Postgraduate Research Academic Advice

This page is specific to PGR students who have specific regulations and processes, compared to the rest of the University community. On this page we cover complaints about your supervisors, extenuating circumstances for your thesis, temporary withdrawals and the impact on funding and stipends, and UAP panels.

This page is currently being written and more information will be added shortly. Come back soon if you can’t find what you are looking for or, email ussu.advice@surrey.ac.uk

UAP (Unsatisfactory Academic Progress) Process

If you have been referred to a UAP process by the University, then you should know already that the Doctoral College and your Principal Supervisor are concerned that you aren’t making satisfactory progress on your research degree. There are two stages to the UAP process: target setting and panel stage.

How can the Students’ Union Support me?

We know that UAP processes can be hard for some students, particularly if there are other things that are impacting your progress. We are able to support you in understanding the process you are going through, the questions that you might be asked and the targets that you might be set, so that you feel prepared. We may be able to come to meetings with you, and your Panel with you if you would like the support.

We get booked up very quickly so if you would like the support, please email us as soon as you can and title your email “UAP Process”: ussu.advice@surrey.ac.uk

UAP Stage 1: Target Setting

If the University believe that you are not making satisfactory progress then they should first inform you and notify you that they are concerned. The University will offer you the opportunity to meet with them to arrange specific targets and discuss any difficulties you might be facing with your research degree. Targets might include reaching a certain word count, or completing X amount of hours of lab work, for example.

You will be given at least three months to complete your targets. If the University have given you less than three months, or you believe the time period is not sufficient to complete, please email ussu.advice@surrey.ac.uk who will be able to go through your case with you.

Following the time period set, a panel will be arranged to review your case. It is really important that you try and achieve your targets in the time period given, as failure to do so could result in your termination from programme.

UAP Stage two: panel

If you have been asked to attend a UAP panel, then you should know already that the University are concerned about your academic progress with your research degree, and you should have been given some targets to help you in your progress.

The UAP Panel is a chance for you to discuss your progression with the Doctoral College. If you have not met your targets, this is your opportunity to explain why.

How can I prepare for the panel?

Read the University Regulations for research degrees which can be found on the OSCAR webpages of the University website. These regulations explain the different stages of the process.

You may wish to consider the following, to prepare you:

  • Look over your targets again and seeing if you have managed to achieve them.
  • If you haven’t achieved your targets, and you have a reason why you have not achieved them, you will need to gather evidence to demonstrate your circumstances. For example, there may be a medical or personal reason why you haven’t achieved which would need to be confirmed by a medical professional
  • You can write a statement ahead of the panel if you wish, although this isn’t necessary unless requested.

Remember that you have to be honest with the University. Dishonesty could lead to further action such as a disciplinary with the University

What will happen in the Panel

The panel is a chat with an Associate Dean (Doctoral College) and an academic member of staff not involved in your supervision. You may also have a secretary taking notes. You can bring a friend, someone from the Students’ Union or someone you trust to the meeting.

You can attend the panel in person, or you can submit a written statement. We would always suggest that if you can attend in person, that you do so. Usually, Panels are over Teams so make sure you have a good internet connection, microphone and camera.

The academics will ask you a series of questions relating to your work and your targets including if you have met them or not, and if not, why not. If you have achieved your targets then there shouldn’t be too much to talk about in the meeting.

If you have not achieved your targets, or not met the targets to the required standard, then the University will wish to find out what happened and why not. You can bring notes, evidence or drafts of your work to the panel – we would suggest sending electronic copies ahead of time if you can.

Extenuating or special circumstances

Extenuating circumstances are anything that make it impossible for you to complete your work to the best of your ability, by your deadline. PGR students can still apply for EC and we would recommend that you follow the guidance on this page to help you apply.

If you feel like your circumstances have impacted on your ability to meet your targets, then this will be considered by the panel. You must have independent evidence to demonstrate your circumstances have impacted you over the months of your UAP targets.

Outcomes of a UAP panel

Following the discussion, if the panel members can reach the following outcomes:

  • The targets have been met and you will be able to continue with your research degree
  • The targets have not been met, but they have been met to a satisfactory level and you can continue with your research degree
  • The targets have not been met, and more targets will be set with another UAP Panel to discuss progress
  • The targets have not been met, and a recommendation for programme termination will be made. This means that you will no longer be able to continue on with your degree. Where the two panellists disagree, then the case will be referred to the Admission Progression and Examination Sub-committee for adjudication.

Need more advice on UAPs? Email ussu.advice@surrey.ac.uk

PGR Extenuating Circumstances

During the course of your research degree, you may experience difficulties that make it difficult or impossible for you to continue on with your research. PGRs can still apply for extenuating circumstances for your degree, to extend your deadlines and give you more time to complete. You can apply for an EC for:

  • An assessment for a credit-bearing module or a taught unit
  • progress monitoring and/or confirmation
  • unsatisfactory academic progress procedures (see above)

Outcomes for ECs can vary, but normally, an EC for your thesis will give you an extension. It is worth noting that this may have financial consequences so it is worth discussing your EC and circumstances with your supervisor and/or the Doctoral college before you apply.

To submit ECs for your research degree, follow the guidance on our EC page.