Confirmation of Status
This section provides information about Confirmation of Status, including links to relevant regulations and useful information and resources.
Confirmation of Status provides a second formal review of progress in the 3-4 years of the student’s research programme. It provides an important indication of whether the work on the thesis continues to develop satisfactorily; if this is the case then submission of the thesis within the student’s funded period/four years would appear reasonable. The student’s work is assessed for confirmation by two assessors other than their supervisor.
The information on this page summarises Divisional and University requirements and guidance for confirmation. Follow the links provided for detailed information. Please note that your department may also have specific requirements, deadlines, templates and guidance, and it is essential that you find out what these are. Your graduate studies secretary or administrator will be able to help and advise you. If you are supervising a student on a doctoral training programme and they are now undertaking their project/research in a department in another division, please check what the requirements are with the relevant divisional/department contact.
Confirmation assessment is different to the transfer assessment. The assessors check that progress is sufficient to achieve the goal of submitting within the period of the funded period / four years. They will therefore focus on how the student’s research is progressing, the quality of the work completed, whether it is at the right level, and on plan for completion. They will also be checking that the research will make a ‘significant and substantial contribution’ to the student’s field of study. The assessment can be used as a good opportunity to prepare for the viva voce examination of the thesis. More detail on what the assessors will be looking at is included in the MPLS Checklist for Students.
It should be noted that successful completion of confirmation of status provides an indicator only for readiness for submission, not for the final outcome of the examination of the thesis.
Confirmation of status for DPhil students must take place no later than nine terms after admission to graduate status. You should advise your student to apply for confirmation of DPhil status before the end of eighth week of the eighth term after admission as a graduate research student.
For students on a Doctoral Training Programme, confirmation of status must take place no later than ten terms after admission to graduate status, subject to any specific regulations. You should advise your student to apply for confirmation of status before the end of eighth week of the tenth term after admission. However, each department has its own set timing and requirements and you/your student should check this with the relevant department/CDT administrator.
These timings have been set to allow sufficient time to make confirmation of status a helpful part of a student’s development as a scientific researcher. It is therefore a good idea to encourage your student to apply for confirmation of status at least 6-12 months before the expected submission of the thesis.
When reviewing and assessing the student’s work, it is important that your expectations of the student are moderated by the nature of the project on which the student is engaged, for example if the work is interdisciplinary.
The key stages of the confirmation process in MPLS are:
- Preparation: You should encourage your student to make use of the MPLS Confirmation of Status Checklist. It maps directly onto the assessment criteria that the assessors will be using. As supervisor you should also familiarise yourself with the requirements for confirmation of status in good time, and perhaps consider how preparation for the assessment can be part of day to day work, rather than your student having to approach it as an isolated process.
- MPLS Preparing for Confirmation of Status form. The student should use this form to reflect on their progress towards confirmation; it has again been designed to support the student in reflecting explicitly on how their work meets the assessment criteria. It should be completed and submitted in GSR the term before the confirmation assessment is due to take place. A copy of the completed form will be given to the confirmation assessors as part of the assessment. You should actively encourage the student to engage with it, and ideally use a supervision session to go through it and discuss it together. This will also help you and the student identify any specific areas where they might still need help.
- Students are required to produce a brief written report about research achievements to date. Specific requirements will be set out by the department, and might include a publication(s) or draft chapter(s) from the thesis; and plans, and the timetable, for submission of the thesis. You should review and provide feedback on your student's work/plans before they are submitted for assessment.
- The student completes and submits the GSO.14.MPLS form, and any subject specific forms. As supervisor you are required to provide, with your student, a summary of progress to date and a timetable for the submission of the thesis. You are also required to confirm that you are aware of your student’s application.
- MPLS Confirmation of status forms – supervisor's form. As supervisor you should use this form to provide your evaluation of the student’s work. The Director of Graduate Studies and assessors will review the form as part of the confirmation assessment.
- All applications for Confirmation of Status must be considered by two assessors other than the supervisor.
- Confirmation interview with assessors takes place.
- Assessors complete and submit the relevant confirmation report form. Your department will have specific requirements for assessment so the assessors must use the department report forms. The divisional templates are provided here for information only; they include guidance for assessors and information about the possible outcomes.
- Following the confirmation assessment you and your student will be provided with a copy of the assessors' report.
Section 7 of the University’s Policy on Research Degrees, which covers examination and confirmation.
Subject Specific Examination Regulations:
- Biological Sciences (Plant Sciences & Zoology)
- Mathematical Sciences (Computer Science, Mathematics & Statistics)
- Physical Sciences (Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Engineering Science, Materials & Physics)
- Doctoral Training Programmes
Some departments organise briefing and discussion sessions for their supervisors, which are useful opportunities to update yourself on regulations and processes, and to share practice and discuss experiences. Please contact your Director of Graduate Studies to find out if your department is planning such a session.