Department of Biological Sciences
Yearly Assessment for Higher Degree Research Students
Higher degree research students in the Department of Biological Sciences (i.e. MPhil and PhD students) must complete a yearly assessment, consisting of a seminar and interview, and two progress reports. The purpose of these is simply to establish that students have a clear research plan in place and are making progress towards achieving it. The emphasis is on work accomplished over the previous year.
HDR students must complete both the Higher Degree Research Office's Annual Progress report form, and a Departmental Progress Report.
The HDRO report is of the "fill in the box" type and is available from eStudent. This form must be completed online. Once you have answered the questions and submitted the form it will be automatically emailed to your supervisor, for completion and then returned to the HDRO.
The Departmental Progress Report is completely separate from the HDRO form and is your chance to demonstrate what you have achieved during the past year. It is advisable to discuss your Departmental Progress Report with your supervisor(s) before you submit it. We would expect this report to be about two pages long with a maximum of four pages; attachments (see 4 below) are not included in this limit. This report must be submitted to the Biology HOD office.
In the Departmental Progress Report students must address the following points.
- Give a title and a list of each of the proposed chapters of your thesis, with a breakdown of the content of each chapter. For each chapter indicate how much of the data collection, analysis and write up has already been completed and what parts of the work has been done in the last 12 months.
- Give a timeline for expected completion of each of these chapters.
- Briefly outline the progress you have made over the year and indicate if you have encountered any obstacles that have slowed your progress.
- Attach any manuscripts, conference abstracts or chapters that you have completed during the year.
- Give a reasonable estimate of when you expect to submit the completed thesis. (Discuss this with your supervisor so that you are both saying the same thing to the progress committee)
Newly enrolled students will no yet be in the position to address all of these points in detail. For these students it is important to establish that progress is being made in their literature review, that protocols for the initial experiments have been developed and that the proposed chapters that will make up the thesis have been planned.
Seminar attendance is compulsory for all students for the entire duration of the HDR Conference.
The HDR conference is held around the middle of November and each student will present a "conference-style" talk. To fit in all the students we usually have three simultaneous sessions running over three days. Seminars are twenty minutes long with five minutes for questions. At the beginning of the talk you should give an overview of the proposed content of your thesis and show how the work you are presenting fits into the thesis. You should also outline your future plans.
Seminars are normally grouped by subject, and the Progress Committee for a given set of seminars will be knowledgeable in that subject area. If, when the seminar timetable comes out, you find yourself grouped with other speakers well removed from your subject area, you should ask to be moved to a more appropriate stream. Mutual incomprehension between student and panel does not make for a useful interview.
Interviews take place on the same day you give your seminar. The Progress Committee who will conduct the interviews are a panel of academics (normally two or three) who sit in on your seminar stream. There are three separate interviews; with the student, with the supervisor and with both students and supervisor together. The purpose of these interviews is to clarify any questions arising from your progress report or talk, and to find out if there are any problems impeding your progress. You should be perfectly frank in this discussion because it is the responsibility of the Progress Committee to address and hopefully help resolve any problems that you identify.
If difficulties have been identified or if students have applied to extend their scholarships a mid-year review may be recommended and this is usually in the form of an interview within the Department.
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