and the member of the Academic Appeals Committee are of the view that based on the information available no case exists, you will be advised in writing, stating the reasons.

If you are invited to a meeting of the Appeals Committee you will be given at least 7 days written notice of the date. You will be given a copy of all the paperwork that the Committee will have available when considering your case. You and/or your representative have the right, but are under no obligation, to be present at the meeting. Your representative should normally be a member of Advice and Support at Keele (ASK), a current student, an elected officer of the Keele University Students' Union or the Keele Postgraduate Association or a member of staff. It is advised that it would be in your best interests to seek the representation of Advice and Support at Keele (ASK) in the Students’ Union. A representative from your Academic School(s) will also be asked to attend. You may also ask any other person (from within or outside the University) to write to the Committee on your behalf, which must be received in “good time” for the meeting.

Following the meeting you will be notified in writing of the outcome no more than seven working days after the date of the meeting. Reasons for the decision will be given.

Research Degree Students should submit an appeal using the Research Degrees Appeals Form Postgraduate Research Appeal Form - Jan 24

Guidance on how to complete the PGR Appeal form is in the concertina below.

If you require the form or any other materials in an alternative format, please let us know. On request we can provide you with an electronic copy, enlarged print on coloured paper, audio recordings or Braille. 

If possible please complete the form by downloading it onto a computer and typing in the information required.  If you are unable to do this then please ensure that your handwriting is legible.

Privacy Notice and how we will process your information

The information that you give in your appeal, together with any supporting evidence, will be processed by the following:

  • Members of the Student Appeals, Complaints and Conduct Team who process your appeal;
  • Representatives from your Faculty/Research Institute including your supervisors and Postgraduate Director/Postgraduate Research Director, who may be asked: what information your Faculty/Research Institute knew about regarding exceptional circumstances; to comment on any procedural irregularity, inadequacy of supervision or other support.  The information will only be given to those staff in your Faculty/Research Institute, e.g. your supervisors, who are able to respond to the issues raised. You will be allowed to see and comment on any information that is provided. 
  • Any other person or service named in your appeal who we may need to contact to check the issue you have raised. e.g. Finance, Disability Services, I.T. Services.
  • Head of Academic Quality and Student Conduct, and a member of the University Academic Appeals Committee who will consider your appeal at the filtering stage of the Appeals process to decide whether your appeal should be upheld.
  • If your appeal is deemed to be straightforward and the evidence to be sufficiently compelling, your appeal will be referred to the Faculty/Research Institute or Research Degrees Committee for consideration with a recommendation to uphold the appeal.
  • Where the appeal is more complex or requires further exploration of the evidence, your appeal will be considered by a full meeting of the University Academic Appeals Committee.

Other than verification checks (see Supporting Documentation below), your data will not be shared with any third parties without your further consent.

Please see below for information on what to do if you do not wish certain personal information to be made known.

Our legal basis to process your appeals data

The provision of an appeals process is provided as part of the contract we have with our students; and as part of our public task as a University.

Where you have provided any sensitive personal data (Special Category*) we will need your explicit consent in order to process this information. If you do not consent to us processing your sensitive personal data, then we will remove this data from your submission and this will not be considered. Please also see below for information on what to do if you do not wish certain personal information to be made known.

*This includes data related to your health, racial or ethnic origin, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, sex life, sexual orientation or genetic/biometric data.

Personal Data of others

Please do not submit any unnecessary personal information, particularly about third parties.  For example, if your exceptional circumstances are based around the health of a family member, we do not need to see detailed information about that person.  Instead we need to see evidence about how the circumstances affected you.  If you do decide to give information and any supporting evidence about another person, it is your responsibility to tell that person that you have done this and how the University will be processing their information.

How long we will retain your data

As stated in the University’s retention schedule, information regarding your appeal will be kept securely for 6 years following the last action on the case.

Further privacy information

The University’s full Student Privacy Notice, which contains further information and details your rights (including withdrawing consent), can be found at:

SECTION A - Student Details

Please write your full name as shown on your Keele card. 

Student Number: this is the 8-digit number that appears on your Keele card. e.g. 00987654

Please also state your Faculty/Research Institute, the degree you are registered on, your original date of registration, and whether you are studying full-time or part-time.

SECTION B - Grounds of Appeal

You should tick the appropriate box to indicate on which grounds you are appealing. 

As specified in Regulation B6 ( Section 3 you can only appeal on grounds of inadequacy of supervision or support prior to submission of your thesis.

You should then indicate the date on which you were notified of your results and the date on which you are submitting your appeal.  If you are submitting your appeal after the 28-day deadline, you must give a reason as to why you are submitting your appeal late.  If you submit the appeal late, without good reason, your appeal will not be accepted.

SECTION C - Nature of Appeal

You should indicate in this section exactly what you are appealing against, e.g. decision regarding doctoral progression, requirement to withdraw or against the final recommendation following your examination.

SECTION D – Details of appeal case 

You should state in a clear and concise manner the details of the circumstances and how you believe that they have affected your studies.   You should also indicate the time period during which you have been affected by these circumstances and list all the relevant evidence in section E that you are submitting in support of your claim.  It is not the role of those considering your appeal to determine this. If you are not sure what to include please seek the advice of either: the Advice and Support at Keele (ASK) service within the Students’ Union, or the Student Services Centre. Their contact details can be found on the appeals web pages at:

This statement will be used to determine if you have grounds for appeal so it is very important that you include everything that you wish to be considered in your appeal, even if it is very personal or embarrassing.   If your circumstances are very sensitive and you do not want to disclose the details in full to your Faculty/Research Institute, you should provide a letter from an independent source, such as a doctor, counsellor, or member of Student Services. This letter must confirm the severity of your circumstances and describe how your studies have been affected.  However please note that under normal circumstances the Counselling and Mental Health Support service at the University will only provide evidence for those already accessing on-going counselling.

Supporting Documentation

You must have evidence to support your appeal and this should be submitted with your appeal form. Examples of appropriate evidence include:

  • A medical certificate clearly stating that you were unfit to take the examination or were ill at the time of writing the assessment.
  • Letter from a counsellor (under normal circumstances the University Counselling and Mental Health Support service will only provide evidence for those already accessing on-going counselling).
  • A death certificate; funeral director’s letter. You should also indicate your relationship to the deceased.
  • Written correspondence between yourself and other members of the University, where relevant.
  • Emails and any documentation which show that you have not received adequate supervision or support.

Evidence can be scanned and submitted via email but you must retain original copies of all your evidence.  This is important as original copies may be required by those considering the appeal at a later date.  The evidence also needs to be relevant to the time that the circumstances occurred.  For example a doctor’s note saying that you were ill for one week will not be acceptable if you are claiming that you have had medical problems for a month. If the evidence is not in English, an authenticated independent translation must also be attached.

If your evidence is not available at the time of submitting the form, you should indicate that you have requested it and when you will be able to hand it in.  Do NOT delay the submission of your form because you have to wait for a piece of evidence if this means that you will miss the submission deadline.  

There will be circumstances where it is difficult or impossible to gain independent evidence.  If this is the case please indicate this on the form and say why you are unable to obtain any. 

We may contact the organisation that has issued any supporting documentation to verify authenticity.

Please note that the Appeals Committee reserves the right to reject an appeal if no evidence has been provided.

SECTION F- Remedial Action

In this section you should indicate what you are requesting as the outcome of your appeal.


Forms sent electronically must be sent from your Keele email account.  If you are not able to do this, you should print the form and sign it.   You must tick the boxes relating to the sharing of your or third parties personal data, without this consent, we may be unable to process your appeal.

False Claims

You should note that submitting an Appeals Form that contains false information, e.g. forged medical letters, will be regarded as an attempt to gain an unfair advantage in your studies.  This is academic misconduct and will be investigated under the terms of Regulation D4 by the Academic Misconduct Committee.   If proven, it is extremely likely that the penalty will be exclusion from the University. If you are registered on a programme that is subject to Regulation B5: Fitness to Practise you should note that any proven academic misconduct will also be referred to your Head of School so that any implications regarding fitness to practise may be considered.


Independent advice on making an appeal can be obtained from Advice and Support at Keele (ASK) in the Students' Union:

Tel: +44 (0)1782 734800

If you have any questions about the process, please contact Student Appeals, Complaints and Conduct Team.