Photograph of student in library

General Information and Time Limits

Your research journey

This is an exciting time because you are about to embark on your own research project, in an area that interests you, and with plenty of scope to write at some length. Producing a PhD thesis can be grouped in to three phases as detailed below. Each stage involves different activities, styles of thinking, types of writing and needs for advice and supervision:

Phase 1

This phase involves becoming clearer about your title and research topic; focusing down - sorting out its scope and its boundaries, drawing a line round your project, making it do-able. You will refine and focus your research question, developing a conceptual and/or theoretical framework.
You will get into a working routine and sorting out your personal time management; getting clear about your methodology and methods; making plans for data collection e.g. sample, gaining access, timing, ethical issues ; doing some early writing and reading; and forming a working relationship and a pattern with your supervisor, including a system for record- keeping.

Phase 2

Phase 2 involves data collection; early data analysis; critical reading and writing around the literature; building up your references; keeping regular contact with your supervisor; keeping records of supervision, either on-line or face to face contacts; using other support systems; writing chunks/ chapters and getting regular feedback on your writing from your supervisor; overcoming obstacles.

Phase 3

Phase 3 includes finishing data analysis; keeping regular contact; continued reading; presenting at conferences when you’re ready, developing oral skills for the viva; writing the concluding chapters, the discussion and the implications and completing a first draft for someone to comment on. You will also complete your final thesis, involving final proof reading and polishing its presentation, discussing examiners, and preparing for and completing the viva.

Photograph of students in discussionConfirmation Review Process

As the first year of the PhD is considered probationary, students must attend a confirmation review to be permitted to remain on their PhD. This is commonplace across universities.

Within the School of Education Confirmation Reviews are expected to take place between 9 - 12 months from initial registration.

Students are required to produce a 10,000 word paper which should include:

  • A clear statement of the substantive area of research and contextualisation with reference to the relevant literature;
  • A clear statement of and justification for the methodological approach that will be adopted and description of the methods to be used, again with reference to the literature;
  • An indication of and justification for relevant theoretical frameworks for the study;
  • Awareness of the specific ethical issues the study raises;
  • A schedule for future work;
  • Details of and reflections on any training undertaken on the DDP as well as future training plans, eg a completed TNA.

This paper will be read by two reviewers (chosen by your supervisor/s) who will then meet with you and conduct what is essentially a mini viva. The purpose is primarily to ascertain whether the proposed study is at doctoral level, is viable and is the student's own work. Confirmation Review vivas - like final vivas - generally take the form of an academic conversation which can help to better shape the study.

If the reviewers do not feel that it is yet appropriate to confirm doctoral status they will ask for a revised paper and, usually, another viva. This should take place within 18 months of initial registration.

Relevant guidance on the confirmation review can be found here.

The Faculty of Social Sciences / White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership

The Faculty of Social Sciences, in collaboration with the White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership provides students with the skills to become independent researchers working at the cutting edge of the social sciences, and to become critically reflective in their research practice and personal development.

Following discussion with your PhD supervisor, you will identify your training needs and identify the variety of options to meet your training needs and interests.

The programme is flexible, and delivered through an engaging variety of formats such as lectures, seminars, workshops, conferences and other events. It offers specific social science methods training, combined with training in professional skills and research in an interdisciplinary environment.

Time Limits

The time limits are:

PhD (Full-Time)
3yrs (normal)
4yrs (Max)

PhD (Part-Time)
6yrs (normal)
8yrs (Max)

Overall time limits for PhD students can be found in the Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes (along with fee details).

We are aware that circumstances (e.g. health issues, family and occupational commitments) can arise when it is advisable for a student to take a Leave of Absence. If this is suggested by a supervisor, it should be given due consideration.