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Graduate students, Department of Engineering


On this page, you can find information about the following:

Feedback on your progress

Supervision reports

Your supervisor is required to write termly supervision reports which you can access via your CamSIS self-service account. These should give an indication of whether you are making good progress, and any areas which your supervisor feels you need to work on. Supervision reports are viewable by your supervisor, department, College and Degree Committee, any of whom can also make a comment.

If your supervisor feels that you are not making adequate progress, they are asked to record this via a supervision report. You may then be asked to attend a progress review meeting, to explore possible remedies, any personal difficulties impacting your progress and agree actions for improvement.


You will be given the opportunity to write a self-evaluation report on an annual basis, during Michaelmas Term, via your CamSIS self-service account. You will receive an email when the self-evaluation reporting window is open. Self-evaluation reports are viewable by your supervisor, department, College and Degree Committee, any of whom can also make a comment. They are a chance to reflect on your progress to date, and keep a record of where you are up to, and what your plans are going forwards

What to do if you're struggling academically

Your supervisor should be your first point of call if you are experiencing academic issues. Discuss the difficulties you are having during a supervision meeting, and the support that you think you require. If your supervisor is unable to help, you can also speak to your adviser.

There are various resources within the department and University that can assist with issues such as academic writing, literature reviews, English language, etc.

The University's Counselling Service has links to self-help resources for academic issues including procrastination, perfectionism and difficulties concentrating.

If you need further help or advice, you should speak to your College Tutor and/or the Deputy Head of Department (Graduates). In some cases, it might be necessary to consider changing your course registration.

What happens if your supervisor has concerns about your progress

If your supervisor has concerns about your academic progress, they should discuss their concerns with you. They are also asked to record any concerns via a supervision report. These are reviewed by GSO staff, and if significant concerns are raised, a progress review meeting may be called, as per the Research Students' Code of Practice:

If at any point your Supervisor is concerned about your progress, he or she is required to submit an Ad hoc report making this clear. This report will be available to you, your College, Department and Degree Committee and the Board of Graduate Studies. You may be called to a meeting with the Director of Graduate Education, your Supervisor, and other members of your supervisory team.

The concerns will be put to you at this meeting, and possible remedies explored. A written record of the meeting, including any agreed action, will be given to you. If deadlines have been set for work to be submitted, or patterns of required attendance set out, or any other requirements stated, these will be specified in writing. The consequences of non‐compliance with these requirements will be made clear to you ‐ these may range from a warning that you are in danger of failing the examination, through to the possibility of your removal from the register of graduate students, depending on the severity of the problem.

If it is evident that you are suffering from ill health or other personal difficulty, you will be referred to your College Tutor for help. In some circumstances, you may be referred to the University’s Occupational Health Service, Counselling Service or Disability Resource Centre. If there are serious concerns about your fitness to study or undergo academic assessment (e.g. because of your health or because your conduct or performance suggests underlying health issues), you may be referred to the University's Fitness to Study Procedure.

Reasonable time will be allowed for you to improve. However, should your progress continue to be unsatisfactory or should you persist in not complying with the requests of your supervisory team, the Director of Graduate Education in your Faculty/Department (or University Partner Institution) will refer the matter to the Degree Committee with a recommendation that you should not continue on the course and be removed from the Register of Graduate Students. You will be invited to respond in writing to the case made by the Director of Graduate Studies, and your response will be considered by the Degree Committee.

PhD second year review

Towards the end of your second year of research, there will be a second progress review meeting with your Supervisor and Adviser to discuss and assess your work over the first two years, and to agree a programme leading to the timely submission of your PhD dissertation. We strongly advise all students to aim to submit within ten terms of their start date, as this allows a contingency if needed.

You should arrange the meeting between yourself, your Supervisor and your Adviser to take place before the end of your sixth term. You will need to bring to the meeting some written work (thesis chapters/publication/etc), a record of the researcher development activities you have taken part in, and a proposed programme of work for completing your thesis by the end of your tenth term. At the meeting you will discuss your progress to date, your plan for completing your thesis on time, your skills development and planning, your workload, and any concerns or difficulties you are facing. After the meeting, you and your supervisor should write a summary of the discussion on the second year review form and both of you, plus your adviser, should sign the form, which you must then submit to the Graduate Studies Office by the deadline below.

  Deadline to return second year review form
Michaelmas Term starters One month after end of sixth term (31 October)
Lent Term starters One month after end of sixth term (31 January)
Part-time Michaelmas Term starters One month after end of tenth term (31 January)
Part-time Lent Term starters One month after end of tenth term (30 April)

Ongoing skills training

After participating in an RDC during the first year of your PhD, we encourage all students to continue to develop professional skills. This can be through training, but also other opportunities, such as getting involved in teaching undergraduates, or undertaking an internship. Details of training offered via the University can be found on the RD and Skills Training section of the website. We recommend that you keep a record of any training that you undertake during your time as a student.

Planning for submitting your thesis

We strongly advise students to aim to submit within ten terms, or by the end of their funding date, whichever is soonest. This will allow you some contingency time in case of unexpected delays. The earliest date you can submit is the first day of your ninth term. You can find information about what you need to do before you submit your thesis, and what happens afterwards on the Thesis Submission pages of our website (PhD or MPhil).

Thinking about the future

It's never too early to start planning for what you will do after completing your PhD or MPhil. Signing up for the Careers Service newsletters and going along to some of their events is a good start.