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Graduate students, Department of Engineering


All PhD students begin as Probationary PhD (NOTAF - not at first registered). At the end of the first year, your progress is assessed via the First Year Assessment, and a decision is made on whether to register you for the PhD.

The assessment comprises the following elements:

The First Year Assessment is carried out by at least two assessors, and your supervisor is not formally involved in the decision on the outcome, although they are asked to make a recommendation. Usually the two assessors will be your advisor and your Head of Division (or a deputy), although this is not always the case. If you wish to notify your assessors of any disability or request adjustments on account of such disability for your technical and/or formal assessment meeting you can do this via your Degree Committee by completing and submitting the voluntary disclosure form.


All deadlines below are at 4pm. Where a deadline falls at a weekend, the report is due by 4pm on the following Monday.

*Please note that students who are part of the Aerosols CDT do not need to submit their First Year Report until 31st January of their second year and should aim to submit their FYA1 before the end of the proceeding Michaelmas term.

  Pre-meeting and submit FYA1 Submit First Year Report Complete FYA process
Michaelmas Term starters* 1 July 31 August 30 November
Lent Term starters 3 October 30 November 28 February
Part-time Michaelmas Term starters 3 February of second year 31 March of second year 31 August of second year
Part-time Lent Term starters 3 July of second year 31 August of second year 30 November of second year


Please read through the steps below, which detail the full First Year Assessment Process. Note in particular the actions that you as a student are responsible for: arranging the preliminary meeting, submitting the FYA1 to the GSO, submitting your First Year Report to your Divisional Administrator and attending the Technical and Formal Meetings.

Arrange a preliminary meeting and complete the FYA1

You should organise a 'pre-meeting' with your supervisor and advisor to discuss plans for the first year report. The meeting should take place at least two months before the First Year Report is due, and an FYA1 Preliminary Meeting Form must be completed and returned to the GSO by the deadline above.

Submit your First Year Report

Information about writing your First Year Report and submitting it can be found here. The report is due by the deadline above, but earlier submission is encouraged. You should be working towards your First Year Report throughout your first year, and not wait to start writing it until after your preliminary meeting.

Attend a Technical Meeting

The Technical Meeting is organised by your supervisor, and is between you, your supervisor and an assessor. 

The aim of the Technical Meeting is to enable the assessor to form an accurate opinion of your progress during the first year. The First Year Report forms the basis for the discussions at this meeting and the assessor will ask questions about its content and the wider context of the work. After the meeting, the assessor summarises their view in a short report. The supervisor is also asked to submit an independent report on your progress. The reports of the assessor and supervisor, the supervisor’s copy of the First Year Report and any other relevant information (such as module marks) are collected by the second assessor (usually the Head of Division or a deputy).

Possible additional assessor

Where any concerns are raised in either the supervisor's report or the assessor's report of the FYR and Technical Meeting, the Head of Division (or Deputy) may appoint an additional assessor to review the First Year Report. This is simply to get another, independent, view on the work produced. You will not necessarily need to meet with the additional assessor, who will review your First Year Report, and then write a report on it to pass to the Head of Division. They may be invited to attend the Formal Assessment Meeting.

Attend a Formal Assessment Meeting

The Head of Division (or Deputy) will organise a ‘Formal Assessment Meeting’, between you and them; your assessor(s) may also be invited to attend. This meeting forms the basis of the final decision regarding your progression onto the PhD. The Head of Division (or Deputy) will review the reports they have received from your assessor(s) and supervisor in advance of the meeting. In the majority of cases, where a student is well on track, this is likely to be a short meeting. Only when there are serious concerns would this meeting include a detailed examination of your progress and a discussion of the causes and possible remedies of underperformance.

At the formal meeting, you will also be asked about the quality of support you are receiving from your supervisor, and how often you have met with them. This is also an opportunity for you to raise any concerns you have about supervision.

Outcome of the First Year Assessment

The Head of Division (or Deputy) writes a report with the outcome of the First Year Assessment, and passes it, along with all of the reports, to the Graduate Studies Office. The GSO action the recommendation and formally report it to the Degree Committee. Copies of the reports will be shared with you either by your Divisional Administrator, or the Degree Committee. If you have passed, your CamSIS record will be updated with your new status in due course. If the outcome is not a pass, you will be contacted with further information.


You will usually be notified of the outcome of your First Year Assessment at the end of your Formal Meeting, but in some cases the Head of Division may need a bit more time to reach a decision, or to seek advice. If the outcome is not an outright Pass, then your paperwork will be forwarded to the Graduate Studies Office, who will notify you of the outcome within no more than two weeks of the Formal Assessment Meeting taking place. If you are in any doubt as to the outcome of your assessment following the Formal Assessment Meeting, please contact the GSO.

There are four possible outcomes from the First Year Assessment:

Pass: Register for PhD

The vast majority of probationary PhD students will pass the First Year Assessment first time around. When all of the paperwork has been sent to the GSO by the Divisional Office, your CamSIS status will be updated to reflect your new status, and the outcome will be reported to the Degree Committee. CamSIS status updates usually happen around the time of Degree Committee meetings.

Resubmit: First Year Report requires revision

In some cases, the First Year Report is deemed to not yet be of a satisfactory standard to register a student for the PhD, but may be with more work. In this case, you may be given some time to improve your first year report and resubmit it for another assessment.

Unsatisfactory: Register for CPGS or MPhil and/or undertake further assessment

If the result of your First Year Assessment (taking into account both your First Year Report and your results on the taught modules) is that you are not at the required standard to be registered for the PhD then the outcome may be to register you for a lower degree or certificate. This may require you to complete further work (such as writing up your research as an MPhil thesis), for which a new deadline will be agreed. You may also be asked to retake assessments on taught modules.

Unsatisfactory: Remove from register of graduate students

If the result of your First Year Assessment is irredeemable failure, then you can be removed from the register of graduate students.