Covid-19 Information for Postgraduate Research Students 

General FAQs

Should PGR students continue to come to the University?
We are moving most of our teaching, learning and support services online for the next few months and making some changes to building access.

We are following the government’s advice on public health and social distancing. The only building that remains open on campus is 99 Oxford Road our base for essential maintenance staff.

Please discuss with your Supervisor options for keeping in touch remotely.

As this is a fast-moving situation, please refer to the University’s Coronavirus pages regularly for any updates.

I have a meeting with my supervisor. What should I do?
Supervision meetings should take place by COVID-19 video conferencing‌. We advise Skype as University employees are provided with Skype for Business.

I have an RD1/Application to Register taking place in the next couple of months. What should I do?
If you are able to, please continue with your studies as normal.

I have an RD2/Transfer viva due to take place. What should I do?
If you are able to, please continue with your studies as normal. We will make arrangements for the transfer viva to take place by video conferencing, if possible.

I would like to suspend my study due to COVID-19. What should I do?
Please submit a suspension request as normal. You don’t need to include any evidence to support the request.

International students on a visa should contact VisaCompliance@mmu.ac.uk to confirm visa implications of suspending study.

I’m concerned about my study arrangements. Who should I speak to?
In the first case, please contact your supervisor. You can also access support from the Student Hubs either online or by phone.

I have ethics permission to interview participants face-to-face, and would now like to interview them by video conference. What should I do?
Speak to your supervisor about whether it is appropriate to change your interviews to being carried out by video conference. If this is unlikely to impact on your data collection, you can go ahead. If this is the only change, you don’t need to submit an ethics amendment.

If it is likely to impact on your data collection, discuss with your supervisor how you can proceed.

Further information about ethics are available on our Research pages.

I’m due to submit my thesis in the next few months. What should I do?
Please make sure you have completed the Notice of Intention to Submit Form‌. This is so that we know which vivas‌ are likely to take place and can plan accordingly.

Do I need to submit printed copies of my thesis?
We are suspending the need for students to submit printed copies of their thesis. Follow the instructions for sending digital copies as normal.

My thesis contains performance, an exhibition or a portfolio. What should I do?
Please discuss this with your supervisor to see what arrangements can be made.

My viva is in the next couple of months. What is going to happen?
If it’s possible for the viva to go ahead, this will be arranged by video conferencing. If you believe that this will be detrimental to your assessment, the viva can be postponed until a later date.

I’m unable to do lab work or fieldwork. What should I do?
There may be other activities which you can carry out in the meantime. Speak to your supervisor about how you can adjust what you are working on.

If you are funded, you should also speak to your funding provider.

I’m a Tier 4 postgraduate researcher and have to return to my country. What will happen to my visa?
If you choose to leave the UK, please note we cannot predict when transport will be open to return to Manchester. Follow the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the latest travel guidance.

To protect your Tier 4 visa status in the UK, please do the following:  

 

I need an extension to my study due to COVID-19. What should I do?
You should complete an extension request as normal. You do not need to provide evidence if the reason you need the extension is due to COVID-19.

What will happen to my immigration status if I cannot complete my fieldwork or lab work?
Speak to your supervisor about what you can do during this time.

The International Office are able to authorise up to 60 days of absence and this will not affect your immigration status. Please contact VisaCompliance@mmu.ac.uk for advice.

If you are funded, you should also speak to your funding provider.

Is the Graduate School's PGR training and development programme going ahead?
The Graduate School’s PGR training sessions and all research seminars are being suspended until July 2020. For faculty-specific training, please check with the Graduate School team to see what arrangements may be in place for online provision.

Can I still take part in shared workshops with other universities?
Many of the shared workshops are going to be delivered as webinars, so sign up as normal. The individual institutions will contact you if there are any changes.

Submission, examination and award

Will all SkillsForge processes still happen in the usual way? 

Yes – SkillsForge will work as normal.

What is a Notice of Intention to Submit (NITS) form?
The NITS form is a new form that PGR students are asked to complete and submit three months prior to thesis submission.

I’m more than three months away from submission. Why am I being asked to complete the Notice of Intention to Submit (NITS) form now?
To assist with COVID-19 planning, we are sending the form to all students with a submission deadline up to 30th September 2020 to ensure that we receive the forms back as early as possible in order that we can support the process efficiently.

Where should the Notice of Intention to Submit (NITS) form be submitted to?
By email to gsresearchdegrees@mmu.ac.uk

I need to request an embargo on my thesis for confidentiality reasons – can I still do this?
Yes – you can indicate on you Notice of Intention to Submit (NITS) form that you intend to apply for an embargo, and the Graduate School will then contact you about it. If you have already submitted your NITS from and you need to discuss the possibility of an embargo, please contact us on gsresearchdegrees@mmu.ac.uk

Will COVID-19 affect my submission deadline?
If you need to apply for an extension for reasons related to COVID-19, a period of up to three months will be approved by the Graduate School. You still need to apply in the usual way by submitting an Extension Request (RD4) on SkillsForge, but you do not need to upload any documentary evidence. Your director of studies will need to sign the form off in SkillsForge before it reaches the Graduate School.

Can I apply to extend my deadline by more than three months?
Yes, you can. For applications for more than three months you will need to provide a rationale for this, clearly linking the impact on your ability to work on your thesis to the amount of time you are requesting. The usual requirement for documentary evidence, and the usual fees associated with a request for an extension may apply. All requests will be considered on a case by case basis. Please contact us on gsresearchdegrees@mmu.ac.uk

How do I submit my thesis, and where?
If you are submitting your thesis while contingency measures are in place, you do not need to submit a printed copy of your thesis. Instead, please email a copy of it to gsresearchdegrees@mmu.ac.uk on or before your deadline date.

An examiner is insisting on receiving a hard copy of the thesis – what can be done?
The Graduate School will deal with such cases on an individual basis. Please contact us on gsresearchdegrees@mmu.ac.uk with any queries in this regard.

Will theses still be checked in TurnItIn?
Yes, the Graduate School will still be performing these checks as normal and asking directors of studies to comment on the originality report in the usual way (i.e. in SkillsForge).

Arrangements are already in place for a viva that will now no longer take place on campus – what happens now?
The Graduate School will be in touch with all concerned for scheduled vivas that will be affected by COVID-19, to discuss the alternative arrangements and to ensure that things such as hotel bookings for external examiners are cancelled.

Can vivas still be scheduled at this time?
Yes, the Graduate School will continue to confirm viva dates and arrangements, up to two months in advance.

What is the alternative to a traditional face to face viva?
The alternative is for the viva to take place via video conference (preferably Skype for Business). For any vivas taking place while contingency measures are in place, there will be no limit on the number of participants who can join the viva by video conferencing. For more advice, see the UK Council for Graduate Education guidance for conducting vivas online.

What are the alternatives to Skype?
Zoom has been tried and tested as an alternative. It works well, and free accounts can be set up and used instantly. However, note that with free accounts, sessions are limited to 40 minutes, which is likely to cause some disruption. Therefore, unless using a paid subscription to Zoom, it is only recommended as an emergency alternative to Skype for Business.

If my thesis contains a performance, exhibition or portfolio, what should I do?
You and Director of Studies should discuss whether it’s possible for the exam to go ahead. If the you believe that it would be detrimental to your assessment if it does not take place face-to-face, the examination should be postponed.

Are students obliged to have the viva held by video conference?
No. Students can instead decide to postpone their viva until it is possible to arrange for it take place face to face on campus.

Other than the student, who has to approve for the viva to take place by video conference?
Another important consideration is whether the external examiner is happy with the arrangement. Manchester Met colleagues – i.e. internal examiners, independent chairs and supervisors – must make themselves available to participate by video conference in all cases. 

What if the external examiner is unwilling to conduct the viva by video conference?
The viva may be put on hold until it can be arranged to take place on campus. Alternatively, in some cases, replacing the external examiner may be an option, if this is the student’s preference – this will have to be assessed on a case by case basis. 

Note that for recognised Distance Learning routes, permission for the student to participate by video conference is automatic and therefore the external examiner cannot object to a Distance Learning student participating by video conference. However, the usual requirement is that only the student can participate by video conference, so the external examiner may object to the contingency measure of additional parties participating by video conference.

Can students still grant permission for observers at their viva?
Yes – this can still be done in the usual way on SkillsForge, and permission will still be required if the director of studies or other supervisors wish to attend/dial into the viva.

Will students still have mock vivas?
Students should be offered a mock viva by video conference.

Support for students immediately after the viva
Before agreeing to hold their viva by video conference, students should have a conversation with the director of studies about how support will be provided immediately after the viva. This will be particularly important in the event of the examiners recommending an outcome that the student is disappointed with. It is recommended that the director of studies and student are able to talk via video conference immediately after the viva for this purpose, and that the student considers who might be available to them for face to face support (if possible).

How will recommendations made by the examiners be considered and approved?
Assessment Boards are expected to take place on the scheduled dates. Where necessary, the meetings will take place by video conference or Assessment Board members will be asked to discuss recommendation by circulation. As far as possible, students will be notified of outcomes within the usual timeframes – i.e. within five working days of the scheduled Assessment Board date.

How will students be informed of their approved examination outcome?
The Graduate School will do this is the usual way via SkillsForge and also by email where necessary.

What if the examination outcome means that further work is needed, which requires access to on-campus facilities?
This will need to be considered on a case by case basis, and timescales for completion of the work will be revised where necessary.

How will Personal Learning Plans (PLPs) be taken into consideration?
We recognise that the contingency measures, e.g. of conducting of vivas by video conference, may not be suitable for all students. If you have a PLP in place, it is your responsibility to notify the Graduate School (gsresearchdegrees@mmu.ac.uk) if the contingency measures are unworkable for you so that we can discuss your needs and any available alternatives with you.

When will I receive formal written confirmation of my degree being awarded?
The Graduate School will issue confirmation electronically, but there is likely to be a delay in issuing certificates.

Admissions

I have an offer to start in April or July - how am I affected by this?
You are welcome to defer your start date to October 2020. For options for continuing with an April or July start date, please contact us on gsresearchdegrees@mmu.ac.uk for the latest information.

Can I still apply to do a research degree at Manchester Metropolitan University?
Yes, and our online application system is open as normal.