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First Year Assessment

First-year Assessment

The first-year assessment for PhD students must take place before the end of the first year and leads to a recommendation as to whether the student should be transferred from being a Graduate Student to register as a PhD student.


The objectives of the assessment at this stage are first, to check that the student has the ability to successfully complete the PhD; second, to sort out the specifics of the project that the student is pursuing; and third, to ensure that there are no difficulties with the supervisory relationship.

Format of student’s report

The format of the assessment is as follows.  You will be asked to prepare a report on your first year’s work.  The report should be ± 6000 words in order not to take too much time out of your research schedule. 

The form is  that of an extended scientific paper containing the following sections:


  • an introduction: states area of work with condensed literature review
  • aims
  • materials and methods
  • results – may be extensive or less so
  • discussion – including objectives and timescales

The exact content of the report will be at your discretion, but clearly it should include an overview of the field in which the research is taking place, assessment of the objectives and achievements of the first year and also assessment of the direction in which the project will progress.

You should make three softbound copies so that assessors and you yourself can have one.

Timeline and responsibilities for First year Report:

You should not spend more than three or four weeks of part-time work preparing the report.   The report must be submitted by the end of the tenth month

  • End of Month 8 (middle of Month 13 for Part-time students) – Student to arrange to meet with supervisor to discuss first year assessment, including structure of report and appointment of assessors. 

-  It is the student’s responsibility to ensure this meeting takes place.

-  It is the supervisor’s responsibility to then make sure the potential assessors are appointed and that they will be available to carry out the assessment before month 11 (or alternatives found).

  • Month 9 (Month 15 for Part-time students) – Student begins work on report allowing Supervisor to see drafts in plenty of time for alterations as required in time for submission by end of month 10. 
  • Before end of month 10   (before end of Month 17 for Part-time students) – Student sends completed report and assessment form to both assessors, copying in Graduate office (Fiona Roby).  Student liaises with Assessors and Supervisor to set a date and book a room for the assessment which should happen before the end of month 11 (Middle of month 18 for P/T).  The supervisor should be available after the assessment to discuss outcome with assessors.  It is the student’s responsibility to arrange the timing and book the room for the Assessment.
  • Before end of month 11 (before middle of month 18 for part time students) – Assessment to take place leaving time for any amendments to be made prior to the end of Yr 1 (end of month 20 for part time students). 


There will usually be two assessors who will be appointed by the supervisor in consultation with you.  There is room for considerable flexibility in the appointment of assessors compatible with student needs; these assessors may come from within or outside of the Department.  Make sure that they will be available and willing to read it soon after it is handed in.


Assessment takes the form of a meeting between the student and the assessors to discuss the first-year report and other matters bearing on the project, and last perhaps 1–1.5 hours.  The assessment is an ideal opportunity for refining the goals of the thesis.

Assessors’ report

Once an assessment is completed, the assessors compile a report to go to your supervisor.  It is your supervisor who has the responsibility of recommending to the Graduate Office whether or not you should be registered for a PhD with the formal approval of this recommendation being the responsibility of the Degree Committee.  The possible recommendations from a first-year assessment are as follows:

 i)   (most usually) to change your registration from “graduate student” to PhD student

ii)  that you are not yet ready to be registered as a PhD student and should be reassessed in one further term.  (In these cases you will be given directions to help you improve your performance, and be reassessed at the end of your fourth term).

iii) (unusually) that you will not be able to achieve the standard required for a PhD.  In these cases the assessors and supervisor will consider the possibility of successfully completing an MPhil, and recommend accordingly.

Download blank Assessor's report here



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