Graduate Studies in Chemistry

Department of Chemistry University of Oxford
There are certain milestones that all graduate students need to attain in the course of their postgraduate career before they may submit a thesis for consideration for the award of the DPhil/MSc(Res). The following paragraphs outline the procedure adopted by the Department of Chemistry, together with some related important information. 
  1. You will have been admitted as a Probationer Research Student (PRS). Towards the end of your first year your progress will be reviewed and a recommendation will be made to the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences (MPLS) Division as to whether you should be permitted to transfer to DPhil or MSc(Res) student status.

    Our procedure is as follows: 
    1. Both you and your supervisor(s) are obliged to submit quarterly progress reports through the Graduate Supervision Reporting System (GSR). If the reports do not indicate satisfactory progress, you may be called for a formal interview with your Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). You can access the GSR via Student Self Service
       
    2. Assuming satisfactory progress with your research, towards the end of your first year, you will be required to submit a completed form GSO.2.MPLS (available here; this needs the signature of your supervisor and a college officer) and a written report on your research work (details of the required format vary). This report should outline your work to date and plans for future research. You should add to the report: a) a list of seminars and lectures you have attended (these need not have taken place exclusively in your own laboratory, and should not be restricted narrowly to your own area of research) b) a short (half a page) lay summary.  You should ensure that your supervisor has a copy of the report. They will be asked to make comments on your work, and for a recommendation as to whether you should be permitted to proceed to DPhil/MSc(Res) status. Chemistry students must complete the University's online research integrity training (for Natural and Physical Sciences) before applying for transfer of status. The training is available at: https://weblearn.ox.ac.uk/portal/hierarchy/skills/ricourses
       
    3. You will be orally examined (usually by staff members of your laboratory) at a time to be arranged, normally in September (for Michaelmas Term starters), although it may be held a different time. You will be expected to be able to demonstrate a sound background knowledge in your field of research, to explain the work you have undertaken so far, and outline your plans for future research. Some of the Chemistry Sections also require a short presentation as part of the PRS assessment.
       
    4. On the basis of your report, your supervisor’s recommendation, and that of the assessing panel, the Head of Section or DGS will decide whether you will be permitted to transfer to DPhil/MSc(Res) status. You will be informed of the outcome of your assessment in writing. If the recommendation is not favourable, you will be permitted one further application for transfer after a sufficient period of time, normally 1 term.  Your DGS will give you a clear indication of the areas in which the panel finds your work or background knowledge to be unsatisfactory. You must remedy these deficiencies within the allotted period. The panel that carried out the review will have the authority to recommend either that you should be allowed to transfer to DPhil or MSc(Res) status, or that you would be best advised to withdraw from the course.  If you do not accept the recommendation of the panel then the University’s procedure for the removal of graduate students from the Register, as set out in the Examination Regulations will be followed.
       
  2. All doctoral students are required to apply for Confirmation of DPhil Status within 9 terms (but no sooner than 6) of their admission as a graduate student (usually PRS) of the University. Students registered for CDT (Centre for Doctoral Training) programmes normally have 10 terms to apply for Confirmation of Status.
    The process enables the student to have an assessment of his or her work by two assessors,  other than the supervisor(s), and this is clearly an important indication that, if the work on the thesis continues to develop satisfactorily, then consideration of submission within the deadline would appear to be reasonable.
    Detailed procedures vary between Sections, but the Confirmation of DPhil Status process will generally involve, in addition to completing a form GSO.14.MPLS (available here; this needs the signature of your supervisor and a college officer) producing a short report on the work carried out to date, along with plans for completing the thesis.
    The specific procedures for appeals against unfavourable outcomes at the Confirmation of Status application stage will be set out by the individual Directors of Graduate Studies.
     
  3. In addition, during their third (or fourth - for CDT students) year, DPhil students are expected to make a short (e.g. 20 minute) presentation on their research at a Section's Graduate Symposium, organised in Trinity Term.
     
  4. You should submit your DPhil thesis by the end of your 12th term at the latest.
     
  5. Further information on the University’s procedures for transfer and confirmation of status can be found in the MPLS Division’s Graduate Handbook (Notes for the Guidance of Graduate Students), and in the University’s Examination Regulations. If any of the above is unclear, please contact your DGS (see Directors of Graduate Study).
     
  6. Each Section has specific procedures for handling complaints and appeals. In the first instance you may informally approach (in strict confidence) either your DGS or your Head of Section. Formal complaints procedures are summarised in the Division’s Graduate Handbook and given in detail in the Examination Regulations. 
     
  7. The Graduate Chemists' Joint Consultative Committee and more generally the Chemists Joint Consultative Committee exist as forums through which graduate views and feedback can be provided to the Faculty.
     
  8. In terms of training each graduate student is expected to: a) attend at least 3 courses in Year 1 b) do 6 weeks of skills training over Ears 2 and 3 c) keep a record of what they have done.

Please contact Aga Borkowska, Graduate Studies Administrator, in the first instance if you have any questions.

More information about graduate procedures is available at the MPLS Graduate School website.