Research Study in 2020-21

Brighton and Hove beach huts

Current at 08 April 2021 

Welcome to the Doctoral College’s Covid-related blog for postgraduate researchers and their supervisors. Please also see our Extensions FAQ (Phase 2) page (also accessible via the top menu).

University information for all staff and students

The academic year 2020-21 and campus-access is being managed in such a way as to minimise risk and safeguard the health and wellbeing of students and staff. You can find out the most up-to-date information and guidance via the University’s Coronavirus index page.


Covid restrictions and doctoral study

All students: Coronavirus restrictions are being lifted from 08 March 2021. Please visit the university website for the latest guidance, rules, and details of Covid-19 testing for all University of Brighton students, including PGRs.

Face-to-face data collection: All research should continue to be undertaken remotely unless no alternative is possible. Any research activity involving gathering with others must be paused during lockdown and rescheduled to a later date if the participation in the research is not crucial within the lockdown period. Face-to-face data collection is also currently suspended, except for cases where no alternative is possible.

You will need to demonstrate convincing reasons why you need to undertake face-to-face data collection during coronavirus restrictions. In the first instance, you should discuss with your supervisors.

See the University of Brighton statement on guidance for face-to-face data collection for research (November 2020). Please also see the Research Services Ethics Framework page for reviewed guidance for doctoral student research.

Research-related travel: During lockdown, travelling away from home, including from halls of residence, is restricted. This relates to both UK and international travel. See below for full details of research-related travel.


Travel to and from campus

Throughout coronavirus restrictions, doctoral research students been permitted to access campus facilities if needed. However, you should continue to work from home if you can and minimise the number of journeys you make where possible. Please see below for the latest information.

If you need to travel, please follow the latest government travel guidance. The following university links may also be useful:

  • Walking and cycling: Please see the Active Travel pages for information on campus facilities to support this mode of transport.
  • Public transport: Visit the C-Change public transport page for further details and links to local bus and train services.
  • Free UB1 bus: The University’s free, inter-site shuttle bus has a tracking app with real-time locations of the bus and onward journey information. Visit the C-Change UB1 page for timetables and full details.
  • Parking:The University parking policy contains additional temporary provisions in light of Covid-19. Student parking is free with a valid E-permit. E-permits are allocated on the basis of need rather than a first-come-first-served basis and cannot be guaranteed. See car parking and E-permits for further details.

University-wide services


How will the latest campus arrangements affect doctoral students?

Labs, workshops and studios: Doctoral researchers who require access to labs to undertake their research continue to be permitted access subject to their supervisor’s prior completion of Covid-Secure Risk Assessments and approval by the University Return to Campus Institutional Response Team. Doctoral researchers seeking to access labs, workshops and studios in 2020-21 should discuss their access needs with their supervisors who will be able to guide them on next steps.

PGR study areas: PGR study spaces remain open to doctoral students who are unable to work from home, subject to spaces being open, staff support and risk assessments being in place. If you have concerns please raise them with your PGR Coordinator (PGRC). The Doctoral College manages two communal study spaces at City campus. You’ll find details of these facilities and booking forms in the Resources section of this blog.

Building open hours: as of January 18 2021, buildings at all campuses are open 8am-6.30pm and closed at weekends.

Supervisory meetings: Supervisory meetings should be held online during lockdown.

Vivas: Vivas will continue to be held online until further notice and viva candidates will continue to have the option of using a room on campus if required and subject to room availability. Currently, there is no physical on-campus IT support for vivas so students choosing to use a room on campus would need to have their own laptop. We will advise if this changes. We will continue to review how we conduct vivas and make changes informed by Government guidance. All vivas held since lockdown have proceeded successfully online. See also our guidance on online vivas.

APRs: APRs will continue to be held online until further notice. See also our guidance on online APRs.

Workshops: The Postgraduate Researcher Development Programme (PRDP), our programme of training for doctoral students, will continue to be delivered online until further notice, with details published on this blog (not staffcentral) during 2020-21.

New students: Our main new year induction programme was held online 13-15 October 2020. A mid-year online induction for students joining after October took place on Wednesday 03 February 2021. Students joining at other times during the year should watch recordings of the key induction presentations from October. These videos include a 21 minute guide to the Research Plan, also available in our Semester 1 workshop recordings.

Doctoral College on-campus presence: Doctoral College administrative staff are working remotely until further notice. Our full range of administrative support and guidance will be provided through email and digital platforms. Academic Doctoral College staff (Directors of Doctoral Studies and PGRCs) may be on campus in a managed capacity for teaching and research purposes outside of any lockdown period. If you wish to speak to an academic member of the Doctoral College you should email to make an appointment to meet either online or, if current Government advice allows, in person if agreed by both parties. Contact details for all Doctoral College staff are on our staffcentral Contact page. PGRCs will continue to offer weekly Teams meetings with all PGRs in their schools.


Advice for vulnerable groups and carers

Doctoral students who are high risk: Students who are clinically extremely vulnerable should work or study from home in line with Government guidance. However, if you are unable to continue working remotely or have only limited capacity to do so, please discuss with your PGRC and supervisor so we can explore if there are ways we can practically assist you to undertake your research. An individual risk assessment may be necessary if you are vulnerable and returning to campus.

See also:

Doctoral students with significant caring responsibilities including childcare: We recognise that some students who have childcare or caring responsibilities may be significantly impacted by coronavirus restrictions. Please discuss your situation with your PGRC and supervisors so we can explore if there are ways we can practically assist you. We have asked supervisors and PGRCs to be flexible and accommodating to those students with caring responsibilities so please do approach them if you have concerns.


Research-related travel

During lockdown, only essential off-site research within the UK and other countries can be conducted, subject to compliance with government lockdown restrictions, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice (for overseas travel), risk assessment and approval from the Head of School (HoS) or nominee. You must follow Government advice on staying safe outside your home and ensure you are aware of all restrictions before the work takes place.

The determination of whether or not the work activity is essential should be discussed with your lead supervisor and agreed with your HoS. When planning, researchers should adopt a risk-based approach as outlined below and first consider whether the objectives can be achieved in another way, or if the travel itself can be delayed. If this is not possible you will need to carry out a risk assessment on AssessNET to be authorised by the HoS or nominee before the work takes place. You will need to demonstrate convincing reasons why you need to travel during lockdown restrictions in order for your risk assessment to be signed off.

Doctoral researchers need to be set up on AssessNET so if you’re planning to carry out a risk assessment for the first time, contact us in advance (DoctoralCollege@brighton.ac.uk) so we can get you set up.

Process outline:

  1. Discuss with your lead supervisor then approach your HoS or nominee regarding the proposal for essential off-site work to take place
  2. Determine if travel is essential or the outcomes can be achieved another way
  3. If the off-site work must go ahead, carry out a risk assessment on AssessNET (contact us in advance you’re using AssessNET for the first time)
  4. Write an emergency plan that explains what measures you will take if you
    develop Covid symptoms during the research, or if travel rules change and you cannot return
    home as intended.
  5. HoS or nominee must authorise the risk assessment before the work takes place

The University policy covering offsite activities and field trips remains the valid process to follow. However, there will be additional factors concerning the impact associated with Covid-19 that will need to be factored into the risk assessment associated with the planned travel and activity. The Health and Safety documents Fieldwork Guide and Off-campus Research Guide on this Health and Safety Toolkits and Guides page may help you plan.

For further advice and support in completing your risk assessment contact your PGRC. You should not apply to undertake this travel without the approval of your lead supervisor.

Any medical emergency during your trip will be covered by the normal University Insurance policy and will be supported through local medical services.

The University Executive Board (UEB) has determined that no travel on University business by staff or students is permitted to destinations where the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against travel. This applies to all staff and students. More information about extreme risk destinations can be found here.

Conferences: It is expected that conferences across the globe will continue to be held remotely. Our Research Student Conference Support Fund is currently accepting applications for funds to cover conference registration fees on a rolling basis.


Support and resources for continued remote working

By now, most doctoral students should be set up for remote working. If you are a new student or are unable to return to campus and require additional equipment, you may be able to apply to the Doctoral Resources Fund (DRF) via your school.


Key university pages:

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