COVID impact statement for research degree examinations

Postgraduate Research students whose research has been disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related closures have been strongly encouraged to adjust their project as far as is practicable in order to mitigate the effects of the disruption. However, despite these efforts, it is recognised that research submitted for examination may still have been affected and that candidates may wish to inform their examiners as to the nature of the disruption and subsequent actions to mitigate that disruption. In such cases a COVID-impact statement may be supplied along with the thesis when first submitted.

When a COVID-impact statement is submitted, while the examiners will be required to consider the statement ahead of the examination, it will not alter the requirement that the standard for research degrees as outlined in the Regulations for Research Degrees is reached before the recommendation of any award.

Guidance for Postgraduate Researchers

A COVID-impact statement may be submitted along with the electronic version of the thesis by any student whose research was affected by the pandemic and related restrictions. The submission of a statement is not compulsory.

The statement should be no longer than 600 words and may include:

  • Changes made to the original research plan due to COVID-related disruption
  • Restrictions on research activity due to closure of facilities, restrictions on contact with research participants, limits on travel, or any other research-related disruption
  • Descriptions of how the research as presented was affected by disruption
  • Reasons why the ability to mitigate the effects of the disruption was limited.

The statement should not include reference to personal circumstances, including illness or caring commitments. Personal disruption is expected to be addressed prior to examination through extensions, suspensions or changes in mode of study.

Guidance for Examiners

Examiners are required to consider any COVID-impact statement submitted before deciding on the outcome of the examination and to confirm to the Doctoral College that they have done so.

Having considered the nature of any disruption to planned research activities, examiners may wish to allow flexibility as to the scope and volume of the thesis compared to that which would normally be expected. However, they must still ensure the standards for research degrees as outlined in the Regulations for Research Degrees are met before the award of a degree is recommended. The extent of that flexibility is an academic judgement to be decided by the examiners.

Where the recommended outcome is minor corrections or resubmission, these should only be those that are necessary to ensure the thesis meets the standard for research degrees and not to require that the disrupted research activities are carried out.

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