The revised UK Quality Code for Higher Education - QAA

The Code will continue to fulfil its role as the cornerstone for quality in UK higher education, protecting the public and student interest, and championing UK higher educations's world-leading reputation for quality.

New Quality Code>

TUoS Framework for Research Collaborative Provision

The collaborative provision policy is a defined policy and is mandatory for all research collaborative provision at the University.


Collaborative PGR Programme 121 Surgery

One to one sessions with a member of the Research Services Programmes and Provision team providing tailored advice and guidance to academics and/or administrators who are interested in setting up, enhancing or trouble-shooting a collaborative research programme.


New Research Degree Programme Approval

The approval process for new research degree programmes aims to ensure that quality and standards are maintained and that they comply with the wider research agenda of the University.  All new programmes should be designed with reference to a number of University and external reference points including the University of Sheffield Doctoral Research Student Proposition, TUoS Framework for Research Collaborative Provision and Faculty PGR strategy. An additional aim is to ensure consistency of practice across the University and to enable the University to identify and share areas of good practice.

If you are planning to develop a new programme, you are strongly advised to contact the Programmes & Provisions Team in Research Services as early as possible. They will be able to advise on both the programme design and the approval process as well as putting you in touch with other professional service colleagues who can advise on areas such as the business case, marketing, library and IT resources.

An application for the approval of a new research degree programme may be invoked if:

  • it is proposed under the umbrella of a professional doctorate;
  • it is proposed between two Schools, Departments or Centres within the University;
  • there are changes impacting the market, viability or educational purpose of an existing research degree programme;
  • there is a need for a new programme in the absence of current provision;
  • an alternative mode of delivery of an existing programme is proposed.

The University currently awards a variety of research degrees in a range of disciplines. Research Services overseas the approval process for new research degree programmes.

Approval process

The information below highlights the approval stages for new research degree programmes. However, we strongly encourage you to discuss your ideas with us before beginning the process. 

Stage 1 - Department approval: Complete the form Part A: Initial Information for Department Approval in PrincipleThe proposal should have the full endorsement of the department. Please indicate the departmental persons/bodies that have considered/approved the proposal. This must include the Head of Department responsible for the programme. At this stage, please submit the proposal to Research Services so that we can provide support throughout the process.

Stage 2 - Faculty approval in principle: Research services will work with you to complete part B. Initial approval will be sought from the Faculty Director of Research & Innovation (FDRI) based upon information from the consultations with Professional Services. The FDRI will either give approval in principle for the programme proposal or refuse it on the grounds of strategic or resource issues. In the latter case, the department will be given feedback and informed whether a revised proposal can be resubmitted. 

It is important to note that approval in principle is a commitment to develop the proposed programme. Applications for approval in principle should be submitted in sufficient time in order to allow for the full development, consideration, approval and marketing of the programme.

Stage 2a - Collaborative Programmes -  The University requires that the School, Department or Faculty have undertaken due diligence in ensuring that the proposed collaboration meets the strategic criteria and principles of collaboration. TUoS Framework for Research Collaborative Provision and Chapter B10 of the Quality Code and provides valuable advice on the range of issues which should be considered within its supporting Indicators of Sound Practice (Indicator 6 specifically refers).

Stage 3 - Professional Services & DAC peer review: The aim of the approval process at this stage is to ensure that:

  • Peer review of the proposed research content and mode of delivery is considered.
  • Any proposed content meets the criteria for study at doctoral level, i.e. by reference to the QAA Frameworks for Higher Education Qualifications.
  • The programme is structured in such a way that it delivers on the University of Sheffield's Research Student Proposition.

Stage 4 - Faculty approval in full: Full Faculty approval will be sought via the PGR Committee. The following paperwork is required:

  • New programme approval forms (Completed Part A and Part B)
  • Programme Specification
  • Programme Regulations
  • Module approval forms for any new modules associated with the programme (if appropriate)

Stage 5 - Quality & Scrutiny Committee & Senate approval: The Quality & Scrutiny Committee has oversight of the outcomes of all approval events and will give formal agreement for the proposals to progress to the Senate. 

Timescales: Depending on the complexity of the programme, at least 6 months is required for non-collaborative programmes and at least 12 months for collaborative agreements.

Programme proposers should note that proposed new programmes should not be advertised prior to their final approval, especially if it involves international recruitment.

Collaborative research programmes

Collaborative Research Provision

The Framework for the Management and Approval of Collaborative Provision sets out University policy, guidance and processes on the following:

If you are planning to set up a new collaborative arrangement please contact the Programmes and Provisions Team in the first instance.  They will be able to advise on the various areas for consideration, development, approval process and support available from professional services. The University requires that the School, Department or Faculty have undertaken due diligence in ensuring that the proposed collaboration meets the strategic criteria and principles of collaboration.

For initial guidance regarding the collaborative award element of the Horizon 2020 Marie Curie  ITN EJD's, please see the European Joint Doctorate information sheet within the "Downloads" section on the right of this page.

Timescales: Depending on the complexity of the programme, at least 12 months is required for collaborative agreements.

Types of Collaborative Arrangement

The University is engaging with an increasing number of collaborative programmes. Collaborative programmes are delivered and/or supported and/or assessed through an arrangement with a partner institution. Please note, these arrangements are generally reserved for cohorts of students.

Joint Award

An arrangement under which two or more degree-awarding bodies together provide a programme leading to a single award made jointly by both, or all, participants. Students can undertake jointly supervised research degree programmes with the University of Sheffield and another international institution.  Generally as part of the programme, the student will move between institutions (typically spending a minimum of 12 months at each), have an integrated confirmation review and viva, and receive a single degree certificate, which is jointly badged with the logos of both institutions. A single certificate or document (signed by the competent authorities) attests to successful completion of this jointly delivered programme, replacing the separate institutional or national qualifications.

Single Award

In the arrangements detailed below, a student is co-supervised by an academic at another institution, or in some cases by a supervisor in industry. The primary supervisor is assigned by the home university, and the student examined wholly by the home university according to their normal procedures, receiving a standard award if successful.

Split-site PhD
This is the most collaborative of the three single-award models; students spend a significant period of time, likely a minimum of 12 months, at each of the partner institutions. Since each of the arrangements would be specific to the scope of the project, an individual agreement would be needed for each student, although the nature of the single award would mean that these agreements would be much more easily negotiated relative to collaborative award agreements. Fees would take account of the length of time spent at each institution.
Remote Location PhD
Students spend the majority of their research project at a partner institution with infrequent visits of no longer than 8 weeks to the degree-awarding institution. An overarching agreement should be in place between the institutions, but no individual student agreement is needed, and no additional funds are transferred to the partner university. Sometimes called a ‘long-distance PhD’, an example of such an arrangement is the Joint Supervision Programme (JSP) operating at Sheffield.
In this final arrangement, the student does not spend any significant continuous period at the partner institution, and the co-supervision is conducted via remote means, such as Skype, email etc. There may be a transfer of funds to the partner institution for the supervisory provision, and a co-supervision agreement may be implemented to provide clarity on roles and responsibilities. Some universities offer a parchment supplement to students, which details the contribution of partner institutions to the student’s research.