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Options for incoming postgraduate research students

Information for incoming students who are due to START a postgraduate research degree (PGR) programme at York in September or October 2020.

The University is planning for its campus to be open by September and York Graduate Research School (YGRS) is very much looking forward to welcoming you to York’s vibrant research community, in our modern campus in an ancient city. We assume, however, that there may still be Covid-19 related travel restrictions and other issues that may make it difficult for some of you to come to York in September or October 2020.

If you have any queries about the information on this page, please contact the department that you're applying to:

Your options

If you think that you might be unable to come to York for the start of the 2020 Autumn Term then you have two options to consider: Temporary Remote Research or deferral.

Please think about your plans for the Autumn Term now, speak to your supervisor and agree a plan. We'd like you to make a decision (particularly if you are planning to defer) before the University's enrolment task opens on Monday 3 August (when you will be asked to confirm if you will be on campus or elsewhere) but if your situation changes we will work with you to find a solution. We've provided a checklist to help you plan an informed discussion with your supervisor:

Thinking about your research project in some detail now is unlikely to be wasted time. It may give you a head start, and looking at alternative ways of doing the research may open up new avenues for you to explore.

Temporary Remote Research arrangements

The Temporary Remote Research (TRR) arrangements are part of the University's ongoing response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The TRR arrangements are there to enable you to start your PGR programme on time but in your current/home location, moving to York as soon as you are able.

Whilst in an approved TRR period, supervision meetings will take place via video-conferencing. Training, networking and other support, both academic and pastoral, will also take place online. Although you will be away from York’s physical campus, we will do all we can to support you.

Temporary Remote Research is not the same as enrolling on a distance-learning PGR programme. TRR is a temporary measure and you will be expected to come to York and continue your research on campus as soon as it is safe and practical to do so.

Support and induction

The University, your department and the Graduate Students’ Association (York’s postgraduate student union) will provide a remote induction to introduce you to our active research community so that you feel part of York from the outset.

Your department will include you, by virtual means, in its research and postgraduate student life. York Graduate Research School will complement this with a comprehensive package of support, including:

  • A PGR buddy scheme
  • Online classroom-style research-related and professional development training
  • Access to a peer-to-peer community of researchers
  • ‘Thriving in your PhD’ series and virtual coffee mornings
  • Careers support and one-to-one guidance.

You will, of course, have access to the usual University support services (eg support for disability and mental wellbeing) and practical advice (eg on visas and accommodation).


You and your supervisor(s) will use video-conferencing, eg Google Meet or Zoom, for your supervision meetings. Many students find that having supervision via video-conferencing works really well and is not too different from meeting in person.

Formal supervision meetings (See: What is a Formal Supervision Meeting (PDF , 426kb)) must happen at least every six to seven weeks (or more often if required by your department), but informal meetings are by negotiation. Evidence suggests that when students and supervisors are physically separated, frequent communication (eg at least weekly) is helpful. You and your supervisor(s) should discuss how often, and by what means, you will keep in touch during your TRR period and capture this supervision plan in writing so that you have shared expectations. Be prepared to review your plan as you progress through your TRR period.


The minimum period for TRR is one month and the maximum period (in the first instance) is four months. Extensions can be requested. The start of your approved TRR period would be the official start of your programme, with your period of enrolment and key programme milestones (eg formal reviews of progress) timed from that date.

All new PGR students are potentially eligible for TRR. Exceptions are students on the following programmes:

  • Distance learning research degree programmes (which have alternative attendance requirements)
  • Integrated PhD programmes (students need to be in York for taught modules - unless these are available online)
  • PhDs run by Doctoral Training Partnerships/Centres for Doctoral Training (where students are required to participate in person for an initial period of training or other PhD preparation)
  • Joint or double PhDs (eg where students may be starting at the partner university).

TRR is not advised for Masters of Arts/Science (by research) due to the short duration of these programmes.

The nature of your project, your personal circumstances, and the attitude of your funder/sponsor (where applicable) will all play a part in determining if TRR is appropriate.

If your funder or sponsor needs persuading that TRR is the best option, reassure them about what it is and what it means for you and your research project. In particular, make sure they know that you are not enrolling on a distance learning programme, but rather undertaking a temporary period of remote research before transferring to York’s campus. We can provide a personalised letter detailing supervision and support arrangements to your funder/sponsor on request (contact the Dean of YGRS’s PA (


Deferral means postponing your start date until another permitted entry point for your programme. Your department will tell you what start dates are available. In many departments, you will need to postpone until January 2021 at the earliest, but in some departments you may be able to defer for a shorter period. Your deferral request will need to be approved by your department.

If you defer, the Admissions team will check that your English language tests (if applicable) will still be valid for your deferred start date. English language tests are valid for two years, so if this two-year validity period elapses due to your deferral you may need to take a new test. If you require an ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) certificate (non-European Economic Area students studying sensitive science topics) please note that these are only valid for six months so you may need to get it renewed.

Deciding between TRR and deferral

The University’s preference is for TRR arrangements rather than deferral but it must be the right decision for you.

TRR means that you can start your PGR programme without delay, in your current location, with the supervision and support you need to make good progress with your research.

Even if you don’t think your research project is suitable for TRR, we will ask you to discuss this possibility with your supervisor. Think creatively about your research project: elements could be brought forward or put back, or you may find opportunities to change its focus. Even lab or field-based projects require a significant amount of preparatory work (such as a literature review and detailed project planning). If you need to access particular resources or training at the start of your research project it may be possible for your department to meet these needs at a distance: explore these issues with your supervisor.

If you would like to start your programme in a period of TRR, and believe you have a good academic case, but your supervisor is not supportive, contact the Graduate Chair in your department for advice (email your department to get their contact details). They may be able to help you approach your supervisor or explain your supervisor’s decision.

For further guidance on the implications of TRR or deferral, contact your department’s Graduate Chair or get in touch with the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA). The GSA’s advice service is independent of the University.

Changing your mind

We want you to feel confident that you’ve made the right decisions about TRR or deferral. If you change your mind, please don’t worry. You can contact your supervisor to let them know your decision or, if you’d rather, speak to the Graduate Administrator or Graduate Chair (email your department to get their contact details) in your department and they will help you resolve the situation.

TRR: practical considerations

Transferring from TRR to York

Your department will work with you to ensure that you have a smooth transition from TRR to being campus-based. Your department will arrange an in-person induction for you on your arrival in York and you and your supervisor should schedule an in-person meeting as soon as possible. Your supervisor and department will be sensitive to the fact that you will need some time to make the practical adjustments associated with moving to a new place/country.

International (including EU) students

EU students

If you start your campus-based study after December 31st 2020 and are a new student arriving from an EU member state you will require a visa to study in the UK. UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will detail how the application process will work in due course.

If you start your campus-based study before 31st December 2020, you are encouraged to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS). Applications close 30th June 2021 and there is no charge to apply. Please visit the University's EU student website for further information.

Students who need a Tier 4 visa

Before you can transfer from TRR to campus-based study, you will need to apply for a Tier 4 visa for the remaining duration of your programme. You will need to request a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) in order to apply for a Tier 4 visa. You must have your Tier 4 visa before you start your campus-based study.

You will be able to apply for your CAS via the 'Your Tier 4 Visa' section of You@York. You will need to follow the instructions in the You@York portal and upload various details. Please keep checking York’s Tier 4 visa website for up-to-date advice.

Students who need an ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) certificate

If you require an ATAS certificate (non-European Economic Area students studying sensitive science topics) you will need to obtain this before you apply for a Tier 4 visa. You must provide us with a copy of an up-to-date ATAS certificate before we can process your CAS. Please consult the ATAS section of the University's visa application page for full details and note the warning about the need to apply in good time for an ATAS certificate.

Changing the length of the TRR period

Reducing the TRR period

If you find (eg due to the early lifting of travel restrictions) that you no longer need to make use of an approved TRR period, or you can come to York sooner than expected, then you should contact your supervisor and your departmental Graduate Administrator as soon as possible.

If you are subject to UKVI restrictions, you will need to allow time to obtain your visa and should also contact as soon as possible.

If you are based in the UK, or not subject to UKVI restrictions, you should be able to come to York without delay, once you have sorted out practical arrangements such as accommodation.

Extending the TRR period

If it appears that you will be unable to come to York at the end of a period of approved TRR for any reason (eg due to new or continuing travel restrictions) you should contact your supervisor immediately and seek approval for an extension.

If the total period of TRR (ie the TRR time already approved plus the extra time requested) is:

  • less than 4 months - it can be approved by your department
  • between 4-6 months - it must be approved by your faculty in addition to your department
  • over 6 months (up to the permitted maximum, which is normally 9 months for PhD students) - the request will be referred to the University's Special Cases Committee for a decision.

If an extension is not feasible, for example you have reached the maximum limit for TRR and/or due to the nature of your research project (eg it is vital that you start lab-based work) and/or other reasons (eg objection from your funder/sponsor), then you would need to request a leave of absence to enable you to restart your programme in York when that becomes possible (alternatively you may be able to transfer to a distance learning variant of your programme but only if one is available and then only if your research project and individual circumstances make this a feasible option).

Temporary Remote Research (TRR) is a temporary arrangement and at the end of your approved TRR period you must come to York and continue your research on campus.

If you no longer wish to come to York at the end of your approved TRR period, then you should speak to your supervisor as soon as possible. If a distance-learning variant of your PGR programme is available, you may be able to transfer to this, assuming that it fits with your research project and other factors (eg your funder/sponsor’s willingness to accept this and your personal circumstances) but please note that TRR does not give an automatic right to transfer to a distance learning variant of your programme even if one is available. If a distance-learning variant is not available and/or your project or other factors prohibit a transfer then you would need to seek approval for a period of leave of absence until you can come to York. If that does not appeal then you would need to formally withdraw from your programme (see practical implications of withdrawing including on tuition fees).

If things don’t work out

If your TRR period does not work out as planned, you should discuss your problems with your supervisor or Graduate Chair in the first instance. If resolution is not possible, you would need to take a leave of absence until you are able to come to York. As a period of TRR is designed to enable you to start your research project successfully, it would not normally be grounds for a future extension request.

Implications for TRR on fee payments

Standard tuition fees will be payable as normal whilst you are in a TRR period. This is because we will only approve TRR when all the resources you will need for the time-limited TRR period will be available to you (supervision, other academic and pastoral support etc.). It is also worth noting that the University charges the same for distance learning PhDs as for campus-based PhDs.