You and Your Supervisors

You are ultimately responsible for organising the direction, progression and completion of your research project.  During your studies, you are expected to meet with your supervisory team regularly, with a schedule to be discussed and agreed. It is required that certain meetings (monthly) between supervisors and postgraduate researchers are designated as formal and that a record of these meetings are maintained via PhD Manager. Meetings should be monthly as a minimum for those in full-time mode; every two months if part-time.

As researchers at Ulster, your main source of support will come from your team of supervisors.  The role of the supervisor is to guide and support the development of your research.  They will provide encouragement and monitor your progress in accordance with set assessments outlined in this handbook.

Staff involved in supervision are expected to be able to advise PhD researchers on aspects of their research projects including matters relating to University procedures. Supervisors are limited in the number of PhD Researchers they can supervise to twelve. A good working relationship with your supervisors will be a key factor in the success of your research project and the University provides guidance for both PhD researchers and supervisors to ensure this relationship is maximised.

Attendance and Absence

It is expected that you attend University on a daily basis, except by mutual agreement of your supervisor or Research Director. Typically, PhD researchers work 35-40 hours per week between the hours of 9.00am - 5.00pm.  Holidays must be approved by your supervisor and must not exceed a total of eight weeks including public holidays (40 days) per year.

If you need to take some leave due to poor health or family problems, you firstly need to inform your supervisor.  If the leave is for more than two weeks, you must notify your supervisors, who will then notify the Doctoral College in writing of the dates of absence, accompanied by a medical certificate.

If you require a prolonged period of leave (exceeding 28 days) then you may need to consider taking a Leave of Absence.  Funded PhD researchers should be aware that they may normally be allowed a Leave of Absence for a maximum of one year.  It is important to note that your maintenance grant will be suspended during a Leave of Absence, although with medical evidence you can avail of 13 weeks of paid sick leave per annum.  You are not permitted to take up paid employment during a Leave of Absence. Please read the terms and conditions of your funding if applicable.  If you decide to request a Leave of Absence please submit your request on PhD Manager once you have spoken with your supervisor.

If you need any further information or advice regarding attendance and absence regulations, please contact your supervisor or Postgraduate Tutor.

Research Ethics and Integrity

Ulster University requires the highest standards of professionalism in research conducted by all staff and researchers in all disciplines.  The University encourages and supports research integrity through a framework of policies, procedures and guidance, summarised and illustrated in the Code of Practice for Professional Integrity in the Conduct of Research which is updated regularly at Ulster to reflect changing sector-wide requirements.

Research Integrity

Research integrity means conducting research in a way which allows others to have trust and confidence in the methods used and the findings generated. The University expects the highest standards of integrity to be adhered to by its researchers. All researchers (and others involved in the research process) are required to undertake and pass the University’s Research Integrity Course which is available through Blackboard.

The course takes approximately one hour to complete and provides grounding in the essentials of good research conduct, and guidance on how to avoid bad practice.  It is expected that all postgraduate researchers complete this course successfully prior to undertaking the initial assessment.

Research Ethics

Research ethics is about ensuring that research, especially research involving human participants or subjects, is conducted appropriately.  It is university policy that all research involving human participants must be reviewed through the filter and ethics committee process as appropriate.  Studies covered by the University’s policy include interview, questionnaire and focus group research as well as research involving interventions of any kind.

Details of the University’s policies and procedures in this area are currently available through the portal.  Please click on the Research Governance and Ethics tab. Early in your project you should discuss the ethical implications of your work with your supervisors.  If required, you should then make an ethical application.  Filter committees have been established in all of the areas in which significant levels of human research are likely to take place.

For information on the filter committee for the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment please contact Sky Aughey

Architecture, Built Environment and Planning Research Area

The Belfast School of Architecture and the Built Environment is part of the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and the Built Environment and is Ulster University’s principal focus for research activities relating to the sustainable design and development, management, regulation and conservation of the built environment. The quality of the research in the Built Environment was recognised as 100% world-leading or internationally excellent in terms of the research environment and research impact in REF2021.

The school has a number of academic and administrative staff who support the PhD researchers. These include the Research Director, Postgraduate Tutor and Academic Excellence Executive Assistant.  The school management comprises of the Head of School, who oversees all teaching and research activities.  The Research Director focuses on all research activities and the Associate Head of School oversees all activities related to teaching and learning.

The Postgraduate Tutor is responsible for the overall running of the schools PhD programme and for providing pastoral support for PhD researchers.  They are available to meet with you in confidence to discuss any particular issues you may have.

Architecture, Built Environment and Planning

Conducting internationally excellent and world-leading research through five constituent research centres.