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 they have conducted original research that is worthy of publication either in full or in an abridged form.

They 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.