Research Study in 2020-21

Brighton and Hove beach huts

Current as of 21 October 2020 

Welcome to the Doctoral College’s information page for the safe return to campus for current and new postgraduate researchers and their supervisors.

University information for all staff and students

The academic year 2020-21 and the controlled return of campuses is being managed in such a way as to reduce risks 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.

Travel to and from campus

    • Walking and cycling: in line with Government advice, members of the university are encouraged to walk or cycle if possible. Please see the Active Travel pages for information on facilities to support this at all campuses.
    • Public transport: Capacity on public transport for the new term is likely to remain significantly reduced. If you are travelling by bus or train, campus please follow the Government guidance. Please remember, it is a legal requirement to wear a face covering, and you should maintain social distancing and wash or sanitise your hands regularly when travelling. Please also check timetables before you travel. 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 will resume service on 21 September and will initially have a limited capacity of 22 to allow for social distancing. The bus service 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. When travelling on the UB1, please follow the Government guidance for travelling on public transport
    • Parking: The University parking policy has been updated and now contains additional temporary provisions in light of Covid-19. Student parking is free with a valid E-permit. All existing E-permits for students will remain valid and will be automatically rolled over to the new academic year. 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

    • Student Services: All of the usual student support services will be available, both online and through booked face-to-face sessions, with advice and guidance on everything from study skills to managing your money
    • Wellbeing: You’ll be able to access wellbeing support, including 24/7 counselling via Togetherall, and be able to speak to your Student Support and Guidance Tutor (SSGT) on any personal issues or anxieties. SSGTs can refer you on to specialist services within the university, including counselling support specifically for doctoral students provided by an experienced psychotherapist. See also our Mental Health and Wellbeing page.
    • Brighton Students’ Union: BSU will also provide their full range of support services in addition to all of the usual social activities and student societies, albeit online.
    • Libraries:

Find out more about visiting and using university libraries in 2020-21 in this new document.

How will the new campus arrangements affect doctoral students?

Labs, workshops and studios: Following lockdown in Spring 2020, doctoral researchers who required urgent, essential access to labs to undertake their research were permitted access following their supervisor’s completion of Covid-Secure Risk Assessments and approval by the University Return to Campus Institutional Response Team. Doctoral researchers seeking to return to 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: Schools in liaison with Estates are managing PGR study spaces to ensure they are Covid-secure and social distancing can be maintained. Your school will be in touch with details. 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.

Supervisory meetings: You may choose to continue meeting your supervisors online or, if you are all in agreement, you may want to meet face-to-face. It is important that all involved parties are in full agreement with any plans and all government and University regulations are followed. (Please also see the point about meeting rooms below.)

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 they prefer 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 student induction: Our main induction programme was held online 13-15 October 2020. Recordings of the key presentations will be available mid/late October. See our induction pages for full details.

Doctoral College on-campus presence: The University is continuing to support staff working remotely wherever possible. In line with this approach, Doctoral College administrative staff will, for the most part, be working remotely until further notice. We will continue to provide our full range of administrative support and guidance through email and digital platforms. Academic Doctoral College staff (Directors of Postgraduate Studies and PGRCs) may be on campus in a managed capacity for teaching and research purposes. If you wish to speak to an academic member of the Doctoral College you should email to make an appointment to meet either in person or online as 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.

What is the advice for vulnerable groups and carers?

Doctoral students who are high risk: University campuses will be Covid-secure. However, the University advises that those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should continue to work or study from home wherever possible. We recognise that those in vulnerable groups (that is, who are classified as clinically extremely vulnerable and also those who have underlying health conditions or who have other risk factors outside of the government definition of clinically extremely vulnerable) may be anxious about returning to campus or may prefer not to do so. Similarly, students who are not themselves classified as vulnerable but may be in close contact with a high-risk person may also prefer not to return to campus.

For some students, this may be a straightforward case of continuing to study from home while accessing resources remotely and participating in meetings online. (See below on support for continued remote studying.)

For other students, the situation may be more complex, for example, if you are unable to continue working remotely or have only limited capacity to do so. If you have any concerns about returning to campus, please discuss with your PGRC and supervisor so we can explore if there are ways we can practically assist you to undertake your research or alleviate concerns. 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 not be in a position to return to campus and their ability to work remotely may continue to be restricted. As with vulnerable students, we ask that you 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. The University is monitoring the changing government guidance on schools and nurseries reopening and we will review our advice as the situation changes.

Can research-related travel be resumed?

Field trips and individual research trips: The university has agreed that researchers can carry out essential off-site research within the UK and other countries, subject to subject to 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 the current restrictions before the work takes place. You must also take note of regional guidance where appropriate.

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 the researcher may need to carry out a risk assessment on AssessNET to be authorised by the HoS or nominee before the work takes place.

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 ( 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 C19 symptoms during the research, or if travel rules change and you cannot return
    home as intended. This applies to research in the UK as well although the emergency plan
    should be proportionate to the risk.
  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 generally 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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