Guidance for current EPSRC students

Your university will probably offer some kind of induction early in your studies. This should provide a good opportunity to find out about the university rules regarding your doctorate, who to ask (within the university) for further information and an introduction to some of the relevant people.

It is universities that manage the recruitment and selection of students to EPSRC-funded studentships. For successful candidates, the offer of a studentship will also be from the university and should set out the arrangements for the studentship.

Universities generally have a framework of policies and guidance for research students and your offer letter may provide links to the relevant information. There will also be a route for student advice and support within your university. These routes vary from one university to another, but might be through your department or centre office, a doctoral college or network of postgraduate deans. Your supervisor should be able to recommend suitable routes for advice and support.

Framework of policies and guidance that apply

Please see information in the text below and listing of documents on the right hand side of this page for further information.

If you have a grievance with your supervisor

If you are having problems with your supervisor, your university is responsible for making sure that you have access to procedures for resolving them. You should be able to find out more about these procedures by looking at your offer letter and the university policies for postgraduate research.

If you need longer to complete your research

EPSRC funding for a PhD is normally between three and four years (maximum of four years) if you are studying full-time. It is also possible to do a PhD part-time.

You should talk to your supervisor if you are worried about the length of your funding. Your supervisor and the university may be able to agree an extension to funding, to compensate for time unavoidably lost through illness or other absences. The terms and conditions of training grants are available from the 'Conditions of Research Council Training Grants' document on the RCUK website (see paragraphs 56 to 62).

If you want to do paid or unpaid work

We are happy for you to do demonstration, teaching and other duties in your university department where if they do not interfere with the progress of your PhD.

We recognise that you can gain valuable skills from these activities, but EPSRC stipends are training awards and do not cover payment for duties that would reasonably be considered to constitute employment.

If you do demonstration, teaching or other types of employment in an institution, you should be paid for this as well as receiving the minimum EPSRC stipend. Demonstration, teaching or other types of employment should not be compulsory, and your organisation should provide a range of development opportunities for students.

Any other work that you take on should not stop you finishing your PhD on time.

The Training Grant Guide has some references to employment and is available from the RCUK website.

If you want to take leave (including parental leave)

Your university must make suitable arrangements for holidays and other leave, generally following their normal practice.

EPSRC funded students are entitled to parental leave (maternity, paternity and adoptive leave). There is further information in the 'Conditions of Research Council Training Grants' document on the RCUK website (see paragraphs 56 to 62), and the RCUK Training Grant Guide. There is also a briefing on the RCUK website that provides a summary. If you receive industrial sponsorship, please bear in mind your obligation to your sponsor in planning holidays.

If you become ill

If you need to take time off from your studies due to illness, you should keep your supervisor informed. If you are away a long time, discuss the situation with your supervisor who can advise on the best course of action.

If you are not doing well

If you are not doing well and your progress is considered unsatisfactory, it is possible that you might be asked to withdraw from your studies.

If this did happen, you should be allowed a reasonable period of notice, which may or may not include any unused leave entitlement. However, you should bear in mind that you may be asked to repay money paid to you in advance for any period after the termination of your studies.

If you feel that you are not doing well, the best thing is to discuss it with your supervisor at an early stage. The routes within your university for student advice and support may also be helpful.

Expectations

There is a QAA Quality Code for Higher Education that includes a chapter on research degrees. It provides a framework of expectations about research degrees that higher education providers are required to meet.

There is also an RCUK statement of expectations for postgraduate training and the expectations on you include:

  • You should be actively involved in managing and directing your research project and training, taking advice from your supervisor.
  • You are expected to develop the higher-level capabilities as outlined in the Researcher Development Statement (available from the Vitae website).
  • Where you have the opportunity to work in a non-academic environment, you should maximise the opportunity by seeking to understand the role of research within the organisation and the wider context.

Your university will provide opportunities for personal and professional development, typically including career advice, advanced training, good research conduct and skills relevant to a range of employment (“transferable” skills). Your routes for student advice and support may be able to help signpost opportunities available to you.

Vitae provides information and advice to help you be a more effective researcher and develop your career in or outside academia. For further information, please see the Vitae website, which includes a helpful section on doing research.

Data

Some data regarding training grants and studentships will be made available in databases such as Gateway to Research (GtR). If you have any questions about this, they should be addressed to your university in the first instance. The 'Conditions of Research Council Training Grants' available from the RCUK website will also provide some further information about the use of data provided.

EPSRC uses the researchfish® online system to collect information on the outputs, outcomes and impacts that have arisen from EPSRC-funded research and training. You may be contacted by email about reporting via researchfish®.