Criteria for the award of the degrees of PhD and MPhil

Approved criteria for the award of PhD and MPhil degrees.


Criteria for the award of PhD 

In order for a student to be awarded a PhD or other doctoral award, they must satisfy the examiners that their thesis:

  • Is original work that forms an addition to knowledge.
  • Shows evidence of systematic study and of the ability to relate the results of such study to the general body of knowledge in the subject.
  • Is worthy of publication either in full or in an abridged form.

Students should be able to demonstrate, via the thesis and oral examination, that they can:

  • Critically appraise what is and what is not known in their subject area.
  • Formulate appropriate questions to probe what is not known.
  • Choose and, as necessary, devise appropriate techniques to address such questions.
  • Explain to others why these questions are worth asking and why these techniques are the right ones to use to answer them in a realistic and timely manner.
  • Employ such techniques rigorously and viably, to produce robust and reliable answers to the questions posed, while remaining open-minded to unexpected or unintended outcomes.
  • Accept critical analysis of their work, defending it with rigour but adjusting its interpretation or analysis where required.
  • Communicate their findings to the wider research community in a timely, transparent and accessible manner, acknowledging the contribution of others as appropriate.

Criteria for the award of MPhil

A thesis for the award of an MPhil degree shall be examined in accordance with the criteria prescribed by the University of Sheffield:

  • Is genuinely the work of the candidate
  • Consists of the candidate’s own account of their investigations and indicates in what respects they appear to them to advance the study of the subject
  • Represents a contribution to the subject, either through a record of the candidate’s original work or a critical and ordered exposition of existing knowledge
  • Takes due account of previously published work on the subject
  • Makes clear the sources from which information has been derived, the extent to which the work of others has been used, and the areas which are claimed as original
  • Is an integrated whole and presents a coherent argument
  • Is satisfactory as regards literary presentation
  • Has a full bibliography and reference
  • Represents what might reasonably be expected after two years or at most three years of study, or the part-time equivalent
  • shall not exceed 60,000* words (inclusive of footnotes but exclusive of appendices and bibliography, the word limit not applying to editions of a text or texts), unless the thesis has previously been submitted and examined for a PhD and judged to be MPhil standard.

*Faculty guidance on word limits for the degree of MPhil is 40,000 words.