Doctoral College

FAQs for Current PGR Students

**Updated 4th August 2020 10.00am**

We are very aware that the Covid-19 global situation is affecting all our research students in different ways.  Please be assured that we hear your concerns, and we are working to ensure our research students feel supported in the current situation. The below FAQs cover a number of issues, however if you feel your question has not been answered please do not hesitate to contact doctoralcollege@qmul.ac.uk

Please see below list of FAQs relating to the current Covid-19 situation, which contains information for Current PGR Students.

Am I able to apply for additional funding due to the Covid-19 Situation?

PhD students whose funding is due to end between 1st March 2020 and 31st March 2021 who are not in receipt of UKRI or Wellcome trust funding may apply for an extension of their studentship through Queen Mary.

The process and the form for doing this can be downloaded here: COVID-19 Funding Extension Request Application form [DOC 45KB]

You will be contacted by your school/institute directly and should liaise directly with your Director Of Graduate Studies. Please note that individual Schools and Institutes have been allowed to observe a more flexible timescale than is set out on the form, though they must still submit finalized applications to the Research Degrees Office by 22 July.

I have been recalled to clinical work in the NHS

Queen Mary recognises that medically qualified research students may be asked to return to duties within the NHS to support the current Covid-19 efforts. We are aware that this will mean interrupting your research studies at short notice. 

Should you need to interrupt your research studies to return to clinical NHS duties please follow the guidance outlined below:

  1. Please inform your research supervisor and your Institute PGR research degrees administrator immediately. A list of research degrees administrators can be found in Key Faculty Contacts
  2. Please keep copies of any documentation you are sent by the NHS to confirm your recall – this should be either by letter or by email, this should confirm the date your recall starts. If you have not received any written documentation please ask for something in writing confirming the date your recall starts.
  3. Research degrees administrators can complete the Queen Mary interruption of studies application form on your behalf and obtain the approval of the institute Director of Graduate Studies. They should send the interruption form and the document confirming your return to clinical duties (with work dates if possible) to the Research Degrees Office email account researchdegrees@qmul.ac.uk with the email title ‘CLINICAL WORK INTERRUPTION’ –
  4. Research degrees administrators must keep a log of all students who have returned to NHS duties locally.
  5. Queen Mary will interrupt your research studies initially for a period of 6 months. This will extend your thesis submission date by 6 months. Should you require a longer or shorter interruption than this we will update your student record on your return to studies.  
  6. When you are able to return to study you should contact your supervisor and institute research degrees administrator two weeks before your return, who will inform the Research Degrees Office. Queen Mary will prepare your student record for you to complete re-enrolment to recommence your research studies – your thesis submission date will be updated if necessary.

If you have any questions please contact researchdegrees@qmul.ac.uk 

Queen Mary will continue to pay your stipend for the time being to ensure that you are not without pay.  Please ensure that you keep a record of time spent in clinical work so that payments made to you by Queen Mary and the NHS can be reconciled at the end of this period.   

 

What Mental Health and Wellbeing support is available to me?

This unsettling time due to the impact of the coronavirus, can be an emotionally and mentally challenging period for PhD students. For guidance and support around mental health and wellbeing at this time, please consult the following services.

Queen Mary Student Health:
https://www.studenthealth.qmul.ac.uk/mental-health/covid-19-and-your-wellbeing

Queen Mary Advice and Counselling Service:
https://www.welfare.qmul.ac.uk/emotional-wellbeing/support-during-the-coronavirus-situation/

The Wellbeing Thesis: 
https://thewellbeingthesis.org.uk/

Student Minds Blog: 
https://www.studentmindsblog.co.uk/2020/03/adjusting-to-working-from-home-during.html?spref=tw

Big White Wall: 
http://www.dds.qmul.ac.uk/mentalhealth/big-white-wall/

Do I need to attend Queen Mary?

We have already reopened most of our laboratories to enable our academics to carry out their world-leading research, with laboratory space now operating across all three faculties. The safety of staff working in our laboratories is paramount, and this has only been made possible by following guidance to ensure that each facility is Covid-19 secure. Our training activities for researchers have moved entirely online. Although our libraries currently remain closed, we have worked to ensure that as many materials as possible are available online. This includes not only journals and databases, but also e-books.

Access to laboratory space should be discussed with your supervisor to confirm the process for accessing space.  

During this period, you should continue to work on your research if possible. This includes maintaining regular contact with your supervisory team, and completing Supervision Logs on MySIS. Your supervisory team will be able to advise you on what kind of activities you might be able to carry out, according to your circumstances, and make a plan of study with you.

If you are on a placement or internship at an external organisation, or due to start a placement or internship, you should discuss attendance with your mentor/line manager and Queen Mary supervisor, and follow the guidance about attendance issued by that organisation.

How can I access research resources, such as labs and the library?

We have already reopened most of our laboratories to enable our academics to carry out their world-leading research, with laboratory space now operating across all three faculties. The safety of staff working in our laboratories is paramount, and this has only been made possible by following guidance to ensure that each facility is Covid-19 secure. Our training activities for researchers have moved entirely online. Although our libraries currently remain closed, we have worked to ensure that as many materials as possible are available online. This includes not only journals and databases, but also e-books. 

Access to all our campuses is currently limited however  if you would like to access laborotory space you should discuss this directly with your supervisor to ensure that this can be done safely.  

Many library resources can be accessed online. Many additional e-resources have been made available by publishers for a limited period.

Library-Managed Study Space Bookings
(20 July 2020 – 11 September 2020)

A number of Library-managed study desks in different locations on the Mile End Campus are now available to book.

What facilities are available?

Current locations are summarised below – you can find them by looking at the Campus Map

Toilet facilities are open in each location, and there is access to networked printers (MFDs) in some locations.

Please note that the Mile End Library is providing a limited onsite service at the moment, comprising bookable study space on the ground floor (silent study only) and a pre-arranged click and collect service for borrowing library books which are not available online. You can find more on our web pages at: https://www.library.qmul.ac.uk/using-the-library/library-services-during-covid-19/ 

Location Desks with fixed PCs

  • Mile End Library Ground Floor 27 (Opening Hours 10.00 – 22.00, Mon-Sat)
  • Canalside 3 (Opening Hours 10.00 – 22.00, Mon-Sat)
  • The Hive 24 (Opening Hours 10.00 – 18.00, Mon-Fri)
  • Graduate Centre Floor 7 – Postgraduate Reading Room 0 (Opening Hours 10.00 – 18.00, Mon-Fri)

Location Desks with power only

  • Mile End Library Ground Floor 38 (Opening Hours 10.00 – 22.00, Mon-Sat)
  • Canalside 7 (Opening Hours 10.00 – 22.00, Mon-Sat)
  • The Hive 7 (Opening Hours 10.00 – 18.00, Mon-Fri)
  • Graduate Centre Floor 7 – Postgraduate Reading Room 9 (Opening Hours 10.00 – 18.00, Mon-Fri)

Are the facilities safe to use?

Risk Assessments for all study spaces have been carried out. Enhanced hygiene measures have been put in place and social distancing at 2m applies. We expect all service users to behave responsibly, and in line with the Queen Mary Code of Student Discipline.

Who can use this study space?

In order to make the Mile End campus Covid-Secure, all students must pre-book before visiting the campus. You must be currently enrolled on a course of study at Queen Mary, and have a valid university ID card. Since study facilities on campus are still limited, please only request to use this space if you do not have suitable facilities at home.

How can I make a booking?

You can make bookings directly at http://qmul.libcal.com 

Are there any other study spaces available?

Yes, a number of desks in IT labs at Mile End, Whitechapel and West Smithfield are now available to book through the same system. Please go to http://qmul.libcal.com to see the locations. Limited specialist facilities may also be available within your School – they will be in touch with you directly if this is the case.

What else do I need to know?

You will need to agree to a set of Terms and Conditions at the time of booking, which are necessary to keep you and the other students using the study space safe. There are limits on the length of time and number of slots that you can book per week, to help us provide this service to all who need it.

What training and professional development opportunities are available?

Researcher Development, Careers and the Library are offering all their workshops as webinars and have introduced new webinars on topics that specifically aim to address some your concerns during this time (eg sustaining connectedness with colleagues, maintaining productivity, professional development, online access to research materials and changes to the recruitment landscape).

The most up-to-date list of webinars is available on www.cpdbookings.qmul.ac.uk (search by type: Research Student). Instructions on how to join the webinars are given under the description for each individual workshop.

I want to go home because of the Coronavirus outbreak. What is Queen Mary’s policy on this?

The UK Government has announced that everyone must stay at home and only go outside to purchase food, for health reasons or work – if they are unable to do so from home.  Whilst we are re-opening access to space on campus students may wish and need to continue to work from home. All teaching and student research activities are being carried out remotely and all but essential on-campus services are being delivered remotely.

If you return to the UK from aborad you need to follow UK government travel quarrentine information here, this includes guidelines on how and when you should self isolate at home for 14 days.  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-how-to-self-isolate-when-you-travel-to-the-uk/coronavirus-covid-19-how-to-self-isolate-when-you-travel-to-the-uk

On 26 March 2020, the UK government advised that students still living in on-campus accommodation should remain in that accommodation and not attempt to travel. We are continuing to provide support for students remaining on campus. 

Visit gov.uk/coronavirus for the latest UK government information and guidance.

For further advice, the Department for Education (DfE) has launched a new helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education on 0800 046 8687. The helpline is open from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. 

I am on a Tier 4 Visa – what should I do?

Queen Mary's Advice and Counselling Service have published information for current Queen Mary students with Tier 4 immigration permission. Further information can be found on the dedicated Advice and Counselling Covid-19 website

If you have concerns about your own immigration status in the UK, or that of a family member, please contact the Advice and Counselling Service for confidential advice.

I have a studentship. Will I be paid?

Research student stipend payments that are co-ordinated by Queen Mary are paid quarterly in advance for the three month period starting on 1 October, 1 January, 1 April and 1 July. Stipend payments for the period 1 April – 30 June 2020 were paid at the end of March. Stipend payments for the period 1 July to 30 September 2020 will be paid by 30 June 2020.

If you have any questions please contact the Research Degrees Office researchdegrees@qmul.ac.uk  

 

Will I receive supervision during the Coronavirus outbreak?

While working from home, you and your supervisory team can continue to discuss research by telephone and online meetings. These should be recorded in your Supervision Log on MySIS in the usual way.

I need to travel to undertake essential research/data collection/attend a conference?

All field trips and research trips have been cancelled until 1st July 2020, this is also the case for all research student trips.  We will review this situation and update our guidance regularly.

In an effort to minimise the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 in human participant research interactions, Queen Mary University of London requires that human participant research involving face-to-face interaction with participants be halted until further notice.  This position will be reviewed on 1st July 2020.  

Studies which provide an immediate benefit to the health and/or well-being of participants; or studies where halting procedures would cause harm to the research participants may continue, although given the remit of the QMERC we do not foresee many studies eligible to fit this criteria. Principal Investigators should contact the Research Ethics team (research-ethics@qmul.ac.uk) to make a case for this exception.

International travel:

It is acknowledged that not all countries are progressing through the COVID19 pandemic at the same rate, and that local government guidance in other countries may be different from that the UK. We still request that researchers consider approaches to conduct their research work without in-person interaction where possible. This request can only be relaxed if Queen Mary staff or students are already based outside of the UK and are conducting human participant research in countries where COVID-19 is controlled, and social distancing is not a current government recommendation. Researchers must abide by the most stringent of local guidance and also follow the FCO advice referring to restrictions on movement in each country. If these criteria apply, face-to-face human participant research can start or re-commence. It is expected that a risk assessment addressing any anticipated risks to the researchers’ health and wellbeing is signed off by the Head of Department

Queen Mary's Ethics Committee has issued a temporary procedure in light of the Covid-19 situation which should be followed.

http://www.jrmo.org.uk/media/jrmo/docs/news-and-training/QM-Ethics-of-Research-Committee-COVID-19-Guidance-for-Researchers-v2-7-May-2020.pdf

Will my annual assessment of progression take place?

While  you are working remotely, alternative arrangements may be made by your school/institute. For example you could attend the progression meeting online. 

If the progression panel is unanimous in its decision that your work and progress are satisfactory then your school/institute may decide that you have passed the annual progression assessment without a formal meeting. 

If you need to do more work an online meeting should be held to discuss this with you and your school/institute will advise you about the further work you need to do and the deadline for submission of new material. 

If the panel raises concerns about your academic progress and considers that your progress is not satisfactory, a formal assessment meeting must be held in person with you. No decision to de-register a student at annual academic progression may be made unless a meeting has been held in person. After that meeting, if the outcome is referral for a second attempt you will be given advice on what you need to do and a deadline for submission of material.     

If appropriate the conclusion of first year progression may be delayed beyond the usual 12 months deadline.

Will I be able to apply for an interruption of study if access to research facilities is restricted or closed?

While Queen Mary campuses and facilities are closed you should try to keep up with your studies as far as possible and keep in touch with your supervisory team. We recognise that students may find themselves unable to complete essential tasks and/or experiments in order to make progress with their research studies for a number of reasons, for example due to illness or caring responsibilities. We do not expect, nor will we oblige, students to take an interruption of studies during this period. Please do not apply for an interruption of study at this time due to Covid-19 reasons. We will write to students and your school/institute soon to explain how we intend to make provision for the time lost due to Covid-19.   

If students choose to interrupt their studies during this time due to other commitments/considerations the normal interruption process should be followed. 

Please see http://www.arcs.qmul.ac.uk/research-degrees/research-degree-students/interrupt/ 

Please liaise with your supervisors every two weeks, to record how your studies have been impacted by the Covid-19 situation, and to share this information with your School/Institute. We have asked research students to record the impact on their studies via the below form. This will allow us to understand the full impact of the Covid-19 situation on research students across the institution. 

Covid-19 Research Student disruption form

If you are unable to leave an affected area, or you have to go into self-isolation, or you have the Coronavirus or other health issues where you cannot see a GP to obtain medical certification you must email studenthealth@qmul.ac.uk with your name, student ID and programme of study.  This will help us keep an accurate record about who is affected and to give you further guidance.

 

I am on interruption of study which ends soon. When will I be able to re-enrol?

Current interruptions may be rolled forward until Queen Mary re-opens. Please complete the interruption of study form to confirm that you wish your interruption of study to continue and send this to your school/institute. If you wish to re-enrol before then, for example to resume funding or because you can work on your studies from home, please contact your school/institute or the Research Degrees Office researchdegrees@qmul.ac.uk

 

Can I apply to extend my registration period and thesis submission deadline?

Students in their final 12 months of study or who have writing up status can apply for an extension to the period of registration and the thesis submission deadline.

Please keep a good record of how much time has been lost due to the closure of the university and external resources to support your research. Keeping good records will enable you to explain the disruption to your studies and help you to plan your timetable for completing the thesis and estimating the new thesis submission date.

Information about the process for applications for extensions is available at 
http://www.arcs.qmul.ac.uk/research-degrees/research-degree-students/extension/ 

The extensions webpage and the extensions application form are being updated for changes being made during the Covid-19 situation. The webpage and the new form will be updated by 10 July 2020.

How should I submit my thesis?

The Research Degrees Office is closed. Staff are working remotely Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm. 

During the closure period, the thesis may be submitted by email to researchdegrees@qmul.ac.uk or you may use the QMUL File Exchange Service at https://collect.qmul.ac.uk/ 
If the File Exchange Service is used an email must be sent to researchdegrees@qmul.ac.uk including the collect weblink on or before your thesis submission deadline. The email must be sent before 23:59 hours on the thesis submission deadline. Please copy all emails to your supervisor and school/institute research degrees manager. If possible please download and complete the thesis submission form at http://www.arcs.qmul.ac.uk/research-degrees/research-degree-students/thesis-submission/#Howtosubmityourthesis2 and attach this to your email to RDO. 

The two bound copies of the thesis will not be required. The thesis must be submitted as a single combined document, preferably PDF. Appendices must not be submitted as separate documents except for digital/video material. If you have any questions or need to submit additional material with your thesis, eg digital material, please contact  researchdegrees@qmul.ac.uk   

Over this period only, the date of thesis submission recorded on MySIS is the date on which the electronic copy of the thesis is submitted to RDO.

 

Can I or an examiner attend my viva online?

Following UK Government advice and Queen Mary guidance on working from home, limiting non-essential travel and social distancing measures, the oral examination of research degree candidates may be conducted by video-link and several or all participants may attend online.

Your supervisor is responsible for arranging your viva. Requests must be sent by your school/institute to the Research Degrees Office to obtain approval by the appropriate Faculty Deputy Dean for Research Degrees Programmes.

For further information please see the full policy on video link vivas here: Policy on remote vivas 19032020 [PDF 393KB]

How can I request an online viva?

Requests for online vivas should be made to the school/institute and require the approval of the school/institute Director of Graduate Studies and the Faculty Deputy Dean for Research Studies. Once everything is agreed within the school/institute they will submit the request to the Research Degrees Office to obtain the approval of the Faculty Deputy Dean. A member of academic staff must be appointed as an independent chair of the examination.

I am a new research student. When can I enrol?

Students holding offers with a start date of 1 April to 1 June 2020 have been contacted by Queen Mary to defer their start date and we will arrange a new enrolment date.  

We will keep the position under review. If you have any questions please contact the school/institute that you will be working in or pgrenrolment@qmul.ac.uk  

When is the next PhD induction event?

The PhD induction that was due to take place in April has been cancelled.  This will be re-convened in line with the next PhD enrolment date. 

What is Queen Mary’s approach to extensions of funding for research studies?

We know that covid-19 has impacted the studies, working and personal lives of many of our students. Queen Mary wants to support you during this challenging time. We will consider all requests for extensions fairly and will be flexible and supportive wherever we can. 

  • What is the process for allocating funded extensions?

Funded extensions (time + additional stipend payments) can be applied for at this time by PhD students whose funding ends 1st March 2020 to 31st March 2021.  This is in line with current UKRI funding extensions.  Students whose funding ends outside of these dates can currently apply for an un-funded (time only) extension. We are discussing how we support PhD students with finishing dates outside of these dates.  

Applications for funding extensions will be considered and decisions made by a specially convened Research Degrees, Programmes and Examinations Board (RDPEB). We have also asked that applications for additional funding be submitted ‘blind’ so that applications are anonymous and do not indicate applicants’ gender, age, or ethnicity. This is to allow the committee to consider applications for additional funding on the basis of the need alone, to make the process as fair as possible.  In addition to this we have undertaken an Equality Impact Assessment, and have recruited additional staff onto the RDPEB, which will assess the applications, to improve the diversity of representation.  

The Doctoral College will write directly to those who are eligible to apply for funding who do not do so to ensure that they are supported in this process.  

It is our hope to fund all applications we consider fundable.

Our criteria for funding applications as laid out in the extension form ( COVID-19 Funding Extension Request Application form [DOC 45KB] ) are as follows:

  1. Extent of disruption to studies (e.g. restriction of access to research facilities and resources) as indicated by student, supervisor, and DGS
  2. Supervision and support provided by the school/institute during this period
  3. Access by supervisor/student to other funds to support extension of stipend. Queen Mary funding for extensions should only be accessed if no other funding source is available to the student/supervisory team. 

 

Please also see FAQ "Am I able to apply for additional funding?" 

A response to students asking about this from Queen Mary: PhD student response [PDF 130KB]

What is the position of QMUL on providing non funded extensions to the registration period ?

Students in their final 12 months of study or who have writing-up status can apply for an extension to the period of registration and the thesis submission deadline. Applications are considered on an individual basis by the Research Degrees Programmes and Examinations Board. This is to allow each student to apply for the additional period they require and recognises the diversity of experiences of our research student  community.  The Board meets once a month. Please keep a good record of how much time has been lost due to the closure of the university and external resources to support your research. Keeping good records will enable you to explain the disruption to your studies and help you to plan your timetable for completing the thesis and estimating the new thesis submission date.

We have revised the extension request form  and application requirements to take into account the disruption caused by the Covid-19 situation.

Information about the process for applications for extensions is available at

http://www.arcs.qmul.ac.uk/research-degrees/research-degree-students/extension/

I am a disabled PhD student - is there specific support available for me?

The university will arrange for a specific communication to be sent to all PGR students with a registered disability recorded  on their MySIS student portal which outlines existing support mechanisms and services for students who may require an extension to their studies.  We will also liaise with DDS colleagues to ensure that this messaging goes to all PGRs who are undergoing a disability diagnosis process through QMUL. This email will go to all disabled students with a PGR status, whether or not they are entitled to a Disabled Student’s Allowance (DSA) or registered with the university’s Disability and Dyslexia Service (DDS). Not all PhD students’ DSAs are administered by Student Finance England or its regional equivalents; some are funded by individual Research Councils. As such, students are best advised to liaise with staff in DDS as they may need bespoke advocacy to address any support issues they may face as a consequence of having to extend their programme, (this will apply equally to any students not in receipt of a DSA).

If you are applying for a funding extension, and a disability and/or physical or mental health condition has impacted on your ability to work during the period of Covid-19 disruption, please mention this in your application.

Contacts

For queries regarding PhD submission and examination please contact the Research Degrees Office:

researchdegrees@qmul.ac.uk

For any other queries please contact the Doctoral College:

doctoralcollege@qmul.ac.uk

If you need to speak with someone directly, please do not hesitate to contact us via email we can arrange skype/phone meetings if needed.