Post-Graduate Students in the Division of Medicine, RFUCMS
The following notes are intended only as a brief guide to starting and carrying out postgraduate
studies in the Division of Medicine, UCL. Full aspects of the Graduate School’s activities can be
found on their website (www.grad.ucl.ac.uk/), while the formal UCL ‘Regulations and Procedures
for MPhil and PhD Degrees’ (the ‘Grey Book’) are located on the Registry site
(www.ucl.ac.uk/registry/ucl-staff/). Some additional sources of information are also given in
section 2, while the online prospectus for the Division is located at: www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-
1. Application for Admission & Registration for MPhil/PhD or MD/MS
The initial step is to complete the 4-page ‘Application for Admission as Graduate Student’ form.
This is obligatory even if, for example, you were named on a PhD studentship application to a
recognized authority which was subsequently awarded. After an initial check by the College
Admissions Office, the application is sent to the appropriate Post-Graduate Tutor for approval
(currently Dr Rachel Chambers – Bloomsbury & Archway Campuses, and Professor Jim Owen –
Hampstead Campus). Following their approval, the Admissions Office sends a confirmatory letter
of acceptance. Some important points to note when completing the application form, which will
save queries and delays, are the following:
Full-time or Part-time: This does not indicate the time that you will devote to your project,
rather it reflects whether you hold a bona-fide PhD studentship from a research council (e.g. MRC
or BBSRC) or a recognized Charity/ Foundation (e.g. Wellcome Trust, ARC, BHF). In this case you
are deemed to be full-time, whereas if you are supported as a research assistant on a 3- or 5-year
grant then you are considered to be part-time. In practice, this usually means little difference as
in both cases the norm is to complete the project within 3 years and submit as soon as possible
thereafter. However, full-time students do have an option to submit after 2 years of study,
whereas part-time students can do so only after 3 years.
Funding: In many cases this may already be assured for the full term of the degree programme
through a scholarship or grant. In other cases, there may be some uncertainty e.g. if an
application is pending or another needs to be submitted for a 2nd and/or 3rd year, or there may be
an intention to fund any shortfall through personal or family resources. If so, you will be
requested to confirm that you are aware of all the financial obligations that must be met, including
tuition fees and, if appropriate, bench fees & consumable costs. UCL and the Division of Medicine
are particularly concerned that all who register for an MPhil, and subsequently transfer to a PhD at
12-24 months, are able to complete their project and submit their thesis within 4 years of
registration. If there is uncertainty, then you should discuss the implications with your Supervisor
or Graduate Tutor and possible options e.g. clinically-qualified students might wish to register for a
MD (Res) degree (2 years) rather than a PhD. Post-registration transfer from an MPhil/PhD to MD
(Res) (or vice versa) is possible, although it does require a formal case to be made to Registry and
approval to be granted by the Head of Graduate School.
Project Details: If funded by a peer-review grant, then a copy of the project description should
be included in your application. In other situations, the Division requires that a 1-page outline of
the research project be provided, including a specific statement of the hypothesis to be tested and
the plan of investigation. This is a local requirement and aims to ensure that the basic structure of
the project is discussed and agreed before registration.
Subsidiary Supervisor: Please ensure that a suitable subsidiary UCL supervisor (or appropriate
off-campus supervisor) has been nominated. If the nominee is not already an approved UCL
supervisor, then you should also enclose a copy of their (abbreviated) CV so that Faculty approval
can be obtained. As well as confirming that they are willing to act in this capacity, you should also
ensure that they are familiar with their responsibilities as required by UCL (see
http://www.grad.ucl.ac.uk/codes/Code_research2005.pdf). This includes participating in the
regular supervisory meetings as detailed in your Logbook and, as a Divisional requirement,
organizing the viva-voce upgrade examination.
2. Programme of Study
An indispensable guide for students and supervisors is the ‘Code of Practice for Graduate Research
Degrees’ (http://www.grad.ucl.ac.uk/codes/Code_research2005.pdf) and both should be fully
conversant with its material. The website of the Graduate School also includes essential
information (www.grad.ucl.ac.uk/essinfo/) and details of the skills development programme
(www.grad.ucl.ac.uk/courses/). Two aspects are worthy of additional comment:
Logbooks: These were introduced in 2001 to facilitate good student-supervisor relationships and
to allow the student to document their research progress and training activities. They are
available in both paper and electronic formats. In both cases they are the student’s personal
responsibility, although the supervisor should help in ensuring that meetings are held and that the
Logbook is filled in and signed. At upgrade (see section 3.), the Post-Graduate Tutor is required to
check sections A & B and verify that the supervisors and student have met at the prescribed
intervals; they will also sign and retain a copy of pp. 18-19 which records the upgrade supervisory
meeting. Once the course is finished the entire logbook becomes the property of the student.
Skills development: As well as running an induction course for all new research students, UCL
Graduate School now offers a programme for development of academic and generic skills. In
particular, full-time Research Council funded students are required to undertake appropriate
courses and activities equivalent to two weeks training per year. Each is assigned a point value
and two weeks is equivalent to 20 points per year. A range of options is available: IT (office skills/
workshops/ on-line training/ web-page design); thesis-related (writing/ preparing/ bibliography);
publishing & communication; research techniques; and IPR (entre/intrapreneurship). Points are
also awarded for submission/ publication of work, poster & oral presentations etc. Importantly, all
research students irrespective of how they are funded are able to take full advantage of the
programme. Students are strongly recommended to visit the UCL Graduate website on a regular
basis to learn about this emerging endeavour. Importantly, they should also maintain a record of
their participation in the Skills Development Programme as this will be requested at upgrade
3. Procedure for MPhil → PhD Transfer
Initially, PhD research students are registered for the MPhil degree and so must upgrade their
registration. This transfer comprises a number of important strands and guidelines for the
procedure are detailed below. These take account of a minimum set of requirements imposed by
the Faculty of Clinical Sciences, as well as practices best suited to the needs of the Division of
Timing: The transfer should take place 12-24 months after the initial registration, with 18 months
being the normal completion time. This relatively wide window allows flexibility in the timing so
that disruption to laboratory experiments can be minimized.
Oral presentation: The student must give a departmental seminar on their research work 3
months or less before their viva-voce upgrade examination. On the Bloomsbury Campus this will
normally be part of the Thursday post-graduate lecture series organized by Dr Derek Gilroy, while
on the Hampstead Campus it will be the responsibility of each Centre to arrange their own
Viva-Voce upgrade examination: The upgrade supervisory session as detailed in the Logbook
(pp. 18-19) should be conducted by the principal and subsidiary supervisors. However, there
should also be an additional, more formal oral examination of the written report (next section) at
which the principal supervisor will not be present. Instead, this examination will be conducted by
the subsidiary supervisor and a nominated external person. The appointed external examiner,
who can be within the department, within UCL or external to UCL, should not be involved directly
in the research project, but should be able to assess academically whether the work is original and
of PhD standard. They will also be responsible for producing a brief joint report (200-300 words)
of the examination and the final recommendation (Yes/No/Deferred). This format is intended to
make the upgrade process more transparent and fair. Note that UCL regulations preclude using
the external examiner for the upgrade as one of the final examiners for the thesis.
Written report: In deciding the format for this due consideration was given to the value of a
concise and carefully crafted report, which would not be too disruptive to laboratory time, against
the merits of a much longer report (equivalent to two or more chapters) which would (i) show the
student is capable of producing a thesis (benefits both student & supervisor), and (ii) provide a
substantial template for the final thesis, which is often important for clinically-qualified students
who struggle to find writing-time after finishing. The agreed format is detailed below and is
common to all three sites (Bloomsbury, Archway and Hampstead) within the Division.
• General format is that of a substantial research article. The text, excluding Figures and
References, should be ~10,000 words. This equates to ~30 pages typed in the
recommended style of Times Roman Font 12 pt, 1.5 lines spacing and 2.54 cm all-round
• Introduction: About 6 pages, which may include sub-headings. At the end, there should
be a clear statement of the hypothesis to be tested (1-3 lines), as well as a brief list of
• Materials & Methods: About 4 pages with appropriate sub-headings.
• Results: About 10 pages with appropriate sub-headings.
• Discussion: About 10 pages, which may include sub-headings. At the end there should
be a headed section (~1-page) describing the Future Aims and indicating an approximate
timetable for their implementation.
• Figures and Tables: There should be no more than a combined total of 10, which if
appropriate might also relate to the Introduction or M&M, as well as Results. Each should
be ‘stand-alone’ incorporating its own title and legend, which should be understandable
without reference to the text.
• References: A maximum of 100 is permitted, though ~60 is recommended. These
should be single-spaced in 10 pt type with 0.5 lines between each. They should include
the full title of the article.
Submitting the upgrade form: Following the upgrade supervisory session and viva-voce
examination, the student and supervisors should sign the MPhil → PhD transfer form
(www.ucl.ac.uk/registry/current/stud-admin/phd/). The final signature is that of the Post-
Graduate Tutor. They will require sight of the Logbook to verify that supervisory sessions have
taken place, a copy of the viva-voce examination report, and details of participation in the
Graduate School’s Skills Development Programme. When these have been checked they will
forward the completed and fully signed form to student records. At the Bloomsbury site, it is
preferred that the student arranges to pick up the signed form from the PG Administrator and take
responsibility for it to be forwarded to student records.
4. Procedure for transfer to CRS.
1. Your supervisor notifies the Research Administrator that (s)he wants you to be transferred to
2. Before this can happen, your registration must have been transferred from MPhil to PhD and
you must have completed 3 years of full time PhD studies (for these, who started after September
3. If point 2 has been fulfilled, you should submit a TOC/time schedule, showing how much of the
thesis has been completed, and how much work remains. The remaining work has to be achieved
in 12 months or less. (Please note 12 months is the max CRS period for full time PhD students
before submission.) This time plan has to be signed by you and your supervisor and passed on to
the Graduate Tutor.
4. Once the Graduate Tutor checks and approves the time plan, the Research Administrator
5. Appointment of Examiners for PhD/MPhil Degree Candidates
When you are close to completing the experimental part of your research, please be sure to
consult the Graduate School website to familiarise yourself with the thesis submission and
examination procedure. The requisite forms are downloadable from the Registry website:
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/registry/ucl-staff/grey-book/viva-mphil/. Please note that all the requisite
forms need to be submitted 4-6 months before you are due to submit your thesis! Further it is the
supervisor’s responsibility to recruit examiners and complete the appointment of examiners' forms,
not the candidate's.
Please be aware of the two forms - the description of thesis (which is basically a copy of the
abstract), which goes with the Examiner Nomination Forms to Chris McMahon (Student Records),
and the Abstract proper, which goes with Examination Entry Form directly to Senate House, when
the thesis is submitted. To download the form, please visit this link: Thesis Submission
(Examinations Entry Forms).