Guidelines and Code of Conduct

Introduction

These guidelines have been approved by the Board of Studies in the School of Sport, Health & Exercise Sciences (SSHES) for the management of the research training and the support of postgraduate research students (PGRs) in the School. They supplement the Bangor University and College of Health and Behavioural Sciences guidelines and regulations and are consistent with the QAA for Higher Education UK Quality Code for Higher Education.

They are intended to provide both PGRs and supervisors with an understanding of the specific research training management procedures in SSHES and with their rights and responsibilities. The guidelines are written with full time PGRs in mind. However, the management of part time PGRs and full and part time MPhil students should utilise the same procedures wherever possible. Any time limits mentioned apply to full time PGRs and should be adjusted appropriately for part time PGRs. Similarly, the guidelines are written with the assumption that PGRs start their studentships at the beginning of the academic year. Any dates mentioned should be adjusted appropriately for those commencing their studies at other times of the year.

 

Aims of Research Training

Director of Postgraduate Research

The Thesis Committee

Research Training Provision

 

Development Review, Monitoring and Progression

 

Supervisors' Responsibilities

Students' Rights and Responsibilities

Examination of the Thesis

Aims of Research Training in SSHES

The aim of our research training programme is to develop PGRs' potential as independent researchers who operate from a theory-driven perspective and can address both theoretical and applied questions using a wide variety of research methods. Our PGRs are expected to develop a very sound understanding of a broad range of analytical techniques, underpinned by a strong conceptual grasp of research processes and their underlying philosophies. Flexibility and adaptability in selecting ways of answering particular questions are encouraged. We aim to develop strengths in written and verbal communication and skills so that PGRs are able to effectively communicate with both expert and lay audiences through a variety of formats. Our emphasis is very much on research training in a broad sense, rather than just training to produce a particular thesis. Thus we are also committed to the all-round academic and professional development of our PGRs. To this end, our PGRs are actively involved in the research, teaching and administrative aspects of the School's work and, where appropriate, work opportunities external to the School. The School is well-known for its learner-centred approach to both undergraduate teaching and postgraduate research training and has been a leader in developing this ethos throughout the University.

Postgraduate Research Lead

Overall management of research training in the School is the responsibility of the Postgraduate Research Lead (PRL), under the direction of the Head of School. The specific responsibilities of the PRL are:

  1. To co-ordinate the applications, admissions and induction procedures for PGRs.
  2. To ensure that both staff and PGRs are aware of and effectively implement the School's procedures for research training and PGR support.
  3. To ensure that PGRs are provided with adequate resources.
  4. To ensure that PGR student representatives are in place and to liaise with them regarding any PGR issues that arise.
  5. To provide general advice and support to individual PGRs when they request it.
  6. To co-ordinate the process of monitoring of PGR progress
  7. To co-ordinate the process of thesis examination.
  8. To liaise with the Academic Registry and the Doctoral School with respect to all PGR affairs.
  9. To arbitrate between supervisors, Thesis Committee Chairs and PGRs in the case of problems that cannot be resolved by the Committee itself.

Admissions

Formal applications are channelled through the University's Admissions Office or, in the case of international students, through the International Education Centre. Potential students will normally have a Masters degree or at least a First Class undergraduate degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline and be able to demonstrate an acceptable level of understanding of research methods and data analysis appropriate to their discipline.

In many cases applicants will already have identified a member of staff as a potential supervisor and discussed with him or her the topic of the research. In cases where a potential supervisor and research topic have not been identified, applicants are required to present a brief proposal of the research topic that they are interested in pursuing. The PRL will seek to match such applicants with an appropriate supervisor.

Where a successful match is found, and the applicant has funding, the Admissions Office will make a formal offer of a place to the potential student. The first year of registration will in all cases be provisional. Students will proceed to full registration in year two subject to satisfactory progress as outlined below. Applicants whose first language is not English will normally be expected to have achieved a score of at least 6.5 on standardised English language tests (IELTSs). The School operates an equal opportunities policy with respect to PGR admissions. Special provision can be made for PGRs who wish to submit their work through the medium of Welsh.

The Review Committee 

At the heart of the research training management process is the Review Committee, whose role is to oversee the PGR's research training and professional development and to monitor and evaluate progress towards a timely completion of the thesis. The intention is to identify and cater for individual PGR needs, to spot problems as early as possible and to implement mechanisms for recovery from such problems.

The Review Committee will typically consist of a principal supervisor, a second supervisor, a chairperson and the PGR. The Chair will be selected by the supervisor with the agreement of the PGR. The responsibilities of the Chair are to assist in monitoring the progress of the PGRs’ research training and thesis, to monitor the quality of supervision provided and to ensure that a good PGR-supervisor relationship is maintained. A chair for the Thesis Committee should be identified and introduced to the PGR no later than two weeks after the PGR has started.

All supervisors will be approved by the Head of School. New supervisors (those who have not previously supervised at least one research degree to completion) will be supported by a second, more experienced supervisor. In line with University regulations, no member of staff can be a principle supervisor for more than six PGR students. New members of staff should discuss these Guidelines with the PRL at the earliest opportunity.

The Review Committee will ensure that the procedures for PGR development reviews and progression decisions are followed and PGR reports completed, as described in Development Review, Monitoring and Progression below. 
In the first instance, it is the Committee Chair's responsibility to deal with unsatisfactory progress. If the problem persists then the matter is referred to the Postgraduate Research Lead who may take action or may refer the matter on to the Head of School.

The Review Committee Chair can be a strong source of social and academic support for both the PGR and the supervisor, and in effect can be the personal tutor for the student. The Chair should, therefore, take an active interest in the PGR's research training. They should meet formally or informally with students on a regular basis (at least once per semester) to discuss progress.

The First Supervisory Meeting

Normally, the aim of the first supervisory meeting is to establish and clarify the expectations, rights and responsibilities of each member of the supervisory team and should address the following issues:

  1. The timing and frequency of supervisory meetings.
  2. Where there is more than one supervisor, the roles of each one in the supervisory process.
  3. The School's expectations regarding hours of work devoted to the research, holidays and the availability of the PGR within the department.
  4. The School's expectations regarding work done for the School (Departmental Hours).
  5. The School's and the University's monitoring and progression procedures for PGRs.
  6. The amount and frequency of written submissions expected of the student and the expected turnaround time by supervisors.
  7. The opportunities provided by the University's Doctoral School.
  8. Resources that the PGR may expect and what is expected of them in return.

Development Review, Monitoring and Progression

Registration is probationary in the first year. Full PhD registration is confirmed at the end of the first year subject to satisfactory progress and successful verbal and written presentations, as outlined below. PGRs can be withdrawn from the PhD programme or downgraded to MPhil at any point in their studentship if progress is deemed unsatisfactory by the Review Committee and PRL, after being given sufficient warnings and time and support to get back on track.

Supervisor(s) and PGRs are encouraged to keep a brief record of all supervisory meetings which will be written-up by the PGR and endorsed by the supervisor(s).

The School operates a process of PGR development review and monitoring, in line with the University and Doctoral School requirements. The aims of the process are:

  • To support the PGR experience based on timely progression, self-development and academic rigour
  • To identify strengths and weaknesses in the development of a PGR’s capabilities and the project objectives
  • To ensure the development of annual action plans based on the assessment of progress and the project aims/objectives
  • To ensure the quality of the PGR- supervisor relationship.

The development review process is focused on a set of criteria which outline the expected progression in students' capabilities in the following areas:

  • Project Management skills
  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Research design/laboratory skills
  • Data analysis skills
  • Communication skills

The review forms the basis for the completion of annual monitoring forms required by the University and Doctoral School. From 2017 the University has moved to an online review system that is accessed via myBangor (under the Postgraduate Progress Review tab). PGRs are required to complete the relevant forms prior to the meeting. Annual review meetings are expected to take place in June of each year.

The Interim Proposal

During the fourth month of the first year (normally January for the standard Autumn start) PGRs will deliver a verbal research presentation to the School. The content is flexible and will be agreed with the supervisor(s) and could be a proposal of planned studies, a general outline of the research area or questions of interest or a presentation of data. The content must be work generated since the start of the PhD (i.e., not work done previously at Masters level). The presentation will last 20 minutes and there will be 10 minutes for questions. Whenever possible an Interim Proposal Day will be arranged where several PGRs present together. In addition, by the time of the Interim Proposal it is expected that PGRs will have completed a reasonably substantial piece of writing to accompany the verbal presentation. Depending on the nature of the PhD, the writing could encompass some/all of the following: draft introduction to a research paper, draft methods section, research protocol, literature review, or interview schedule. Following the presentation the Review Committee will meet with the student to discuss progress and provide feedback. The supervisor(s) will complete a brief progress report for the Postgraduate Research Lead.

The Formal Proposal

During the ninth month after initial registration (normally June for the standard Autumn start) PGRs will give a formal verbal presentation to the School of their research proposal and/or the results or preliminary results of their first study/studies, and a proposal for future studies. The presentation will last 30 minutes and there will be 20 minutes for questions. Whenever possible a Proposal Day will be arranged where several PGRs present together. Immediately following the presentation the Review Committee will meet without the PGR to discuss progress and development and, based upon the verbal presentation and written work completed to date, determine whether sufficient progress has been made to warrant progression beyond the probationary period. For this meeting the Committee will co-opt at least one other member of staff who is independent of the student's supervisory team (usually the PRL). The PGR will then be invited to join the meeting to discuss the Committee's decisions and recommendations. The Committee will record:

(a) That progress is satisfactory and that the PGR should be allowed to progress to year two.

OR

(b) That progress is not satisfactory and more work is required before the PGR can progress to full PhD registration. In this case the steps that need to be taken to get back on track will be discussed and agreed and new requirements and deadlines set. The Committee may decide that a further verbal and/or written presentation will be necessary or they may make alternative arrangements to evaluate progress. The Committee may decide that it is in the best interests of the PGR to not progress any further or to switch to an MPhil degree.

The Supervisor's Specific Responsibilities

Supervisors should be familiar with the following documents:

The specific responsibilities of the supervisor(s) with respect to full time PGRs are:

  1. To give guidance to the PGR in choosing an appropriate research topic, in understanding the nature of a higher degree and the standards expected, in planning the research programme, in registering for appropriate training and development opportunities run by the Doctoral School, in coordinating other aspects of the PGRs’ research training and in preparing and submitting the thesis.
  2. To ensure, right from the start of the studentship, that the PGR is aware of the issues surrounding the ownership of intellectual property. In particular, the supervisor and PGR should come to an agreement about the issue of order of authorship of publications that may arise from the research. These issues should be re-addressed periodically throughout the studentship.
  3. To maintain contact through regular meetings (normally weekly).
  4. To be accessible to the PGR at all other reasonable times.
  5. To create a supportive environment in which PGRs feel comfortable in discussing their social and personal well-being, and to help overcome any problems should they arise.
  6. To request written work as appropriate and within agreed time limits and to return such work with detailed constructive comments within a reasonable time. As a rough guideline, such written work might be requested about once per month and PGRs might normally expect to have it returned within two weeks.
  7. To ensure that PGRs take an active part in the management of their own research training.
  8. To identify weaknesses and to ensure that PGRs are made aware of any inadequacies in their work or progress and to help them overcome any such weaknesses or inadequacies.
  9. To ensure, where appropriate, that the PGR is socially integrated into the School and that they take an active part in the School's activities.
  10. To act as the PGRs line manager for any work that they do within the School and to ensure that the PGR is not exploited in any way within the School (see the  Code of Practice for the Use of Postgraduate Students in Teaching) 
  11. To assist, where appropriate, in the further academic, professional and personal development of the PGR.
  12. To make every effort to ensure that full time PGRs submit a thesis within three, or at very most, four years of commencing their studies. 

Students' Rights and Responsibilities

Students should be familiar with the following documents:

  1. PGRs should familiarise themselves with the University regulations on time limits and submission of theses.
  2. PGRs can expect to receive supervision at least to the level described in the previous section.
  3. PGRs will receive all the normal benefits of registration for a higher degree provided by the University including access to the library and computing facilities, the Student's Union and the University sports and recreational facilities. In addition, full time PGRs will be provided with as much office space as is reasonably possible within the SSHES building, a desk, lockable filing cabinet and other storage space, and a key to the building and their office. They will have access to stationary and a telephone and will be given a photocopy code to allow unlimited access to the photocopying facilities. PGRs are expected, however, to exercise appropriate restraint in their use of stationary, the telephone and the photocopiers and they will be billed for personal telephone calls. The School will provide as many high specification personal computers and printers etc. as is possible, linked to the University network and hence e-mail and the internet, for the sole and unlimited use of PGRs. PGRs will have virtually unlimited access to Inter-Library Loans, although again reasonable restraint is expected and all such loan requests must be channelled through the supervisor.
  4. PGRs are expected to take an active part in the management of their own research training. They should be prepared to discuss the PGR-supervisor relationship and their perceived training needs in a frank and open manner in meetings with the Thesis Committee and/or its individual members.
  5. PGRs who are school funded can normally expect to receive some financial support from the School to attend conferences provided that they are presenting at the conference and that they also make the presentation to the School (normally prior to attending the conference).
  6. PGRs who are on school-funded studentships are expected to contribute up to 100 hours per year in assisting with teaching and other duties within the School. This figure may be adjusted to comply with funding agency guidelines in the case of externally funded PGRs. Such work must be developmental in nature. That is to say, it should contribute to the PGRs academic/professional development. This might include lecturing, running/assisting with seminars or labs, some types of marking, etc. The PGRs supervisor will be the line manager for this work and will normally have first call on their own student's time. It is up to the PGR and supervisor together to ensure that these hours are not exceeded (unless it is agreed to be in the PGRs’ own interests) and that the work is appropriately developmental. Other, paid work may be available from time to time. Any such work opportunities within the School will be offered to the PGR(s) deemed to have the appropriate skills for the task, taking into account overall workloads and training needs.
  7. Each year the PGR body will elect two student representatives. These will usually be in at least the second year of their studies. The representatives' role is to represent student opinion to the School and the Postgraduate Research Lead, to disseminate information to other PGRs on behalf of the Postgraduate Research Lead, and to represent the School's PGRs to the University's Postgraduate Forum.
  8. PGRs are normally expected to attend the Research Seminar Programme in the School and are encouraged to make presentations themselves on the Seminar Programme.
  9. PGRs are normally expected to take a full and active part in the life of the School and are expected to be seen working in the School on a regular basis. The expectation is that PGRs will work at least 37 hours per week for 44 weeks per year.
  10. It is the PGRs responsibility to inform their supervisor when they are away on holiday etc. and of any change in circumstances or problems that may affect their work.
  11. PGRs should try to deal with any disputes or problems with their supervisor directly with the supervisor him or herself in the first instance. If this fails or is not possible, they should speak to their Chair or the PRL. Students may also approach the Head of School. Problems are usually more easily and satisfactorily resolved at the most local level, however, an early and frank discussion with the supervisor will usually prevent small problems from becoming big ones.
  12. Wherever possible, disciplinary matters will be dealt with within the School by the PRL and/or the Head of School.
  13. Like all members of the School, PGRs have a responsibility to maintain the security of the SHES building and to ensure a healthy and safe working environment. PGRs should ensure that the building is always locked after six o'clock in the evenings and at all times at weekends and should report any potential health and safety problems to the Health and Safety Officer.

Examination of the Thesis

The thesis will be examined in accordance with Bangor University Regulations. The examining board will consist of the Postgraduate Research Lead, or a deputy, as Chair, the external examiner and the internal examiner (or two external examiners in the case of a staff candidate). The supervisor may not act as internal examiner, but may be invited to attend the viva voce examination with the prior consent of the candidate. At the end of the viva voce PGRs will be given the opportunity to comment on the supervision they have received in the absence of the supervisor. PGRs will normally be informed of the examining board's decision immediately after the viva voce examination.

Enquiries

Any enquiries about research student admissions or any other research student affairs should be directed to the current Postgraduate Research Lead:

Ross Roberts PhD C.Psychol
School of Sport Health & Exercise Sciences
Bangor University
George Building, Holyhead Road,
Bangor, Gwynedd, U.K. LL57 2PZ.
Tel: (44) (0) 1248 388137 E-mail: ross.roberts@bangor.ac.uk