QMU PROFESSIONAL DOCTORATE CANDIDATE HANDBOOK
Professional Doctorate Regulations
This Handbook complements and must be read in conjunction with the University’s Professional Doctorate Regulations.
The Professional Doctorate Regulations serve as the definitive reference point and take precedence over the Handbook.
It is an expectation that all Professional Doctorate candidates and supervisors read the regulations, as well as this Handbook. If you have any questions about the regulations, or the Handbook, please contact us at the Graduate School.
Welcome from the Head of Graduate School
A very warm welcome to Queen Margaret University’s Graduate School. We are delighted that you have chosen to undertake your programme of doctoral study with us, and we look forward to supporting you with this over the next few years.
Enrolling on a doctoral degree is one of the biggest decisions you have made regarding your education and learning in your career. Gaining a doctorate level
qualification requires significant personal discipline, time and commitment to your study. The sense of achievement at the end, though, is immense, and gaining a doctorate opens up many opportunities for career advancement.
It is not uncommon for doctoral candidates to view their study as being all about their PhD or Prof Doc and consisting mainly of a ‘solo’ research activity, involving many extended hours of reading and/or writing papers and chapters. At QMU, however, we encourage you to see this period of study as a doctoral level learning programme that requires an intensive period of learning across a full range of research skills – after all, it can be the launch-pad for future career development and progression. The programme is about gaining that doctoral award, however, it involves so much more. For example, the Researcher Enhancement and Development (READ) programme, teaching, networking and other relevant scholarly contributions within the Research Centre or Institute and Division you are attached to that develop your doctoral level capabilities.
We also want your doctoral programme experience to be based around feeling part of a learning community. The importance and power of peer support cannot be underestimated during doctoral level study, so please make sure you engage in the community of doctoral candidates, supervisors and academics that exists at QMU. Because in the end it is the community of learning that grounds you and your study and gives you the strength to stay engaged and curious, and to design and craft your thesis.
Finally, you will find further information on the Graduate School throughout this Handbook, including details of colleagues who can support you with different queries and stages of your journey. If you are unsure, at any point, who to contact, please send a message to our generic email address: Graduate School Email Address. Typically, our Graduate School Officer will be your first point of contact and they can let you know whether there is anyone else you need to contact with your query.
Professor Jan Dewing
Head of the Graduate School
Email:Jan Dewing Email Address
QMU Doctoral programmes
QMU offers a suite of doctoral degrees. These are listed below with a note of some of the key features. All of the degrees (except for the READ programme) lead to the award of Doctorate, and all of them require candidates to reach the same standard and meet similar criteria at level 12 on the Scottish Credit Qualification Framework.
The PhD is awarded on satisfactory completion of a thesis of 70,000 to 100,000 words (30,000 to 40,000 for the PhD by Creative Practice). There are no taught modules.
Professional Doctorate Candidates can exit with post- nominal qualifiers, depending on the focus of their studies
The Professional Doctorate is awarded on successful completion of three modules and a thesis of approximately 45,000 words.
PhD by Publication (Prospective)
The PhD by Publication (Prospective) shares most of the characteristics of the PhD and is normally awarded on the basis of a series of peer-reviewed academic papers, books, citations or other materials that have been published, accepted for publication, exhibited or performed. These are accompanied by a substantial commentary linking the publications.
This degree is open to candidates who do not yet have a full set of publications.
The above programmes are usually completed within three years (full-time) or six years (part- time). Candidates on the programmes also participate in our Researcher Enhancement and Development programme (READ). This comprises three modules, successful completion of which leads to the award of Doctoral Certificate.
Phd by Publication (Retrospective)
The PhD by Publication (Retrospective) has the same final assessment requirement as the Prospective route. It is open only to candidates who have a collection of suitable publications. This means that it can be completed in a shorter time frame of a year.
Our doctoral community includes candidates from each of the above degrees. We also have a number of candidates on joint PhDs with other universities. Through our development weeks, networking and communication channels, and partnership working with our Doctoral Candidates’ Association, we strive to develop and maintain an inclusive and person-centred research culture.
We hope that this Handbook will be helpful to you as you progress through your studies.
A2. The Graduate School Structure
Graduate School Academic Board (GSAB)
Many of the processes and stages of the doctoral candidate journey are considered and approved via the University’s Committee structure. The main Committee with responsibility for progressing doctoral candidate business is the Graduate School Academic Board (GSAB). The Board is convened by the Head of the Graduate School, and the Graduate School Officer is Secretary to the Board. The GSAB oversees all doctoral candidate business. All major decisions affecting your progress will be processed through the Board.
For information, the current membership and remit of the GSAB is provided in Appendix 1. All reserved business, which relates to individual candidates, is discussed outwith the main meeting, after candidate representatives have left. The Doctoral Candidates’ Association (DCA) is instrumental in the candidate consultation processes and the DCA Co-Chairs are members of the Board.
The Graduate School is primarily supported by a team of individuals within the University, who will be most relevant to you as you progress through your doctoral journeys. These are the:
- Head of Graduate School
- Doctoral Research Coordinators for both Schools
- Graduate School Officer
Doctoral Research Coordinators (DRCs)
Doctor Pelagia Koufaki (Health/Science)
Professor Claire Seaman (ASSAM)
Their main duties are to:
- Implement agreed systems for ensuring high quality doctoral education, including providing advice and guidance to both doctoral candidates and supervisors.
- Advise on and oversee the doctorate applications and admissions procedure and to allocate candidates to supervisors.
- Consider and approve doctoral candidates’ requests on behalf of the GSAB.
- Work with the Head of the Graduate School to ensure appropriate training is provided to supervisors and doctoral candidates.
- Attend to matters which contribute to the quality of postgraduate learning and to satisfy the requirements of external bodies, including the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA).
If you need to speak with them, please feel free to email them directly to arrange a meeting.
All aspects of the Graduate School’s administration are managed within the Governance and Quality Enhancement (GQE) Team. Your key contact is Alison Basford-Thomson, the Graduate School Officer (GSO), who is responsible for much of the day to day running of the Graduate School.
The GSO is primarily responsible for providing high quality, professional administrative and policy support to the Head of the Graduate School and GSAB in support of the Graduate School aims to maintain and enhance the quality of the doctoral candidate experience at QMU.
The GSO’s primary duties are to:
- Provide expert advice and support to the Head of Graduate School, the Doctoral Research Coordinators, academic and professional services colleagues, doctoral candidates and external stakeholders, for example doctoral examiners. This includes advice on regulations, including those relating to assessment and matters of compliance
- Provide committee secretariat to the Graduate School Academic Board and liaise with the Convener to agree the agenda, draft and produce papers and policy statements, and produce and publish minutes in line with agreed timescales, ensuring the efficient operation of business, and the effective follow-up of any action resulting.
- Monitor doctoral candidate progress and support candidates to meet progression targets in line with programme regulations. This includes a full review of Annual Progress Reports (APRs) and reporting on these to the Head of Graduate School, DRCs and the Graduate School Academic Board.
- Coordinate and organise all administration related to doctoral progression e.g. submission of reports, Assessed Seminars and viva schedules within appropriate deadlines.
- Implement and enhance policies and procedures related to stages of the doctoral candidate journey, including: registration, candidate progression, changes to pattern or duration of study and examination.
The Graduate School Officer is supported in their duties by other members of the Governance of Quality and Enhancement (GQE) team including:
- Quality Enhancement Officers; and
- Assistant Secretary, Governance and Quality Enhancement
All enquiries relating to doctoral candidate business and administration should be directed to the Graduate School in the first instance – the email address is Graduate School Email Address, where either the GSO, another colleague from GQE, or a member of the wider Graduate School team will respond accordingly.
A3. Campus Welcome & Induction
Doctoral candidate orientation at QMU consists of:
- Matriculation (administered by QMU’s Registry department)
- Development week one
- Orientation to the Research Centre/Institute and Division/School
- Orientation to the supervisory team (and associated staff and fellow candidates)
New candidates receive a letter in advance of the first development week, which provides information on matriculation, the induction schedule, accessing the University, and other important matters (e.g. links to the appropriate regulations).
All candidates are required to formally register with Queen Margaret University every year they are studying. This registration process is referred to as (online) matriculation.
Once you have matriculated, you are entitled to pursue your programme and access online facilities. The process will take around 15 minutes, so please ensure you set aside enough time to complete it.
Visit the Matriculation and Enrolment webpage here for detailed information regarding the matriculation process, including step by step instructions on how to matriculate.
Matriculation is managed by the QMU Registry department so if you have any issues or queries please contact them directly on Registry Email , phone them on 0131 474 0000 (request Registry when prompted), or visit them in person at Student Services, Level One of the main academic building.
QMU’s academic year commences in September, which is the primary intake month for doctoral candidates (a second intake happens in January). Attendance at the induction session, which takes place on the first day of development week one, is required. On the first day, you will meet a variety of staff from the Graduate School team, as well as other members of the doctoral candidate community. Typically, the first day covers the following, although some of these matters may also be addressed later in development week one:
- Campus Health and Safety
- Campus T our
- Candidate Representation (i.e. the Doctoral Candidates’ Association and the Students’ Union)
- Overview of the PhD/Professional Doctorate Regulations
- Research Skills Training Programme overview
You must bring the following items with you to your induction:
1. Photographic ID (acceptable forms of photographic ID are a passport, driver's licence or European Union Identification Card. Credit/debit cards are not acceptable forms of ID.
2. Original academic certificates and transcripts of your Bachelors and, if applicable, your Masters degrees.
3. Candidates on a Student Visa will be required to go to a pre indicated Post Office to collect their Biometric Identity Document (BID) within ten days of arrival in the UK. International candidates must show their passport, certificates/transcripts, visa and BRP to the Registry Officer in order to fully complete matriculation.
Whether commencing studies in September or January, all candidates must attend all first year development weeks. The initial development week includes seminars and workshops to help you familiarise yourself with the University systems and get started with doctoral level studies. The other weeks contribute to our on-going wider doctoral development programme and support your engagement with READ. More information is provided in Section A5.
Orientation to Division/School
Supervisory teams are responsible for organising initial Divisional or School orientations, and they are best placed to identify the most relevant activities for their candidates. You will also be introduced to the Research Centre/Institute within which you will be based.
Meeting with doctoral candidates further on in their studies can be an incredibly useful source of support for new candidates, both in terms of transmitting key information about practical issues and in helping you to feel part of the research community within the University.
Supervisory teams will do their best to facilitate interactions between doctoral candidates in these early stages. Importantly, you will also be introduced to members of the Doctoral Candidates’ Association (DCA) and it is strongly suggested that you become involved with the social and training opportunities that the DCA provides.
Orientation to the supervisory team
QMU operates a supervisory team model. This means that you will have two named supervisors who share the research supervision role between them. One member of the team will be identified as your Supervisory Chair. The Supervisory Chair is responsible for all administrative processes that need to be completed throughout your PhD journey. You may also have an advisor for all or parts(s) of your research. Advisors are usually external to the University.
Your provisional supervisory team will either have been notified to you in your offer letter or be confirmed shortly after you arrive at the University. During induction (and preferably before then), you should make contact with your supervisors to arrange a time to meet with at least one member of the team during your first week at QMU. During orientation, supervisors work closely with the Graduate School team to help candidates settle into the University environment and access the required specific resources and facilities. Your supervisors can also introduce you to other academic staff and candidates, as appropriate to your studies.
A4. Research Knowledge and Skills (Doctoral Development Weeks)
We recognise that candidates need training, plus knowledge and skills development of different sorts at various stages of their degree, and that such development should encompass general personal and professional development, as well as the more focused needs of the research project and the skills and knowledge required to help you progress towards becoming an independent researcher.
The doctoral development weeks are coordinated by the Graduate School and have been designed for all of our PhD and Professional Doctorate candidates.
The required Graduate School doctoral development weeks are delivered in September, January and April. These weeks are mandatory for all full-time first year and part-time first and second year candidates.
Further knowledge and skills development is arranged locally by your supervisory team, Research Centre/Institute and/or School. Locally coordinated development opportunities are wide ranging and reflective of the disciplinary context. If there is a need for you to use specialist equipment or laboratory facilities, you will receive appropriate training. Supervisory teams will work with you to put in place individualised opportunities, as agreed with you in your learning contract.
Candidates also have the opportunity to attend learning events external to QMU such as those provided by the Scottish Graduate School for Social Sciences and the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities (both available to all doctoral candidates irrespective of research topic), and/or conferences relevant to their field of study.
A doctoral degree is principally a preparation programme that aims to equip an individual with the skills and experience necessary to act as an independent researcher. This could lead to a range of careers: in academia, in scientific research, in business, in health care or education. In consequence, it is appropriate as a doctoral candidate that you consider some of the broader professional development issues.
Within the context of the approved programme of study, there will often be opportunities for professional networking and dissemination activity of relevance both to your research in hand, and future work in the field. Supervisory teams will encourage candidates to take part in research seminars or professional workshops and to develop contacts with professionals working in their discipline. You are also encouraged to join different networks and groups and to become active on social media, following responsible practices.
Careers and Employability
Doctoral candidates can access support from Careers and Employability throughout their studies. Considering your career options and developing your employability skills alongside your research can ensure that you are in the best position to compete successfully in a competitive graduate market, both within academia, industry, the public sector and not for profit organisations.
The Careers and Employability team provide support at all stages in your career planning process. We can help you to identify and secure work experience, which will enhance your skills and expand your network. We can support you to explore career paths and make informed decisions. We can advise on applications for jobs and further study, including CVs and interview preparation, and on using social media to develop your reputation and source opportunities and connections. Our resources include information on local part-time opportunities, graduate vacancies, volunteering and internships.
Many students find the following services helpful:
- Our annual Recruitment and Volunteering Fairs in the autumn put students in touch with local employers seeking students for part-time work, paid internships or graduate employment.
- Students can access careers information via Student Central, where they can also book 1:1 appointments with Careers Advisers, which can take place Online via Microsoft teams or in person at the Careers Centre on campus. You can also book places at upcoming events, which may include workshops on career management skills, webinars or industry and employer insight sessions.
- If a student is considering leaving QMU before completing their doctorate, the Careers Advisers can discuss their options in a positive way and help with university or job applications if necessary.
- Graduates can continue to use the Service for their entire working life after graduation. They will be able to access Student Central after they graduate and can explore resources as well as make an appointment with our team for careers advice.
Student Central: Student Careers
Social Media: Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (search ‘QMU Careers and Employability’)
Academic writing support
Our Effective Learning Service publishes a series of guides and resources on academic writing. Workshops on writing for publication are also offered from time to time, and candidates are encouraged to check Moderator messages for upcoming workshops that may be applicable to them.
The Royal Literary Fund provides Queen Margaret with an RLF Fellow who is available to meet with candidates who require support with any aspect of their written English. Meetings are completely confidential, and the RLF fellow, although based at Queen Margaret, is independent from the University; thus offering a very useful outside eye to candidates engaged in extended writing projects. You can contact the RLF Fellow by emailing RLF Email Address This support may be particularly valuable to those candidates who have English as a second language.
A5. Researcher Development and Enhancement (READ) Programme
The Researcher Enhancement and Development Programme (or READ) aims to support you to evidence your development and enhancement of knowledge, skills and abilities in creating and interpreting new knowledge through conceptualising, designing and undertaking projects and research. QMU was the first University in Scotland to deliver a Doctoral Certificate of this kind. The programme was developed with financial support from the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) partnership, which was awarded in recognition of our innovative approach.
There are three modules:
- Innovative and Creative Approaches to Research
- The Researcher as Instrument
- Researcher Resilience and Career Development
The aims and learning outcomes for each module are embedded into the doctoral development weeks and other learning opportunities. You will also be able to discuss READ within your research supervision.
The benefits to you
The READ programme offers you the opportunity to gain a Doctoral Certificate in Researcher Enhancement and Development in addition to your Doctoral Degree. This is in recognition of the wider work that you already undertake to support your doctoral studies. For example, you will already be monitoring your own development needs and, where appropriate, you will decide on learning activities based on those needs. As a doctoral candidate, you are probably already keeping some form of critically reflective diary about your doctoral journey. Within READ, it is this critical reflection that is summatively assessed for academic credit. Successful completion of READ will allow you to demonstrate to potential employers a list of transferable skills proving your capability of working at SCQF level 12.
There are two points within the academic year when you can submit your reflective account for summative assessment. It needs to be emphasised that the READ programme is based on the premise of providing academic credit for work that you are already engaged with. Therefore, there is no additional workload associated for you beyond completing the assessment component.
READ assessment requirements
By the end of the three years you will have constructed three ePortfolios that consist of evidence to support your ongoing researcher development through use of blogs, reflexive accounts, critical commentaries and mappings. This work is accompanied by a critical reflective report of your learning (2000 words).
If you are full-time candidate, you will submit a piece of work for summative assessment (20 credits) annually, which is a cumulative assessment process. At the end of three years, you will have accumulated 60 credits, which equates to a Doctoral Certificate in Researcher Enhancement and Development. This timetable is more flexible for part-time candidates, but usually works on a pro rata basis, as explained here:
Assessment routes for full and part-time students
PhD and Professional Doctorate
One assessment to be submitted once a year
Candidates will be offered two points within each year when they can submit their work for assessment
PhD and Professional Doctorate
One assessment to be submitted over a two year period
Candidates will be offered four points within each two year period when they can submit their work for assessment
READ Case Study
The below case study was provided by PhD candidate Shawn Soh following successful completion of the READ module:
My positive experience of READ programme (Sept 2018 – Aug 2021)
I approached READ with humility. Metacognitive-led questions like “What am I doing?”, “Why am I doing this?”, “Would someone do this in another (or better) way?” and “Why would I accept (or reject) that approach?” constantly streamed in my mind. In other words, I challenged my ontological positioning and my epistemological posture to see how I could be a better researcher. I had continuously made a significant effort to recognise the philosophical stances of others to have constructive and enriching meetings of minds. For my PhD, I aimed to develop a measurement instrument of balance recovery confidence for the community-dwelling older adults. The READ program has helped me be a mindful researcher centring my focus to be older person- centred. Completing the READ program has been rewarding. I’m pleased that some of these reflections have been published in the form of two articles types (critical reflection on practice development and original practice development and research) in an international peer-reviewed journal, the International Practice and Development Journal (IPDJ).
What are some tips and tricks for candidates starting on this program? First, approach the program with an open mind. From the quote of Professor Isaac Asimov, “Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in”. It is acceptable to agree or to disagree expressed by other people, but it is essential to value the diversity of opinions. Second, set a dedicated time and safe space for critical reflection. It is not easy to expose our vulnerabilities and personal biases. However, by doing so, we would learn more about our strengths and acquire practical strategies strived within QMU’s nurturing and conducive community to be better researchers. Lastly, build inclusive relationships within QMU local and international student population. QMU has over 5,000 students from around 80 countries. The cultural-rich peer interactions have provided immense insights to see the world differently. Be amazed about the world of research. Look forward to making your humble contribution to the vast world of knowledge as part of the QMU community.
A6. Expectations for Study at Doctoral Level
Note that all doctoral candidates must read the regulations which govern their studies, as these documents provide detailed information on attendance, supervision and progression. These are available to view on the Graduate School website here (under the Regulations & Forms Section).
Time for studies
Approx. 35 hours per week
Approx. 18 hours per week
Time on campus1
Regular campus attendance is required (approx. 3 days a week if not on data collection) so that you can engage fully with the research culture and community.
Part-time candidates based near campus should aim to study on campus no less than once a month and it is strongly encouraged that part-time candidates visit the campus as much as possible in order to engage fully with the research culture and community.
Attendance at all first year doctoral development weeks
First year candidates must be present for doctoral development weeks in September, January and April in their first year of study.
First year candidates must be present for doctoral development weeks in September, January and April (can be attended over years one and two)
Formal and informal contact
Formal meeting with supervisors at least once a month; other regular contact (e.g. phone/email) as defined in learning contract.
Formal meeting with supervisors at least once every two months.
Attendance on campus for assessments
All Prof Doc candidates are expected to be present on campus to complete their XD011 presentation and their final viva.
Maximum period without contact with supervisor
Six weeks, after which the de- registration process will begin.
Twelve weeks, after which the de- registration process will begin.
Full compliance with University Policy and Procedures that govern UKVI Student Visa sponsorship.
Compliance with UKVI requirements for candidates visiting on Short Term Study visas (or any other relevant visa).
Paid work commitments
We recommend that full-time candidates do not undertake paid employment of more than 12 hours per week
1Candidates who devote less time to their study may find that progress is inadequate, which can lead to de-registration.
2 Full-time bursary candidates must undertake duties as specified in the bursary letter of award, as agreed with the Graduate School. See table 1 on p.26.
For a variety of reasons, some candidates may be registered as non-resident candidates. This may be because you are studying part-time at a distance or have a collaborative agreement with another University. This can present some issues, for example, becoming isolated from the QMU research community and doctoral cohort. Feeling isolated can be detrimental to motivation so candidates studying off-campus at a distance are normally expected (at a minimum) to:
- Attend the three development weeks held in September, January and April of their first year of studies.
- Visit campus to meet with supervisors, University colleagues and peers face to face at least 3 times during each academic year of study.
- Visit campus in person to defend your XD011 presentation.
- Attend campus in person to defend your Prof Doc research at final viva.
- Join the DCA and attend social events organised by the Doctoral Candidates’ Association (DCA) during development weeks, including the Annual Doctoral Researchers’ Conference.
- Maintain contact with supervisors, peers and the DCA, as getting involved can help you to feel included and will offer support if you are feeling isolated or demotivated.
- Engage in social media with peers.
Contributing to your research community and supporting your peers
Contributing to the research community is an important element of your academic success, and social interaction is the most essential, pervasive, and persistent feature of a successful community. Therefore, it is very important that you integrate and stay in contact with your fellow doctoral candidates and academic researchers during your study period, as together the doctoral community, of which you are a part, provides a strong support network.
To help candidates integrate with each other, a number of social events are arranged by the Doctoral Candidates’ Association at various points during induction weeks and at ad hoc times throughout the year. For example, the Annual DCA Conference is held during the April development week each year.
The Graduate School also arranges a number of Graduate School Seminars and numerous PhD Assessed Seminars, and Prof Doc presentations, which take place throughout the year. These are in addition to the seminars and conferences that will be offered by your individual Divisions and Research Centres/Institutes.
All doctoral candidates are strongly encouraged to become active members of the University research community. This can be achieved in a number of ways but attending doctoral development weeks and internal seminars/conferences, and other similar events are the most obvious. Attendance and involvement openly show that you are supporting your peers, and this helps create a sense of belonging within your research community.
The doctoral journey is a demanding one, and the value of peer support and being an active participant in your local research community should not be underestimated.
You should have already been allocated your supervisory team, which will consist of at least two appropriately qualified and knowledgeable members of academic staff, both of whom are active researchers. Your supervisors hold equal and joint responsibility for the development of your research project, and similarly, they are equally and jointly accountable for supporting your timely academic progression.
It is in all of our best interests that you complete your Prof Doc in a timely fashion: for full-time candidates, this will be three years (including writing up) with the aim of being awarded your degree within the four year maximum period. To help you achieve this, your supervisors will provide you with personal and academic advice and direct your research project following the guidelines set out by the University.
Responsibilities of your supervisors
All QMU supervisors are expected to participate in initial and ongoing staff development opportunities delivered internally and externally. This helps promote a consistent approach across the University and ensures that our supervisors are familiar with current regulations and practices. We expect our supervisors to be person-centred. This means that they will be genuinely interested in your research and your well-being and provide individualised academic and pastoral support.
Your supervisors should:
- Provide support to ensure that your research can be completed fully, including preparation and completion of the thesis, within the usual period of registration.
- Ensure that a clear agreement is made with you, via a formal learning contract, on the frequency and nature of supervisory contact required at any particular stage of the project. The frequency of such sessions should be at least once a month (pro rata for part-time candidates) although there is some flexibility depending on your progress and stage of research.
- Confirm, on a monthly basis (pro-rata for part-time candidates), the following information with the Graduate School: dates of supervisory meetings, those in attendance, academic topic of discussion, satisfaction with your academic engagement and progress.
- Notify the Graduate School, at an early stage, if your attendance or progression gives them cause for concern, having raised their concerns with you first.
- Hold written records of your formal supervisory meetings for the duration of your registration. They should keep any relevant or significant correspondence, including emails, which relate to your degree.
- Agree with you a procedure for dealing with urgent problems (e.g. by telephone, e-mail and/or the arrangement of additional meetings at short notice).
- In discussion with you, establish and maintain a satisfactory timetable for the research, including the necessary completion dates for each stage, so that the thesis may be submitted within the scheduled time.
- Read all the written work submitted in accordance with the agreed timetable and provide constructive and timely feedback. Your supervisors should advise you of any obstacles to providing timely feedback, e.g. periods of time away from the University, particularly when you are approaching submission
- Assist you with disseminating your research both internal and externally – this may be at a Divisional, Research Centre/Institute or Graduate School seminars, at an external conference, and/or via social media.
- Provide advice on publication of your research.
- Advise you well in advance of any planned periods of absence from the University. If both supervisors are absent for a significant period (i.e. more than the length of time between supervisory meetings), they should ensure that appropriate arrangements for alternative supervision are made with the Graduate School and that you are informed of these.
- Be genuinely interested in your research and your well-being.
- Be open to receiving feedback from you or the Graduate School about their effectiveness as your supervisor.
Academic progress (pre-thesis submission)
Your supervisors should:
- Ensure that you are provided with constructive feedback on your progress with your research, module submissions, READ and researcher development as set out in The Vitae Framework.
- Ensure that the exact nature of any School duties is decided before the start of each semester by the Head of Division/Centre or Institute Director. This should be in consultation with you and your supervisory team.
- Ensure that you are informed of any development needs to meet the standard of work that is generally expected from a research candidate and suggest action, or training, as appropriate.
- Provide a written record of your progress through contribution to your supervision record and submission of the Annual Progress Report (APR) to The Graduate School.
- Provide advice and guidance on successful completion of your modules.
- Work with you to address areas of concern/feedback provided by your marking team.
- Provide guidance on good academic practice, including referencing, to maintain academic integrity and avoid unintended instances of academic misconduct.
- Report immediately any instances of academic or research misconduct (e.g. plagiarism, collusion, fabrication of research results etc.) to the Graduate School for investigation under QMU Disciplinary Regulations.
- Report any concerns regarding seriously inadequate progress to the Graduate School in a timely manner; having first discussed this with you and provided opportunities for you to respond to any such concerns.
Thesis and final viva
Your supervisors should:
- Initiate the procedures for the appointment of examiners for your final viva approximately three months before you submit your thesis. Your supervisors, in discussion with you, put forward the request for examiners, which is then considered and approved (or not) by the Graduate School, Failure to initiate the procedure will lead to delays in dispatching your thesis and arranging the viva examination.
- Read and comment on a draft of the complete thesis before submission.
- Ensure that you understand the procedures for the submission and examination of the thesis and assist you in preparing for the oral examination, including offering a mock viva
- Identify one member of the supervisory team to attend the final viva with you as an observer, unless you choose not to be accompanied by a supervisor.
- Continue to provide support and supervision throughout the period post viva, if you are asked to submit amendments or resubmit the thesis in full.
As a doctoral candidate, you are expected to take responsibility for your studies and academic progress, working in partnership with your supervisory team regarding your degree. In particular, this means that you should:
- Ensure your personal details are up to date on the student portal.
- Complete matriculation at the start of each academic year (including when working on thesis amendments).
- Maintain appropriate and high standards of behaviour when dealing with others, including fellow candidates and other learners, members of staff and any other relevant stakeholders, when acting in the capacity of a University representative.
- Read, understand and comply with the University's regulations that govern your doctoral programme.
- Check your University email staff and student account(s) on a regular basis (ideally weekly), so as not to miss messages. The Graduate School does not send out academic related communications to personal email addresses. Assist@qmu.ac.uk can help you link your two QMU email accounts to help you keep track of all emails.
- Attend campus regularly and agree in advance with your supervisors any period(s) of absence from the University and seek appropriate permission.
- Regularly check the Doctoral Hub Pages to keep up to date with important Graduate School related documentation and announcements.
- Manage your time and work/study plans effectively.
- Report your holidays and absences – full-time bursary candidates are entitled to a maximum of six weeks’ holiday per year (part-time pro rata), plus the Christmas holiday closure period. Dates for holidays should be agreed with the supervisory team in advance. All other doctoral candidates may take holidays at their own discretion, subject to meeting the usual requirements of study and any visa restrictions. However, holiday absences away from study should not normally exceed six weeks in any academic year. If you are in the UK on a Student Visa, please refer to Section A6 for more information on logging of authorised absence periods.
As a doctoral candidate, you are expected to take responsibility for your studies and academic progress, working in partnership with your supervisory team regarding your degree. In particular, this means that you should:
Work with your supervisors to establish and maintain the supervisory team working relationship. Once induction week is over, you will need to take some time to sit down with your supervisors and draw up a learning contract. The learning contract is an agreement between the candidate and their supervisory team. Both parties agree expectations, including how often they will meet and frequency of communication. Within the learning contract, you will agree, being guided by your supervisory team, the timescales for submitting written work to the team, and the timescales for them reading and providing feedback on written work. Another consideration will be how you communicate with each other, e.g. via email, face to face meetings, Skype, and/or some other method (s). Candidates may find it helpful to draw up a flexible timetable for milestone events throughout the duration of the research.
- Whilst QMU regulations provide clear guidance and minimum standards for the management of supervision, there is flexibility to accommodate individual circumstances (for example the stage the candidate has reached) and preferences (for example format of meetings). The learning contract needs to be flexible to take these variations into account, in recognition of the individual nature of the doctoral candidate journey. The learning contract should be reviewed annually and updated as necessary.
- Organise meetings with your supervisors. All candidates are responsible for maintaining regular contact with their supervisory team and organising formal meetings. Full-time candidates must be in contact with their supervisory team at least once every six weeks, and part-time candidates at least once every 12 weeks. Your formal meetings, which normally take place in person, should be planned well in advance, according to an agreed schedule, and timeframe (i.e. monthly). The frequency of meetings will often be greater at the beginning and end of the candidate’s programme. Informal or unscheduled meetings are also very important for the supervisory relationship. Informal meetings can happen in a number of ways, for example: face to face, by telephone or Skype, or in written formats such as email. If such meetings result in an agreed action point, or if important matters are discussed, the supervisory team and candidate should exchange emails afterwards to confirm the substantive points. It is expected that there will be regular email correspondence between meetings, and both candidate and supervisors should keep emails for future reference.
- Keep a log of your formal supervisory meetings. Candidates are required to keep a log of the dates they formally meet with supervisors, what is discussed, what work is to be carried out and any agreed deadlines. It is your responsibility to ensure that all meetings are logged and records kept. The format of the log will be decided by the candidate and the supervisory team, however, a template for a meeting log is included in Appendix 4 should you wish to use it. You and your team must agree to the content of the record and especially any action points and agreed deadlines3. The log should be shared by the candidate with the supervisors, and you each keep an agreed copy.
- Discuss any major concerns, issues or problems with your supervisors. Your supervisors will be happy to discuss your academic progress, as well as any pastoral matters, for example related to your health or other personal circumstances. Should you experience any difficulties with the supervisory relationship, you are encouraged, in the first instance, to raise these directly with your supervisors. Should you exceptionally wish to discuss an issue with an independent person, rather than with your supervisor(s), you should contact your Doctoral Research Coordinator for advice.
- Submit written work to your supervisor regularly and in good time, in accordance with the agreed timelines.
- Take note of any guidance and act upon feedback offered by the supervisors and marking team.
- Work together with your supervisors to ensure successful academic progression. Particular requirements for engagement and progression are detailed in full in the regulations. You are expected to maintain regular contact with your supervisors, and it is an expectation that you pass all progression points within the required timescale (one module per academic year, pro-rata for part-time candidates).
- Alert your supervisors to any extenuating circumstances that might prevent you from meeting deadlines. In such cases, it may be appropriate to request a suspension or extension.
- Familiarise yourself with the expectations for good academic practice, including referencing, to maintain academic integrity and avoid unintended instances of academic misconduct.
- Complete your programme of research within the maximum period of study i.e. submit thesis within four years (full-time) or eight years (part-time).
- Participate in the wider research culture of the University, for example through your engagement with the Doctoral Candidates’ Association and Research Centre/Institute, or other local activities.
Prior to thesis submission
- Familiarise yourself with the procedures for the submission and examination of your thesis.
- Agree with your supervisory team a date for formal thesis submission, so that they may set aside feedback time and prepare the necessary examination paperwork.
- Provide your supervisors with the opportunity to see a draft of the complete thesis.
- Schedule a date for a mock viva with your supervisors.
- Decide whether or not you would like one of your supervisors present in your examination – whilst not mandatory, this is usual and recommended practice.
We want to support all of our candidates to successfully complete their doctoral studies. Very exceptionally, it may become necessary to deregister a candidate, however.
Candidates should be aware that de-registration may be pursued by the University under any of the following circumstances:
a) the candidate is not in reasonable contact with their supervisory team;
b) the candidate has not matriculated;
c) the candidate has not paid tuition fees as required;
d) the candidate does not submit an annual progress report for each academic year of study;
e) the candidate is making seriously inadequate progress, as determined by the supervisory team in relation to the terms of the PhD Regulations;
f) the candidate fails to submit the final thesis within the maximum period of study;
g) the candidate fails to comply with any conditions set by the Research Strategy Committee, Graduate School Academic Board, Head of Graduate School, Dean of School or supervisory team.
More details on de-registration processes are available in the doctoral regulations that govern your programme. They are available to read here (look under the Doctoral Regulations Section).
If you are experiencing difficulties of any kind that affect your engagement with your studies, it is really important that you let us know so that we can help you stay on track and potentially avoid de-registration. In some cases, it may be appropriate for you to apply for a suspension or extension, for example to cover periods where you are experiencing unexpected extenuating circumstances.
A8. Graduate Teaching Opportunities
QMU doctoral candidates are able to take advantage of opportunities to gain experience teaching and facilitating learning at University undergraduate degree level through the Division they are attached to, and/or assisting in research initiatives through their host Research Centre/Institute.
Pre-teaching preparation course
All candidates who teach/facilitate learning on undergraduate modules must complete the Graduate School’s Teaching Assistant Preparation Course. This Course, runs once a year (usually in semester two). Please note that candidates working in this capacity must obtain approval from the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme
Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) Policy
The Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) Policy was first approved by the University Senate in June 2018 and is being updated in 2021. Any doctoral candidate (bursary or non-bursary) who is undertaking any aspect of academic work on behalf of the Division will be managed under the guidance within the GTA policy. The GTA Policy is available on the Doctoral Hub page under the “Doctoral Candidate Folders” area.
Opportunities to teach or undertake other academic work (e.g. Research Assistant) within a Division or your Centre/Institute should be discussed, in the first instance, with your supervisors at an early stage of your PhD. With the exception of bursary candidates, for whom there are specified mandatory requirements, the type and extent of opportunities will vary according to the particular needs Division and/or Research Centre/Institute.
Opportunities must align with, and provide added benefit to the candidate’s learning needs. Your Head of Division/Director of Research Centre should use the GTA Policy to guide their allocation of academic duties to doctoral candidates, to ensure that the work provision is appropriate to the skills and expertise of each candidate, and that the hours of work are monitored. The Graduate School will monitor activity to ensure it is compliant with the University policy. It is not permissible for candidates to be required to undertake other tasks (such as administration). Candidates who have concerns about the nature and extent of duties they are asked to undertake should ideally discuss this with their supervisory team in the first instance. Our Doctoral Research Coordinators are also available to provide independent and confidential advice.
Guide for Graduate Teaching Assistants
The Doctoral Candidates’ Association (DCA) has put together a helpful guide for doctoral candidates that teach/facilitate learning. This document is available on the Doctoral Hub page .
Any non-bursary candidates should receive an hourly rate for all teaching duties undertaken. The hourly rate should be confirmed with/by the Head of Division prior to any teaching being undertaken. Human Resources are responsible for administering employee contracts and Finance / Payroll departments are responsible for making salary payments into UK bank accounts. Payments to candidates for teaching duties will be subject to tax and national insurance contributions.
A9. Guidance on Doctoral Business
Many of the Graduate School’s administrative procedures require completion of a form. Use of forms helps ensure consistency with regulations, completeness of information and accurate record keeping.
Requests and Forms
The below table provides guidance on the most common doctoral candidate requests received by the Graduate School. Please be advised that all submissions are treated as requests for consideration by members of the Graduate School Academic Board and approval of your request is not guaranteed. You can normally expect to receive a response to your request within two weeks.
All fully completed forms should be emailed to the Graduate School.copying in your supervisors. Incomplete forms will not be accepted, so please make sure all information requested is provided. All forms can be found on the QMU website under the ‘Changes and Requests’ section.
Information and Guidance
Absence Request for candidates on a Student Visa
All international candidates who are going to be absent from campus/Edinburgh for more than one day must have their absence authorised BEFORE departure. Reasons for requesting approval for an extended absence include data collection, remote research, or extended leave to holiday in home country.
Absence Request Form- to be completed by you and supported by your supervisory team.
Suspension of study
If you are prevented from making due progress by ill-health or another significant cause you may apply to suspend your studies for between 1 and 12 months in the first instance. A request for suspension on medical grounds must be supported by a letter from your doctor. The maximum total period of suspension is normally 24 months. No fee is payable during a full year of continuous suspension. Retrospective suspension requests are not permitted unless there is a strong justifiable (usually medical) reason for not being able to have made a request for a suspension at the time it was required. Therefore it is important to be proactive in submitting your application.
Suspension request form- to be completed you and supported by your supervisory team.
Change in mode of study
You may apply to change your mode of study from full-time to part-time or vice versa if you have good cause.
change in mode of study retrospectively.
Change in mode of study form– to be completed by you, counter- signed by your Supervisory Chair.
Extension to Programme Registration
An application for an extension to the period of study beyond the maximum (4 years full-time and 8 years part- time) may only be made in the most exceptional circumstances.
Extension form – to be completed by you and supported by your supervisory team.
If you are considering withdrawing from the PhD programme please contact your supervisory team and/or the Graduate School Team.
Withdrawal form- to be completed with you and cc'd to your supervisory team.
A10. International Students
It is your personal responsibility to ensure that you understand and adhere to all the terms and conditions of your Student Visa, including attendance monitoring. Basic guidance is given below for information. Please refer direct to the UKVI and UKCISA websites for detailed information.
Documents required on arrival
All international students, regardless of their nationality or visa status, must provide their passport/visa/immigration documents to the University for checking. Immigration document checks take place at matriculation. If you are unable to provide your immigration documents, you will not be able to matriculate.
The University is required to check original copies of the qualifications, which were used to obtain your place at the University. If you are a new international student, you should bring original copies of your qualifications with you to matriculation.
If you are studying full-time on a Student Visa, when you arrive in the UK, you will have ten days in which to collect your visa card (also known as a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) or Biometric Identity Document (BID). It is recommended that you go to the directed Post Office during your first week (induction week). You will be expected to send a copy of your BRP to QMU International Students Email as soon as you have obtained it. If you are unable to go to the designated Post Office due to self-isolating/quarantine, please do not worry, there is an allowance from the government to collect your BRP a little later than guided.
Protecting your Student Visa
We are proud of the support we provide to international students studying with us, and the contribution you make to the University community. The policies and procedures set out below are designed to ensure that you can continue to enjoy your education at Queen Margaret University whilst at the same time satisfying the legal requirements placed on you and the University by the UK Government.
- You can only study full-time; part-time study may violate your visa conditions.
- You must be resident on a full-time basis within the local area of Edinburgh.
- If you suspend your studies for a fixed period of time or withdraw from your studies the University will no longer be able to sponsor you and you will need to return to your home country. Failure to leave the UK will violate your visa conditions.
- You must not work more than 20 hours per week in term time (for doctoral candidates, your programme of study is continuous for the full academic / calendar year and so you cannot work more than 20 hours per week at any time). However, the Graduate School recommends you work no more than 12 hours per week in addition to your doctoral studies.
- The University cannot continue to ‘sponsor’ you if your academic progress and engagement is not satisfactory.
In being granted our sponsorship licence, a number of requirements are placed on the University by UKVI. These include:
- Keeping a copy of your passport and visa documents, as well as holding safely and updating each student’s contact details.
- Reporting to UKVI any student who fails to enrol on their course within the enrolment period.
- Reporting to UKVI any unauthorised student absences (including missing expected interactions or contacts).
- Reporting to UKVI any changes in students’ circumstances (e.g. temporary or permanent withdrawal, reduction in the length or hours of the course).
- Reporting to UKVI where it is known that a student has violated the terms of their Student visa.
Attendance and progression monitoring
The University is your sponsor, and as your sponsor, we are required by the UK Government to monitor your attendance and engagement in your studies during your full doctoral programme period.
Attendance on campus
As a full-time candidate, you are expected to live within reasonable distance of the Edinburgh campus and to study for the recommended period each week (35 hours per week, with at least three days per week on campus) for the full academic year, unless you are on a period of authorised absence. Valid reasons for absence include (but are not limited to):
- Leaving campus to undertake research e.g. data collection or attending a conference.
- Leaving campus for a period of annual holiday e.g. to visit friends and family.
- Period of sickness (including planned periods in hospital).
Any absence away from campus (whether academic or personal) must be authorised by the Graduate School and your supervisors before your absence begins. Planned periods of absence away from campus should not normally exceed 60 days.
You must inform us of your absence by submitting the Doctoral Candidate Absence form.
The Graduate School will verify this with your supervisors and once authorised, we will use this information to log a formal “absence record” in your University records file.
If are going to miss sign in, you must inform the Graduate School of your absence before the formal sign in week. Retrospective absence notifications will be recorded as an unauthorised absence, and we are required, by the UKVI, to report these unauthorised absences along with any concerns regarding your compliance with the conditions of your visa.
Monitoring academic engagement and progress
In order to monitor your academic progress, your “expected contacts” with the University include (but are not limited to):
- Formal sign in (in person) once per month at the Registry Information Point.
- Timely submission of formally assessed work associated with your programme of study (e.g. probationary reports/viva, delivery of Assessed Seminars, thesis).
- Attendance at formal monthly meetings with your supervisory team.
- Submission of draft work to supervisor(s) as part of your programme of study.
Please note that UKVI requires the University to monitor academic engagement and progression of all doctoral candidates on a Student visa, including those who are writing up their thesis or waiting for their viva.
Help us help you
We understand that, as doctoral candidates, you are autonomous, independent and capable learners undertaking important research. We also understand that the requirements UKVI place upon the University in regards to monitoring your academic engagement and progression may become an administrative burden. However, this is a non-negotiable requirement that the University must comply with. So, please remember to:
- Organise formal monthly meetings with your supervisors to discuss your academic progress and stay in regular contact.
- Sign in with Registry, in person, during the required sign in weeks throughout the year. Tell us about your planned absences before you leave campus.
- Comply with all conditions of your student visa.
UKCISA have produced a useful page of useful information for Protecting your student status. You will also find the complete list of information relating to your visa conditions on the UKVI website. Please help us by reading this information carefully.
All candidates’ academic attendance and engagement is regularly monitored by supervisors and the Graduate School. For UKVI candidates, it will also be formally reviewed three times a year by the QMU UKVI Review Group. Please be aware that the University cannot continue to ‘sponsor’ you if you are not complying with the University’s policies and procedures and / or your attendance and academic progress and engagement are not satisfactory.
Advice and guidance for international candidates
Within the University, visa and immigration advice can only be given by the International Office. Candidates should not rely on advice from family, friends, or other staff in the University. Candidates can make an individual appointment by emailing QMU International Students Email or calling in to the drop-in advice sessions on Mondays 1400-1700 and Thursdays 1000-1200.
A11. Student / University Services
There are a number of University services that you will need or may wish to access whilst you are studying for your doctorate. Some of these are listed below for information.
Doctoral Candidates’ Association (DCA)
The DCA is a candidate-led initiative, acting as the voice of all doctoral candidates at QMU on a number of University-wide committees, including the Graduate School Academic Board (GSAB), the Research Strategy Committee (RSC) and the Student Experience Committee (SEC). This ensures that doctoral candidate needs and interests are represented throughout the institution.
The DCA plays an important role in:
- Advice and representation within the Graduate School and GSAB,
- Networking and information sharing,
- Social activities,
- Delivering the annual QMU Doctoral Researchers’ Conference.
The Graduate School encourages you to follow the DCA Twitter Pages which will keep you up to date on DCA developments. Also, keep an eye out for emails from the DCA, where you can find information about academic and social opportunities throughout the year.
The DCA is a candidate-led initiative, and therefore it needs highly motivated and enthusiastic candidates to ensure its continued success. The DCA Co-Chairs change on a yearly basis, and all candidates have the opportunity to put themselves forward for these positions and continue the work of the Association. Becoming a DCA Co-chair provides an excellent personal and professional development opportunity, and allows candidates to use their own experiences to continually improve the experience of current and future doctoral candidates at QMU. If you are interested in becoming a member of the DCA Committee please speak to the current committee members or email Graduate School Email Address. for more information.
DCA co-chair reflection
By Alistair Shields, PhD Candidate, Health Sciences, Affiliate member of CPcPR.
I am a mature part-time candidate and a co-chair of the Doctoral Candidates Association (DCA) between 2019–2021. Being local and with access to campus I joined the DCA to be an advocate for all doctoral candidates. I saw it as an opportunity to gain an understanding of our academic structures and exercise my planning and networking skills. Joining in 2019 was a somewhat unfortunate timing as we were struck by the pandemic but the work of the DCA did not stop. As a participant in the university’s social and governance structures, as detailed in the handbook, my colleagues and I still had a role to play in an online format.
During this past two years I have, through my membership of the GSAB (Graduate School Academic Board,) commented on university regulations and guidance regarding the doctoral programmes, discussed supervision styles, development opportunities, and raised questions among the candidates to provide informed comment to the board.
I was involved in arranging the 2021 DCA conference. This was to allow candidates to develop their skills by presenting their work, engaging with others, and making their research visible to the wider university. This allowed for new collaborations to develop and our first every 3 minute thesis competition was held.
I have been able to work with others, engage in team working, exercise time and workload management, gain new skills, particularly with virtual meetings, and become a better colleague to peers and academic staff through this time on the DCA. It has been a valuable experience and I would encourage others to join in, should your circumstances permit
General Registry email
The Registry department deals with all aspects of the following:
- Matriculation and enrolment
- Tuition fees and charges relating to your programme of study
- Managing your details, from your student record and smartcard help to your module and course options.
- Transcripts and documents relating to your study
Library Services are available physically through the Learning Resource Centre, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and online through the remote desktop. As a doctoral candidate at QMU, you already have access to thousands of books, journals and online resources to support your research. In the Learning Resource Centre you will find:
- Our print bookstock, archived print journals and DVDs
- Group study spaces (with smart-boards)
- Quiet study spaces (with IT and somewhere to plug in your laptop)
- Silent study spaces
- Large open plan areas with terminals
- Comfy seating
Online you will discover:
- eBooks, eJournals and databases
- Library catalogue, “Discover” service, ejournal and database listings
- Workshops to help you find and use online resources.
Our Liaison Librarians can offer you specialist subject-related support, whilst our Research Support Librarian can offer advice and guidance on data management, open access publishing and social media.
As a QMU doctoral candidate you will you have access to a wide range of IT facilities. See the Getting Started webpage for all you need to know about: online matriculation, logging in, email/webmail, mobile devices, WIFI access, HUB access, printing etc. Remote Access is also available via Citrix to candidates who are off campus.
As a QMU doctoral candidate you will you have access to a wide range of IT facilities. See the Getting Started webpage for all you need to know about: online matriculation, logging in, email/webmail, mobile devices, WIFI access, HUB access, printing etc. Remote Access is also available via Citrix to candidates who are off campus.
The Helpdesk Service provides staff, students and visitors with readily available help with day- to-day running of the Learning Resource Centre on behalf of the institution and its community, ensuring it is fit for purpose and meets the needs of all users.
In addition we provide advice and support when you have a problem with or a question about any aspect of service which Campus Services Dept. deliver. These include
- Library based queries e.g. helping with finding and using resources, research support, loans and borrowing, fines payment.
- IT queries e.g. resetting passwords, assisting with remote access, wireless network connections, logging off Horizon sessions.
- Raise jobs for Facilities teams e.g. removing waste, cleaning rooms, setting up meeting rooms.
- Raise jobs for Maintenance teams – e.g. unblocking sinks or toilets, re-establishing hot water, dealing with power failure.
If you are having issues with the above, please contact Helpdesk Service using any of the four options below:
- Self Service Portal[broken link
- Report by email on Library General email for library queries, for all other enquiries please IT Support Email Address
- contact Assist@qmu.ac.uk
- Report by telephone 0131 474 0000 and request “Helpdesk” when prompted
- In person at the Library Service Desk.
Student Support Services
When doctoral candidates face situations and circumstances where they need some further support, staff at Student Services are in place to support a wide variety of needs. All our staff are well aware of the unique challenges and pressures facing doctoral candidates and are here to support you. We can also signpost and refer to other services if we think that would be beneficial or you would rather be supported outside of the university. Below is some more information about the support that is available.
Counselling offers you the opportunity to talk in private about anything that is troubling you. We provide a service for all students including doctoral candidates and we are able to support you with a range of issues. It is a completely confidential process where the counsellor will listen carefully to what you have to say and will not judge you or tell you what to do. The aim is to help you understand things more clearly so that you can see for yourself how to deal with things more effectively. We can usually see a student for their assessment session within a working week of them making contact. We can offer sessions in-person or via Teams or phone. We have some evening availability over Teams/phone for students on placement.
Where counselling is agreed at the assessment session, we can offer up to 6 sessions either in a block or one-at-a-time, agreed on a case-by-case basis. If a student is not sure if counselling is for you please email and we can discuss what is appropriate for you.
The wellbeing service is available to support all students with anything that may be having an impact on their wellbeing. The service is available to all students at QMU from undergraduate to postgraduates and doctoral candidates.
The Wellbeing Adviser can offer support, guidance and advice, they may signpost the student to other QMU support services and external support services if appropriate. The aim of the wellbeing service is to facilitate students in regaining their sense of wellbeing and potential to engage fully with their academic studies and student life.
Stay on Course support is also provided by the wellbeing service, this is for students who are struggling to engage with their academic studies (attendance, course work submissions, repeated extenuating circumstances, extensions) and may benefit from additional specialist support provided by the wellbeing service.
Support in QMU for disabled students is formalised via an Individual Learning Plan (ILP). Devised by a Disability Adviser and with the student’s permission, this describes barriers to learning, recommends support from academic and other departments and formalises assessment arrangements.
The disability service is available to all students including doctoral candidates and irrespective of whether a student has had support as an undergraduate or not. It is not uncommon for students to identify a need for support later in their studies when more complex academic writing is needed, and when pressures are increased.
Disability Advisers also co-ordinate applications for the Disabled Students Allowance (DSA) for eligible students.
Any candidate who may have a disability and who has not accessed the service, or is unsure if they have a disability is encouraged to make an appointment with a Disability Adviser as soon as possible to discuss an ILP and other support. Students can book appointments direct on:
The University receives Discretionary (formerly Hardship) Funds from the Scottish Government in order to support undergraduate and postgraduate students from every part of the UK who experience financial difficulties during their studies. There is a separate Nursing Discretionary Fund for nursing students. Students who have to pay for registered childcare can apply for support from the Childcare Fund. In addition, the University provides an International Hardship Fund to support students from outwith the UK.
The Student Funding Adviser is based in Student Services and has appointments available over several days a week, although will do all he can to support a student in a crisis situation. A student can seek help with completing an application form or come to discuss any aspect of student funding. Appointments can be made on Student Central and further information is available there and on the website.
Visa and immigration advice can only be given by the International Office. Candidates should not rely on advice from family, friends, or other staff in the University. Candidates can make an individual appointment by emailing International Email Address or calling in to the drop-in advice sessions.
The Students’ Union is located on campus opposite the main academic building and next door to the Sports Centre. The Union offers the following services and opportunities: advice and support, representation, access to extra-curricular activities, volunteer opportunities and a commercial food, beverage and events service.
and mental health and stress busting. If you would like to speak with a representative from the Students’ Union you can visit them in person, email them at Student Union email Addressor phone on 0131 474 0000 (request “student union” when prompted).
The Students’ Union is also responsible for running many clubs and societies which all students, including doctoral candidates, are encouraged to join. More information on sports and societies can be found here.
Queen Margaret University Sports Centre offers a range of facilities to staff, students and the general public including a fitness suite, weights room, exercise studio, Astroturf, sports hall and outdoor gym. Opening Hours are:
- Monday - Thursday 7.30am - 10pm
- Friday 7.30am - 8pm
- Saturday and Sunday 9am - 4pm
The University Halls of Residence are located on campus right next door to the University’s main academic building. There is standard and premium accommodation available and a dedicated postgraduate block.
Academic and University calendar
Candidates can access up to date academic and University calendars here
B1. The Professional Doctorate Programme
The Professional Doctorate route is designed to allow professionals to undertake doctoral work within the workplace environment. It has the specific focus of assisting in advancing professional development through project work and research that is embedded in the candidate’s professional domain. The doctoral award learning outcomes are that by the end of the programme the candidates will be able to:
- Create and develop new knowledge which extends the boundaries of the discipline through advanced autonomous scholarship and original research, which merits publication.
- Communicate original and creative insights into new, complex and abstract ideas to a wide audience of peers, professional colleagues and policy makers in order to contribute to the changing environment of health and social science.
- Embed on-going critical evaluation and reflection of personal and professional development in individual practice and the context of their professional arena.
- Use in-depth knowledge of a range of methods of research and advanced academic enquiry effectively.
- Perform at a high level of literacy and practical skills; including use of information technology, data handling, data analysis, and preparing writing of grant applications, ethical submissions and publications in academic journals.
- Manage projects effectively using skills of goal setting, negotiation, prioritisation, data acquisition and collation, and effective time management.
- Be proactive in communication and engage in critical dialogue on complex matters, issues and ideas; with relevant individuals at different levels and in different situations.
- Challenge espoused knowledge and practice of the discipline, current theories, principles and concepts, through critical overview and detailed, leading knowledge of the specialist area.
- Exercise initiative to address complex challenges through critically analysing economic, political and ethical issues that may arise in their profession.
- Autonomously pioneer profession development through use of innovative knowledge that transforms individual health and/or social science practice.
- Conceptualise, design and implement a project for the generation of new knowledge, application or understanding at the forefront of the discipline, and adjust project design in light of unforeseen challenges.
Professional Doctorate programmes are designed to facilitate candidate choice and to allow candidates to pursue doctoral study while still in employment or an equivalent professional engagement. It is therefore intended that the elements of the programmes will be available in ways that facilitate full or part-time study. Thus the elements may be delivered:
- by work based learning,
- in concentrated blocks of study,
- in normal working hours during the week-days,
- by flexible learning, or
- through a combination of these formats.
To be able to meet the requirements of the Professional Doctorate, each candidate requires access to their professional environment. The responsibility for negotiating this rest with each candidate, who can either be employed within their professional environment (normally part-time candidates) or negotiate access to a professional location (normally full-time candidates), either as a volunteer, or in some other capacity. This is critical for the candidate, as it situates the learning within an appropriate and relevant environment. This issue should normally be discussed at interview prior to commencing the programme and it is the candidate’s responsibility to identify their own work-related context.
Registration and timescales
The Professional Doctorate can be completed within the timescales given in the table below.
2 years (with a Masters degree4) 2.5 years (if abbreviated)
4 years (with a Masters degree) 5 years (if abbreviated)
3 years (36 months)
6 years (72 months)
Maximum period (continuation year)
4 years (48 months)
8 years (96 months)
A full-time candidate should normally reach the standard for a Professional Doctorate within a prescribed period of study of three years and a part-time candidate within a prescribed period of six years. Full-time candidates should normally submit their thesis at the end of the third year for examination with a view of completing the examination process and being awarded the degree before the end of the maximum period of study. If no thesis is submitted within four years (full- time) or eight years (part-time), and no application for extension or suspension has been received and approved, your registration will be terminated automatically.
Your key progression points are summarised in the table below. You can use this to record your key submission deadlines.
Programme start date
End of prescribed period (deadline for thesis submission)
End of maximum period (including continuation year)
Deadline for submission
XD025 Theory and Context of Professional Practice 3000 Word Assignment
Around 6 months after start date
Before the end of year 1
XD025 Theory and Context of Professional Practice 6000 word portfolio
Before the end of year 1
Before the end of year 2
XD026 Development and Evaluation of Professional Practice 9000 Word Portfolio
Before the end of year 2
Before the end of year 4
XD011 Doctorate Research Presentation
Before submission of the written component
Before the end of year 5
XD011 Doctorate Research 6000 Word Research Proposal
Before the end of year 3
Before the end of year 6
Before end of continuation period (ideally, before the end of prescribed period)
Before end of continuation period (ideally, before the end of prescribed period)
XD015 Final Viva
Approx. 6 weeks following thesis submission
Approx. 6 weeks following thesis submission
- 4 Up to 270 credits may be awarded by Recognition of Prior Learning, which would reduce the period by one year FTE.
- 5 Candidates may apply for abbreviation of study in the event that the research is proceeding agreed of schedule. A candidate may apply for both credit and abbreviation of study.
- 6 Candidates are entitled to use a “continuation period” of 12 months (full time) or 24 months (part time). By the end of this period all modules must be completed and the research thesis must be submitted.
Progress will be subject to regular review at supervisory meetings and through annual assessments, allowing candidates to identify barriers to completion and supervisory teams to put in place appropriate support mechanisms.
To gain a doctoral level qualification you are required to achieve 540 credits (120 M level and 420 D level). This comprises of the following credited study modules:
- XD025 Theory and Context of Professional Practice (90 credits)
- XD026 Development and Evaluation of Professional Practice (90 credits)
- XD011 Doctoral Research Module (60 credits)
- XD015 Research Thesis and oral examination (180 credits)
Candidates must successfully complete and pass all modules/credits in order to be awarded the degree of Professional Doctorate. The information in the following section details the aims, learning outcomes and experiences, assessment pattern and reading texts for the Professional Doctorate modules.
The programme is not linear in its structure therefore candidates can be undertaking XD025 Theory and Context of Professional Practice (TCPP) and XD026 Development and Evaluation of Professional Practice (DEPP), or XD026 Development and Evaluation of Professional Practice (DEPP) and XD011 Doctoral Research module at the same time.
It is recommended, however, that you would commence with TCPP and DEPP as these set the foundation for the doctoral journey. You must have passed at least TCPP and DEPP prior to formally commencing your research thesis.
|Programme Structure||Standard Entry||Non-Standard Entry||Non-Standard Entry|
|PG Diploma 120 SCQF points at Level 11(Masters)||Undertake 120 Level 11 Points (masters) using QMU Array||RPL up to 120 Level 11 Master points|
|Theory and Context module XDO026||90 credits Level 12||90 credits Level 12||90 credits Level 12|
|Developing and Evaluating module XD026||90 credits Level 12||90 credits Level 12||90 credits Level 12|
|Doctoral research XD011||60 Credits Level 12||60 Credits Level 12||60 Credits Level 12|
|Thesis||180 Credits Level 12||180 Credits Level 12||180 Credits Level 12|
|Total Credits||540 Credits||540 Credits||540 Credits|
Please refer to Section 8 of the Professional Doctorate Regulations for full details governing submission and assessment of work. In summary:
- All candidates must submit at least one piece of work for formal assessment per academic year; but may be working on several pieces at once.
- Candidates submitting work for assessment at SCQF Level 12 should informally submit work on a regular basis to their supervisory team for formative feedback to ensure the work is reaching doctoral level. Candidates must negotiate the timing of their formative submission with their supervisory team in advance to ensure enough time is allowed for due consideration of the work.
- When candidates are ready to formally submit work for assessment, there are three identified submission dates for candidates - one in December, one in March and one in June. This is to allow adequate time for double marking and external examiner review prior to the examination boards which are held in September and March. You may submit work at any time but note that you are not then guaranteed an 8 week marking process, therefore, you are strongly encouraged to aim for the published submission dates.
- A candidate may not fail more than 240 credits at Doctoral level. This allows you the opportunity to fail and retrieve each module once. Should you fail more than 240 cumulative credits you will be required to withdraw from the programme. This means that if you fail the first module twice, you will acquire 180 credits of fail. If you then went on to fail XD026 once, you would exceed the 240 cumulative credits and would be required to withdraw.
B2. Prof Doc Module Information
[Complex Table and form ]