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

(As per Appendix XI of the Materials Graduate Student 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 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 for transfer and confirmation of status – in the ‘concise timelines’ (see Appendix XII of Materials Graduate Student Handbook or the ‘Materials: PGR Progression’ site) these requirement are identified by the green and blue colour coding indicated here.  The assessed lecture courses and the items directly associated with transfer and confirmation of status are normally independently assessed/judged/reviewed by one or more members of staff other than 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 at the end of your first year and towards the end of your third year respectively.  The independent input is an important part of these assessment processes, complementing that of your supervisor(s). Most students find it very helpful to receive this complementary, independent feedback on their progress.

In addition to the Materials requirement of a student-led six-monthly project management exercise, there is a University requirement of four formal progress reports each year, written by the supervisor(s) and with which the student is expected to engage.  The purpose of these ‘GSR’ 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 quarterly report; you will be prompted each term and in the Long Vacation to do this, the time window being weeks seven to nine of term and mid-September in the Long Vacation.  If you have major or severe concerns it is essential that you raise these through the quarterly report, but prior to this you should have raised these concerns verbally with your Responsible Supervisor. 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 Department Advisor and/or with the JCCG (the Department’s Staff-Student Committee). 

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 our ‘Materials: Progression’ on-line site.

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). There is a Divisional expectation of a regular ‘Training Needs Analysis’.

The University, and some sponsors, including the EPSRC, also expect each student to engage with roughly 100 hours per year of transferable ‘career skills’ training and the University requires you to report on this in your formal applications for transfer of status and confirmation of status.

B. Materials PGR Student Requirements and Timeline for Transfer & Confirmation of Status

The following document illustrates the requirements and timeline for Transfer and Confirmation, Project Management and Graduate Supervision Submissions for a Michaelmas Term starter, on the DPhil in Materials programme, with a 3.5-year studentship. 

 PGR Student Requirements and Timeline for Transfer & Confirmation of Status