All staff, students and PhD Researchers are asked to consult the University advice which will be regularly updated regularly on this site.
As it is possible that issues relating to Covid-19 could cause setbacks to research, this section is intended to highlight specific factors that occur more frequently in a research context and to aid planning as an individual PhD researcher.
Setbacks could range from minor delays through to the irrecoverable loss of significant work. It is recommended that you proactively consider the likely impacts with your supervisory team and develop contingency plans.
All researchers are reminded that there may be a delay in accessing the emergency services in the event of an incident or accident at work, as such, essential research must be of a low risk basis.
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Continuing your research work and extensions of time
Return to Campus
If progressing your PhD project requires you to be on campus, please contact your Supervisor and Postgraduate Tutor in the first instance to let them know that you wish to return. Your request will be considered by the relevant Research Director and Head of School based on feasibility, risk assessment and the overall return to campus plans.
With the agreement of the whole supervisory team, and confirmation that progress will not be delayed, a small number of new, year one PhD researchers will start their PhDs whilst working remotely and will then join on-campus in January 2021. Some continuing PhD researchers (years 2 and 3), with supervisor approval, will also continue to work remotely during semester one.
In all cases where a PhD researcher is working remotely (i.e. not coming onto campus on a regular basis) we would ask that a ‘study away’ change request is submitted on PhD Manager. This will also help us tailor our support of PhD researchers working on-campus and remotely.
I plan to continue to work on my PhD from home, but my rate of progress may be delayed as I will have additional caring responsibilities and/or will not have adequate workspace.
We realise that undertaking a PhD during a pandemic has brought considerable additional challenges.
No PhD researcher can be assured that it will be possible to follow their original PhD plans fully.
Given the uncertainty that accompanies this pandemic, it is vital that PhD researchers and their supervisory teams consider how plans may be adapted or changed to ensure progress is maintained and that, as far as possible, the PhD can be completed in a timely manner.
If I am on a DfE or VCRS studentship and my project is delayed as a result of the University closure, will I receive any additional stipend payments?
Final years in receipt of a DfE or VCRS studentship, have been given an opportunity to apply for some additional stipend payments specifically for delays resulting from the COVID-related lockdown. We welcome the extension of such additional stipends to all DfE and VCRS PhD researchers and will circulate details of how these will be allocated in due course.
Regardless of stipend extensions, supervisory teams should review plans in order to minimise the impact that the pandemic and any future lockdowns may have on the PhD project rather than relying on possible additional stipend payments at the end of the normal period of registration.
It is important that in addition to any application for additional stipend funding, a change request to apply for an extension of time should be submitted, in the normal manner via PhD Manager. Please note that an additional three months of fee-free extensions of time were approved by Senate in response to COVID which will extend the usual four month fee-free period to seven months.
How will the Researcher Development Programme be delivered?
The Researcher Development Programme (RDP) continues to be delivered online with plans for face to face provision in Semester 2.
Full details of the RDP can be found at the Researcher Development Site.
All forthcoming workshops appear on PhD Manager under ‘Events/Workshops’.
The Weekly Update on the Researcher Development Programme continues to be sent to all PhD Researchers every Wednesday.
International PhD researchers on Tier 4 Visa
What advice is there for international PhD researchers on a Tier 4 visa?
Following UKVI guidance, PhD researchers with a Tier 4 visa will be permitted to leave the UK with no detrimental effect on their Tier 4 visa nor their University attendance record.
Requests to leave the UK should be directed to the University’s Compliance team at firstname.lastname@example.org. PhD researchers should also complete a Change Request for a Study Away period via PhD Manager. Tier 4 researchers may study via distance learning (online) during the pandemic.
Monthly engagement with supervisors must continue as normal and be recorded on PhD Manager.
PhD submission and examination
I am due to submit my thesis over the coming weeks, what will happen?
You may submit your thesis electronically (in lieu of a soft copy submission).
Please submit your e-version along with the Turnitin output report to:
- Kate McMorris (email@example.com) for Jordanstown / Belfast based PhD researchers
- Suzanne O'Kane (firstname.lastname@example.org) for Coleraine / Magee based PhD researchers.
Please also copy email@example.com.
The Doctoral College does not normally require a hard copy thesis however, if an external examiner requests one then we will ask the PhD researcher to deliver a copy to a Doctoral College office, this can be done in-person or by post.
I am due to have my viva in the near future - will it go ahead as planned?
Remote vivas have been operating successfully since they moved online in March.
During the reboarding transition period, vivas will continue to take place remotely until at least the end of October.
I am due to submit my final thesis – what should I do?
The Doctoral College does not require a hard copy of the final thesis, please submit an electronic version of your final thesis to:
- Kate McMorris (firstname.lastname@example.org) for Jordanstown and Belfast based PhD researchers
- Suzanne O’Kane (email@example.com) for Coleraine and Magee based PhD researchers.
Please also copy in firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please also submit the following three forms by email:
- e-Thesis Deposit agreement form
- RS16 form (Deposit of Samples and Data Form)
- RS17 form (Reassignment of Student Intellectual Property Rights)
These forms can be found at https://www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/current/forms.
I have an assessment coming up within the next few months, will this go ahead as planned?
The Doctoral College has discussed assessments with the Associate Deans (Research & Impact) and while we hope it will be possible to proceed remotely with initial, confirmation and final assessments, it will be up to individual Research Directors and Postgraduate Tutors to decide if this is possible and when it is appropriate.
Questions and Updates
If you have a question, please email email@example.com (copying in your Postgraduate Tutor and Research Director).
Please be assured that we are working on your behalf to consider the challenges caused by COVID-19 to PhD progress and we will update our FAQs to reflect any progress we make or any change in our advice to PhD researchers.
We encourage all PhD researchers to remain in touch with fellow PhD researchers using email, Yammer and other social media networks and to keep up to date with the Twitter @UlsterUniPhD account.