School of GeoSciences

Progress and milestones

The School regularly monitors the progress and training needs of students.


In week 0/week 1, new research students will attend orientation and social events as well as initial training courses.

The Supervisory Team and the Advisor

Following induction, research students will be allocated a minimum of two Supervisors to help with the daily strategic direction of research, and an Advisor who will provide an independent source of advice outwith the supervisory team. Students are expected to meet with their Advisor within 4 weeks of their start. 

Postgraduate Research Conference

An annual Postgraduate Research Conference takes place in Spring at which all first year PhD students deliver a presentation on their research to students and staff. All second year PhD students prepare a poster which will be displayed over the two days, with a poster session on the second day. Attendance at the conference is compulsory for all research students and their supervisory team (including the student’s Advisor) as the first year presentation is crucial to the PhD confirmation stage.


PhD milestones

Key milestones during the main period of research include confirmation, planning and submitting a thesis and completing a viva voce exam. The timings for these are outlined in the table below.

Research milestones
Year Timing Requirements
1 6-9 months Confirmation Report:
    (i) Submission of Confirmation Report
    (ii) Internal illustrated talk of 15 minutes
    (iii) Interview with Panel 30-45 minutes
    (iv) Completion of Confirmation Report Form
  Month 12 Submission of First Year Progress Report (to be submitted before the 12th month)
2 Months 12-24 Submission of Annual Progress Report Form with thesis plan and timetable (to be submitted before the 24th month)
3 Months 24-36 (i) Submission of Annual Progress Report Form (to be submitted before month 33)
    (ii) Write-up thesis and submit draft to supervisor before the 36th month
3-4 36+ (i) NERC students apply for 36+ funding
    (ii) Bind thesis and submit for examination
    (iii) Give Viva seminar
    (iv) Defend thesis at viva voce exam
    (v) Graduate

A more in-depth look at progress can be found in the Student Handbook.

Postgraduate Research Student Handbook

The School has also developed a programme of training courses, closely linked to the milestones and regular reviews and are strongly recommended.

Training information for PhD students