MPhil/PhD Psychology Students – Project Timescale

Note that this is a possible/suggested timescale only: other than the key milestones of enrolment, training, upgrade, submission and completion, the exact work that is done within each year can vary considerably depending on the nature of the specific project and the demands of this. Students can expect to receive more detailed and specific guidance about the timeline of their project from their supervisor. 

Year 1. Under your supervisor's guidance, you should read widely in the literature on your subject, and decide on suitable areas of research within the broader topic. You should write a review of the literature, summarising the state of the field and highlighting research issues that remain open and which you are interested in pursuing. If you already have an MSc and have made sufficient progress, you may apply before the end of the year for an upgrade from MPhil to PhD

You should also undertake any research training identified in your Training Needs Analysis, including participation in at least two of the University’s Researcher Development Workshops.

Most students expecting to complete a PhD should generally aim to complete some of the empirical work during this year.

Year 2. Full-time students expecting to complete a PhD should generally aim to further complete a substantial part of the empirical work during this year. You are expected to present your work to your research group as part of the upgrade process. In addition, you will be encouraged to give at least one public presentation of your research as a poster or talk in Psychology and/or at a workshop or conference elsewhere. You should complete any further research training specified for this year and attend two RDP workshops. You are expected to keep up to date in writing up (in draft form) the work you have completed up to this point and upload it to ‘MyPGR’. If your supervisor so advises, you are encouraged to write up research for publication in academic journals, though this should not be done in such a way as to impede your progress towards timely submission of your PhD thesis. Full-time students who have not upgraded during the first year will be required to begin the process before the end of your fifth term.

Year 3. You should be aiming to complete your empirical work during this year, and to complete the process of writing up all or most of the preliminary draft of the thesis, as well as preparing work for publication. You should make one or more further presentations of your work, preferably including an external conference or workshop, and attend two Researcher Development workshops. At this year's Annual Review meeting possible examiners for your PhD thesis will be discussed.

Year 4. Once you have completed your research, normally at the end of three years of full-time study, you can apply to transfer from full-time or part-time to continuation status (see College handbook for full details). Although it is quite common to submit in the fourth year, you should aim to do so as early as possible in that year. Not only do most students have funding only for three years, which may limit the time you have for working on your thesis at this stage, it is an expectation that a full-time student will complete within 4 years from registration, and a requirement that they at least submit within that period (excluding interruptions). The Research Councils monitor completion rates closely, and require a very high percentage of students to finish within four years for Psychology to be accredited as a research training 'outlet' eligible for support through studentships.