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.

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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 Framework

Academic Support

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.

Academic Support

New Research Degree Programme Approval

The approval process for new research degree programmes aims to ensure that quality standards are maintained and that all new programmes support the policies and wider research agenda of the University, as well as delivering an excellent student experience.

When designing new programmes, alignment to the following should be considered:

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

  • there is a need for a new programme or award type in the absence of current provision e.g. introduction of a professional doctorate or integrated award;
  • a significant amendment is needed to an existing programme, e.g. an alternative mode of delivery, a change of collaborative partner or a broadening of remit across departments or Faculties is proposed to an existing programme;
  • there are changes impacting the market, viability or educational purpose of an existing research degree programme.

If you are planning to develop a new programme, please contact the Programmes & Provisions Team in Research Services as early as possible. We can advise on programme design, the approval process and the supporting documentation as well as putting you in touch with other Professional Service colleagues who can support on areas such as the business case, marketing, library and IT resources .

Programme Approval process

Following Senate approval in June 2019, an individual and risk-based approach will be taken with respect to programme approval. All new programmes will be categorised according to the criteria available here and deadlines and processes will be determined accordingly.

In general, programmes will likely progress through the following stages on the route to approval, each of which are supported by Research Services:

Stage 1 - Department approval: Complete the form Part A: Initial Information for Department Approval in Principle and Part B

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. 

Stage 2a - Consideration by the Collaborative Provision Advisory Group (collaborative programmes only). Supporting documentation: due diligence to be undertaken by Research Services.

Stage 3 - Professional Services & University Postgraduate Research Committee (UPGRC) peer review.

Stage 4 - Faculty approval in full.  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 - Regulation approval, where relevant.  Should amendments to the General Regulations be required, approval will be sought from UPGRC,  Research & Innovation Committee (RIC) & Senate.  Where a programme incorporates a taught element, approval for the taught element will also be sought via the Quality & Scrutiny Committee. 

Timescales are dependent on the nature of the proposal but a guide is given in the Research Programme Approval Policy.

Programme proposers should note that new programmes should not be advertised prior to their final approval, particularly if it involves international recruitment and/or collaborative partnerships.

  • 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.
Collaborative research programmes

Types of Collaborative Arrangement

Collaborative programmes are delivered, supported and/or assessed through an arrangement with a partner institution. Please note, these arrangements are generally reserved for cohorts of students and the University does not support dual awards for research programmes.

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.