RH Grad 2010_069

MPhil / PhD student handbook 2021/22


Welcome message from Professor Ken Badcock, Dean of the Doctoral School 

The Royal Holloway MPhil / PhD student handbook provides a central source of information that you should refer to throughout your studies at Royal Holloway. You will find a range of useful information in the handbook including details about on-campus facilities and support services, as well College regulations, policies and procedures. The student handbook has been designed to answer queries that you may have at different times of the academic year, but also to provide the contact details of services which will be able to provide further information and assistance should you require.  

If there is anything that you cannot find, or if you have any suggestions to improve the handbook, please do get in touch with us at doctoralschool@rhul.ac.uk.

If you would prefer, you can view the MPhil/PhD student handbook as a pdf. 

This core handbook is to be read in conjunction with your department's appendix 

Support and advice

Click on the tabs below to read about the support and advice services at Royal Holloway.

Doctoral School

The Royal Holloway Doctoral School brings together key aspects of research student life, aiming to ensure that research students are fully integrated as members of the College's research community and to provide you with opportunities to meet and share ideas and experiences across our six academic schools.  The Doctoral School will support you throughout your student journey, ensuring availability of relevant contemporary research skills and employment training alongside the highest standards of administrative and pastoral support.


Support within your School

Your supervisor or a member of your supervisory team should always be the first point of contact for any questions or concerns you may have about your programme of study or your research. In addition, the School Director of PGR Education exercises overall responsibility for the welfare and academic progress of the research students within your School, supported by the Department PGR Leads.

For most non-academic-related queries, please contact the Doctoral School.  However, for the following, please contact your School helpdesk:

  • Queries about study space within your School 
  • HR queries - for those of you teaching alongside your research
  • Submitting expenses (unless techne, SeNSS or ISG CDT funded, in which case the Doctoral School deals with them)
  • Ordering serivices or goods

Student Services Centre

The Student Services Centre is located in the Davison Building and provides support for non-PGR-specific areas such as:

  • Applying to live in Halls
  • Replacement College cards
  • Travel concessions including the 18+ Student Oyster Photocard 

Find out more about the Student Services Centre

PGR Peer Mentoring Scheme

The PGR Peer Mentoring Scheme has been set up to provide the opportunity for new researchers at Royal Holloway to benefit from informal peer-to-peer support from researchers who are in the later stages of their research degree.

Find out more about the PGR Peer Mentoring Scheme

Wellbeing department – supporting you at Royal Holloway

Our Wellbeing teams are here to support you with your health and wellbeing and to help you have positive academic, personal and social experiences as a Royal Holloway research student.  The department is comprised of a number of specialist teams who cover a broad spectrum of wellbeing support and guidance and advice on areas which can impact on your wellbeing.


Supporting you with wellbeing guidance 

Our Wellbeing Support & Guidance team of wellbeing advisers provides advice and guidance to all students on personal and emotional wellbeing, to assist them in maintaining a healthy balanced lifestyle and to support them throughout their studies towards submission of your research and graduation.  The advisers encourage all members of our student and staff community to alert them to concerns or signs of vulnerability to enable proactive engagement with early intervention.


Supporting you with your disability 

Our Wellbeing Disability & Neurodiversity team are here to support all students who have disclosed a disability, long standing medical condition, specific learning difficulty or mental health condition.  The disability and academic advisers will help co-ordinate the right support for you including liaising with your academic department, external providers or specialist support services, including adjustments for vivas.  

To access our support you need to declare your disability and register with the team who will then work with you to implement appropriate support as soon as possible. 


Supporting you with your mental health 

Our Wellbeing Mental Health team provide mental healthcare to students who require support in primary care. The team form a common point of entry for triage, assessment and referral (where needed) onto specialist mental health services and can help in particular students with emerging mental health concerns.


Supporting you with your finances

Our Wellbeing Financial team will assist with financial difficulties you may experience including support with financial assistance, short term loans, referrals to local Foodbanks, budgeting advice and a wide range of other financial enquiries.  They aim to ensure your time at university is as financially stress-free as possible.  


Supporting you as an international student

Our Wellbeing International Advice team are the first point of contact for international students about a range of support and wellbeing issues – including visa and immigration advice - and will ensure you are able to access the most appropriate services as required.  They also support and proactively work to foster and inclusive and welcoming community on campus for all.  


Supporting you through counselling

The Wellbeing Counselling team are here to support you with your personal emotional and mental wellbeing.  Emotional problems can get in the way of your studies and life in general. If you find yourself having difficulties you may find it helpful to speak to one of our professionally trained counsellors. They work to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions and are a BACP accredited service. To see a counsellor you will need to register with the service and can then book an appointment. 


Supporting you with your faith & spirituality

The Wellbeing Multifaith Chaplaincy team aim to support students and staff in building supportive communities of faith, where fundamental questions can be explored and a deep personal search for meaning is encouraged. They are here to offer support to the whole university community. Whatever you believe, whatever your background, whoever you love, whatever your struggles or doubts, and wherever in the world you are, the Chaplains want to hear from you.


Supporting you living in the local community 

For students who have chosen to live in the local area of Egham or Englefield Green the Wellbeing Community work to support students so that we are all working together to maintain a harmonious, happy community.   In addition the SU Advice Centre team can provide you with guidance around private housing landlord and contract matters.

Students' Union Advice and Support Centre

The Students' Union Royal Holloway University of London (RHSU) is an independent, registered charity and actively represents the students of Royal Holloway University of London. RHSU promotes your needs and interests by offering employment, participation, entertainment, support and advice, your clubs and societies, catering, transport, volunteering, campaigning and advocacy.

  • Phone:              01784 27 6700
  • Email:               advice@su.rhul.ac.uk

 Find out more about the SU's advice centre

IT service desk

The College IT Service Desk offers a range of support covering all aspects of IT services, such as email access, connecting to the College’s wireless network, connecting devices such as iPads and making use of College printing facilities.  The IT Service Desk will also be able to provide expert advice and guidance on a range of more specific IT issues, should you experience any problems. They offer a range of free software, including Microsoft Office 365, Sophos Antivirus, NVivo and SPSS..

  • Phone:              01784 41 4321
  • Email:                itservicedesk@royalholloway.ac.uk
  • In person:         Visit the IT support office in the Davison Library (ground floor)

Find out more about IT services


Facilities and resources

Please refer to the relevant department appendix for details on the facilities and resources within your department and school.

View the campus map here

Click on the tabs below to read about the facilities and resources at Royal Holloway.


The Library, which is housed in the Emily Wilding Davison Building, provides access to a wide range of digital resources for your research, most of which can be viewed both on and off campus, alongside an extensive collection of printed books and journals. 


Research Support 

The Research Support team in the library provides support on research information including copyright, Open Access publishing, Research Data Management and developing your research information profile. The team can also provide advice for meeting research funders’ requirements regarding Open Access.  The team works with the Information Consultants to provide support throughout the research information cycle, from researching bids through to searching and accessing information for articles, books and other outputs through to submission of the PhD thesis and future career plans. . 

For training sessions and subject specific support, contact your Information Consultant who will be able to help you. Their details will be on the relevant Subject Guide, where you can also find details of resources available to you at Royal Holloway.


Access to other libraries 

If you cannot find the specific items that you require in the College library, you also have access to the following major research libraries. Note that during 2021/22 these libraries may still have Covid controls in place. 


Senate House Library

Senate House Library is the central library of the University of London providing access to a range of online resources and some borrowing rights.  Find out more.


The British Library

The British Library is the national collection and holds copies of all books published in the UK and Ireland, alongside an extensive collection from other countries. A Reader Pass will be issued subject to your need to see specific items in the collections.  Royal Holloway theses are available via EThOS, the British Library’s electronic theses service which contains approximately 400 000 records of UK theses including 160,000 available for immediate download of the full text.  The British Library membership scheme is independent from Royal Holloway.  In order to get a membership card visit the British Library website: https://www.bl.uk/join


SCONUL access scheme

Royal Holloway participates in this national university access scheme which allows students to use other university libraries in the UK. This scheme is currently suspended in response to the Covid-19 pandemic but is expected to restart soon.  Find out more 

Study space

  • Most Schools offer some dedicated study space for their postgraduate researchers. Please view your department appendix for more details or contact your Department Postgraduate Lead or School Director of PGR Education for more details.
  • The Library within the Davison Building contains study space available to students and researchers. During 2021/22, the capacity of this space will be determined by the government and College guidelines and might alter to ensure the safety for all users. For the latest information on study space and how to access it, consult the Library’s intranet. Find out more

Further details about study space for postgraduate researchers

Careers and Employability Service

The College’s Careers Service runs a number of industry themed weeks and a range of career development and employer-focused events during the academic year, including a careers fair in October.  

One to one appointments are available all through the year, where you can talk over your career ideas or get feedback on your CV, cover letter or application. One-hour practice interviews are also available to book, as well as a range of resources on the Careers Moodle site

The Careers Service also holds workshops over the academic year as part of the Researcher Development Programme. The workshops cover academic and non-academic career development skills as well professional pathways beyond academia. 

Email:  careers@royalholloway.ac.uk

Find out more about how the Careers Service supports postgraduate researchers


There are ten open access PC Labs available on campus which you can use, including three in the Computer Centre. For security reasons access to these PC Labs is restricted at night and at weekends by a door entry system operated via your College card.

Find out more 

Photocopying and printing

Copier-printers (MFDs) for students are located in the Library, the Computer Centre and many PC labs, which will allow you to make copies in either black and white or colour. 

Find out more

Parking on campus

Student parking is very limited and a parking permit is required, which can be obtained via Security. You will need proof of insurance and a suitable form of photographic ID before a permit will be issued

Find out more about parking on campus



 Click on the tabs below for details. 

College email address

The College provides an email address for you free of charge and stores the address in a College email directory.  Your account is easily accessible, both on and off campus via mail.live.rhul.ac.uk

If you have any other Microsoft email addresses it may be best to start from incognito mode/a private browsing window to avoid confusion.

It is essential to note that this email account will be used for all routine correspondence and news from the College. Your College email will very likely also be used for urgent communication, including correspondence from your supervisors so it is vital that you check your emails regularly. 

Your contact details

It is imperative that the College has the most up-to-date contact details for you.  Please ensure that you update the following via the Campus Connect student portal as quickly as possible once they are changed: your telephone number (mobile and landline), postal address (term-time and forwarding), email address and emergency contact details. 

You can find out about how the College processes your personal data by reading the Student Data Collection notice.

Doctoral School communications

  • The Doctoral School sends a Researcher Newsletter to your Royal Holloway email address once a fortnight. This provides details of events and opportunities for postgraduate researchers which are coming up in the following month, as well as updates on the research landscape. 
  • Any email from the Doctoral School with important updates outside of the Researcher Newsletter will also be sent to your Royal Holloway email address so it is important that you check it regularly. 
  • The Doctoral School microsite will keep you informed of news and events which may be of interest to you as a postgraduate researcher.  It is also a key repository for information and advice on subjects such as funding, changes to your registration status and the examination process. It provides you with easy access to a variety of documentation and guides that you may need during your studies. 
  • You can also follow the Doctoral School on Twitter: @RHULDocSchool


Research skills and teaching

You should discuss your research skills training needs with your supervisor and adviser soon after you start your research degree and should can download the Training Needs Analysis Tool and a Research Training Log, which are designed to help you assess and log your training needs and to monitor whether these needs have been met. The Training Needs Analysis Tool should be used as a starting point for a discussion on specific training requirements. Completion of the agreed skills and researcher development training is monitored by supervisors at annual review and during the upgrade. This provides the opportunity for you to discuss and agree any new training needs which have been identified during the course of the year. 

It is expected that you attend the equivalent of 5 days training per year for the first 3 years full time (pro rata for part-time students). If you are funded by UKRI, please check with your individual Research Council as they may require more than this.

Click on the tabs below for further information.

Researcher Development Programme

The College's Researcher Development Programme is a series of transferable skills courses designed for research students to help you to develop your skills alongside your research.  Some of these courses are specifically designed to help students complete their research degree, while others help develop more general skills and enhance your employability. 

Find out more about the Researcher Development Programme

Research skills training within your School / department

Read your department appendix for details of research skills training within your department or School.

Teaching experience and training

Your department may be in a position to offer you opportunities to undertake teaching and/or demonstrating opportunities.  In the event that you are employed in a lead teaching role, you are required to register for the College’s inSTIL programme (Programme in Skills of Teaching to Inspire Learning).  If you are teaching as part of a team, you may choose to do this programme but are not required to do so.

You must be engaged in teaching at the same time as participating in inSTIL, as teaching observations are an intrinsic element of the programme. The inSTIL programme is worth 15 M level credits and counts as seven days towards your skills training objectives.  Successful completion of inSTIL confers Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy: a valuable professional recognition.

Find out more about the inSTIL programme

Community Research Hub

Royal Holloway’s Community Research Hub is a Royal Holloway Volunteering initiative that matches students who want experience applying research skills with charities and non-profits needing support with surveys, analysis, reports, literature reviews, desk-based research, ethnographic research and more.  

Find out more


Your supervisory team

  • Each MPhil/PhD student is allocated a supervisory team, which will include as a minimum two members: a principal (first) supervisor and either a second supervisor or an advisor.
  • The success of your research depends to a large extent on the help and guidance provided by the supervisor. The College encourages students and supervisors to maintain close contact, particularly in the early stages of the work, in order to avoid difficulties.  

Find out more about the roles and responsibilities of your supervisory team

This should be read in conjunction with the list of your own responsibilities as a research student.


Experiencing difficulties in your relationship with your supervisor?

Very occasionally, postgraduate researchers may experience difficulties in their supervisory relationship.  If this does occur, the College would expect you to take reasonable steps to try to resolve such problems or difficulties with your supervisor(s) directly before referring the matter on.   

If however a resolution is not possible or practicable, the case can then be referred on.  Find out more

If you are not sure where best to turn for help, please contact the Doctoral School for advice.     

Registration status

Further details regarding the areas outlined in this section can be found in the Research Degree regulations and the Code of Practice for Research Degree students and supervisors

Click on the tabs below for further information.

Study timeline

  • In order to retain your registration status as a postgraduate research student at Royal Holloway, you should be aware of following timelines. Please note that all PhD students start on the MPhil and must successfully complete their upgrade review in order to be eligible to submit for the PhD: 
  • As these deadlines are based on the start date on your student record, it is very important that this start date is recorded correctly.  If your start date has been postponed, make sure you submit a Change of start date form within the first 6 months of your study.  If you are sponsored on a Tier 4 (General) student visa, you are not permitted to change your start date in our records once you have used your CAS in a visa application. 
  • These deadlines will be affected if you interrupt or change mode of attendance during your studies e.g. if you formally interrupt for 6 months, your submission deadline will extend by 6 months. 
  • If you would like confirmation of your official start date or any of your deadlines, please contact the Doctoral School
  • If there are extenuating circumstances which make it unlikely that you will be able to meet these deadlines, it is essential that you raise this with your supervisor / supervisory team as soon as possible.


You must complete enrolment every academic year in order to remain registered as a research student at Royal Holloway.

  • In your first year, you must complete the following stages of enrolment:
    • Online Sign Up
    • Pay your fees (unless you are funded by a studentship)
    • Do you ID check
  • After that, you must complete the following each year:
    • Online Sign Up
    • Pay your fees (unless you are funded by a studentship)

Find out more about the enrolment process

  • Please note the following regarding Online Sign Up:
    • You must complete Online Sign Up every September even if your anniversary of starting is at a different time of year e.g. in January 
    • You must complete Online Sign Up even if you have submitted your thesis / had your viva.  You remain a student at Royal Holloway up until you have been awarded and need to be signed up to the current academic year's Online Sign Up declaration in order to be awarded.
  • Please note the following regarding fee payment:
    • You are billed your fees one month before the anniversary of when you started e.g. those of you who started in September will be billed in August every year.
    • If you are funded for 3 or 3.5 years, you are personally liable for 1 year's / half a year's writing up fee respectively up until the moment that you submit your thesis.
    • Once you have submitted your thesis, you are no longer billed unless you are asked to resubmit.

Find out more about postgraduate research fees

Paid work restrictions

  • If you are registered as a full-time student (including your writing up year):
    • Any paid work you undertake to support your studies should not exceed 20 hours per week
    • Once you have submitted your thesis however, this limit no longer applies.
  • If you are an international student:
    • You must also ensure that any working restrictions, as stated on your visa, are also adhered to.
  • If you are a part-time student:
    • There is no limit to the number of paid hours you work.

Details taken from the Code of Practice for Research Degree students and supervisors 

Council tax exemption in your writing-up year

 If you are in your writing-up year and were previously enrolled as full-time, you can get a letter exempting you from Council Tax. 

  • This arrangement does not apply once you have submitted your thesis and does not apply if you were enrolled on a part-time basis prior to your writing-up year.
  • To qualify for an exemption from Council Tax during your writing-up year, you are expected to be undertaking an average of 21 hours of work each week on your thesis, for at least 24 weeks, from the start of your fourth year and you must not be in full-time employment (in line with Section 8 of the College’s Research Degree Regulations).

Details taken from the Code of Practice for Research Degree students and supervisors 

Interrupting your studies

  • The Research Degree Regulations permit you to interrupt your studies for up to twenty-four months (whether consecutively or otherwise) on financial, medical or personal grounds on the recommendation of your supervisor.
  • Any period of interruption will normally only be permitted with supporting evidence and must be approved by yoru School Director of PGR Education.
  • Students are also entitled to request an interruption of studies for reasons of maternity, paternity or adoption leave
  • It is essential that you contact your supervisor or the Doctoral School at the very earliest possibility should you find that you require a period of interruption to your studies. Please note, a back-dated (or retrospective) interruption will only be considered on the most exceptional grounds.

Find out more about interrupting your studies

Change your mode of studies

  • The Research Degree Regulations permit you to change your mode of study from full-time to part-time within the first two years of your study and from part-time to full-time at any point.
  • If you are sponsored on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be permitted to change to part-time, under the restrictions of our sponsorship. 

Find out more about changing your mode of attendance


Engagement with your studies

Click on the tabs below for details.

Holiday leave

  • You are entitled to up to eight weeks holiday (including public holidays and College closure days) within a 12 month period of registration.
  • You should notify your supervisor (cc. the Doctoral School) in writing of any holidays taken.

Further details in the Code of Practice for Research Degree students and supervisors 

Researching abroad

If you are undertaking research abroad:

  • Non Tier 4 / Student Route visa students:
    • Please ensure that you agree this with your supervisor and ensure that details of the location and dates have been approved prior to undertaking the research.
    • These details should also be emailed to the Doctoral School so that they can be logged on your student record.

Concerns about engagement with studies which lead to the formal warning process

  • According to the Research Degree Regulations, if your attendance, academic performance or productivity is unsatisfactory, the termination of registration may be requested following a formal warning process. 
  • It is therefore essential that you alert your supervisor / supervisory team as soon as possible if you are experiencing difficulties with engaging with your studies so that the appropriate support and advice can be provided. 
  • An academic formal warning provides an opportunity for your supervisor to raise any concerns they have about your engagement with your research, submission of work or standard of work and for you to raise any concerns of your own in relation to your studies.
  • Any formal warning you receive is normally permanent and will remain active on your student record until the end of your degree programme and as a permanent part of your student record even after completion of your studies

Find out more about the formal warning process

What to do if you receive a formal warning

Withdrawal of Tier 4 / Student Route visa for non-engagement with studies

  • If you are in receipt of a Tier 4 / Student Route visa sponsored by Royal Holloway, it is a requirement of your visa that you engage with your studies (see section 5 of the Code of Practice for Research Degree students for more details).
  • The College has a legal responsibility to report any student admitted to the College on a Tier 4 / Student Route visa who does not appear to be meeting the engagement requirements to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).   
  • Therefore, if you fail to meet UKVI visa requirements and/or fail to respond to informal and formal warnings from the College in this regard, you could have your sponsorship withdrawn, your visa cancelled and your registration with the College terminated.
  • The termination of registration due to a breach in visa requirements is conducted independently of the College's formal warning process and the decision is not open to appeal.
  • To help avoid this situation, as soon as you start encountering difficulties with engaging with your studies, please speak with the International Student Support Office for advice.

Find out more about visas and immigration


Annual reviews and upgrade

Click on the tabs below for details.

Annual reviews

  • Although you will meet with your supervisor regularly during the academic year, your academic progress is formally reviewed at least once every twelve months, regardless of whether you are studying full or part time. 
  • The exception is if you are interrupted at the time your annual review is due to take place, in which case the review will take place not more than two months after you have formally resumed your studies.

Find out more about annual reviews 


  • All MPhil / PhD students start their programme on the MPhil and have to pass the upgrade review meeting in order to be eligible to submit for the PhD.
  • Your first attempt at upgrade must be within 20 months full-time study (40 months part-time).  If you require a second attempt, this must be within 24 months full-time study (48 months part-time). See here for the ISG CDT timeline.
  • It is important to remember that the upgrade from MPhil to PhD is not an automatic right.
  • In the majority of cases, a panel will indicate that they are satisfied with a student’s progress. In some cases, however, the panel may feel that the work presented does not meet the required standard for doctoral research. In such cases, your panel may permit you to have a second and final attempt.  

Find out more about the upgrade review

Exam process

Overview of MPhil / PhD exam process 

Click on the tabs below for further information.

Submission of thesis

At least two months prior to submitting your thesis, you should submit an exam entry form to the Doctoral School so that your examiners can be approved and be invited in good time before you submit. 

Click on the tabs below for further information.

Departmental guidance on your thesis

Please refer to the relevant department appendix for your department’s guidance on the thesis.

Royal Holloway proofreading scheme

CeDAS oversees the Royal Holloway proofreading scheme, which enables students to pay for an approved third-party proofreader to identify surface error in final drafts. Please note, the College does not permit the use of paid third-party proofreaders who are not part of this scheme.


The College takes the issue of plagiarism and other academic misconduct extremely seriously.   All new PGR students are required to complete the ‘Avoiding Plagiarism’ course in Moodle (moodle.royalholloway.ac.uk) prior to their first annual review. This 60 minute interactive online course is designed to ensure that students across all discipline areas follow best practice in referencing, paraphrasing and using citations. 

Please refer to the College’s Regulations on Academic Misconduct for what constitutes academic misconduct, as well as the procedures to be followed for the investigation of alleged academic misconduct and possible outcomes

Random submission of theses to Turnitin

To help deter plagiarism, it is College policy to select a random sample of final research degree theses for submission to the plagiarism detection software, Turnitin, before the examination process is initiated. Exemptions are in place for theses covered by commercial confidentiality agreements. Turnitin reports are reviewed by the School Director of PGR Education.  Should concerns be raised, you will be notified by the Doctoral School.



If you are submitting for an MPhil or PhD you will be required to participate in a viva to defend your thesis. 

  • The viva should be organised by your supervisor.
  • You have the choice to have the viva face-to-face or online via MS Teams

Find out more about the viva 

Click on the tabs below for further information.

Viva training

The College offers viva training for research student’s final oral examination via the Researcher Development Programme.

Viva preparation in your department

Please refer to the relevant department appendix for the viva training available in your department

Exam access arrangements

If you have a disability, specific learning difficulty or impairment and wish to ask for reasonable adjustments to be made to the conduct of the viva, under the provisions of the Regulations on Access Arrangements for Assessment please indicate this on your exam entry form. . 


Extenuating circumstances

In the case of extenuating circumstances relating to your performance at your viva, you should inform the Doctoral School prior to the viva, so that they can advise the examiners as appropriate and a decision can be made whether the viva should go ahead. 

Where you feel that your academic performance on the date of the oral examination may be substantially affected by unexpected medical or other personal circumstances, you should inform the examiners of your situation no later than the start of the oral examination so that they can make a decision on whether or not to proceed. The examiners may require you to submit evidence of your condition to the Doctoral School within seven days

Independent Chair

It is a regulatory requirement that all vivas are conducted in the presence of an Independent Chair. The role of an Independent Chair is to:

  • oversee the oral examination to ensure that the examination is conducted fairly and in accordance with Royal Holloway Research Degree Regulations.
  • ensure that the conduct of the viva provides the candidate with an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and to explain/defend their work.
  • where necessary, help mediate between the examiners to identify possible recommendations and facilitate an agreed outcome, but not to provide any academic assessment.

The Independent Chair is not required to have any detailed knowledge of the thesis and is not involved with the examiners’ assessment of the candidate, beyond advising them of the outcome options available to them in the Research Degree regulations.

Recording of the viva

It is a regulatory requirement that a recording is made of all vivas. 

  • The recording will only be made during the viva between you and the examiners.
  • No recording will be made of any discussion held before or after the viva when you are not present
  • The recording will only be listened to in the event of an appeal made against the viva outcome and then only by a small number of staff who are involved in the investigation into the appeal
  • The recording will be kept securely until you have been awarded, after which time it will be destroyed

Viva outcomes


Award and graduation

Click on the tabs below for details.


Approval process

Once your examiners have confirmed to the Doctoral School that you have satisfied the criteria to be awarded your MPhil or PhD, the outcome and examiners’ reports will be sent to your School Director of PGR Education to approve on behalf of the College. The date of your award will be the 1st of the month following this approval. 

Electronic submission of the final MPhil or PhD thesis

If you have been awarded an MPhil or PhD, you need to upload an electronic version of the finalised thesis on to the College’s research information system, Pure, before the award can be processed.

The College strongly recommends that you check the details of these requirements well in advance of submission as they contain important information on copyright and Open Access. 

Find out more about submitting an e-thesis in Pure


Once your award has been processed by the Doctoral School, you will be emailed an official award letter which includes the date of your award and your thesis title. You will also be sent a copy of your examiners' report on your thesis.  Your degree certificate will be sent to you by the Diploma Production Office in central London within 3 – 6 months of the award letter.


As a postgraduate research student, you can attend either the summer or the winter Graduation ceremony.  

To be eligible to attend the summer ceremony:

  • Your award date must be no later than 1 June of that year
  • You must have submitted your finalised thesis to Pure by 30 June at the very latest

 To be eligible to attend the winter ceremony:

  • Your award date must be no later than 1 November of that year
  • You must have submitted your finalized thesis to Pure by 30 November at the very latest

Find out more about the Graduation ceremonies

Graduate route

If you are studying with Royal Holloway on a Tier 4 / Student Route visa, you may be eligible to apply for the Graduate route once your studies are complete. The Graduate route was opened to new applicants on 1 July 2021 and is designed to give students completing their studies time in the UK to work. PhD students who are eligible will receive 3 years of leave under this scheme. The visa is not sponsored.  However there are some eligibility requirements to be aware of that involve the university and your studies. 

If you need any help or support with this route, please contact the International Student Support Office at internationaladvice@royalholloway.ac.uk 

Find out more about the Graduate route



Student representation and feedback

Click on the tabs below for details.

Your School’s PGR Student-Staff Committee (SSC)

  • We want to hear your views on the way your School operates and this is where the academic representation system comes in – which is a collaborative partnership between the Students’ Union and the College. The system relies on student volunteers from within your cohort who represent you to ensure you receive the highest quality educational experience possible.
  • PGR Student-Staff Committees are held at School level. They meet once a term and play an important role as a forum for airing view and for ultimately creating change.
  • You can volunteer to become an Academic Rep for your School when the annual recruitment period opens in September, giving you the chance to directly influence what happens on your course and give a voice to your peers.
  • Please refer to the relevant department appendix for details of your School’s PGR Student-Staff Committee. You can view the current representatives on your School’s PGR SSC here.

Find out more on the Students’ Union’s website

The Students' Union PGR Collective

The PGR Collective offers the opportunity to network, engage with the College at a senior level, and discuss the interests of those on postgraduate research programmes. Supported by the Students' Union but led by you, the PGR Collective may run activities or represent those on relevant courses within the community at Royal Holloway. Previously the PGR Collective supported the first-ever research into the experiences of those within the PGR community at Royal Holloway which led to the Postgraduate Research Student Experience, Student Voice Report. 

All PGRs are automatically members of the Collective from the moment of enrolment so you won’t need to do anything. The Collective is led by six convenors, which you can put yourself forward for.  If you're interested in leading the Collective, get in touch with the Student Voice Team at voice@su.rhul.ac.uk.

Find out more

PGR Forum

The PGR Forum runs once a term and brings together representatives from the PGR School Staff-Committees and the SU's PGR Collective to work together with the Doctoral School to drive forward improvements for the postgraduate research community at a College level.  If you want to raise an issue at the PGR Forum, contact one of the PGR Forum members.

Doctoral School Open Meeting

The Doctoral School Open Meeting runs once a term and gives you the opportunity to:

  • find out what is happening across the College and in your School to support postgraduate researchers
  • raise questions with the Dean of the Doctoral School, the Doctoral School managers and the School Directors of PGR Education
  • feedback your suggestions and opinions on a range of topics affecting postgraduate researchers

Postgraduate Research Experience Survey

  • The Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES) is the only national survey for postgraduate research students' experience. It is run annually by Royal Holloway, working in partnership with Advance HE and Jisc.
  • PRES has been developed in consultation with the sector and has been robustly tested to ensure it produces valid results.  The survey focuses on students’ experiences of:
    • supervision
    • resources
    • research community
    • progress and assessment
    • skills and professional development
    • wellbeing
  • This is your chance to tell Royal Holloway about your experience as a postgraduate researcher here - both how the College is already supporting you on your research journey and what we can do to improve your experience here. Responses from you help the College improve both our current and future support.  

Find out more


Appeals and complaints

Click on the tabs below for details.


  • By submitting an academic appeal, you are making a request for a decision made by the College relating to your academic studies or academic progress to be reconsidered. This must be done within 15 working days of the date on which you were formally informed about the decision.  
  • Sections 21 and 22 of the Research Degree Regulations set out the grounds on which you can appeal and the process to be followed.
  • If you have also submitted a complaint and your grounds for an academic appeal are effectively dependent on the outcome of the complaint, the College may determine that the complaint should be investigated first under the Student Complaints Procedure.  If this is the case, the complaint investigation will be carried out first and your appeal investigation will be placed on hold until the complaint investigation is complete. The College will endeavour to complete these processes as quickly as possible. However, a thorough investigation takes time, so the College strongly advises that you continue to make plans on the basis of the decision as it currently stands.

Find out more about academic appeals


If you are dissatisfied about the provision of services or facilities by the College, or any aspect of your supervision or academic experience, please raise the issue with the relevant area of the College, your supervisor(s), advisor, Department PGR Lead, School Director of PGR Education or another member of staff in the department or school as soon as possible. In the majority of cases complaints can be resolved through such an informal route.  If this approach does not lead to a satisfactory resolution of your concerns, you may wish to submit a formal complaint for investigation under the Student Complaints procedure.  A formal complaint should be submitted within three months of the incident or action being complained about.

Find out more about complaints


College regulations, policies and the Student Charter

The Research Degree regulations set out the various standards that shape the regulatory framework of your research degree with the College. This document contains a variety of essential information, on topics ranging from admissions to academic progression and examination. 

The Code of Practice for Research Degree students and supervisors sets out good practice alongside providing additional information on the policies and procedures that support the standards and expectations of the College. 

Student Charter

The College aims to bring all students into a close, harmonious relationship with each other and with the wider community. The Student Charter outlines how you can support the College in achieving these goals and also seeks to encourage you to act as an effective ambassador for the College, during your time as a student and later as part of the College’s alumni. 

This Charter is not intended to constitute a binding agreement but is offered as a framework of aspirations, designed to be of benefit primarily to you as a student and to underpin the College’s aim of ensuring that you have a highly enjoyable and rewarding experience during the course of your research degree. 

Health and Safety

General health and safety policies


Lone working policy and procedures 

The principles and guidance around lone working are often highly applicable to the nature of postgraduate research and the variety of activities this might involve. As such, awareness and planning around any lone working you may be required to undertake are essential.  

Any health and safety concerns should be brought to the attention of your local Health and Safety Co-ordinator or the College Health and Safety Office. It is likely that most activities will take place on College premises.  However, the principles also apply to students undertaking duties off campus. 

Find out more about the College’s Lone working policy and procedure


Fieldwork and travel 

The College has a risk-based process for the risk assessment and approval of fieldwork and travel. For higher risk travel this approval process can take several months and so if postgraduates are planning to travel as part of their work they should speak to your local Health and Safety Co-ordinator or the College Health and Safety Office. 

Find out more about the College’s fieldwork and travel policy.


Stress and mental health 

Stress is part of any job, and can improve performance, but excessive stress and poor mental health is detrimental to both the individual and their work. Postgraduates should be mindful of the effects that stress can have and manage this, including using provided support if and when it is needed. 

Your mental health is as important as your physical health and should be treated in the same way. There is a strong link between stress and mental health. 

Find out more about the College’s stress and mental health policy.



Safeguarding is the protection of children (under 18s), vulnerable adults, and adults in a vulnerable situation – the latter definition can be particularly applicable to research participants. Any research involving people should consider safeguarding, particularly where the research occurs in developing nations. 

Find out more about the College’s safeguarding policy.


Code of practice on harassment for students 

The College is committed to upholding the dignity of the individual and recognises that harassment can be a source of great stress to an individual. Personal harassment can seriously harm working, learning and social conditions and will be regarded and treated seriously. This could include grounds for disciplinary action, and possibly the termination of registration as a student. 

The College’s Code of Practice on personal harassment for students should be read in conjunction with the Student Disciplinary regulations and the Complaints procedure

Equal opportunities statement

The College values diversity and promotes equality of opportunity for all, both in its employment practices and admissions decisions, and in its teaching, learning and research activities. 

Find out more



Disclaimer: The content on this page was published in September 2021 and was correct at that time. The College reserves the right to modify any statement if necessary. Every effort will be made to keep disruption to a minimum, and to give as much notice as possible

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View your department's handbook appendix

Read the Research Degree regulations 2021/22

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Your responsibilities as a research student

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