Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - Distance Learning


The Distance Learning (DL) PhD is offered, according to subject-area, in Archaeology or in Conservation Studies and aims to let you obtain a doctorate when you need more flexible residence requirements than those allowed by our conventional PhD degree. DL learning outcomes are the same as those of the latter degree, as are milestones for progression and entry requirements (see further below). We will, however, ask for justification for taking the DL option and will then assess the feasibility of the work programme. The latter will be embodied in a plan of study outlining resources and facilities needed, training requirements and an associated timeline, which will need to be in place before being accepted onto the programme. A research topic that requires specialised equipment and facilities may not be possible as DL, unless special arrangements can be agreed in advance which ensure that these needs can be met for the duration of your degree.

Specific Requirements

You will be required to visit York in person for at least two weeks per year, with a compulsory visit at each annual progression point (usually late September. You are required to present an outline of your research focus in mid-June as part of first year progression, but this may be done remotely). Attendance can be in a single block or at different times - we recognise that there will be variations in the logic of each research programme, so will try to be flexible accordingly. In addition, you are required to be present for two weeks at the beginning of the degree, to attend induction activities organised by the university and the department. Otherwise you study at arms length but with continuous contact with your supervisor(s) (Skype, email attachments etc.. Hence access to an internet connection is essential for this programme). You will also have formal meetings of your Thesis Advisory Panels (TAP) twice a year, usually in late September and late March, which formally monitor progress (the latter meeting may happen remotely, unless it coincides with your being here anyway)

Both student and supervisor will sign an agreement which sets out key elements of the above before registration: the outline study plan (see above - a condition of being accepted), attendance pattern, where you will be based in terms of your day-to-day research work, supervision arrangements, and access to local resources if relevant. Any changes to this plan will need to be approved by the Department's Research Committee and the university’s Special Cases Committee.

An archive of remote meetings will be maintained, comprising of email messages, records of calls, notes of meetings etc. and stored on Skillsforge (this is in addition to the records required of all PhD students, for instance those produced in conjunction with their TAPs). We will also have a dedicated DL mentor amongst our present PGR student body who you can turn to for advice etc., to cover needs beyond those studying at York all year round. In general, we will strive to make you a member of our postgraduate research community, even though you won't be physically here most of the time.

There are also a variety of support mechanisms available for distance learners. Visit our support for online and distance learners pages.

Generic Requirements

Beyond the above differences, this mode of study is modelled on the conventional PhD. Thus the cost of fees will be the same and the degree should normally be completed within three years from the start of enrolment: although regulations make provision for an additional year for the submission of the thesis, students should not embark on the PhD programme expecting to avail themselves of this. Finally, it is a university regulation that those registered full time are not allowed to spend more than 20 hours per week on other work. Hence your research programme must be constructed within these parameters (where you have dispensation to study from an existing employer, for example, make sure this allows you sufficient time each week to carry out your academic work).

Candidates are enrolled for the PhD degree from the start, but that enrolment is subject to progression at the end of each academic year. If the Graduate School Board decides not to allow progression, it may recommend instead that the student should be allowed to submit a thesis for the award of an MPhil degree or a dissertation for the award of an MA or MSc degree by research (where those degrees are available), subject to the normal regulations and requirements for those degrees.

Candidates must pursue a total of nine terms of full-time study (or eighteen terms part-time), under the direction of a designated supervisor and Thesis Advisory Panel. The University of York has adopted learning outcomes for doctoral programmes based on the Joint Research Councils' Skills Training requirement. Candidates funded by the Research Councils are required to participate in a personal development programme and to undertake a minimum of 30 days generic training throughout their period of full registration. These training opportunities are also available to students not so funded, and they are strongly recommended to pursue them.

Candidates shall submit a thesis of no more than 90,000 words, or their equivalent in tables and illustrations, but excluding prefatory and bibliographic material, appendices and catalogues. The thesis is expected to be a piece of work which a capable, well-qualified and diligent student, who is properly supported and supervised, can complete within three years. It should be a significant and original, but not necessarily complete, contribution to knowledge, and demonstrate a clear understanding of the relationship of the chosen topic to its general field of learning. The thesis is expected to meet the standards of presentation, illustration, and documentation which apply in the profession.

The thesis should be submitted by the end of the period of full registration and certainly not later than one year after the end that period. In exceptional circumstances and on the recommendation of a student's supervisor and of the Director of Graduate Research, the Board for Graduate Schools may allow an extension of up to two further years for full-time students, and up to three years for part-time students. Students who extend their registration beyond three years full-time or six years part-time will be placed on the 'long-term register', for which a continuation fee is payable.