Upgrade process


What is the upgrade?

  • The upgrade is a review meeting to assess whether you have reached an appropriate standard of work and have in prospect an adequate project of research to justify the upgrade from MPhil to PhD.
  • If you are considering submitting your thesis in a format other than a monograph, this should be confirmed at your upgrade review.
  • 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.
  • Please note you must have successfully upgraded in order to be eligible to be entered for the PhD examination.


Upgrade deadlines 

According to the Research Degree regulations, you must attempt your upgrade from MPhil to PhD within the following timelines:


First attempt at upgrade

Second attempt at upgrade (if required)

Full-time Within 20 months of study

Within 24 months of study

Part-time Within 40 months of study

Within 48 months of study

Please note the following exception:

  • If you are member of the ISG CDT, you must have your first attempt at upgrade within 26 months of study and, if necessary, your second attempt within 30 months.


The following information should be read in conjunction with your department's specific upgrade details in the block further down the page. 

Upgrade process overview

Upgrade review panel

The upgrade review panel must consist of at least three members, with at least one member of your supervisory team and one member of staff who is completely independent of your supervisory team.

Timeline of the upgrade process

  • For details of when in the year you can expect your upgrade review to take place, please refer to the department-specific section below.
  • You and your supervisor will be notified by the Doctoral School approx. six weeks before your upgrade review is due so that you can schedule the meeting.
  • You should submit the upgrade paperwork required to your upgrade panel (copying in the Doctoral School) before your upgrade meeting. Please check the department-specific guidance below for specific timings for your department.
  • Within a fortnight of the meeting taking place, your supervisor should ensure that the Upgrade form is signed by all parties, and then submitted with the supporting documents to the Doctoral School for processing. Please check the department-specific guidance below to see who is in charge of sending the paperwork back to the Doctoral School in your particular case.
  • Once your student record has been updated, you will receive a copy of your completed upgrade form and a letter to formally inform you of the outcome of the upgrade review meeting:
    • If you have been successful, the letter will indicate your thesis submission deadline;
    • If you have not been successful, the letter will indicate when your second attempt at upgrade needs to take place by or whether you will need to change programme to the MPhil.
  • In all cases you will be invited to comment on the outcome. Any comments you'd like to add will be saved in your central student file.

Upgrade documentation

As part of the upgrade process, it is expected that you will submit the following documents to your panel (copying in the Doctoral School). Please see the department-specific guidance below for further details.

  • A substantial piece or portfolio of work, which must include written work but may also include other forms of work which are appropriate to the project of research;
  • Research Training log;
  • Supervisory Meetings log;
  • Copy of the Ethics Self-Assessment form (if applicable);
  • A copy of the confirmation of completion receipt from the latest PRES survey (if requested by your department - see department-specific section below).  If you do not have evidence of having completed the PRES survey, please email the Doctoral School who will be able to provide a letter confirming whether you have completed the survey. Please note that not providing confirmation of completion of PRES will not be detrimental to your academic progression.

Ethics approval

As part of the upgrade process, you will need to be able to confirm that you have discussed the ethical implications of your research with your supervisor. 

Find out more about the University’s ethical approval process

Special 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 upgrade meeting, please discuss these with your supervisor ahead of the meeting so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

 You may find it beneficial to speak to the University's Disability and Neurodiversity Services team for further guidance and support with requesting special arrangements

Extenuating circumstances

  • If you want the upgrade panel to be made aware of extenuating circumstances that have affected your study, you should submit your statement and supporting evidence to the panel Chair within the deadline set by the department / School for the submission of material for the review (see department-specific section below for details). 
  • In the case of circumstances relating only to your performance at the review meeting, you should inform the panel members and submit a statement and supporting evidence within seven days of the meeting to the Doctoral School.
  • If you are unable to attempt the upgrade within the University deadlines set out above due to extenuating circumstances, please discuss this with your supervisor. It may be approriate for your supervisors to request a suspension of regulations on your behalf to extend your upgrade deadline. For further information, please contact the Doctoral School. Supporting evidence would be required to accompany the suspension of regulations request.

Upgrade review outcomes

  • After your meeting has taken place, these are the following possible outcomes that the upgrade panel can choose from:
    • Upgraded;
    • Unsuccessful 1st attempt at upgrade;
    • MPhil only;
    • MPhil only with further assessment required within stated timeline.
  • If you receive an outcome of 'Unsuccessful 1st attempt at upgrade', you will normally be permitted a second and final attempt to upgrade.
  • If you receive an outcome of 'MPhil only', your programme on your student record will be changed to MPhil.


 Department-specific information

School of Business and Management

School of Humanities

The departments of Classics, English, History, and Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures have the same requirements.


Contact us

By email:

By phone:

  • 01784 276886
  • Manned 10am-4pm, Tuesday to Thursday

In person:

  • Visit our helpdesk in room S-105, Founder's South Tower
  • Open 10am-4pm on Tuesdays


Quick links

Upgrade process overview

Upgrade form

Research Training log

Supervisory Meetings log

Ethical approval process

Submitting your thesis in a format other than a monograph

Research Degree Regulations

Tips from fellow students on completing your progression review meeting

A to Z of the Doctoral School microsite

Doctoral School processing turnaround times