Guidance and Forms for Postgraduate Research Students and Staff

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.

PGR Milestones

Below are milestones documents for MPhil, PhD students (full-time and part-time) and Professional Doctorate students. Each document serves as a point of reference for students progressing through the various stages of their degrees, which includes moving past the other milestones charted on the PGR Guidance and Forms web page. 



MPhil Milestones (PDF, 172KB)
PhD Milestones (PDF, 240KB)

Professional Doctorate Milestones - HUMSS (PDF, 175KB)

Professional Doctorate Milestones - FMHS (PDF, 179KB)








The research degree student-supervisor relationship is fundamental in all research degree arrangements. The University recognises that the task of supervising a research degree student (or students) is both rewarding and demanding. It requires a supervisor to bring together subject expertise on one hand, and broad knowledge of the processes which surround the student’s completion of their degree milestones on the other. The Research Degree Supervisor Handbook below is a detailed but accessible source of guidance on the processes which surround the task of supervising a student, from their initial registration to completion of their degree.

The roles and responsibilities of both students and supervisors are set out in the Code of Practice on Postgraduate Research Degrees (PDF, 158KB) (Section 6).



Prospective supervisors should complete the form below to request approval from their Faculty/RI PGR Committee to be a supervisor:

The Lead Supervisor of a research degree student should complete the form below in the event of changes requested to the supervisory team (through mutual agreement with the student and wider team):

Reporting Concerns with PGR Experience (Student and Supervisor)

During a research degree student’s period of registration, the student and/or their supervisor might develop concerns about the student’s PGR experience. This is an area which could encompass a broad range of issues, including (but not limited to):

  • Difficulties the student has encountered with the research environment and/or facilities in their School/Faculty/Research Institute (RI);
  • Personal difficulties the student has experienced with fellow research degree students and/or other members of academic staff in the School/Faculty/RI;
  • Difficulties the student and supervisor (or another member of the supervisory team) have experienced with the supervisory relationship. 

The two forms below enable students and supervisors to raise concerns about the student's supervision experience. Part One in both forms allows the student or supervisor to set out their concerns and propose a solution, with the option of attaching documentation relevant to the concern. Part Two in both forms is for the PGR Director to record their investigation into the concern and the outcome of that investigation. 







PGR Concern Review Form (Student) (Word, 71KB)


PGR Concern Review Form (Supervisor) (Word, 70KB)


Progress Reviews

The regular review of a research degree student’s progress is an essential mechanism for maximising the likelihood of the student completing the programme within their registration period, and ensuring that the student receives appropriate support to make improvements in cases where progress is unsatisfactory. There are two regular progress review processes which research degree students must undergo: Progress Reviews (PR) 1,2 and 3 and Interim Progress Reviews (IPR). 

COVID-19 Update January 2021 - The Progress Review Handbook and video link guidance will be uploaded in due course but in the meantime, please use the hanbook and guidance on video link vivas in the relevant section below. 



For (i) research degree students on MPhil, PhD, DM, and Professional Doctorate programmes and (ii) supervisors and supervisory teams:

Annual & Interim Progress Review Handbook (PDF, 338KB)

Guide to Video Link Doctoral Progressions


Progress Review (PR)

Progress Review 1 Report Form

Progress Review 2 Report Form

Progress Review 3 Report Form - includes continuation status request and fee waiver option‌

Interim Progress Review (IPR)

IPR Report Form - includes phase 2 funding request


Who Completes Each Form

  • MPhil students need to complete the PR3 stage and IPR Reports in tandem with their Lead Supervisors at six-montihly intervals (March-April and September-October each year) for the duration of their degrees.
  • PhD students who started in September 2017 or later should complete each PR stage and IPR Reports, in tandem with their Lead Supervisors, at six-monthly intervals (March-April, September-October). 
  • PhD students who started before September 2017 and who have undergone Doctoral Progression do not need to complete PR 1 or 2; these students should complete (1) PR 3, which replaces Pre-Submission Review, and (2) IPR Reports, in tandem with their Lead Supervisors, at six-monthly intervals (March-April, September-October).
  • Professional Doctorate students who started the research component of their degree after September 2017 should complete (1) PR 1,2 and 3, and (2) IPR Reports, in tandem with their Lead Supervisors, at six-monthly intervals (March-April, September-October).

Amendments to PGR Student Status

Please use the forms 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/MRes equivalent
  • Transfer from FT to PT
  • Transfer to Continuation status including fee waiver requests
Change of Status Application Form

Academic (time) Extensions                       

  Extension Request Form (Word, 67KB)

Leave of Absence

  Leave of Absence Form (Word, 102KB)

The University's funding extension support is outlined below and the key points are:

Round 1:

  • Open to Keele funded and non-UKRI funded students who should apply using the phase 1 application form no later than 31.3.21.

Round 2:

  • All students (funded and self-funded) who have experienced disruption and have been unable to mitigate their projects, for example disabled students, those with long-term illness, are neurodivergent, or who have caring and parental responsibilities, are able to apply.
  • Applications will open at two points in 2021, in unison with Interim Progress Reviews in April and October and students should use the phase 2 application form. 

(Phase 1) Covid-19 related extensions

COVID-19 related extensions - flow chart

COVID-19 Related Extension (phase 1)

(Phase 2) Covid-19 related extensions

COVID-19 related extensions - flow chart

Application form Covid-19 funding extension request form (phase 2)

Student and Supervisor Phase 2 guidance (please review prior to submitting an application)

Continuation fee waivers:

Students can apply during Progress Review 3 or by a change of status request, whichever is most appropriate given where you are in your programme. The forms are above in the 'amendments to mode of attendance' section. 

Continuation fee reimbursements:

Students can apply for a reimbursement and should read the Student and Supervisor Phase 2 guidance for information on how to apply.

Postgraduate Research Placements and Visiting Students

Please use the forms 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, 60KB)

Visiting Student

  Visiting Student Application Form (Word,63KB)

Postgraduate Research Partnerships

1. Collaborative Provision

(i) Split-Site PhD


A split-site PhD is a research degree which leads to a Keele award and involves students being registered for a research degree at Keele whilst spending a significant period of their research away from the University, at another approved institution, which can, but does not have to be, overseas.
The University has devised a process for considering proposals for split-site PhDs between Keele and other organisations. For full information on this process, please see the relevant sections of the Collaborative Provision Code of Practice.



Submission of a Postgraduate Research Thesis for Examination

The information below covers both submissions and resubmissions, and communicates the requirements for making a successful submission or resubmission of your MPhil, PhD, or Professional Doctorate thesis for examination.  

Electronic submission

From 1 December 2019,  the default means of submission/resubmission of a thesis for examination is electronic.

If you are depositing your thesis in the Library, you should continue to submit a hard copy.


You should lay out and format your thesis in line with the guidance document below so that it can be printed and bound in the event that one or both of your examiners requests a paper copy.

Guidance for Submission of a Postgraduate Research Thesis for Examination

Please note: Your thesis title should be identical to the one which your Faculty/RI has approved and confirmed to you. If there are any differences in terms of content or use of upper and lower case, italics, and/or punctuation (such as inserting a full stop at the end of the title when not required), the PGR Exams Team ( will ask you to provide an amended title page. The guidance document sets out the expectation regarding thesis titles.

February 2021 update:

Covid-19 examiners guidance

This will be included in the guidance sent to your examiners with the thesis.

Intention to Submit

You should inform the PGR Exams Team ( of your intention to submit your thesis 1-2 weeks before your intended submission date. 

What to Submit

You should submit the following documents to as attachments to a single email on or before your submission/resubmission date:

For both forms, you must ensure that sigantures are either written or electronic (i.e. a .jpeg or .png image of the signature) form. Typed names are not acceptable.


Upon submitting your thesis to, you will receive an automated response to confirm your submission has reached the PGR exams team. You will also receive an eReceipt from the team once your paperwork has been processed ready to be distributed to your examiners in electronic format. You can expect your examiners to use the electronic copies in your oral examination (viva) (vivas are optional for examiners at the resubmission stage). 

File Size

If your thesis exceeds 25MB in size (the maximum file size for Gmail), you should submit it and the accompanying forms to via the University’s SendFile system. It is best to zip all of the documents in a single folder.

Requests for Paper Copies

If any of your examiners requests a paper version of your thesis, you don't need to pay to print and bind a copy. The University will cover this cost. You are welcome to print out a paper copy of your thesis yourself to take to your viva.

February 2021 update:

Covid-19 impact statement form

This allows students to detail any adjustments to your research plans and activities under Covid-19. It is submitted seperately to the thesis but forwarded to the examiners with the thesis.

Submitting During Holidays

If your submission date falls on a weekend day, during a University closure period (e.g. for Christmas and the New Year), bank holiday, or on a religious holiday, you must submit your thesis by 9am on the next working day (e.g. 9am on 2 January if submitting after the Christmas and New Year closure period).

Resubmission-Specific Requirements

If you are resubmitting your thesis, 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 with your resubmission.

Nomination of the Examination Panel

After submitting their thesis, each research degree student at Keele must have a viva voce (Latin: 'by the living voice') examination, which is an oral defence of their thesis and the research which underpins it.

In most circumstances, the oral examination will involve two examiners (one internal and one external to Keele) and Independent Chair, who presides over the examination and manages its procedural conduct.

The Lead Supervisor, in consultation with their student, must nominate the examination panel using the form and guidance document below. The Faculty PGR Committee will first consider the form before referring it to the Research Degrees Committee for final approval. Lead Supervisors should submit their form to the PGR Administrator in their Faculty three months before their student's intended submission date.


Guidance on the Nomination of the Oral Examination Panel (PDF, 136KB)


Exam Panel and Thesis Title Approval Form (Word, 311KB)
  Independent Chair Approval Form

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

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

October 2020 Update

During the COVID-19 Pandemic and associated national and international movement restrictions, oral examinations may need to take place using video link software where all parties attend remotely. The temporary guidance document below contains information on how to proceed in such cases. 

Guidance and Form

Guidance for Research Degree Oral Examinations by Video Link (PDF, 156KB)

Guidance for online vivas





Submission of a Postgraduate Research Thesis for Deposit in the Library

The information below communicates the requirements for depositing your MPhil, PhD, or Professional Doctorate thesis in the University Library.

Whilst access to the library remains limited, the requirement to lodge a hard copy of your thesis in the library is on hold.

We ask you to lodge an electronic version of your thesis on or by the due date to as set out in the guidance below. For the hard copy, you should submit this at the first possible opportunity after the University reaches operational level 1. Provided the hard copy submission is received within 12 weeks of the University fully reopening, we will consider that your thesis was submitted on its actual due date. While submission extensions are not applicable in this instance, you can nominate an individual to submit on your behalf or alternatively, you can lodge your thesis using the postal service.


Please see the FAQ page for the most up-to-date information about lodging your thesis in the library during the COVID-19 Pandemic. 


The guidance document covers information about the format and layout of a thesis deposited in the Library, and the printing and binding guidelines you should follow.

Your thesis title page should show both the month and year of the next meeting of Senate; the binding cover and spine should show the year alone (without specifying the month). Example: If you are depositing your thesis in the Library in December 2018, Senate will consider your award in March of the following year. 'March 2019' is the correct year of award to include on the title page; '2019' is the correct year to include on the binding cover and spine. Please contact Student Records and Examinations if you require further clarification.

Where to Submit

In Person

Once you have received your recommendation for an award from Student Records and Examination, you must deposit your thesis (requirements in the row below) to the University Library. If you wish, you can nominate another person to submit your thesis on your behalf.

Via the Post

You can also deposit your thesis via the post to the University Library. Please address your thesis and accompanying documentation to The Library Administrator, Library, Keele University, Staffordshire, ST5 5BG, UK. We advise you to use a courier service for this purpose.

What to Submit

You must submit the following documents:


  • The eThesis should be the full and final approved thesis, unless you are depositing an edited version for reasons relating to copyright.
  • If you are placing an access restriction on your thesis (see information below) you must still deposit a full eThesis with the Library for preservation. Authorised persons alone will have access to the eThesis, which will be uploaded to the Research Repository once the embargo has expired.


Guidance on eThesis


University Regulation C10  requires all Keele PGR students enrolled from September 2011 onwards to submit an electronic copy of their final approved thesis for uploading to the University’s open access Research Repository. The University encourages candidates who commenced their degrees before September 2011 to e-deposit their thesis.

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

As a result, your research is more available, searchable and more visible worldwide. This has potential implications for your career progression and research success - as your thesis is picked up and cited more widely, so it makes a greater impact in your subject discipline.

What do I need to know?

Online access to theses constitutes publication and requires careful consideration of issues related to sensitivity to copyright, confidentiality, Intellectual Property rights, and co-sponsorship. Before depositing your eThesis, and ideally at an early stage in your research, you should read the following guidance.








 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 (Word, 30KB) 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 Research, Innovation and Engagement 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 (Word, 30KB).


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 Research, Innovation and Engagement.  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 (Word, 30KB).


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 ‌Thesis Deposit Agreement (Word, 30KB).


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 Code of Practice on Postgraduate Research Degrees (PDF, 158KB).



 Library Administrators

Research Repository

Student and Academic Services

PhD By Publication

The guidance below covers the format and other requirements for a PhD by Publication. For information on eligibility for a PhD by Publication, please see Regulation C10


Guidance on PhDs by Publication (PDF, 172KB)

Voluntary Withdrawal and Institutional Transfer

Detailed guidance on the processes for voluntary withdrawal and institutional transfer is in development and will be published in due course.