2019/20 Academic Regulations for Research Degrees

These Regulations support the Research Degrees Framework, in conjunction with the Research Degree Policies and information detailed within the Supporting your Project section of The Doctoral Academy's website.

Structural Regulations

The purpose of the Academic Regulations for Research Degrees is to uphold the  quality and academic standards of the University’s research degree programmes and to provide clear guidance for PGRs and Staff.  Professional Doctorates are governed by the University’s Academic Framework for Postgraduate Taught Programmes for the taught element.  


Requirements for admission to a research degree at LJMU are set out within the University’s Admissions Policy.


PGRs will be normally be admitted to their research degree programme at three set points in the academic year: September, January and June.

Continued enrolment is subject to satisfactory progress through the Policy for Reviewing the Progress of Postgraduate Research Students.


PGRs must undertake appropriate induction to their research degree. Schools/Faculties shall be responsible for providing a PGR Handbook, and an induction setting out local codes of conduct in laboratories/studios, Health and Safety etc.  

Registration Periods

The normal periods of study starting from initial enrolment, to expected completion of the formal examination process, for the various research degrees are:


Mode of Attendance

Thesis Submission


Thesis Submission


Expected Completion

(Max Duration)


Full time

12 months

20 months

24 months

Part time

24 months

44 months

48 months


Full time

33 months

44 months

48 months

Part time

45 months

80 months

84 months

PhD by Published Work

Part time

3 months

12 months

16 months

Thesis-Pending Period

PGR Candidates at the end of their minimum period of registration are eligible to move to Thesis Pending Period providing they have completed their primary area of research and have demonstrated the ability to complete within the required period.  


In exceptional circumstances, PGRs registered for a research degree may apply for an extension to their Thesis Pending Period at the discretion of the Research Degrees Committee. 

PGR Support Regulations

Throughout the research project, PGRs can expect to receive regular advice and guidance on academic matters and related training requirements. They will be annually reviewed to ensure that progress is satisfactory, appropriate support is in place, and concerns are addressed in a timely and actionable fashion.

Progression and Review

PGRs registered for a research degree programme longer than 12 months, shall be subject to subject review.

Programme Approval

Following admission to the research degree, PGRs will undergo Programme Approval to confirm the Supervisory team, project direction and intended Mode of Presentation.


PhD Candidates are admitted to the research degree on a probationary basis and require a formal review to confirm their registration.

Review Panels shall include members of the Supervisory team and an Independent Assessor appointed by the Faculty Research Degrees Committee.

The Review Panel may recommend to the Research Degrees Committee one of the following outcomes of Confirmation of Registration:

  • PhD Registration Confirmed
  • PhD Registration Deferred; further assessment required within three months from date of notification
  • PhD Registration Not Confirmed; begin unsatisfactory academic progress procedure

Where the Candidate has resubmitted for Confirmation, the Review Panel may recommend to the Research Degrees Committee the following outcomes:

  • PhD Registration Confirmed
  • PhD Registration Not Confirmed; begin unsatisfactory academic progress procedure

PGRs registered for a Professional Doctorate must successfully complete taught modules in accordance with the Professional Doctorate Framework to enter the Doctoral Phase [Equivalent to Confirmation of Registration for PhD].  

First Progress Review: 6 months after enrolment, PGRs shall meet with the Supervisory team for a review of progression and preparation for Confirmation.

Annual Review: Prior to annual re-enrolment PGRs will undergo a formal review of their progress conducted by the Supervisory team, to determine their eligibility to continue with their studies.

 The Supervisory team may recommend to the Faculty Research Degrees Committee the following outcomes of Annual Project Review:

  • Annual Review Satisfactory; Continue PGR studies
  • Annual Review Not Yet Satisfactory; Further work required for review within one month from date of notification
  • Annual Review Not Satisfactory; begin unsatisfactory academic progress procedure

Where the Candidate has resubmitted for Annual Project Review, the Supervisory team may recommend to the Faculty Research Degrees Committee the following outcomes:

  • Annual Review Satisfactory; Continue PGR studies
  • Annual Review Not Satisfactory; begin unsatisfactory academic progress procedure

Pre-Submission Review: The Supervisory team shall review the Candidate’s work prior to submission, providing their view of its readiness for examination.

The decision to submit the thesis shall rest with the Candidate and initiates the preparations for Examination Arrangements.


Research Supervisors shall be appropriately experienced and have completed appropriate Doctoral Academy training, according to the Policy for the Supervision of Research Degrees.

PGRs shall be allocated to a Supervisory Team, which shall be comprised of a minimum of two Supervisors.

Supervisory Meetings shall take place regularly, with a minimum requirement of ten formally recorded meetings per academic year (pro rata for part time PGRs).

Examination Regulations

The Research Degrees Committee shall be responsible for the appointment of examination panels and have oversight of all examinations in accordance with the Policy for the Examination of Research Degrees.


Policy for the Presentation of Research Theses defines the modes of presentation and word limits permitted.

The thesis must be presented in English; exceptions must be approved by the Research Degrees Committee.

A thesis may be submitted for assessment in one of three formats:

  • Monograph
  • Thesis by Published Papers
  • Thesis by Practice

The thesis must be the result of the candidate’s own work, which has been completed and written whilst registered as PGR at the University.  This requirement does not preclude a PGR obtaining limited assistance with proof reading. When such help is obtained, it should be with the prior approval, and to the satisfaction of the Lead Supervisor.

The text of the thesis should not normally exceed the following word length:



Prof Doc





Thesis by Published Papers




Thesis by Practice




Professional Doctorate Portfolio



In all cases, the word length does not include ancillary data (footnotes, tables, bibliography, etc.) and other appendices.

PGRs must submit a copy of the final approved thesis to the University’s E-theses repository.

Viva Voce Examination

A viva voce examination shall take the form of an oral assessment, which relates to the submitted thesis and the Candidate's general area of research. 

Examination Outcomes

Research degrees will be awarded to PGRs who have demonstrated that they satisfy the relevant qualification descriptors aligned to Section 4 of the QAA Qualification Descriptors.

The Examiners may recommend to the Research Degrees Committee the following outcomes of examination:

  • Award of degree for which the PGR is registered, OR
  • Award of the degree subject to amendments to be completed within three months from date of notification, OR
  • The Candidate has not yet satisfied the academic requirements for the award. However, s/he is entitled to revise and resubmit the thesis and [if necessary] undertake further research. Re-examination shall be with or without an oral examination within a period of up to 12 months from the date of notification.

Where the Candidate has not met the requirements to award the degree they are registered for, the following outcomes of examination are:

  • (in the case of PhD Candidates) Award of the degree of MPhil without further conditions, OR
  • (in the case of PhD Candidates) Award of the degree of MPhil subject to amendments to be completed within three months from date of notification
  • No degree awarded and no further examination opportunity be granted.

When a thesis has been re-submitted and/or a second viva voce examination has occurred, the Examiners may recommend to the Research Degrees Committee the following outcomes of examination:

  • Award of degree for which the PGR is registered, OR
  • Award of the degree subject to amendments to be completed within three months from date of notification 

Where the candidate has not met the requirements to award the degree they are registered for, the following outcomes of examination are:

  • (in the case of PhD candidates) Award of the degree of MPhil without further conditions, OR
  • (in the case of PhD candidates) Award of the degree of MPhil subject to amendments to be completed within three months from date of notification
  • No degree awarded and no further examination opportunity be granted.

Should a PGR require additional time to complete amendments or to revise and resubmit, they must make their case in writing to the Chair of the Research Degrees Committee.

The Research Degrees Committee shall endorse the recommendation(s) of the examiners. The power to confer the degree shall rest with the Academic Board of the University. 

PhD By Published Work

These guidelines provide potential candidates and supervisors with details of the arrangements for the award of PhD by Published Work, and should be read in conjunction with the Research Degrees Framework.


A PhD by Published Work is normally awarded for prior research that has led to a number of related publications. The research skills obtained are evaluated in retrospect and the examination and oral defence must establish that the candidate satisfies Level 8 qualification descriptors for the award of PhD in accordance with the UK Quality Code for Higher Education, Advice and Guidance: Research Degrees.  

The degree will be awarded on the basis of materials and submitted publications that demonstrate an independent, coherent contribution to knowledge. Collectively, the research outputs must:

  • demonstrate a quantity, quality and level of research equivalent to that of a traditional PhD student who has reached the Thesis Pending stage;
  • be equal to the length or volume of a standard PhD thesis in the relevant disciplinary area;
  • provide evidence of the acquisition and utilisation of research skills equivalent to those of a traditional PhD student who has reached the Thesis Pending stage


The award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy by Published Work shall be open to:

a)    All members of staff of LJMU beyond the probationary period of employment who can demonstrate a record of publications or other public outputs of research of appropriate quantity and quality and who do not already hold a doctoral degree in the same or cognate discipline or area of research. Applicants should:

  • Be employed by Liverpool John Moores University on a full time equivalent basis for at least 3 years.
  • Normally holds a Master’s degree which matches the descriptor for a Level 7 qualification OR an equivalent qualification from outside of the UK. 
  • Can demonstrate that more than 50% of the published work has been carried out during their employment at the University.

b)    Former staff of the University shall be eligible to apply for the award up to a maximum period of 3 years from the date their employment ceased.

In the event of any issues arising regarding eligibility, the proposal should be referred initially to the Dean of the Doctoral Academy.


Applicants can apply for admission at any point in the calendar year. Applicants should apply directly to the Doctoral Academy.

The process of admission occurs in the following stages:

Stage 1: Submission of Application

Applications should include the following:

  • The Proposed Title of the Work;
  • A list of the Published Works (any ‘In Press’ publications must be supported with evidence);
  • a statement of the candidate’s contribution to any multi-authored works;
  • copies of the statements or letters from the co-authors confirming the candidate’s contribution to each publication must be attached;
  • A summary piece, not longer than 2,000 words, that contextualises the selected publications and demonstrates their coherence within the overall thesis. This should include the applicant’s individual contribution to each of their publications, their significance in the field, and their contribution to the advancement of knowledge in the discipline;
  • A full Curriculum Vitae.

A supporting letter from the applicant’s Director of School or Equivalent, which identifies an internal reviewer to consider the application, and proposes a Supervisory Team of at least 2 members.

Stage 2: Review of Application by Independent Reviewer (prima facie stage)

Applications will undergo a preliminary evaluation to establish that the work undertaken would be equivalent to a traditional PhD student who has reached the beginning of the Thesis Pending stage.

The Independent Reviewer, nominated by School Director, will judge the quality and coherence of the publications being submitted for assessment. They should:

  • Normally be a member of LJMU academic staff;
  • Have expertise in the area of the applicant’s topic;
  • Have undertaken Doctoral Academy Internal Examiner Training;
  • Have prior experience of successful supervision to completion at doctoral level;
  • In exceptional cases RDC may be empowered to appoint:
    • Retired academic members of staff fulfilling all the other criteria as long as they are still research active and continue to have a significant involvement with the university;
    • Honorary members of academic staff where they fulfil all of the other criteria for appointment.

The Independent Reviewer shall submit a written report and recommendation to the RDC based on suitability of the applicant for admission.

Stage 3: Consideration for Approval. 

RDC shall consider the application alongside the report and recommendation provided by the Independent Assessor. In approving the application, the Research Degrees Committee shall satisfy itself that:

  • the candidate is suitably qualified;
  • there is a prima facie case that the published work proposed for submission
  • it represents a coherent programme of research, is set in an appropriate context, and makes an original and sufficient contribution to the present state of knowledge;
  • the proposed supervision arrangements are appropriate;
  • the papers are appropriate and of the required academic standard for a submission for PhD.

Successful applicants shall be registered to submit for the degree of PhD by Published Work, for a maximum of 12 months.


Candidates for the award of PhD by Published Work are allocated a Supervisory Team in line with the Research Degree Framework.

The Supervisory Team will act in a similar role to that of a supervisor for a standard PhD

project, but with more emphasis on mentorship. They will act as a source of support and guidance during the preparation of the research material for examination and for administration of the examination process. The supervisor will:

  • Guide the candidate in the final selection of publications for inclusion in the submission;
  • Support and advise on the development of the introductory section;
  • Guide the candidate in relation to the coherence of the body of work to be submitted;
  • Make arrangements for the examination, including nomination of the examining team
  • Support the candidate through the examination process.


The registration period shall be a minimum of one year and maximum of two years. The date of registration shall normally be the date the candidate initially enrolled on the PhD by published work programme. The date of registration may not be backdated before the candidate’s date of initial enrolment as a student at the University.

Published Works Guiance

There is no numerical stipulation for how many publications should be included.  The body of work to be submitted should represent an equivalent amount to that contained in a traditional PhD thesis in the appropriate discipline in terms of both quality and standards and should demonstrate the individual's progress and the development of their work over a period of time, through the publications submitted.

The candidate’s publications, taken together, should show that the work achieved has had an impact on other knowledge in the field; that the candidate understands the impact, can justify and defend it against peer critique, and that they are capable of continuing to make a contribution to knowledge in an independent and original way.

The publications may be a selection of the candidate’s work rather than all the works published but together they will focus on a particular research topic. The works must be already in the public domain not awaiting publication.

There is no time restriction on publications - how long the contribution to knowledge remains current will depend on the field.

Usually, the publications will be peer-reviewed; they can be journal articles, books or other forms of printed material. However, the University permits submission of other materials outside conventional publications thereby allowing areas such as art and design to seek an award by the Published Work route. These need to be accessible for peer review purposes to be considered as ‘published’. Whatever the form of the work, it must be listed in the publications when applying for admission.

Authorship and Co-Authorship

Authorship credit should be based on:

  • substantial contributions to conception and design, acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data;
  • drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content;
  • final approval of the version to be published.
  • Acquisition of funding, collection of data, or general supervision of the research group alone does not constitute authorship.
  • All persons designated as authors should qualify for authorship, and all those who qualify should be listed.
  • Each author should have participated sufficiently in the work to take public responsibility for appropriate portions of the content.
  • All other contributors (including supervisors) should be listed in acknowledgements.

The candidate’s contribution will need to be clearly detailed for any multi-authored publications.

Submission of Thesis

The formatting and binding of the work should be the same as required for the traditional PhD by thesis, as set out in the Policy for the Presentation of Research Theses.

The submission consists of two parts:

1. Portfolio of published work that must be in the public domain prior to submission for examination for the award. Such publications may include academic papers, chapters, monographs, books, scholarly editions of a text, technical reports, creative work in relevant areas, or other artefacts.

  • Publications should demonstrate that the quality, extent and level of research undertaken is at least equivalent to that expected of a traditional PhD student who has reached the end of the Thesis Pending stage.
  • Where the candidate is not the first author in co‐authored papers and there is no published statement as to the contribution of each author, the extent of their contribution should be normally be certified by at least one co‐author.
  • Normally, the majority of the publications should have been published, but it will be possible to include some publications which are in press or which have been accepted for publication.
  • Publications included in the submission for a PhD by Published Work should not have been used in the submission for another research degree.

2. An Introduction, approximately 10,000 words in length, demonstrating that the published works contain unifying themes and comprise a coherent body of academic work that meets the requirements for the award of PhD and demonstrates rigour of research process. The introductory section should:

  • set the published work in the context of existing literature and evaluate the contribution that the research makes to the advancement of the chosen subject or professional area;

  • stress the coherence of the publications, linking them to the methodology adopted;

  • a section relating to the candidate’s research methodology. This is particularly relevant if detail regarding methodology is not included in the publications.

  • in cases where the works are jointly authored, the introductory section should also describe the roles played by those joint authors, and contain percentage estimates of the applicant's input into each jointly authored work.

Appointment of Examination Team

Candidates for the award will be examined by two external examiners and one internal examiner. The Lead Supervisor is expected to nominate the team and Directors of School should make the necessary management checks, and endorse the proposed team prior to the consideration at FRDC.

Guidance for Examiners of the PhD by Prior Publication

The Degree of PhD by Published Works will be examined in line with the Research Degrees Framework. The points below are an extract from the 2004 UKCGE report ‘The Award of PhD by Published Work in the UK’ by Stuart Powell.

The examiners’ main tasks are to:

  • evaluate the intellectual merit of the candidate’s cited published and/or creative work;
  • establish if a satisfactory case is made for coherence between the publications/outputs;
  • assess the contribution to knowledge represented by the publications/portfolio and made apparent in any critical appraisal;
  • evaluate the rigour with which the candidate has contextualised and analysed his/her
  • publications/portfolio in any critical appraisal;
  • evaluate the appropriateness of the methods employed in the research and the correctness of their application;
  • assess the candidate’s contribution to the various phases of the research embodied in multi‐authored works;
  • establish the candidate’s ‘ownership’ of the published work and appreciation of the state of [historical and current] knowledge within the candidate’s research area;
  • assess the candidate’s research skills in terms of his/her potential as a continuing, independent researcher.


For current staff this award carries no fees. Former staff of the University who are eligible to apply, will be expected to pay an examination fee as determined by the University.


The School/Faculty will be responsible for creating the candidate’s initial record. The candidate’s record will be maintained by eDoc.