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 students and an online version is made available for part-time students to complete.

For students commencing in February 2015, the Research Degree Students’ Induction Programme will be held on 10 & 11 February 2015.

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.

Further information about each Graduate School is available on CampusMoodle:




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 Meeting 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 31KB)

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 PgCert Office in Room AB102, Administration Building, Schoolhill. You can also contact the PgCert Office on 01224 262301 or email

For students commencing in February 2015, the Graduate School Induction Programme will be held on 10-11 February 2015.  Module 1 will be delivered from 16-20 March 2015 and attendance is mandatory for all research degree students.

Future Delivery of Module 1

For students commencing in October 2015, the Graduate School Induction Programme will be held on  7-8 October 2015. Module 1 will be delivered from 23-27 November 2015 and attendance is mandatory for all research degree students.

Next Delivery of Module 2

The next delivery is on 24-28 August 2015.

Future Delivery of Module 2

A future delivery is planned for January 2016 (dates still to be confirmed). 

Research Governance and Ethics

As part of the 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) which is appended to the Research Degree Registration (RDR) Form (word doc) and must be approved by the Research Institute/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

About three months after your enrolment as a research student, you will be required to prepare a registration application for your research degree. The central activity is completion of a Research Degree Registration (RDR) Form (182KB doc).  The 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 relevant Graduate School Board.

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 the Research Ethics: Student and Supervisor Appraisal (RESSA) Form (379KB pdf), plus a Curriculum Vitae (RDCV) Form (89KB doc) for any proposed supervisor who does not have PhD supervision experience. In addition, you should attach the signed page of the Intellectual Property Rights Form (IPR Form) to your application, unless you have, in discussion with your Principal Supervisor, agreed at this stage not to assign IPR rights to the University. If that is the case, please provide a reason under Section 2.7 of the RDR Form.

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 Graduate School/School/Centre to propose an appropriate supervisory team.

Graduate School Board Deadlines for RDR Submission

Deadlines for submitting an RDR application for academic year 2014/15 are:

  • For meetings on 9-11 September 2014, submit paperwork by Monday 31 August 2014
  • For meetings on 21-23 October 2014, submit paperwork by Monday 13 September 2014
  • For meetings on 27-29 January 2015, submit paperwork by Monday 19 January 2015
  • For meetings on 21-23 April 2015, submit paperwork by Monday 13 April 2015

The authorised form, along with supporting documentation such as the RESSA form, IPR form and any necessary accompanying RDCVs, should be submitted to the Research Degrees Office which is based in Room G408, Central Services Building, Garthdee.

Research Degree Student Development

The guidance notes 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.

If your development need is related to attendance at conference, the form may be useful for you and your supervisory team in ascertaining the value of the conference.

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 to Doctorate level using the Transfer of Registration to Doctorate (RDT) Form which is available below. Students and Supervisors should refer to the following word document which is extracted from the University's Academic Quality Handbook, Section 7, Research Degrees.

As your research develops, it is important that any ethical issues which arise are considered and dealt with. As part of your registration application, you will have considered ethical issues and completed a RESSA form. However, ethical issues should be considered on an ongoing basis, for example, at RSR monitoring if appropriate.  As part of the transfer process, a student should review ethical issues, update and submit a revised Research Ethics: Student and Supervisor Appraisal (RESSA) Form (pdf).

Assessment Criteria

The following Assessment Criteria is used for your transfer application. The Oral Assessment Team will use this criteria in order to assess your oral assessment for transfer. Assessment Criteria for Transfer (pdf).

Graduate School Board Deadlines

Paperwork should be submitted at least more than 1 week in advance of the Graduate School Boards. As a rough guide, the following dates apply for Session 2014/15:

  • For meetings on 9-11 September 2014, submit paperwork by Monday 31 August 2014
  • For meetings on 21-23 October 2014, submit paperwork by Monday 13 October 2014
  • For meetings on 27-29 January 2015 submit paperwork by Monday 19 January 2015
  • For meetings on 21-23 April 2015, submit paperwork by Monday 13 April 2015.

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, all research students must regularly undertake plagiarism checks on their thesis as they have done with the PgCert Research Methods courseworks for Module 1 and 2. This will avoid inadvertently committing plagiarism and allow for the student to check references. It is recommended that students undertake this on a chapter by chapter basis and should be done using the UK University standard software available at TurnitinUK. For the purposes of a doctorate thesis submission pre-viva, each Graduate School has set up a unique thesis submission Turnitin account which is operated through the University's Moodle system. Please contact the relevant Graduate School for more details.   

At the point of thesis submission, all students will have to confirm via the Research Degrees Self-Declaration (RDDECL) Form (120KB doc) that their whole thesis (excluding appendices) has been checked using the TurnitinUK software and attach the Turnitin summary report to the RDDECL Form. This is usually just the first few pages which highlight the biggest comparisons.

Students who have been enrolled for three years as a full-time student are required to pay a continuation fee for the fourth and final year of their study, when they embark on the writing up stage. The fee is paid at the beginning of the writing up period and covers the full session. For part-time research students, fees are paid for five years with the sixth year being designated as the "writing up" year. On payment of this fee, the student receives an ID card which allows them access to University sites and the Library. Students who are permanent members of staff are also liable for this fee, even although they are currently not liable for tuition fees for the first five years of part-time study. For all students who are outwith their maximum period of registration (FT 4 years, PT 6 years), the writing up fee increases substantially to £370 per session (figure correct as at September 2014). In addition, any research student who is outwith the original registration period as mentioned above, must apply for an Extension of Registration Period (RDExt) Form (124KB doc) by completing this form.

The writing up fee must then be paid on the anniversary of a student's commencement (ie January/February or September/October) as part of the student's learning contract as this acts as continued confirmation of the student's registration. During the time of writing up, students will still be expected to undertake annual monitoring activities such as the RSR form in Summer each year and continue to maintain contact with their Supervisory Team. If these tasks are not undertaken at appropriate times, the student's continued enrolment/registration status with the University could be at risk.


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 should attend the DELTA Viva Training Course and undergo appropriate mock viva training at School level. The Research Degrees Office have a viva training DVD available to all students preparing for an examination, issued when you attend Module 2 of the PgCert Research Methods course. This DVD may help to remove any doubts or anxieties you may have pre-viva.

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 for the level of award you have submitted for. If you have any queries, please 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 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 Link to the RSR Form and Moodle Area
  • Annual Research Student Lunch
  • Module Evaluation Questionnaires for PgCert Research Methods
  • Year 1 Questionnaire
  • Submission of Thesis Questionnaire

This is in addition to rigorous registration and transfer (where applicable) processes.  Further information can be found from AQH - Monitoring and Evaluation (56KB pdf).

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, 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 with University staff as appropriate to see if the problem can be resolved without a formal appeal. Staff at the Research Degrees Office will also provide guidance where appropriate.

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 (37.3KB pdf)

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

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 (37.3KB pdf) 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 of which is research students based within the respective Graduate Schools of the Research Institutes.

Contact the Research Degrees Office

For more information:

Tel: 01224 262155

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