Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry

Research Student Guide: Progression

9 month report

Progression is a formal process that permits students to continue to the next stage of their research studies programme.

The first progression point for full-time students occurs between 6 to 9 months after registration.  

For a part-time students, this progression point occurs between 12 to 18 months after registration.

Students are required to submit a report and undergo an oral examination.

The report should be approximately 2,000 words in length and primarily focus on demonstrating a critical understanding of one methodology. In addition, it should include:

  • brief introduction
  • aims of the project
  • how these aims will be addressed (consideration of the methods to be used)
  • plan of future work

There is no requirement that the report will include original data but any method validation that has been carried should be included.

In addition, students should report on the training they have undertaken as part of their Personal Development Planning (70 points are expected at this stage). Students should also indicate what future training they intend to take.

The report will be considered by a progression panel comprising at least two senior members of academic staff who have been approved by the Institute Director of Graduate Studies.

The examiners appointed to the progression panel will be experienced in supervision and examination. They will normally be internal to QMUL but in a different research centre to that of the student and supervisor.

The examiners should not been the student’s supervisors and cannot examine the student’s final thesis.

The oral examination will start with the student giving a short presentation summarising their project.

The panel will then question the student to assess their understanding of the:

  • project
  • methods to be used (including discussion of the critical review)
  • research process (including ethics, statistics, experimental design etc)
  • feasibility of future research plans
  • likelihood of submitting within four years (full-time students) or 7 years (part-time students)

The possible outcomes of the panel are:

  • Progress – the student may progress to the next stage of the research studies programme
  • Referred – the student must undertake further specified work and be reconsidered for progression within three months

If the student is referred, the panel will provide appropriate written feedback.

The student will have one further opportunity to resubmit their report and be re-assessed by the panel.

The possible outcomes of the panel are:

  • Progress – the student may progress to the next stage of the research studies programme
  • Fail to progress – the student may transfer registration to MPhil
  • Fail to progress – the student’s registration should be terminated

Transfer to MPhil or de-registration will result in the immediate cessation of any studentship payments and the student will be liable for tuition fees.

The chair of the progression panel will be responsible for ensuring that the student’s SITS record is updated appropriately.

The progression process must be completed by the end of the ninth month of registration. Failure to do this will automatically result in the student being referred.

If a student does not engage with this process it will be considered as the equivalent of failing to attend the examination and the student’s registration will be terminated.


  • Supervisors: nominate assessors via MySIS
  • Students: write the 2000 word report, submit training record, and prepare a 10 minute presentation
  • Supervisors and Students: organise the time and location of the interview
  • Assessors and Students: do the interview
  • Assessors: upload decision on to MySIS either by uploading the assessors form or a free text report and ticking the relevant boxes

18 month report

Students are required to complete a progress report 18 months after their initial registration. Students should:

1.  Write a report to include either:

  • a fully referenced literature survey setting out the background to the research (this is the bulk of the report and is intended to form the basis of the introduction/ literature review for the final thesis), or;
  • a fully developed chapter of the thesis (for students conducting a qualitative study), and;
  • details of methods and materials, and;
  • an account of any results obtained to date (if a student has a fully-formed results chapter which is intended for the final thesis, it is helpful to include that here) and;
  • a detailed plan of future studies with an outline of the planned thesis and a timetable for its completion.

This report should be no more than 20,000 words. Its purpose is to demonstrate progress and potential. It is likely that it will form a basis of the first chapter of the thesis which, for most students, will be the literature review. It should not require a long period of absence from lab work/data collection to write this report.

2. Provide evidence of satisfactory participation in doctoral development training (students need to complete 210 hours of training before submitting their thesis).

3. Undergo a viva voce examination by at least two independent assessors (these will normally be the same as the assessors for the 9 month report). 

At the viva voce examination a student is expected to give a 15 minute presentation which should include information about all their data collected to date. This will allow assessors to evaluate the likelihood of completion on time.

In addition, the supervisors must each provide a progress report which will be made available to the assessor prior to the viva voce.

Criteria for progression:

In both the submitted written work and the viva examination students must satisfy their assessors that they have:

•  a deep knowledge and critical understanding of the relevant literature;

•  developed an appropriate methodology to undertake the required research and made adequate progress with the methodology;

•  the ability to produce work of an appropriate level in terms of independent research, critical argument, use of sources, clarity of writing, and consistent use of scholarly apparatus;

•  the ability to complete the thesis within three years and three months from the date of initial registration (six years for part-time); 

• the ability to defend ideas and to accept constructive criticism;

• demonstrated that their research will make a clear contribution to knowledge in one or more areas of the topic.

In order to complete the progression requirements a student should ensure that all the relevant forms are completed:

  • Progress form for independent assessors

Completed forms should be sent to the Institute Director of Graduate Studies. 

If a student is unable to meet the criteria for progression, the independent assessors can recommend a referral. The student will then have a period of up to eight weeks to make up the deficiency. If at the end of this period, the assessors are not satisfied that the student has made the necessary progress then they will recommend termination of registration.

If a student has not passed this progression point after 24 months of full-time registration it is likely that their registration will be terminated as they will have failed to demonstrate the progress necessary for continued registration.

30 month report

Students are required to complete a report on their progress at the 30 month stage. The report should include the following:

  • a review of new results obtained since the 18 month review;
  • a draft version of the contents pages for the thesis which should be in sufficient detail so as to clearly define the thesis;
  • a summary of work that needs to be done in the remaining months (this should be ranked in order of priority);
  • a timetable for the completion of experimental work (this should not include the provision for new work);
  • a timetable for completion of thesis chapters and submission of thesis no later than 39 months;
  • evidence of satisfactory participation in doctoral development training (students need to complete 210 hours of training before submitting their thesis);
  • evidence of submission of examination entry forms.


A student who has completed all their experimental work and collected all their data and and and who, in the judgement of their supervisor, is in a position to submit their thesis within 12 months can apply to transfer to writing-up status.

The maximum period for writing up is one calendar year irrespective of mode of attendance. In exceptional circumstances the writing up period may be extended. In such circumstances an additional fee will be payable. Writing up status counts as part of the overall period of registration. Writing up status ends on the date of submission of the thesis.

Students must have completed the minimum registration period (2 years fill-time or 4 years part-time) and not exceeded the maximum registration period (4 years full-time or 7 years part-time). 

Students who enrolled before September 2010 and intend to submit for a PhD or MD(Res) will only be permitted to transfer to writing up status if they have upgraded. 

Students with writing up status are not liable for tuition fees. However, students must continue to re-enrol during the period of writing up.