An outline of the compulsory and progression requirements for the DPhil in Materials

(As per Appendix IX of the Department of Materials Graduate Course Handbook)

A. Introductory Note

The Oxford Materials ‘DPhil in Materials’ programme includes a small number of compulsory programme requirements, which are summarised below and included in the checklist on the very first page of this Handbook. More details are given in the main body of the Graduate Course Handbook.

It may be helpful to understand that some of these compulsory requirements serve more than one purpose, and to be aware of the rationale behind their inclusion. For this reason the summary below is provided. In particular, certain items are designed to meet some of the University & MPLS Division’s requirements fortransfer of status and confirmation of status – these are identified by the colour coding used below. *Those items marked with an asterisk are normally independently assessed/judged/reviewed by one or more members of staff other than or in addition to your supervisor(s). Transfer and Confirmation of status are formal points of examination and assessment respectively of your fitness to continue on the research programme, normally occurring in your fourth and ninth terms respectively. The independent input is an important part of these assessment processes, complementing that of your supervisor(s).

In addition to the Materials requirement of a student-led six-monthly project management exercise, there is a University requirement of three formal progress reports each year, written by the supervisor(s) and with which the student is expected to engage. The purpose of these reports is self-evident: clearly it is important that you, your college and the Department have a regular brief update on your progress, not least so that steps can be taken to remedy any problems as soon as possible. It is compulsory for you to record your own entry as part of your termly report; you will be prompted each term to do this, the time window being weeks six to seven. If you have concerns it is essential that you raise these either verbally or through the termly report. If you wish to raise concerns in confidence you may do so directly with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and/or with your college or Departmental Advisor and/or with the JCCG (the Staff-Student Liaison Committee).

The University, and some sponsors, also expect each student to engage with roughly 100 hours per year of transferable skills training and to report on this in their formal applications for transfer of status and confirmation of status.

Project Management is itself a useful transferable skill, but our purpose in making it a compulsory requirement is to enable and encourage you to take responsibility for the progress of your research, providing a tool for regular, but not too onerous, review of progress, identification of potential major bottlenecks and appropriate action to mitigate these, planning for the next six months and, in less detail, planning beyond the next six months right up to thesis submission. The ultimate aim is to maximize your chances of submitting a good thesis within your funded period.

You take the lead on the project management, but it is essential that your supervisor engages with you in this exercise. If you raise any serious concerns in your project management forms it is expected that you flag these by e-mail to the DGS. You upload your Project Management Forms to GSS at the same time as your MT and TT GSS reports are entered. PMF2 and 4 are additionally submitted to Marion Beckett some weeks in advance of the upload.

Finally, as part of the six-monthly project management process you and your supervisor are asked to review your training needs at least annually (academic training, research-specific skills training, generic transferable skills training & development).

You take the lead on the project management, but it is essential that your supervisor engages with you in this exercise. If you raise any serious concerns in your project management forms it is expected that you flag these by e-mail to the DGS.

B. Current Compulsory Requirements, in chronological sequence

(MT = Michaelmas Term (Oct-Dec); HT = Hilary Term (Jan-Mar); TT = Trinity Term (Apr-June); LV = Long Vacation (July-Sept). Colour coded requirements for transfer of status and confirmation of status 

Year one

  • Mandatory training spread over first two terms, but front-loaded to first part of MT: Induction, Safety Lecture, Project Management, Looking to the Future - Career Planning, Attend seven colloquia, satisfactory completion of two assessed lecture courses* (one to be ‘broadening’).
  • Wk 6 MT – Proj Mgt form 1
  • Wk 0 TT – Submit satisfactory 2500 word 1st year interim progress report*, with satisfactory Proj Mgt form 2* (including Gantt Chart*) annexed
  • Wks 3-5 TT – Satisfactory performance at 15 minute 1st year informal viva* (Comments in termly supervisor’s reports are noted too at this point)
  • 30th September LV – Submit satisfactory 7000 to 10,000 word Literature Review*

Year two

  • Early MT – Apply to be considered for Transfer of Status*
  • Wk 4-7 MT – Satisfactory Transfer of Status Interview*
  • Wk 3 MT – Proj Mgt form 3a
  • Wk7 HT – Present a satisfactory research talk* (15 min + 5min questions)
  • Wk 6-7 TT – Proj Mgt form 3b

Year three

  • Early MT – Apply to be considered for Confirmation of Status*; application to include a 500-1000 word report* on research achievements to date and supervisor’s assessment of this report and a likely timetable for submission of your thesis.
  • Wk 6-7 MT – Proj Mgt form 3c
  • Wk 6 HT – Present a Poster (A0 size)
  • Wk 0-8 TT – Satisfactory Transfer of Status Interview*
  • Wk 2 TT - For 3y funding: Proj Mgt form 4, which includes an outline plan for your thesis*
  • Wk 6-7 TT – For 3.5y funding: Proj Mgt form 3d

Year four (if applicable)

  • Wk 0 MT - For 3.5y funding: Proj Mgt form 4, which includes an outline plan for your thesis*