Disabled postgraduate researchers

Disability Services is here to support disabled postgradate researchers in all aspects of their study 

Why tell us about your disability?

Telling the university about your disability is a positive step. It means that we can offer you specific support for your academic studies to help you reach your full potential. It will also give you access to specialist guidance through Disability Services.  

How and when to share

You only need to register with Disability Services once for us to consider support and adjustments for your studies. However, should you need any adjustments to the applicant process – such as interviews or other activities – please contact Postgraduate Admissions or the academic School that you are applying to.  

There are two opportunities to disclose before you start on your course: 

  1. On your application form 
  2. During the online registration process 

You can also let us know about your disability at any time during your studies by contacting us in Disability Services on disability@leeds.ac.uk 

Returning to Leeds after undergraduate study

If you undertook your undergraduate study at Leeds and told us about your disability at that time, you will need to inform us that you have returned for postgraduate study. 

What next? 

  • If you told us about your disability at the point of application, Disability Services will contact you via email before your arrival.  
  • We will send you information about the support you may be entitled to and the sources of funding for that support.  
  • You will be assigned a named Disability Coordinator who will coordinate your academic support requirements throughout your time at Leeds, in consultation with you and your academic department. 

Disability funding

As a disabled postgraduate researcher you may be entitled to apply for external disability funding to access some forms of disability support.

UK taught postgraduates and non-research council funded students:

  • You can apply for The Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) through your funding body. You can apply for DSA at any time and do not need to wait for a confirmed place. The process can take at least three months between application and final award so it’s a good idea to apply early. 

If you are funded by a research council:

  • Please register with Disability Services and our Disability Advisors will guide you through the process of accessing disabled students allowances from your Research Council.

If you are funded by an NHS bursary or on a social work course:

Other funding sources

If you are not eligible for DSA and are not funded by the NHS or a Research Council, and you do not have access to any other disability support funding, the University will meet your disability-related academic support costs through the Disability Support Fund. Please contact us to discuss this on disability@leeds.ac.uk  

Please vist our funding pages for more information.

Support available

Visit our dedicated pages to find out more about the support available to you.

Support for the viva and transfer process

Recommendations for adjustment during the viva are made on a case-by-case basis with you and your academic department. There are some adjustments which can be put in place without needing to discuss this further with Disability Services. Instead, you can discuss these with your supervisor and/or your school’s Disability Contact.  

Examples of these adjustments include: 

  • Wherever possible, assessors/examiners should use succinct questions and avoid the use of multi-part questions. 
  • Thinking time before answering questions 
  • Asking for a question to be repeated/re-phrased or requesting clarification 
  • Being able to consult your own copy of the thesis/submission 
  • Breaks during the viva 
  • Optional rest breaks pre-scheduled at e.g. x minute intervals and/or the opportunity to request breaks 
  • Advance briefing for the Panel/Examiners on the particular nature of the disability (for example to explain communication and thinking style) 
  • The student providing a presentation to the panel/examiners at the start or end of the viva 
  • Particular room requirements e.g. accessible room, lighting, seating & furniture arrangements 
  • Providing materials in alternative formats 
  • The student being afforded (reasonable) time to write down questions posed by the panel/examiners 
  • The use of a British Sign Language interpreter 

There are some adjustments which require further discussion with your school and the Doctoral College. These might include: 

  • Presence of a supporter/support worker/note taker at a viva 
  • Presence of a Specialist Mentor to assist communication at a viva 
  • Use of assistive technology in the viva 
  • An extension to the deadline for submission of the transfer report or thesis 
  • An extension to the period for corrections (after the viva) where the thesis has been recommended for award of the degree subject to minor corrections. You and your department are encouraged to contact  Disability Services at the earliest opportunity as it can take many months to put this in place.