Information for postgraduate researchers

This information applies to all research students, ie. those on MA/MSc by Research, MPhil and PhD programmes.

We are updating these pages as the situation develops, so please check them regularly.

You should also consult these official sources of information:

Working from home

See page on working from home

Thesis submission and examination

Thesis submission and examination have been moved online.

Online viva guidance

Vivas can be arranged remotely, if all parties are willing to do so. If this is not the case, the examination will be rescheduled. Please contact your Department if you need further information.

The Graduate School is developing advice and guidance on preparing for and making the most of an online viva. It will be available before the end of March 2020. We suggest you look at that before deciding whether it is right for you.

Submitting your thesis

York already accepts electronic submission of theses and you should work towards the existing deadline. Refer to the guidance on submitting your thesis on the Graduate School web pages. If your deadline is within the next three months and you are not able to meet it due to the current situation, please refer to our extensions guidance

Supervision and formal academic progress

Supervision meetings should continue remotely. Your Department will let you know if you are to have a formal review of progress.

Online supervision guidance

During the period of home working, the work to be done should be discussed and agreed between you and your supervisor(s) as usual, including agreed targets/milestones and meetings (including TAP meetings). A normal schedule of supervision/line management should be maintained via video-conferencing or telephone, as appropriate. Even if progress on your research is very limited, it is important to maintain contact and keep a record of meetings. Any documents should be shared electronically in advance so that the time can be used to best effect (in the case of TAP meetings, these should be attached to the TAP preparation form in SkillsForge). All formal supervision and TAP meetings should continue to be recorded in SkillsForge. For more information, visit our working from home page.

If your primary supervisor is unavailable

Many of our PGRs have at least two supervisors. If you do not, then one of your independent internal Thesis Advisory Panel members can cover for your supervisor. If you have any concerns, please contact your Department, or you can also contact the Student Hub for pastoral support.

Review of progress procedure

The following exceptional process, which has been put in place in direct response to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, applies to all research students with a progression deadline between 23 March and 31 October 2020. If the COVID-19 pandemic extends beyond July, this date range will be extended accordingly.

First attempts

If you have a first attempt at progression within the above stated time frame, your Department will consider the available evidence and determine whether or not you will be automatically progressed. If, setting aside the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, your Department has existing and significant concerns about your progress, then you will still have your progression review, but in a slightly modified way. If this applies to you, you will receive information from your Department on the next steps in due course.

Decisions will be considered on a rolling basis, three months out from the institutional deadline. So, Departments will be asked to make decisions about students with a deadline before the end of June by the end of March, by the end of April for those with a deadline before the end of July, and so on. You will be notified of the decision, at the latest, within a week of the decision deadline (e.g. by 7 April for decisions due by the end of March for students with a progression deadline before the end of June). Your Department may be able to make the decision earlier.

Second attempts

If you have a second attempt at progression within the above stated time frame, your second attempt will, as far as possible, proceed as planned. The meeting will take place via video-conferencing. If you or any or your panel are unavailable due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an extension can be requested (see guidance on extensions).

Deciding who needs to have a formal review of progress

The Graduate Chair (or their nominated deputy) is responsible for determining if you should be progressed automatically or subject to a formal review of progress.

The Graduate Chair will make this decision based on the available evidence which may include (where available) supervision reports, TAP reports, and a supervisor’s report. Drawing on this evidence, the Graduate Chair will decide if, given the exceptional circumstances we are in, you should be progressed automatically.

If there are reasonable grounds for significant concerns about the progress you are making with your research project and/or your engagement with the research programme (and that these are unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic), then you will need to have a formal review of progress. Your department will be clear about the reasons you are subject to a formal review of progress and will support you through the process. You can also seek support from the GSA.

In the case of second and third year students only, your Graduate Chair may choose to postpone a review of progress for three months if there are concerns about the progress of your research project (unrelated to the Covid-19 pandemic) and you could easily address those concerns within three months.

Your research

This is a period of unprecedented change in the global university sector with an almost complete move to online teaching and homeworking. We are fully aware that research which needs access to physical resources will be halted by this change, but we encourage everyone to do what they can given the restrictions they are under. The University’s IT infrastructure and digital resources are being enhanced to cope with expected demand. This may be the time to catch up with report writing or literature reviews that you have been putting off!

Access to laboratory work

All but the most essential parts of the University are closed from 5pm on Wednesday 25 March. If you haven’t been given explicit permission to access a laboratory or other building, you should assume it is closed until further notice. Please see the email from the Registrar to staff and research students sent on 25 March

If your ability to carry on with your research is affected by COVID-19, you should try to stay in contact with your supervisor and record the disruption in the supervision meeting notes in SkillsForge. You should consider taking a Leave of Absence, but if that is not possible or appropriate, you should do what you can. We will consider extension requests on a case by case basis through the normal process, with compassion and understanding about how this has affected us all. You do not need to address this until three months before your deadline. We will make special provisions to deal with Leave of Absence and Extension requests related to COVID-19 quickly and with minimal evidence requirements.

Research that has been severely disrupted

If your ability to carry on with your research is affected by COVID-19, you should try to stay in contact with your supervisor and record the disruption in the supervision meeting notes in SkillsForge. You should consider taking a Leave of Absence, but if that is not possible or appropriate, you should do what you can. We will consider extension requests on a case by case basis through the normal process, with compassion and understanding about how this has affected us all. You do not need to address this until three months before your deadline. We will make special provisions to deal with Leave of Absence and Extension requests related to COVID-19 quickly and with minimal evidence requirements.

Extensions if you are unwell

If you are unwell for less than a month:

For many research students, a shorter period of illness can be accommodated within the contingency provided by the continuation period, and the project adjusted as necessary. If that is not possible in your case, you can apply for an extension later. Please keep your Department informed, and keep records of the disruption to your research to aid that application.

If you are unwell for a month or more:

If you are more than three months away from your submission deadline, you should follow the normal sickness procedures and apply for a leave of absence - this will automatically extend your deadlines.

If you are unable to apply for or take a leave of absence, you should keep a record of the extent of your illness and its impact on your research and apply for an extension later. You should also alert your supervisor and/or Department that this is your intention.

If you are within three months of your deadline, you should apply for an extension to your submission deadline. Please refer to our extensions guidance.

Working remotely without feeling isolated

We know this might be a worrying time for you, which is why the Graduate Research School is planning a range of activities and guidance to help researchers maintain a sense of community and network if we can't get together in person - information will be circulated via the Graduate Research School newsletters and appear on the Research Student Community blog. The Graduate Student Association (GSA) and PhD Survival Project also provide sources of support and contact with other students.

Funding and financial support

Stipends and sick pay

All PGRs in receipt of a stipend through the University will continue to be paid as normal. If the remote working period covers the date when you return from leave of absence, you need to contact your Department to ensure that stipend payments are restarted. If you do not receive your stipend, please contact your Department in the first instance.

In the case of short-term, self-limiting illnesses lasting less than four weeks, the expectation is that the period of absence is accommodated within the registered period of study. If you are in receipt of a stipend, this will continue to be paid during a short-term illness, but the continuation of funding beyond four weeks will vary by funder:

  • UKRI allow up to 13 weeks paid sick leave and you should notify your Department as soon as possible if you are ill for longer than four weeks.
  • The terms and conditions for other funders may vary with respect to sick pay, so you should also check your funder's terms and conditions if you are not UKRI or University funded.

In either case, if your illness lasts longer than four weeks, you should apply for a Leave of Absence.

Student Support Fund eligibility

Students within their examination period would normally not be eligible for assistance from the Student Support Fund. However, we are accepting applications from students in their examination period who have been affected by COVID-19 and who require financial assistance with any living costs, up to a maximum of £3,000. Applications are assessed on a case by case basis and awards are not guaranteed.

Students within their continuation period (sometimes called 'writing up') are eligible to apply to the Student Support Fund. Under normal circumstances, students within their continuation period would only be assessed for a maximum award of £330. However, if you have been affected by COVID-19 during your continuation period, we will assess your application for an award of up to £3,000 to assist you with any living costs. Applications are assessed on a case by case basis and awards are not guaranteed.

Emergency Student Support Fund

With thanks to our community of donors from alumni, friends and supporters of the York Unlimited philanthropic campaign, we have launched an Emergency Student Support Fund (COVID-19).

This will provide financial support of up to £500 (per applicant) for students facing unanticipated financial challenges. We are releasing funding in several rounds in order to ensure that those in most need are able to receive the assistance that they require. The fund will help students with housing and food costs, travel expenses, technology costs associated with online learning, and other financial challenges. Please see our application form for details of eligibility and how to apply.

International students

If you are worried about your visa status

Please see our information for Tier 4 students

International travel

If you are due to go to a placement or international conference

Students who teach

Pay for research student who teaches

Provided you have accepted the booking on Dashboard you will still be paid for any work no longer required as a result of the University being required to restrict operations.

If you have accepted a drawdown booking we will check with your department how many hours they anticipated you would work while the University is operating in a limited capacity and you will be paid for these hours.

Please note that this is only in relation to COVID-19.

Additional contacts

To report that you're self-isolating or for support queries, contact the Student Hub.

For enquiries about visas, contact the International Student Support team.

In an emergency on campus, ring Security on 01904 323333