Progress monitoring and milestones

Information on how students' progress is monitored and supported.


Progress of research students

Essential practice

The academic progress of all PGR students must be formally assessed by departments at six-monthly intervals throughout the student's research degree. This is in addition to the regular recording of formal supervisory meetings. These progress reviews may take the form of mandatory milestones, e.g. Confirmation Review and Submission Review, or they may constitute a designated task to be completed by the student, such as a poster presentation or submission of a journal-quality paper.

Mandatory milestones

The University has agreed that the following progression points should be mandatory milestones:

  • Induction/Training Needs Analysis
  • Confirmation Review (PhD, MD, EngD only)
  • Data Management Plan (compulsory from 2019/20 onwards for new starters)
  • Submission Review (compulsory for all students from 2019/20 onwards)
  • DDP Evidencing Development Summary
  • Thesis Submission

PhD timeline with milestones

When planning a PhD timeline, a milestone should be incorporated every six months.

The requirement to install touchpoints on a six-monthly basis is designed to provide sufficient opportunities to identify any issues that may affect student progress.

Start of PhD

  • Induction
  • Training Needs Analysis (TNA)

6 months after start

  • See 'optional milestones'

9 to 12 months after start

  • Confirmation Review
  • Doctoral Development Programme (DDP) Review
  • Data Management Plan (DMP) submission

18 months after start

  • Second confirmation attempt deadline (if needed)
  • See 'optional milestones'

18 months after start to 15 months before deadline

  • See 'optional milestones'

6 months before the end of fee-paying period

  • Submission Review

36 months after start date

  • DDP e-portfolio submission
  • See 'optional milestones'

36 to 48 months

  • Thesis submission

Optional milestones

Including (but not limited to)

  • Literature review
  • Journal paper
  • Mock viva
  • Poster competition
  • Conference presentation
  • Presentation of thesis plan

PhD timeline with milestones diagram (PDF)

Student engagement and attendance monitoring

It is essential that all students regularly attend all the scheduled sessions (e.g. supervisory meetings, departmental research presentations, DDP modules, laboratory sessions, etc.) that are listed in their timetable or that are communicated to them by their department.  It is only by attending all of the scheduled sessions that students will be able to engage with their research and progress effectively, as required by University Regulations. 

To ensure that students make full use of the learning and research opportunities that are available, academic departments will monitor both the attendance and academic engagement of all students throughout the year, in accordance with the University's Student Attendance Monitoring and Student Academic Engagement policies. This applies both to students on campus and those who are undertaking research or working away from Sheffield as part of their degree.

This process should assist departments in identifying problems at an early stage and offering students appropriate support, including training or referrals to relevant support services, where required.

Attendance monitoring