Frequently Asked Questions for Current Graduate Research Supervisor


FAQs for Current Graduate Research Supervisor 

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 The School will appoint a Doctoral Studies Panel for students before the commencement of their programme.  The purpose of the Doctoral Studies Panel is to support and enhance the Supervisor-student relationship, to monitor your progress during the course of your doctoral studies and to provide advice and support both to you and your Supervisor(s).

DSP consists of the Principal Supervisor and other advisors (normally two).

The DSP should normally meet within 3 months of the student’s initial registration, to review the student’s Research and Professional Development Plan. The Supervisor should initiate this meeting, and scheduling of subsequent DSP meetings should be the student’s responsibility. In addition to the first meeting at least one additional DSP meeting should be held in year 1 of the student’s registration. A DSP meeting should normally be held at least 2 months before the Stage Transfer Assessment. The student or another member of the DSP may convene a meeting of the panel at any stage (with appropriate notice to all concerned) if it is considered desirable or necessary to address any relevant issue that may arise.

The RPDP (Research Professional Development Plan) needs to be completed prior to the DSP meetings by your student. Students should use the RPDP throughout their programme to help guide their development. The RPDP can be found

For Research Masters student, the procedure will be similar with a RMP (Research Masters Panel) rather than a DSP.

 Please note that no member of the DSP can normally be a member of the Examination Committee – please take this into account when deciding on DSPs 


All incoming PhD students must take 30 credits of taught modules over their programme (since 2014). The aim of these taught modules are to facilitate research as well as to provide the student with important transferable skills enhancing their career development. Unless the School or programme stipulates specific courses, the student may choose from the full range of modules available throughout the University in consultation and agreement with the Principal Supervisor and the DSP. Please see

To register for modules, the student must complete a module registration form which is available from your School after agreement with the module co-ordinator and the Supervisor. This form should be returned to the School office.

Students are entitled to apply for (Recognition of Prior Learning) RPL against the mandatory 30 credits which must be undertaken during their PhD. The purpose of the 30 credits is to allow the student to develop not only in their area of research but also their transferable skills so it is important where possible that the student undertakes the 30 credits. In cases where the supervisor and student feel that additional modules would not be beneficial, the student can apply for RPL of up to 20 credits.

The student should apply for RPL on form and give to the School Office . Once the application has been reviewed and approved by the School, it will be forwarded to the Graduate School for the monthly submission where the Graduate School reviews all applications. 

If students have undertaken activities outside of their programme, this can be reviewed by the School graduate committee / School graduate rep and if it warrants credit(s), the relevant template is completed and forwarded to the Graduate School through the School Office. Please note that one ETCS credit is worth 20-25 hours of student activity.

The PhD programme is divided into two stages. During Stage 1 the student develops advanced knowledge of their research area and during Stage 2 the student carries out original, publishable research.

Transfer Assessment: Between 12 to 18 months from the start of a Full-Time PhD, the student will be formally assessed for transfer from Stage 1 to Stage 2. There may be a formal arrangement for this in your School. If your student is registered for an MSc (Research) and wants to transfer to a PhD they must also undergo a Transfer Assessment. The purpose of the assessment is to determine if, during Stage 1, the student has acquired the advanced knowledge, research skills and competencies required to carry out the independent, original research required for successful completion of a PhD.

Following its consideration, the STA panel may make one of several decisions:

• that the student progresses to Stage 2;

• that the student does not progress, but may present for re-assessment at a later stage, with a date  set for the re-assessment;

• that the student does not progress, may not present for re-assessment, and exits the programme.

For more information, please see

UCD recognises that in order for a student to successfully complete a programme of study they may need to take a leave of absence from the programme. A leave of absence is an approved extended period of time away from the programme- leave of Absence should be taking for period of semester (s). No work on the programme can be done during this period.  Please note that if your student is being funded and receiving a stipend, the student will need to discuss the LOA with your funding agency. For more information on the UCD Leave of Absence policy, please see

 If you are happy to for your student to apply for a leave of absence, the student should apply on . Once the application has been reviewed and approved by the School, it will be forwarded to the Graduate School for the monthly submission where the Graduate School reviews all applications. 

The student will be unable to apply online if the Leave of Absence is retrospective, the paper form must be completed and returned to the School Office

UCD recognises that for a variety of reasons a student may need to withdraw from their programme and the university. Before your student makes their final decision, please speak with them to see if there is any means that the student can continue in the programme.

If you are happy to for your student to withdraw, the student should apply on . Once the application has been reviewed and approved by the School, it will be forwarded to the Graduate School for the monthly submission where the Graduate School reviews all applications.

The student will be unable to withdraw online if withdrawal is retrospective, the paper form  must be completed and returned to the School Office

There are two types of extension:

 1. Permission to Continue 

Students who are entering Year 5 FT or Year 7 PT PhD or Year 3 FT or year 5 PT for Masters by Research students must apply for Permission to Continue in the programme. There are no extenuating circumstances with this extension. These are for a period of semester(s) and fees are payable. The student must apply for this at their School Office; once the application has been reviewed and approved by the School, it will be forwarded to the Graduate School for the monthly submission where the Graduate School reviews all applications.

 2. Extenuating Circumstances 

These requests are for a specific period (does not need to be a full semester in length) where the student was unable to attend the programme due to extenuating circumstances and no fees are paid. Supporting documentation must be provided and confirm the period of time the student were unable to work on their programme. Common examples of this are medical issues or bereavement. A student is not normally liable for fees for this period. There will be no additional available stipend for this period.

Before applying for an extension the student should discuss this application with you.  If you are happy to for your student to apply for a no fees extension due to extenuating circumstances, the student should apply to the School office with supporting documents. Once the application has been reviewed and approved by the School, it will be forwarded to the Graduate School for the monthly submission where the Graduate School reviews all applications.

See the Academic Secretariat webpage for further information on what qualifies for extenuating circumstances.

Working Hours

Due to the range of disciplines across the College, there is no such thing as an ‘average PhD week’ and how a PhD student’s week is arranged will depend on a number of factors including:

  • Subject area (very different work patterns will emerge if you work in a lab or do fieldwork for example)
  • Learning style
  • The stage of the PhD: the week will be structured very differently when you are writing up and there will be peak times in activity
  • What has have agreed with between Supervisor/Student

It is recognised that graduate students are not generally paid employees and therefore do not have contractual working hours; however students should bear in mind that a public servant’s standard working week is 37 hours. A PhD student should be self-motivated to work such hours as are necessary to achieve their objectives over the course of 3-4 years. In cases where a student is funded, there may be additional obligations required by the funding agency in relation to meeting certain milestones that must be taken into consideration when working hours are agreed.

In consultation with the Supervisor(s) it is the student’s responsibility to decide the appropriate working structure for them as early as possible in their programme so that a plan can be agreed that suits everyone. Students are expected to develop a professional approach by attending all meetings and other relevant activities that are advised by their Supervisor and/or beneficial to their programme/research.

Annual leave

Holidays can be taken at any time in each year, but must be agreed in advance with the Supervisor(s), bearing in mind a student’s individual funding terms and any teaching or research commitments. The normal holiday entitlements should be no more than 4 weeks in one calendar year.

In the case of part-time students in paid employment, Supervisors should be informed of the student's annual leave arrangements that impact on the research programme.

Sick leave

If a student feels unwell and needs to stay at home for a day or two, the Supervisor(s) should be informed. If a student is unwell for a longer period of time, they should try to maintain regular email contact with their Supervisor(s) to keep him/her informed of their health and they must provide a medical certificate for the period of illness. In cases where students may be requesting a ‘no-fees extension’ due to illness, relevant supporting documentation must be provided. In some serious cases, it may be advisable for the student to apply for a leave of absence.

 Maternity Leave

Where possible, students should apply for a Leave of Absence during their maternity leave. If this causes issues with funding, students can apply for a no fees extension for the period of maternity leave, but must be aware that there is no provision for payment of stipends during this additional time.

PhD students must complete a minimum of 3 years (FT) / 5 years (PT) before submitting. The Thesis Submission deadlines can be found on

The student must be a fully registered student and not owe any fees at the time when the thesis is submitted for examination. The student will submit it to the Student Desk in the Tierney Building as many soft bound copies of the thesis as there are members on the Examination Committee. For PhDs there are usually three people on the Examination Committee i.e. internal examiner, extern examiner and the Chair of the Examination Committee. For MSc degrees, there are generally two members of the Examination Committee. The members of your examination committee are listed on the ‘UView - Student Enquiry’ Screen on Infohub.

 The copies of the thesis shall be submitted for examination in soft bound format and they must be accompanied by a completed Research Degree Examination Form


Students, in discussion with their Supervisor, can submit their thesis in a number of acceptable formats, for example:

  • A traditional thesis.
  • A collection of papers (including published papers or papers submitted or prepared for submission) describing a coherent programme of research which has been published or prepared for publication in peer-reviewed journals of international standing, accompanied by a critical and theoretical overview of the work presented in the papers.
  • A substantial collection of original creative material, together with a written thesis that contextualises the work within an academic framework.

 The general guidelines for preparation of the traditional thesis format is available here

Once you have the verbal approval of the internal examiner that you have met the requirements of the Examination Committee you follow these steps:

 Step 1. Produce a hardbound copy of your thesis

 Step 2. The Internal examiner will sign the Research Degree Final Submission Form to confirm that all the necessary corrections have been completed to the satisfaction of the examiners.

 Step 3. You submit the hardbound thesis to the UCD Student Desk with the signed Research Degree Final Submission Form.

The final step in the process involves the UCD Academic Council Committee on Examinations (ACCE) reviewing the recommendation of the examiners and authorising the award of the degree or otherwise. The ACCE meets once a month throughout the academic year. Once the hardcopy is submitted then the relevant examination documents are submitted for consideration at the next scheduled ACCE meeting. The ACCE decides on the basis of the Examination Committee report to authorise or not to authorise the award of the degree. If the student has been successful they will receive, within 10 working days, an official Degree Outcome Letter from the UCD Registrar and Deputy President confirming that their PhD degree has been awarded and with the link to download the official Academic Transcript as a PDF document.

Once ACCE has approved the Examination Committee report, this information will be forwarded to the Conferring Unit who will add the student to the next graduation date. See for more information