Your PhD Journey

PhD journeyPhDs are usually completed over a three year period (four years if you are with one of our Centres for Doctoral Training). 

We've provided a table below to highlight what you can expect each year with more detailed information below.

Year Activity

Year One

Training Needs Analysis (TNA)
Six months progress milestone
Confirmation review (at 12 months)
Year Two TNA update/review
18 months progress milestone
24 months progress milestone
Year Three TNA update/review
30 months progress review
Submit thesis
Examination/Viva

Year One

By the end of your first month of your PhD, you should have met with your supervisory team, attended faculty and departmental inductions, and passed the necessary fire training. You will have a clear idea of your project and what training you will be undertaking as part of the Doctoral Development Programme (DDP) having completed a training needs analysis (TNA). The TNA form and guidance notes can be found here: TNA forms and guidance

The first checkpoint of your academic progress is at six months, and the format of this depends upon the department you are in. This first progression point is to assess how you are getting on, what progress has been made, and if you have contributed enough work to successfully undertake the confirmation review at 12 months.

By 12 months, you should have submitted your Confirmation Review Report. This is a University requirement and must be completed.

The important points to remember are:

  • The first 12 months of a PhD should be viewed as probationary.
  • Your first attempt at confirmation should take place at 12 months.
  • You are allowed only one further attempt if you do not pass first time, this must take place no later than 18 months after registration (pro rata for part time students).
  • The confirmation review is used to determine if the student has the potential to succeed within the timeframe of a PhD. As such, it cannot be delayed until the student "has done enough to get through". Good students, who work hard, should pass, whilst those who ultimately will fail to complete a PhD thesis within the given time limits should fail.
  • If the student has failed on their second attempt, they will be given the option of writing the work up as an MPhil or withdrawing.
  • The confirmation review will also be used as a check to make sure you are making satisfactory progress with the DDP.

The Code of Practice provides in-depth information and guidance on this stage of your PhD, please use the link if you would like to find out more: Code of Practice – 12 month confirmation

Year Two and Three

At the start of year two you should undertake a TNA and should have made significant progress with your project.. The confirmation review is an excellent point to assess what you have done, what works, what doesn't, and to be critical of your own research.

At 18, 24, and 30 months, further progress points are conducted. Again, these differ between departments and may take the form of a Poster, a paper, a research day, or a presentation. These department led progression points are there to determine your engagement with your study.

At the end of year three, your thesis is due unless you are a student with one of our Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT). You can find out more about thesis submission here: thesis submission.

Once your thesis is submitted, it will be passed to Research and Innovation Services. They will liaise with your department and send out your thesis to the chosen examiners, prior to your viva examination.

The Viva

At the oral examination the examiners will test your knowledge on matters relevant to the subject of your thesis. The purpose of the examination is to enable the examiners to clarify any ambiguities in the thesis and to satisfy themselves that the thesis is all your own work. They also want to ensure that you is familiar with the relation of his/her work to the field of study and that his/her knowledge and understanding of related fields in the subject are of the standard expected for the award of the degree. On completion of the oral examination, the Examiners should advise the candidate of their intended recommendation to the faculty.

If you would like to find out more about this process then please use the following link: Oral Examination (viva)