Research Student Handbook

The Postgraduate Research Support Office

The Postgraduate Research Support Office takes primary responsibility for the administration and progress of your studies. PGR matters are overseen by the College Director of PGR and STEMM PGR Manager. The PGR Support Office is available to provide administrative support for both prospective postgraduate research students and current postgraduate research students across all three campuses. We are always willing to answer queries and provide help wherever possible.

For students on the Streatham campus and St Luke’s campus, the PGR Office can be found in the Old Library building Room 1.01, Streatham campus.

For students at the Penryn campus, the PGR Office can be found in the Peter Lanyon building. Please report to the Student Information Desk.

Streatham: Mondays to Fridays 10:00 – 12:00 and 14:00 - 16:00

Penryn: Monday to Friday 9:30 – 12:00

STEMM PGR Manager (Job-share) Helen Pisarska +44 (0) 1392 724395
STEMM PGR Manager (Job-share) Jennifer Simmons +44 (0) 1392 723310
PGR Support Officer (Exeter) Laura Yeves +44 (0) 1392 723706
PGR Support Officer (Cornwall) Jo Shepherd +44 (0) 1326 213853
PGR Administrator (Exeter) Andrew Cook +44 (0) 1392 725854
PGR Administrator (Cornwall) Rachel Spittle +44 (0) 1326 255944
PGR Administrator (Exeter) Madi Pollard-Shore +44 (0) 1392 724365

PGR Administrator

Stephanie Powell +44 (0) 1392 725937

Your College Administrator can help out with issues related to your local physical environment such as desk space.

Geography Isabel Castle +44 (0) 1392 726212
Geography in the Laver Building Anne Nicholls +44 (0) 1392 722633
Biosciences Lindsey Beasley +44 (0) 1392 725298
Psychology Karen Swanston +44 (0) 1392 724625
Sport and Health Sciences Clare Fogarty +44 (0) 1392 722807
CLES Cornwall Sally Bennett +44 (0) 1326 255986
Living Systems Institute Charlotte Leach +44 (0) 1392 722726

Each discipline within the College has a designated Director of Postgraduate Research, who is responsible for promoting a rich academic environment for postgraduate research students (PGRs) within their discipline, and to ensure that appropriate supervisory arrangements are in place for students.

College Prof Thomas Morton +44 (0) 1392 724616
Biosciences (Exeter) Dr Eduarda Santos +44 (0) 1392 724607
Biosciences and Geography (Penryn) Dr Alex Mesoud +44 (0) 1326 253712
Human Geography (Exeter) Dr Pepe Romanillos +44 (0) 1392 723912
Physical Geography (Exeter) Dr Lina Mercado +44 (0) 1392 725074
Psychology Dr Anna Rabinovich +44 (0) 1392 725527
Sport and Health Sciences Dr Anni Vanhatalo +44 (0) 1392 722815
Psychology Professional Doctorates Prof Ken Laidlaw +44 (0) 1392 724621

For a full list of academic, research and technical staff please visit the discipline staff pages using the links below:

There are many different means of communication between you and University staff.  You must ensure that the University has up-to-date information about your whereabouts and the best means to contact you if necessary, for example if you are away on fieldwork.  It is vital that you update any changes to your address and contact details via iexeterPrimary responsibility for ensuring that your contact details are up-to-date lies with you. Communication and meetings with your supervisory team are recorded through the MyPGR system, although other forms of communication, such as email and telephone, are also used. 

Staff make every effort to reply quickly to enquires, and we expect that students will,, in turn make sure that they check their University emails regularly. Information about University email addresses will be given to you when you register.  Please see these pages detailing information about your email.

There are different types of research degree awarded by the University of Exeter and which are delivered by the College: Master of Science by Research (MbyRes), Master of Philosophy (MPhil), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Professional Doctorate programmes (DClinPrac, DClinPsy and DClinRes) and PhD by Publication.

MSc by Research

MSc by Research lets you obtain a research degree without the commitment of a longer-term PhD. Not to be confused with the taught MRes degree, it’s ideal for people interested in pursuing a specific shorter-term research project. You will have the option to apply to transfer to an MPhil or PhD.


The MPhil, although a qualification in its own right, is often used as a route to the longer PhD.

You will undertake a research project and write a thesis on which you will be examined.


The PhD is an independent research project by a candidate registered at a higher education institution. It is supervised over 3-4 years by an established academic or team of academics, and the candidate is expected to work under their guidance towards an original contribution to knowledge. The end-product of the project is the doctoral thesis (max word count of 100,000). The examination of the research degree focuses on the quality of the thesis and the defence of it by the candidate at the viva voce examination.

Professional Doctorates

Within the College professional doctorates are available only within Psychology. Here we offer the Doctorate in Clinical Research (DClinRes), the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy) and the Doctorate in Clinical Research (DClinPrac).  Professional doctorates are offered for professionals at different stages of their careers, and are more structured than the PhD. They include a modularised pre-thesis phase in addition to writing a thesis.  Students must successfully complete the pre-thesis phase which is assessed via assignment submissions, before moving on to the thesis phase which is assessed by a written doctoral thesis. The examination of the thesis focuses on the quality of the research and the defence of it by the candidate at the viva voce examination.

Please note that because the Professional Doctorates in the College have very specific structures and requirements there are dedicated Handbooks for the DClinRes (Found on the Exeter Learning Environment – ELE), DClinPsy and the DClinPrac (on ELE).

MPhil/PhD by Publication

This type of doctoral degree is awarded on the basis of a series of peer-reviewed papers which have been accepted for publication, gathered together, and accompanied by a substantial chapter explaining how the work forms a coherent whole. At Exeter, this route is applicable to those candidates who already have a portfolio of published work prior to registration as a student.   Assessment is by the same means as a normal MPhil/PhD. See the Exeter regulations for further details.