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. 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 Mathematics and Physical Sciences (MPS) Division as to whether you should be permitted to transfer to DPhil student status.

    Our procedure is as follows: 
    1. Your supervisor submits termly reports through the Graduate Supervision System (GSS). He/she will discuss these reports with you. If the reports do not indicate satisfactory progress, you may be called for a formal interview with the Head of Department or the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) of your sub-department.
    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 (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 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. You should ensure that your supervisor has a copy of the report. He/she will be asked to make comments on your work, and for a recommendation as to whether you should be permitted to proceed to DPhil status.
    3. You will be orally examined (usually by staff members of your laboratory) at a time to be arranged, normally in September, although it may be held earlier. 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.
    4. On the basis of your report, your supervisor’s recommendation, and that of the assessing panel, the Head of Sub-Department or DGS will decide whether you will be permitted to transfer to DPhil status, and will inform you of the decision in writing. If the recommendation is not favourable, you will be permitted one further application for transfer to D. Phil. status after a sufficient period of time, normally three months.  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 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 nine terms (but no sooner than six) of their admission as a graduate student (usually PRS) of the University.
    The process enables the student to have an assessment of his or her work by one or more assessors, normally 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 course of two further terms would appear to be reasonable.
    Detailed procedures vary between sub-departments, but the Confirmation of DPhil Status process will generally involve, in addition to completing a form GSO.14 (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 in the sub-departments. 
  3. In addition, at some point during their third year, DPhil students are expected to make a short (e.g. 20 minute) presentation to their sub-department or other forum on their research. 
  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 MPS Division’s Graduate Handbook (Notes for the Guidance of Graduate Students), and in the University’s Examination Regulations, both of which you should have been given soon after you arrived. If any of the above is unclear, please contact your DGS (see Directors of Graduate Study).
  6. Each sub-department 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 Sub-Department or his deputy. Formal complaints procedures are summarised in the Division’s Graduate Handbook and given in detail in the Examination Regulations. 
  7. The Graduate Joint Consultative Committee and more generally the Chemists Joint Consultative Committee (CJCC) exists as a forum through which graduate views and feedback can be provided to the Faculty.
  8. All EPSRC sponsored students must attend a one-week Graduate Training Course in either their second or third year. In addition, for EPSRC sponsored students, it is also a requirement that they complete a total of 6 weeks of transferable skills training during the course of their DPhil.