How long does a research degree take?
As a postgraduate researcher, you will be expected to be aware of your thesis submission deadline and to manage your time accordingly.
Managing your time
You are expected to work on your research project for an average of at least 37.5 hours per week, the same as a full-time academic post. This does not include paid work. If you are part-time, the usual expected workload is at least 20 hours work per week on your project. Your workload will inevitably vary throughout the year and should be agreed with your supervisor. Additional hours may be necessary when you’re approaching a specific deadline, such as the submission of a transfer report or thesis.
Paid work whilst you are studying
If you are studying full-time, you can undertake paid work outside of your studies, but there are limits that you should be aware of.
During the standard period of study (i.e. before your overtime period) any paid work you do must not exceed 250 hours per academic session.
Once you have completed the standard period of study this limit does not apply. However, if you still receive a stipend from the University and start a full-time paid job, or are likely to exceed 250 hours work, you must let your Graduate School know.
Most scholarship payments will cease if you move into full-time employment or exceed the 250 hours per year limit. Any over-payment will need to be recovered, so please make sure you discuss any employment with your Graduate School.
If you are in the UK on a student visa, this limit still applies, even though your visa may permit a higher weekly limit. If you are in the UK on a student visa, at no point must you exceed the number of hours stated on your biometric ID card. For further information please contact the Student Visa Advice Service.
We also recommend that you are familiar with the Code of Practice for Postgraduate Research Students Engaged in Teaching (PDF).
How long does a research degree take?
This table shows you the standard and maximum time periods to complete your research degree. The maximum period of study is the time limit you have for submitting your thesis.
|Degree||Mode of study||Standard period of study||Maximum period of study|
|DClinDent||Full time||3 years||4 years|
|DClinPsychol||Full time||3 years||4 years|
|DPaedDent||Full time||3 years||4 years|
|EdD||Full time||3 years||4 years|
|PhD*||Full time||3 years||4 years|
|DClinDent||Part time||5 years||7 years|
|DPaedDent||Part time||5 years||7 years|
|EdD||Part time||5 years||7 years|
|PhD||Part time||5 years||7 years|
|Integrated PhD||Full time||4 years||5 years|
|MD||Full time||2 years||3 years|
|MPhil||Full time||2 years||3 years|
|MD||Part time||3 years||5 years|
|MPhil||Part time||4 years||6 years|
|Masters by Research||Full time||1 year||1 year|
|Masters by Research||Part time||2 years||2 years|
|Split site (Model A)||N/A||3 years||4 years|
|Split site (Model B)||N/A||3 years||4 years|
|Split site (Model C)||N/A||5 years||7 years|
*In some specified cases, the standard period of study may be 3-4 years. For dual awards, please check your official University offer letter.
Submitting your thesis on time
PGRs are expected to submit their theses within the maximum time limit. You should keep in regular contact with your supervisor and let them know:
- if your project seems to be developing serious academic deficiencies;
- if you are concerned about finishing your project in the required time;
- if you feel you aren’t getting the technical or resources support that you need.
- Any personal/health difficulties which may have affected your progress
If you ever feel your supervision is inadequate it is important to discuss your concerns with your Director of Postgraduate Research Studies, your Graduate School or LUU.
Overtime is the period between the end of your standard period of study and the final time limit for submission. It is also referred to as “writing up”, as the expectation is that you are solely working on the thesis in this period and are not conducting any research.
The overtime period allows all PGRs (except Masters by Research and miscellaneous study) to register on a reduced fee after the standard period of study but within the maximum period of study. The fee cost is updated annually and is non-refundable. For more information about the overtime fee please see the Postgraduate fees page of the For Students website.
If you submit before the end of the standard period of study, or up to one month after the start of the overtime period, then you will not be required to register during the overtime period.
Submitting your thesis early
In some cases you may be able to submit your thesis early, before the end of your standard period of study. Your Director of Postgraduate Research Studies must submit a recommendation to the Graduate Board’s Progression and Examinations Group for a ‘reduction’ to your standard period of study.
In practice, the approach operated is to allow a grace period and to accept thesis submissions which are made up to six weeks before the end of the standard period of study, without the need for a reduction of study to be requested. Requests for reductions of study are required in cases where the thesis submission will be more than six weeks early.
If you think you will be able to submit your thesis early (more than six weeks before the end of your standard period of study) you must first discuss this with your supervisors. Early submission of the thesis can only be made where it is supported by your supervisors and your Director of Postgraduate Research Studies.
A Director of Postgraduate Research Studies can only recommend early submission if:
- the thesis is complete and ready for submission, and;
- has been read by your supervisor in its entirety. Your supervisor must confirm in writing that they have read your thesis and they believe it is ready to be examined.
You must, however, take responsibility for the work that you submit. The Graduate Board is clear that even if the supervisor has agreed to early submission of the thesis, this does not mean that the award of a degree is guaranteed.
There are limits to the length of the reduction that can be approved. With an approved reduction the earliest dates you can submit your thesis are:
|Programme||Earliest submission date|
|PhD, EdD, DPaedDent (full time)||At the end of two calendar years of full-time study|
|PhD, EdD, DPaedDent, DClinEd (part time)||At the end of three calendar years of part-time study|
|PhD split-site||At the end of three calendar years of study under split-site arrangements|
|Integrated PhD||At the end of three calendar years of full-time study|
|DClinPsychol||PGRs may submit their thesis in the May of year three of their studies (if they are in a position to do so) without the need for a formal request to be made|
|MD, MPhil (full time)||At the end of one calendar year of full-time study|
|MD, MPhil (part time)||At the end of two calendar years of part-time study|
No reduction of the period of study is permitted for the Masters by Research degree under the University’s regulations. Masters by Research PGRs may still submit their thesis six weeks before the end of the standard period of study, using the grace period noted above.
If you are receiving a stipend as part of a scholarship, payment will stop once you have submitted, even if it is before the end of the scholarship duration. You will also be liable to pay council tax once you have submitted. PGRs on a student visa are advised to contact the Student Visa Advice service for immigration advice on the implications of early submission to their visa status.
If you are funding your studies yourself, you may be eligible for a partial refund of fees if you have an approved reduction to the standard period of study and you finish early, subject to completion of a successful examination. (This is not applicable to Masters by Research students as a reduction to the standard period of study is not permitted under University regulations).
No refund will be made unless all academic fees have been paid in full for the year/session in which you are submitting, you are successful in your examination and have appeared on a pass list.
Please contact the Student Fees team for further advice on the fee refund arrangements.
The fee refund applies only to those submitting within the standard period of study. The Overtime period fee is a special concession that allows you to register for a reduced rate and is non-refundable, irrespective of the month of submission.
Information about the duration of studies (including standard and maximum time periods, as well as information on submitting your thesis early) can be found in your official University offer letter.