Current Research Degree Students

Essential general information for enrolled/registered research degree students at Robert Gordon University.

The Research Degree Students’ 2-day Induction Programme

The Research Degree Students’ 2-day Induction Programme for new research students is held for each intake (October and February) and aims to provide you with the information and support you require to start your research student journey.

Attendance at the Induction Programme is compulsory for full-time research students, but an online version is made available for part-time students to complete.

For students commencing in October 2016, the Induction Programme will be held on 6 and 7 October 2016.

The Induction Programme includes information on:

  • Orientation
  • RGU and the research student journey
  • The Library/REF Works
  • Your Graduate School and Research Degree Co-ordinators
  • Research Student Association
  • Opportunity to meet research students from all over the University. 

All research  degree students should ensure their compliance with the University's approved 'Ten Instances of Expected Contact', regardless of mode of study. Adherence to this list will help to ensure regular and satisfactory progress with your research degree.

Meeting your Supervisory Team 

You should arrange a meeting with your Supervisory Team during your first week. This will give you an opportunity to meet those who will support you and to discuss your work schedule for the first few months. Take this opportunity to ask any questions you have or to discuss work patterns, holidays and breaks.

At this meeting it is useful to discuss your understanding of your research area, and any interesting books/articles you have read relating to the research. Your Supervisor will guide you on the requirements of your literature review, and discuss a work plan or a way forward for the first few months of your study. It is important that by the end of the first month you complete the Research Student Progress Log Form, if appropriate, as this form allows both yourself and your Principal Supervisor to agree some preliminary targets for your research programme. 

Research Student Progress Log (DOC 30KB)

It's important that you and your Principal Supervisor discuss your project on a regular basis to ensure you are both happy with progress. Before the end of the first month you should have agreed with your Principal Supervisor how often these meetings will take place.

Research Degree Coordinator

As well as your supervisory Team (headed by the Principal Supervisor) your school will also have a Research Degree Coordinator, who it is useful for you to meet within your first two weeks of arrival. Your Principal Supervisor will introduce you to the School’s Research Degree Coordinator. Throughout your research degree, the Coordinator will play an important role by acting as an independent advisor.

Library Assistance

The Library will become increasingly important to you during your research and you should take time to visit the library at an early stage, introduce yourself to library staff and discuss your research programme with them. The Library has specialist staff who are familiar with the needs of research students and who can help provide information relating to journals and literature searches. The Library will also help you contact other libraries such as the British Library or the National Library of Scotland. During the first module of the PgCert Research Methods you will get an opportunity to meet a member of library staff to discuss particular issues regarding your research programme.

Research Student Association (RSA)

The Research Students' Association (RSA) is a dedicated society for research students. It offers you an opportunity to meet other research students and build up a network of friends on both an academic and social basis. You will get more information about this association when you attend the Research Degree Students’ Induction Programme, or by emailing

Information on the Pg Cert Research Methods

To submit for any research degree award, research students are required to successfully complete both modules of the PgCert Research Methods.

The course has been designed to facilitate the necessary methodological, philosophical and critical thinking skills for all postgraduate research students of the University.

The PgCert Research Methods offers an opportunity for the development of a proficient professional, well grounded in the theory and practice of research or evidence based enquiry.

The course is compulsory for all research degree students and includes seminars, workshops and interactive tutorials.

Any queries related to course delivery or assessment should be directed to the Graduate School in the Health and Social Care Building, Garthdee. You can also contact the PgCert Administrator on 01224 262301 or email

For students commencing in October 2017, the Graduate School Induction Programme will be held on 12-13 October 2017.  Module 1 will be delivered from 20-24 November 2017 and attendance is mandatory for all research degree students.

Future Delivery of Module 1

For students commencing in February 2018, the Graduate School Induction Programme will be held in February 2018 (date to be confirmed). Module 1 will be delivered in March 2018 (date to be confirmed) and attendance is mandatory for all research degree students.

Module Descriptors

PgCert Research Methods Module 1 Descriptor (PDF 10KB)

PgCert Research Methods Module 2 Descriptor (PDF 10KB)

Research Governance and Ethics

As part of the Research Degree Registration (RDR) application process, all research students must consider ethical issues.

This includes completion of the Research Ethics: Student and Supervisor Appraisal (RESSA) Form (PDF 379KB) which is appended to the Research Degree Registration (RDR) Form (DOC 123KB) and must be approved by the Dean of Faculty (or nominee)/School/Centre before submission to the appropriate Graduate School Board via the Research Degrees Office. In addition to this, students should consider ethical issues on an ongoing basis, for example, at the annual monitoring or transfer stage.

More Information:


Registering for a Research Degree - Process Explained

Around three months after you enrol as a research student, you will be required to prepare a registration application for your research degree. The central activity is completion of a:

This document records your topic title, project objectives, a summary of your overall research plan, plus your supervisory team.  This form together with supporting documentation is considered for approval by the Graduate School.

The RDR form requires you to provide details about your qualifications; your training and experiences; any collaborating establishment for the project; and details relating to the proposed research project (the title and the key objectives). The form also requires information about the intended programme of related studies (that is, details of any additional training or development you intend to undertake, such as the PgCert Research Methods and/or DELTA training courses). You should include:

A supervisory team will consist of a Principal Supervisor and one or two other supervisors, allowing the team to have a range of subject expertise sufficient to cover the research topic you plan to undertake. The supervisory team should also have a combined experience of supervising at least two research students through to completion. It is the responsibility of your School/Centre to propose an appropriate supervisory team, which complies with A6: Research Degrees, paragraph 4.

Approval of a registration application

The authorised form, along with supporting documentation such as the RESSA form, IPR form and any accompanying RDCVs, should be submitted to the Graduate School, 3rd floor of the Health and Social Care Building, Garthdee.

Applications might be approved executively, returned to the School for further clarification/ amendment or referred to the Research Degrees Committee.  Once approved, the student record will be amended and the registration documents uploaded onto Document Manager.

Below are additional research student forms for other aspects of the research student journey, once your registration is approved.

Research Degree Student Development

The following guidance note should be read by research degree students before making any requests for approval of expenditure for attendance at conference or purchase of equipment/consumables.

Do not attempt to pay for anything in advance on the assumption it can be reclaimed at some future point.  More guidance is available by downloading the Research Degree Student Development - Approval of Costs (DOC 30KB).

Transfer Process

The Transfer Process Explained

After twelve months, and normally no later than 18 months of full-time study (or part time equivalent), those students who registered initially for MSc/MRes with possibility of transfer to PhD, or a Professional Doctorate programme, should apply for transfer using the Transfer of Registration to Doctorate (RDT) Form which is available below. In addition, the assessment team will utilise the Transfer Proposal (TP) Form to assess a transfer application.  Both students and supervisors should refer to the following guidance note, extracted from the University's Academic Quality Handbook, Section 7, Research Degrees as well as download the following forms.

As your research project develops, it is important that any ethical issues which arise are considered and dealt with at the appropriate time.  As part of your registration application, you will have previously considered ethical issues and completed a revised Research Ethics: Student and Supervisor Appraisal (RESSA) Form (PDF 379KB) However, ethical issues should be considered on an ongoing basis, for example, at Research Student Report (RSR) annual monitoring if appropriate, as well as the transfer process.

Assessment Criteria

The following Assessment Criteria is used by the assessment team in considering your transfer application - Assessment Criteria for Transfer - revised August 2014 (PDF 20KB)

Consideration of your transfer application

Once the paperwork has been signed off by the School, it should be forwarded to the Graduate School. Applications might be approved executively, returned to the School for further clarification/amendment or referred to the Research Degrees Committee. Once approved, the student record will be amended and the transfer documents uploaded onto Document Manager.

Writing Up

Prior to writing up, students must read Academic Regulation A6: Research Degrees, in particular Schedule 6.1 which relates to thesis submission.

Turnitin UK

As part of the writing up process, you should undertake regular Turnitin checks on your draft thesis as you did during Module 1 and 2 of the Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert) Research Methods course.  It is recommended to review your draft thesis on a chapter basis utilising the Graduate School account set up with Turnitin UK. The Graduate School Moodle page has set up a unique doctorate thesis submission account. Please contact Dorothy McDonald, if you are not sure where to source this account.   

As part of the thesis submission, all students must complete and submit a Research Degrees Self-Declaration (RDDECL) Form (DOC 120KB), as well as provide a Turnitin summary report which shows the major comparisons - usually the first few pages highlighting the largest comparisons, as well as an A4 abstract of the thesis.

Students should aim to submit their thesis for viva examination around half way through their final year of study.  During the writing up stage, students will still be expected to comply with the six monthly monitoring activity and continue to maintain regular contact with their Supervisory Team.

When the thesis is ready to be submitted, your host academic School will arrange for binding of the thesis for you pre-viva.


The viva examination is the part of your research degree programme which might cause you greatest anxiety.

This is not surprising since it is the formal method of determining if your research project is worthy of the award of a higher degree. By the time you have reached this stage you will have made a considerable commitment in time and effort, and the viva will determine your examination outcome.

The viva is also very important for a number of other reasons. It provides an opportunity to judge the quality of your research. It's a way of applying standards of professionalism in research to ensure you have met the necessary requirements. It is also the method by which the University maintains its own standards of quality in higher degree research. In order to minimise your anxiety about the process and to enable you to perform well in the viva it is important that you understand what is required of you.

The following documents are essential for both students and supervisors in terms of approval of examination teams and submission of theses. In addition, you can sign up for the DELTA Viva Training Course when that is advertised and you should undergo appropriate mock viva training at School level.

Students and supervisors should also familiarise themselves with the University's  Academic Regulations  A6: Research Degrees, in particular paragraph 9 - Examination, as well as the University's Assessment Criteria. If you have any queries, please speak with your Principal Supervisor or contact the Research Degrees Office.

Please note that a member of the student's supervisory team can attend his/her viva should the student wish, but written permission of this request must be forwarded to the Research Degrees Office prior to the viva examination

Monitoring and Evaluation

The University uses a number of mechanisms to monitor and evaluate research student progress. These are:

  • Annual Progress Form (RSR) Form - available via the web: RSR Form and Moodle Area
  • Participation in Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES)
  • Regular meetings with research students
  • Induction Event Questionnaire
  • Module Evaluation Questionnaires for Postgraduate Certificate Research Methods
  • Year 1 Questionnaire
  • Submission of Thesis Questionnaire

This is in addition to rigorous registration and transfer processes.  Further information can be found from AQH - Monitoring and Evaluation (PDF 73KB)

After successfully completing your research degree

After you have handed in your hardbound thesis, post-viva examination, it is important to keep motivated, and to keep your sights fixed on all the positive things which your degree has brought you.

You're now more experienced, more resourceful and more professional. You are also an expert in your field.

Apart from developing a great deal of expertise in one particular subject area, remember that you’ve also gained a set of transferable skills. These skills and qualities have become part of your qualifications - they, just as much as your subject expertise, may be invaluable to a future employer.  Not all research students go on to follow a career as professional researchers, and it is important to consider all the options. Taking time to think about what you are going to do next is also an important part of the learning process.

Seeking Careers Advice

Hopefully you will have been thinking about your career plans throughout your research degree. Friends at work and colleagues may be a good source of advice, but as the final decision about what to do next is yours, you should now begin to gather the most appropriate and up to date information about career and employment choices and job requirements.

Although a formal network of contacts may be available to you, such as the University Careers Service, you should also remember that your informal network of contacts can be just as important. This group is likely to include colleagues, experts in your field, and contacts made at conferences. Use this network to seek advice and guidance.

The University Careers Centre will be able to help and support you as you consider career options.  They can offer a personalised session tailored to your needs. 

Keeping in Touch

As your time as a research student nears its end with the University, we hope that you will want to keep in touch with us and with those colleagues you worked alongside during your time here.   The Alumni Team will be able to help you keep in touch with former colleagues, provide you with information on exclusive benefits and services and keep you up-to-date with news of what is happening in the University.   

Appeals and Complaints

The following guidance note is extracted from the University’s Academic Quality Handbook – Section 7: Research Degrees.

Depending on the nature of the appeal or complaint, research students are advised to consult the University’s Academic Regulations, in particular:

  • A3: Student Conduct and Appeals
  • A4: Assessment and Recommendations of Assessment Boards
  • A6: Research Degrees 

You can discuss your proposed appeal or complaint with University staff as appropriate to see if the problem can be resolved without the need for a formal process.

Change in Supervisory Arrangements

From time to time, it may be necessary to change the Supervisory Arrangements for a research student.

There can be a number of reasons for this such as:

  • Current Principal Supervisor leaves the University and is unable to continue in this role.
  • Adjustments are required to the Supervisory Team to take account of the evolution of the student's research project.

Further guidance can be found in AQH - Supervision (PDF 42KB)

Please note that any changes in a supervisory team are not recognised until a completed Change in Approved Supervision Arrangements (RDS) Form (DOC 110KB) is approved by the Graduate School.

Supervising a Research Degree

Information for Supervisors

Most of the information you require can be found via the Research Degrees web pages. This includes Regulation A6: Research Degrees, Academic Quality Handbook, Section 7: Research Degrees, as well as associated forms. 

We advise both research students and supervisory teams to access the resources contained in this section as they have been designed with both students and supervisors in mind.

The information contained in AQH - Supervision (PDF 42KB) may also be of interest, particularly to those new to research student supervision.

In addition, Supervisors should familiarise themselves with University Academic Regulations A6: Research Degrees as well as Section 7 of the Academic Quality Handbook, which also forms part of the University’s Code of Practice for Research Students.

All supervisors should attend Supervisory Training courses run by the University.  Both beginner and refresher courses are available and run at regular intervals.  Please contact Dorothy McDonald for more information -

Research Degrees Internal Review

Review of the research student experience is considered under the Research Degree Internal Review process.

The focus is research student based within each Graduate School.

Contact the Research Degrees Office

For more information:

Tel: 01224 262155