We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Learning and Teaching Handbook

8.1.3: Selection, Admission and Induction

Pre-entry Information

7. The University will make clear and accurate admissions information readily available to applicants and staff involved in the admissions process.

8. The University requires all departments to have at least two designated Postgraduate Admissions Advisers who must be academic members of staff. Each Postgraduate Admissions Adviser is required to undertake appropriate initial training on selection and admissions procedures and encouraged to undertake continued professional development.

9. The University will provide staff involved in the Admissions process with guidance on selection and admissions procedures.

10. Departments must provide clear, accurate and comprehensive pre-entry information to potential applicants. This should include:

  • information on research opportunities;
  • training;
  • resources;
  • completion times;
  • expectations and demands upon research students;
  • entry requirements;
  • admissions process;
  • financial information including information on funding opportunities and costs;
  • appropriate contacts.

11. The University requires all academic departments to have clearly defined admissions and selection criteria for each programme of study.

12. The University will publish clear and accurate information on postgraduate admissions on its website and in printed form.

13. The University will provide applicants with a declared medical condition or disability with appropriate information and a contact in Durham University Disability Support for Students with Disabilities (DS).

Entry Requirements

14. The University will normally admit only those students who meet the entry requirements as outlined in:

  • the Core Regulations for Research Degrees by Thesis or Composition,
  • or the Core Regulations for Doctor of Philosophy with Integrated Studies,
  • or the Core Regulations for Professional Doctorates.
  • and/or the Programme Regulations for Research Degrees by Thesis or Composition,

Exceptions to this are dealt with by concession as considered by the relevant Chair of the Faculty Education Committee (PG).

15. The University requires all applicants to submit the names of two referees, normally academic referees, who can comment knowledgeably upon their suitability to undertake research in the relevant field.


16. The University requires academic departments to operate rigorous selection policies and procedures.

17. The criteria for selection should be put in writing. They should include:

  • evidence of the suitability of the candidate to undertake research in the relevant field, including, where appropriate, proficiency in the English language;
  • evidence of the suitability of the candidate to undertake a research project in the proposed field of study within the allotted time span;
  • evidence of the availability of a supervisory team which is qualified to supervise the candidate in the research project;
  • evidence of the availability of resources to support the candidate's research project to a successful conclusion.

18. During the application process students who will not reside in commuting distance of their place of learning will be required to demonstrate to the satisfaction of departmental admissions staff that they will have appropriate access for the duration of their studies to library, computing and other resources and research facilities required to successfully undertake their programme of research.

19. The University requires that all academic departments maintain up-to-date selection policies.

20. All decisions related to the admissions of applicants to Postgraduate Research Degree programmes will normally be taken by the Supervisor(s) and a Departmental Postgraduate Admissions Adviser.


21. The Academic Office will issue the formal offer letter to applicants which contains information on the postgraduate research programme, the fees, the field of study, the plan of study and arrangements for supervision. This formal offer letter will be supplemented by an offer booklet containing a range of general information on postgraduate study at Durham.


22. The Academic Office and Postgraduate Training Team will provide an Induction programme at the beginning of the Michaelmas and Epiphany terms. 

23. The Induction programme includes:

  • general information about the institution and its postgraduate portfolio in the relevant subject(s);
  • the institution's registration, enrolment, appeals and complaints procedures plagiarism procedures, assessment requirements and research degree programme regulations;
  • information about how supervisory arrangements work;
  • the institution's research ethics and codes and those of relevant professional bodies and discipline groups, including general information on intellectual property and intellectual property rights, University regulations on ownership, awareness of commercial considerations, confidentiality agreements and information on where to obtain help and advice;
  • the institution's expectations of the independence and responsibilities of the student;
  • student support and welfare services such as counselling and advice centres;
  • a summary of the facilities that will be made available to the student, including the learning support infrastructure;
  • relevant health and safety and other legislative information;
  • where appropriate, a brief outline of the proposed research programme(s), together with the normal length of study and the facilities that will be made available to the student;
  • reference to the challenges that will typically face research students during the course of their studies and where guidance may be sought in the event of difficulties;
  • any opportunity for the student representative body to introduce themselves, including specific postgraduate representation;
  • social activity, including that provided specifically for postgraduates;
  • opportunities for postgraduates to be represented by the student body;
  • details about opportunities and requirements for skills development.

24. The Academic Office will make available on the web, information provided at the Induction programme.

25. The Academic Office will provide all new students with a postgraduate information pack at the start of their studies.

26. The Academic Office will record attendance at the Induction programme.

27. The Academic Office will collect feedback from students and other stakeholders on the Induction programme which will be used to evaluate the programme. A report on this evaluation will be considered by the Education Committee.

28. The University requires all academic departments to have in place an agreed induction programme for new students, attendance at which should be monitored.

29. The departmental Induction programme should include:

  • the academic standards of the programme;
  • standards and skills as outcomes of the programme including the learning outcomes of any taught modules;
  • the curriculum including the skills training programme and the research element;
  • methods of teaching and learning;
  • plagiarism;
  • assessment;
  • regulations governing progression;
  • subject related research codes and ethics and IPR;
  • programme related health and safety requirements.

30. The University requires all supervisory teams, at an early supervisor meeting, no later than three months from the start of supervised study, to have completed an Induction with each of their new students.

31. The supervisory Induction should include the completion of a checklist which is filed in the student's departmental file and the completion of a Training Needs Analysis.

Students at a Distance

32. Students who are not resident at Durham – either part-time students or full-time students who have been granted a concession to reside elsewhere – will normally be expected to attend induction events, and must be provided with comparable induction information if they have been exempted from attendance at such events. 

33. As part of the induction process for students studying at a distance, a format and frequency of supervisory meetings must be agreed between the student and supervisory team, and departments should confirm either that students will be able to attend departmental events (e.g. seminar series), or have alternative access to appropriate research culture.