Accessibility statement

7. Periods of enrolment, changes to PGRs’ status and personal circumstances (including illness), working hours and holidays

See also: Appendix 4: Paid parental leave policy

Periods of enrolment and modes of attendance

7.1

The normal and maximum periods of study (ie from initial enrolment to the submission of the thesis) for full-time PhD, EngD, MPhil, MA/MSc (by research) programmes are as follows:

Full-time degrees

Degree

Normal period of enrolment (full-time)

Minimum period of enrolment (full-time)

Maximum period of study (including any continuation period) (full-time)

PhD (standard)

three years

two years and nine months

four years 

PhD (named four-year version)

four years 

three years and five months 

four years

Integrated PhD

four years

three years and nine months

five years

EngD

four years

three years and nine months

five years 

MPhil

two years

one year and nine months

three years  

MA/MSc (by research)

one year

nine months

one year and three months 

[PhD (3.75) for ESRC WRDTP ONLY]

three years and nine months

three years and two months

four years

Part-time degrees

Degree Normal period of enrolment (part-time) Minimum period of enrolment (part-time) Maximum period of study (including any continuation period) (part-time)

PhD (standard)

six years

five years and six months

seven years

PhD (named four-year version)

eight years

seven years and five months

eight years

Integrated PhD

eight years

seven years and six months

nine years

EngD

Not currently available.

Not currently available.

Not currently available.

MPhil

four years

three years and six months

five years

MA/MSc (by research)

two years

one year and nine months

two years and three months

[PhD (3.75) for ESRC WRDTP ONLY]

seven years and six months

six years and nine months

seven years and nine months

These limits do not include any allowance for leave of absence/extension of submission, the criteria for which are outlined below.

7.2

All PGRs should plan their research (and should be actively encouraged to do so by their supervisors and departments) so that they will submit within the normal period of enrolment or, in the case of PGRs on funded programmes (and where this required by the funder e.g. UKRI research councils), within the funded period (where the funded period extends beyond the normal period of enrolment but ends before the maximum period of study). 

7.3

The final deadline for submission is at the end of the maximum period of study and is recorded in e:Vision. Failure to submit by the final submission deadline (last day of enrolment, or the next working day if a weekend or Bank Holiday) will result in failure of the degree.

7.4

The normal period of enrolment for part-time PGRs is pro rata to the period of full-time study. Part-time PGRs are 0.5 full-time-equivalent, unless there is an exceptional reason (eg mandated by the funder or reasonable adjustment for a disability) for an alternative intensity of study and this is approved by SC.

7.5

A PGR who wishes to submit a thesis before the end of the minimum period of enrolment may only do so on the recommendation of the Graduate School Board concerned and with the permission of the Standing Committee on Assessment (SCA). In such circumstances the PGR will still be required to pay the full fees for the programme of study. 

7.6

The maximum period between the PGR’s initial enrolment and the submission of the thesis, including any leave of absence or extensions, is normally the maximum period of study plus four years (PhD/MPhil full-time and part-time) or two years (Masters by research full-time and part-time) (although in both cases this will normally be extended to accommodate parental leave). 

Residence and attendance

7.7

PGRs who are in their normal period of enrolment should reside in the UK and within reasonable travelling distance of the University of York unless: (i) they are on an approved distance learning programme, or (ii) they are on an approved collaborative programme that requires residence away from York, or (iii) a period away from York is required for programme-related reasons (for example, data collection, placement or mobility period) in accordance with the time-limits and approval requirements in this Policy, or (iv) an individual exemption is approved by Special Cases, or (v) a University-wide exemption is approved by YGRS for contingency reasons. PGRs are required to provide the University with accurate and up-to-date contact details.

7.8

A PGR who is a Student Visa holder and who wishes to remain in the UK must reside within a reasonable travelling distance of York throughout the duration of their sponsorship (ie including any continuation period) unless they have prior approval (from both their department and the Visa Compliance Team) for a temporary change of study location for research purposes. If a Student Visa holder wishes to leave the UK prior to the end of their programme and does not plan to return they must follow the steps for early departure.

7.9

PGRs are expected to engage with the academic requirements of their programme unless they are: (i) taking annual leave in accordance with this Policy, or (ii) are taking an approved break from their programme on medical or personal grounds in accordance with this Policy.

Continuation period

7.10

MPhil, three-year PhD, Integrated PhD and EngD programmes have a normal period of full- or part-time enrolment and a maximum period of study, which is in all cases the normal period of enrolment plus 12 months. For 3.5 year PhD programmes, the maximum period of study is the normal period of enrolment plus 6 months. For MA/MSc (by research) programmes, the maximum period of study is the normal period of enrolment plus 3 months. This extended period of study is known as the continuation period. Four-year (or equivalent part-time) PhD programmes do not normally have a continuation period (an exceptional fifth year can be approved by PPPC as part of the programme in exceptional circumstances). Only University Special Cases (SC) can grant an extension to the maximum period of study for a PGR and this will only be done inexceptional circumstances.

7.11

The continuation period provides a contingency against the research project not going according to plan and thus it is only exceptionally for primary research or data analysis. In particular, it is expected that PGRs should not normally be undertaking any laboratory, archival or fieldwork during their continuation period. Access to laboratory, archival or fieldwork facilities for PGRs in a continuation period must be agreed by the relevant Graduate School Board on the basis of exceptional circumstances and for a specified and limited time only, and any permission for additional access to laboratory, archival or fieldwork facilities cannot be used as grounds for a request for an extension of the submission deadline.

PGRs who exceed the normal period of enrolment with permission

7.12

PGRs who have permission to exceed the normal period of enrolment, ie those in a continuation period or those who have had an extension of submission deadline approved or those who have been given the opportunity to resubmit their thesis for examination, will pay an annual continuation fee (which can be refunded if PGRs submit within three months) to remain as candidates for the degree concerned, and to retain access to computing and library facilities. The normal period of enrolment is not necessarily linked to the length of funding and this means that continuation fees will be payable even if a PGR is still in receipt of a research council (or other sponsor/funding body) award. Whether a funder will pay the continuation fee will be determined by the terms and conditions of a PGR’s award. Departments should provide written guidance on the facilities available to PGRs who have exceeded the normal period of enrolment

7.13

PGRs who exceed the normal period of enrolment with permission are responsible for maintaining contact with their supervisors until they are ready to (re)submit their thesis for examination, and, where applicable, to meet obligations under the University’s Attendance and Engagement Management Policy. Departments should provide written guidance for PGRs on the level of supervisory support that can be expected if the normal period of enrolment is exceeded with permission. PGRs can expect to receive more limited support than is the expectation during the normal period of enrolment; nevertheless, PGRs can expect their supervisor to provide some support and in particular to read and comment on the final draft of the thesis before (re)submission.

Absence due to illness or personal reasons and Leave of Absence

7.14

PGRs can self-certify for short-periods of ill-health, but longer periods require medical evidence. International PGRs subject to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) restrictions who will be absent from their programme due to medical or personal reasons for more than seven days should seek advice from the Immigration Advice Service and must follow either the procedure for authorised absence (for periods up to 60 days) or the procedure for Leave of Absence. Other PGRs who will be absent from their programme for more than seven days due to medical or personal reasons must contact their department for permission or, for an absence of one month or longer, follow the procedure for Leave of Absence. UKRI-funded PGRs may be eligible for paid sick leave.

7.15

A leave of absence allows a PGR to take an authorised break in their studies for a documented medical or personal reason. Leave of absence will normally be granted for a maximum of one year at a time and a maximum of two years in total (and is neither extended nor prorated for part-time PGRs). If a PGR wishes to take a leave of absence they must apply in advance for permission to do so; leave of absence that is entirely retrospective will not normally be considered or approved. A leave of absence will not be considered in the PGR’s first month of enrolment.

7.16

Any PGR can apply for a leave of absence, however, approval for a leave of absence is not guaranteed. Leave of absence may be subject to the approval of the research council (or other sponsor/funding body) concerned. A PGR’s visa may impose additional restrictions upon their ability to take leave of absence, which are beyond the control of the University. 

7.17

During a leave of absence, PGRs are expected to take a complete break from their studies and should not work on their research (otherwise the period of leave of absence may be reduced or rescinded). PGRs on a leave of absence should not have formal supervisory meetings or TAP meetings and contact with their supervisor(s) should be for pastoral support only. PGRs on a leave of absence may access University services and undertake University training as long as this does not directly relate to their research (an exception may be made by the Graduate Chair for a PGR who is preparing to return to study at the end of their leave of absence). 

Maternity, paternity and adoption leave

7.18

A PGR may request a leave of absence on the grounds of maternity, paternity, adoption or shared parental leave. UKRI-funded PGRs or York-registered PGRs in receipt of a York-funded stipend, may be eligible for paid parental leave as set out in Appendix 4.

Emergency and compassionate leave

7.19

Where a PGR needs time off on a short term basis (normally up to a week, including 5 working days) to deal with an emergency situation (eg caring for a seriously ill dependent) or for compassionate leave in the case of a bereavement, they may request (see Appendix 4) emergency and compassionate leave, which in some limited cases may be funded.

Extensions of submission deadline

7.20

An extension of submission deadline is required for a PGR who has not submitted their thesis within the maximum period of study (i.e. the normal period of enrolment plus any permitted continuation period). Extensions of submission deadline are granted only in exceptional circumstances, namely, where the PGR's work has been hampered by documented exceptional medical, personal or employment reasons. The magnitude of the research task, or failure on the part of the candidate to perceive or act upon the magnitude of the research task, is not a sufficient reason for an extension, nor is the need, in itself, to take employment in any permitted continuation period. 

7.21

An extension request will not be considered until the PGR is within three months of their submission deadline. An extension of submission will normally be limited to six months, unless a compelling case is made for a longer period of up to a maximum of one year. The total period of extension that may normally be approved is a maximum of two years (except in the case of MA/MSc (by research), where the total period of extension that may normally be approved is a maximum of one year).

Repeat study

7.22

PGRs (including those transferring in from other institutions) are not permitted to repeat any part of their degree programme. 

Transfer of programme

7.23

A PGR may request a transfer to a different PGR programme where available and provided that the transfer takes place before the thesis is submitted and subject to the particular restrictions noted below. A coherent and realistic plan for the completion and submission of the thesis within the required period must be submitted as part of the approval process.

7.24

Where a PGR wishes to transfer from an MA/MSc (by research) to an MPhil/PhD/EngD programme, or from an MPhil programme to a PhD/EngD programme, the department should ensure that this decision is considered in detail at a TAP meeting, prior to approval by the Graduate Chair and subsequent submission to PGRA. Transfers must always take place before the PGR has submitted a thesis for the programme on which they were initially enrolled. Transfers should normally take place in time to enable the PGR to undergo the first formal review of progress as a PGR on their ‘new’ programme (i.e. that to which they have transferred) to ensure that there is the same rigorous assessment of the PGR’s ability to complete the degree, within the required timeframe, as PGRs who initially enrolled on the programme.

7.25

Where a PGR opts to transfer from an MPhil/PhD/EngD to a MA/MSc (by research): 

  • if they have not yet exceeded the normal period of enrolment for the MA/MSc (by research), they will have the remaining normal period of enrolment for that degree plus the standard three-month continuation period to submit their thesis;
  • if they have already exceeded the normal period of enrolment for the MA/MSc (by research), they will have a three-month MA/MSc (by research) continuation period added from the date of transfer to give them time to reframe their research and submit for the lower award.

Where a PGR opts to transfer from a PhD/EngD to an MPhil:

  • if they have not yet exceeded the normal period of enrolment for the MPhil, they will have the remaining normal period of enrolment for that degree plus the standard 12-month continuation period to submit their thesis;
  • if they have already exceeded the normal period of enrolment for the MPhil, they will have a 12-month MPhil continuation period added from the date of transfer to give them time to reframe their research and submit for the lower award.

7.26

A PGR who has enrolled on a three-year PhD programme may transfer to a four-year (or 3.5 year) PhD programme only exceptionally and with the express permission of SC, and on the understanding that the PGR will complete any additional requirements of the four-year (3.5 year) programme (including the payment of additional fees). A PGR who has enrolled on a four-year/3.5 year PhD programme may transfer to a three-year PhD programme only exceptionally and with the express permission of SC (and will remain liable for fees due for year three/four).

Requesting a leave of absence, extension of submission deadline or transfer of programme

7.27

PGRs requesting a leave of absence, extension of submission deadline or transfer of programme should first approach their supervisor. Recommendations for leave of absence, extensions or transfers should be made, with independent supporting evidence where appropriate, by the departmental Graduate School Board concerned to PGRA for SC consideration. Leave of absence requests of 24 months or over (in total, ie including the sum of multiple requests) may be referred to support to study.

Working hours, employment and voluntary work

7.28

Full-time PGR programmes are based on a notional 1800 working hours per year , which includes time spent on the research project, and time for personal and professional development (this equates to around 40 hours/working week). Actual working hours will vary for a number of reasons including the nature of the research and the timing within the programme but PGRs and supervisors should ensure that working hours are not excessive. 

7.29

Subject to the approval of their supervisor(s), PGRs on full-time programmes (during designated periods of study ie excluding annual leave) may undertake a maximum of twenty hours per week of paid employment (this includes teaching and demonstrating and the associated preparation and marking; it also includes 'on-call' hours where a PGR is not actively engaged in work but where they have to be in a particular place) and/or voluntary work. This is a maximum figure and may be reduced by conditions imposed by a PGR's funding body/sponsor (for example, the UKRI recommends that its funded PGRs should work no more than six hours/week) AND/OR, where applicable, any new UKVI restrictions. The twenty hours per week rule is advisory for full-time PGRs who have entered a continuation period AND are not subject to UKVI or funder restrictions. Supervisors and PGRs should ensure that the time spent on paid employment and/or voluntary work does not jeopardise the on-time submission of the thesis, or compromise well-being.

7.30

For certain categories of paid employment or voluntary work closely related to the programme of study, exceptions to the working hours maximum may be made by PPPC (at the programme level) or the Graduate School Board (for individual PGRs) on the recommendation of the Graduate School Board or supervisor respectively. Such exceptions may not be possible if PGRs are subject to UKVI restrictions. 

Holidays/annual leave

7.31

Subject to any further conditions imposed by the research council (or other sponsor/funding body), the holiday (annual leave) allocation for full-time PGRs is the same as for full-time staff (ie normally 38 days including public holidays and University closure days) in any year (pro-rata for part-time PGRs). 

7.32

Departments should encourage their PGRs to take their full allocation of annual leave in order to maintain an appropriate work-life balance. Each department should specify a process for the approval and tracking of PGRs' annual leave that ensures that requests are not turned down without good reason and that enables it to maintain an oversight of the uptake of annual leave. PGRs are responsible for requesting and recording their annual leave in accordance with the department's agreed process. Departments may also choose to implement a system of flexi-leave for PGRs if they feel that this would be beneficial.

7.33

Untaken leave may be treated as per staff leave in terms of carry-over of days unless PGRs are subject to UKVI restrictions (carry over of days is not permitted) or funder terms dictate that this is not possible. PGRs who receive a stipend from or via the University of York should be aware that failure to utilise their annual leave entitlement does not, in any circumstances, result in the University owing backdated 'holiday pay' (as a stipend is not a salary and therefore untaken annual leave cannot be considered paid leave not received). PGRs should also be aware that annual leave does not, in any circumstances, extend their period of enrolment or change their submission date.

Transferring into or out of the University of York

7.34

In exceptional cases, a PGR may wish to transfer to or from the University of York. This is most likely to be the case when the PGR’s main supervisor is transferring to or from York and the PGR wishes to move with them.

Transfer from York

7.35

If a PGR wishes to transfer from York to another university, this will be dependent on the decision of the other institution to accept the PGR. Permission may also have to be gained from the research council (or other sponsor/funding body). A copy of the data produced by the PGR must be deposited with the University before departure (see the University’s Research Data Management Policy).

Transfer to York

7.36

If a PGR wishes to transfer from another university to York, they must apply through the usual postgraduate admissions process for PGRs. Departments must adhere to the Code of Practice on the Recruitment, Selection and Admission of Postgraduate Researchers, which provides further details of the constraints and practical considerations. 

7.37

Where a PGR transfers from another university to York, the normal, minimum, and maximum periods of enrolment (excluding any allowance for leave of absence or extensions) and the maximum period between initial enrolment and submission of the thesis (including any leave of absence or extensions) should be calculated from the date the PGR started their PGR programme at the other university, taking into account any adjustments to enrolment periods approved on admission to York.

7.38

If a PGR transfers to an MPhil or PhD at York following less than one year's enrolment (or part-time equivalent) on that degree at their previous institution they must undertake York's first formal review of progress no later than 12 months after their enrolment on the programme (ie calculating from their MPhil or PhD start date at their previous institution). If a PGR transfers to a PhD at York following less than two years' enrolment (or part-time equivalent) on that degree at their previous institution they must undertake York's second formal review of progress no later than 24 months after their enrolment on the programme (calculated as above). This is to ensure that any issues with PGR progress are picked up in good time. Departments may make a case for an extension to the progression deadline in accordance with stated policy.  

Entry with advanced standing on the basis of prior experiential learning in research

7.39

Exceptionally , permission may be granted, on the recommendation of the relevant Graduate Chair, for a shortened minimum PhD enrolment period for an individual (two years full-time; four years part-time) on the basis of their prior experiential learning in research (for example, for an experienced industrial researcher). This decision may be made: (i) pre-enrolment with approval by the Dean of YGRS or (ii) post-enrolment, but before the first formal review of progress, with approval by the SC. If advanced standing is approved, the PGR will receive written notification. A department’s recommendation for a shortened minimum PhD enrolment period must explain how an individual’s prior experiential learning in research provides them with the skills (academic as well as practical) to complete a PhD in a shorter duration. A department’s procedure for assessing prior experiential learning in research must be approved by PPPC and should be a robust, fully-documented process, which may be linked, where appropriate, to professional status (eg chartership). If a PGR is granted approval for a shortened minimum PhD enrolment period under this scheme, they must meet the criteria for a second formal review of progress no later than 12 months (or part-time equivalent) after commencing their programme. If they do not meet the criteria for the second formal review of progress at the first attempt, they may then be assessed against the criteria for the first formal review of progress and, if successful (at the first or second attempt), continue on their PhD programme but revert to the standard minimum PhD enrolment period. PGRs with approval for a shortened minimum enrolment period are still required to pay the full fees for the programme of study. For the avoidance of doubt, prior completion of an MRes, MA/MSc (by research) or MPhil (or similar qualification) does not entail any entitlement to a reduced period of enrolment for an MPhil or PhD (as applicable) at York.

Support to study

7.40

Where there are substantial concerns about a PGR’s welfare and/or their impact on the safety or welfare of others, the University’s Support to Study procedure may be used. 

Assumed withdrawal

7.41

If a PGR fails to engage with, or disengages from, their programme, and sustained attempts by the University to make contact have failed and/or the PGR does not comply with requests to indicate their intention, the University may exercise its right to terminate the PGR's registration on the basis of an ‘assumed withdrawal’. Full details for the procedure to be followed (including by departments where they wish to initiate this process) are set out in the University's guidance on Students who are assumed to have left

International students

7.42

For PGRs subject to UKVI regulations, all time limits and changes to status etc. are subject to current Home Office visa regulations. PGRs who are Student Visa holders must be monitored by departments in accordance with the University’s Attendance and Engagement Management Policy; this includes the monitoring of formal supervisory meetings and Thesis Advisory Panel meetings. Additional points of contact are required for PGRs who exceed the normal period of enrolment. A PGR who is Student Visa holder and who needs to remain in the UK after the expiry of their visa, for example to complete corrections or in the light of a revise and resubmit outcome, will need to apply for a new Student Visa before their existing visa expires.