Attendance and Absence

It is expected that you attend University daily, except by mutual agreement of your Supervisor(s) 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, you should 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. You should notify your Supervisors at the first available opportunity of prolonged absence due to sickness.

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 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.

International PhD Researcher’s Attendance

Attendance of international PhD Researchers will be monitored to ensure we meet our sponsor license obligations with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). Engagement of Student Route visa holders will be evidenced through recording an in-person meeting via PhD Manager and having the notes accepted by a Supervisor for each calendar month (last day of the month), unless there is a pre-approved study away, leave of absence, annual leave or other authorised leave.

If the Researcher does not have an in-person meeting recorded and does not have a valid reason for this, i.e. the absence was not pre-approved on PhD Manager, it will be noted as an unauthorised absence. If the International PhD Researcher has two unauthorised absences within an academic year, the Compliance Team may invite you to a meeting to review continuation of sponsorship of your student visa.

Tips to avoid registering an unauthorised absence:

  • Consider scheduling meetings with your supervisor in advance, perhaps at the beginning of the month, to give your supervisor sufficient time to approve the meeting notes logged on PhD Manager.
  • Remind your supervisors to approve the meetings if necessary.
  • If none of your supervisors are available to meet in person in any month, please contact the Postgraduate Tutor in your area to make arrangements to meet with an alternative member of staff for the purposes of monthly monitoring and to record this as usual on PhD Manager as a meeting with supervisors, but with a note of the alternative staff member you met with.

Demonstrating and Teaching Opportunities

Many PhD Researchers provide support to teaching and assist with laboratory practical’s within the School.  PhD Researchers can provide up to 6 hours per week in demonstration.  Demonstration and tutorial duties may include:

  • Demonstration and assistance with practical classes
  • Delivery and co-ordination of small group activities, e.g. tutorials
  • Participation in student-led activities
  • Participation in student-led seminars

These opportunities are useful for your CV. If you are interested, please discuss with your Supervisor.

PhD Researchers wishing to gain experience in demonstration and teaching opportunities must complete training offered by the Researcher Development Program:

1. Introduction to Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (Postgraduate Teaching Assistant).

This course is compulsory for all PhD Researchers who wish to teach; which aims to:

  1. Provide key information regarding the role of the Postgraduate Teaching Assistant (PGTA) and the Code of Practice for PGTAs

    Further details, course details and bookings can be found here.

  2. Provide introductory guidance on delivering effective sessions

2. First Steps to Supporting Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (FST)

This is an Advance HE accredited course, which aims to:

  1. Support the University’s Code of Practice for postgraduate tutors and demonstrators
  2. Support the development needs of contracted staff, for example research associates, part-time tutors etc.
  3. Satisfy the requirements of Descriptor 1 of the Professional Standards Framework (PSF 2023)with particular reference to Areas of Activity 2 (teach and/or support learning through appropriate approaches and environments) and 3 (assess and give feedback for learning).
  4. Take account of Ulster priorities in learning and teaching

Further details, course details and application

Subject Specific Training

The School of Sport technical team may support laboratory training as appropriate and required. If further specialised training is required, your Supervisor is best placed to advise.

Travel and Procurement Procedures

All DfE-funded and VCRS PhD Researchers are awarded a budget each year to be spent on developmental activities to support their research (for instance a training event, attending a conference, collecting data). Agreement for travel and accommodation must be sought from your supervisor prior to proceeding with any booking.  Prior approval for all DfE/VCRS expenditure must be obtained from the Research Director.

To arrange travel, PhD Researchers will need to apply for Prior Approval (PA) through the Digital Claimant Portal.  Once the Prior Approval is approved, this will generate a PA  number and a nominal code.  The cost centre, PA number, and nominal code can be used to book travel through Selective Travel, the University’s travel agent, via Mrs Julie Haydock. For other expenses, the PhD Researcher should get approval from their Supervisor. On return from your trip, expenses may be reclaimed by uploading all receipts. No refunds will be made in relation to alcohol.  Retrospective applications for trips cannot be reimbursed as you will not have a prior approval number.  Expense claims need to be made within 90 days of trip.

When travelling on University business, it is important to secure a prior approval as this triggers the University’s Insurance Policy.

Motor Mileage Allowances

Mileage for visits is claimed via the Digital Claimant Portal. The current rate for PhD Researchers is 25p per mile and is calculated on the shortest route possible.

This will need approval from Supervisor beforehand.

Publishing and Your Research Profile


We encourage researchers, with the support of their supervisors, to produce peer-reviewed academic publications either during, or on the completion, of their research studies.

It is normally the case that the PhD Researcher is named as the lead author on work from their PhD with all of their supervisors named as co-authors. Agreement should be reached between the PhD Researcher and the Supervisory Team if any additional named authors are to be included.

Research Profile

We are passionate and active about sharing the successes of our PhD Researchers and PhD graduates. Please inform the Research Director and Postgraduate Tutor of any important achievements such as, publications, conference presentations, prizes, grants, so that these can be shared across university level committees and the School of Sport’s social media platforms.

It should be noted, as a PhD Researcher, the same Student Social Media Policies apply to you as students and staff. They deal with advice on conduct, safety and social media presence.

As part of your research presence, we encourage PhD Researcher’s to record activities and research publications on the PURE system. This is a database where you can manage your own research profile. You can avail of support in the use of PURE via a series of workshops will take place on campus.

Similarly as you move into the world of research beyond Ulster, you should secure an independent Research ID through ORCID. PURE and ORCID are compatible for easy import/export of data.

Thesis Format

As the PhD Researcher approaches completion, they should submit their Intention to Submit form via PhD Manager, three months before the proposed submission date. This enables the Doctoral College to begin making examination arrangements.

Generic guidance on thesis formatting can be found under the Do Doctoral College Thesis Format guide.

Citation Style

When documenting research, the consistent and correct use of a single Citation Style is fundamental. There are many systems available and publishers of books and journals will outline their specific requirements within their author guidelines. For internal publications, the Harvard Referencing system should be used.

REF works software can be used to manage your references. The library runs training every two weeks on this software. The software can be accessed through the Ulster University library databases.

Health and Safety

Laboratory and Office Safety

It is everyone’s duty to ensure a safe working environment. Your first point of contact if you have a health and safety query should be your Supervisor. The Schools Health & Safety Coordinator is Mr Maurice Field.

Laboratory risk assessments are carried out and updated annually by Emma Finlay and Kyle McConnell.  We would encourage all PhD Researchers using the laboratory to undergo defibrillator training and other useful health and safety courses, as suggested by the supervisory and/or technical teams.

Our laboratory defibrillator is located in the Physiology Lab (BC-04-416). General First Aid / access to defibrillators are available via on-campus Security (extension – 22222). In event of an emergency requiring Police, Fire, or Ambulance, dial (9)999 directly then contact security immediately on extension 22222.

Often PhD Researchers work late and/or at weekends across the various campuses. To ensure your safety, it is recommended that all Researchers download the SafeZone app which enables users to call for immediate help and assistance. It is free and takes up minimal phone storage space. If working late, you should make security aware and let them know when you leave.

Fire Safety

If you discover a fire, activate the alarm immediately using the nearest break glass point.

On hearing the fire alarm:

  • You must leave the building using the nearest available route by following the emergency exit signs.
  • You must go directly to the nearest assembly point
  • You must not re-enter the building until told it is safe

Fire marshals will sweep each floor in the event of an evacuation. An air-horn will be used to support the ‘All Clear’ message to signal that you can begin re-entry of the buildings. The fire alarm is tested on the Belfast Campus at 1:10pm and 5:55pm every Wednesday.

School of Sport

The School of Sport is part of the Faculty of Life and Health Sciences and is based mainly on the Belfast campus.

Sport and Exercise Sciences

World-leading research that enhances the quality of life and addresses the changing needs of sport and physical activity in society....