Skip to main content
Directorate of Governance and Legal Services

Collaborative Research Degrees

Collaborative Research Degree programmes (joint awards)

For all collaborative research degrees please contact Mary Childs, Assistant Academic Registrar, Research Degrees.

Joint PhDs: Definition

QMUL together with one or more other degree awarding institutions, provides a doctoral programme leading to a single PhD award made jointly by the partner institutions. 

Criteria for establishing joint awards: the following criteria will be considered when considering the strategic and business case for establishing joint awards:

  • Proposals for joint awards will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The proposal must demonstrate clear benefits for both QMUL and for the students on the programme of study. The strategic case should explain the ways in which the programme of study will be enhanced through the collaboration, and what synergies will be realised through this model of delivery. The benefits of the proposal should be proportionate to the overheads associated with establishing and supporting the programmes.
  • The partner(s) should be of international standing at least equivalent to that of QMUL and the partnership should support QMUL’s Strategy. Evaluation of the partnership will be part of the due diligence process and will take into account: peer review, national and international measures. The proposal will need to make clear the rationale for the joint model of delivery.
  • Partnership arrangements should be based on shared academic interests and complementary expertise. In the case of international collaborations, the programme should exploit academically the opportunity for students to enrich their learning experience across different cultures.
  • QMUL retains full responsibility for any award issued in its name and will maintain an overview of the academic standards for each element of the programme.
  • The strategic case will need to set out the contribution made by each partner to the delivery and assessment of the programme. The extent of the contribution will be determined on a case by case basis.

Overview of the procedure:

Initial stage (provisional agreement to explore the partnership): this is made on the basis of a brief outline of the proposal to be sent to Research Degrees Office who will advise on issues that may need to be considered. Key points to consider at this stage:

  • Is the partner legally empowered to award a joint degree;
  • Details of the partner and a statement to cover compatibility with QMUL, status and ranking;
  • What are the benefits of the programme, both to QMUL and prospective students;
  • Relationship to QMUL Strategy/Faculty plans;
  • Who will be the lead institution;
  • Proposed start time for the programme;
  • Contribution of the partners to the programme: for a joint award, the normal expectation is that there will be an equal academic contribution from each partner.

Strategic approval: Partnerships Board (PB)/Queen Mary Senior Executive (QMSE) (depending on the complexity of the proposal) will grant strategic approval of the partnership. This is done on the basis of a High Risk Proposal Form, including a Due Diligence process and risk assessment. For more information on this part of the process, see the High Risk Activity page.

Approval of the detailed provision: Detailed academic approval by RDPEB on the basis of a Part 2 Programme Proposal Form. It is expected that RDPEB papers would be accompanied by a draft MoA. Please check with Mary Childs for the required documentation.

Following the academic approval, the detailed MoA with the partner and the Individual Doctoral Agreement can be finalised.

Double PhD arrangement: QMUL does not normally enter into double PhD arrangements with another institution.

Joint supervision


A student or cohort of students will spend a significant proportion of their programme receiving supervision at both QMUL and another institution or organisation (including industrial partners). Under such arrangements students may be registered only for an award from QMUL or for an award from the partner institution.

Such arrangements are considered on an ad hoc basis.

Arrangements for individual students are agreed with the Research Degrees Office and Joint Research Management Office (JRMO) as appropriate, and a signed agreement is required.

Arrangements for a cohort of students may require a new programme to be established and should follow the new programme approval process. 

Back to top