Durham University

Department of Physics

Current Students

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Student Monitoring – Summary of the year

Please find below brief summary of the monitoring arrangements for students within Physics and the time of year they take place. More comprehensive details can be found below this summary.

Training Needs Analysis – by the end of the first month of starting the programme, then every 12 months. The is completed on the Physics database.

Quarterly Reviews - each quarter (normally open for completion in early January, April, July, October. These are completed on the Physics database.

Student Annual Progress Review – for most students this process opens 6 months after the start of their programme eg April for October start. This date will be different for students who did not start in October or are on some of the CDT programmes. These are completed via DUO.

Pastoral Meetings – all year; as an when a student requests it. No records are kept for these.

Tier 4 students only – Monthly Tier 4 Journal and travel monitoring – to be completed between 1st and 14th of each month. These are completed via the Physics database.

Training Needs Analysis (Physics database)

A research degree is about much more than completing your research project and successfully writing and defending your thesis. It is also about training you to be a professional researcher whether in an academic or non-academic environment. As in other professions, you will need to develop a wide range of skills as well as the detailed subject knowledge to be an effective researcher and, as your career progresses you will need to continuously update your skills and knowledge base through your own programme of continuous professional development. The Training Needs Analysis process, which should be undertaken in consultation with your supervisory team, is designed to help you plan and record your professional and career development needs.

In Physics you and your supervisor meet to consider your training needs in the current academic year. A form will be provided as a basis for the discussion and a means to draft the corresponding database entry

When your training needs have been agreed, you should access the Departmental database, click on the ‘Training needs analysis’ button and complete the online form. The minimum you should enter on the form is a list of courses and activities that you intend to undertake in the coming months, but you can do more if appropriate, for example, point out training or related activities that you would like to attend but that do not seem to be available either inside or outside the University. When you have completed the online form and submitted it, your supervisor is automatically alerted by email Your supervisor can then either approve your submission or request a revision of it and an email to that effect will automatically be sent to you If a revision is required, you should edit the existing form and an email will be sent to your supervisor when that is completed.

Just as everyone’s research is unique, so are their skills development needs. Training Needs Analysis will help you identify your needs and plan your training and development activities. Under the guidance of your supervisor(s), you are required to undertake a training needs analysis in the first month of your research and again annually.

Quarterly Review (Physics database)

The quarterly review holds a record of supervision, recorded using the Physics database.

The review allows the supervisor and student to voice any concerns they may have, or simply to report that everything is going well. These are regularly monitored by the Director of Postgraduate Studies. The quarterly reviews are completed for October to December, January to March, April to June and July to September. At the end of each quarter, the supervisor and student will receive an email prompting them to complete the report for that quarter. The student will need to complete section A first, which involves answering a few short questions. The supervisor will then be able to complete Section B. The final stage, Section C allows the student to confirm that they are happy with the report. It is useful for students, during this process, to take the opportunity to discuss their progress with their supervisor(s). Completion of these reports is essential for satisfying the requirements of the university and should be completed as soon as possible after the quarter is over.

Student Annual Progress Review (DUO)

Progress and review arrangements for postgraduate research students in the Department of Physics

The University’s current progress and review arrangements for postgraduate research students are described in the Learning and Teaching Handbook at

https://www.dur.ac.uk/learningandteaching.handbook/8/1/6/

In the Department of Physics the Formal Progression Review procedure, for first year students, is as follows:

The supervisory team nominates two Review Team members/examiners for approval by the relevant section representative, and subsequently by the Director of Postgraduate Studies on behalf of the Head of Department.

Normally, the student writes a report of at least 5000 words, structured in a similar fashion to a thesis, but with content appropriate to this more preliminary stage. In examining the work, particular attention should be paid to the clarity of presentation and layout, and the description on the background science

The dates of the review period will be distributed to the Department in January and reminder emails will be sent to staff and students.

The student submits his/her report to DUO, when prompted by an email from the Student Registry during the sixth month of study, and will also be asked to comment their progress.

The supervisory team is also asked to comment, via DUO, on the progress of their student.

An interview will be arranged with the Review Team and recorded on DUO following the completion of the student and supervisor sections of the online review. The interview team can make the recommendation on progression or otherwise, which should be based on their assessment of the student’s ability to complete a PhD in a timely fashion.

Further Progress Reviews

For students registered on research programmes lasting more than one fullā€time year, the University requires all academic departments to have further progress reviews at intervals of approximately 12 months after the Formal Progression Review. There are two specific types of further progress review:

Confirmation reviews, which take place during a student’s period of supervised study, and which are designed to ensure that students continue to make good progress;

Completion reviews, which take place towards the end of a student’s period of supervised study, for which students are expected to submit a plan for completion indicating how they propose to finish their thesis, and which are designed to ensure that students are ready to complete the period of supervised study.

Pastoral Meetings

Pastoral meetings are designed to provide a student with the opportunity to discuss, in an informal way, any problems that they are encountering with (or that impacts on) their research with an independent member of staff who can listen and offer guidance and advice. Pastoral meetings are not compulsory and are not designed to be an assessment of academic progress but can instead be used to cover wider issues and concerns with someone not connected to the students’ academic research. Pastoral meetings are recommended and can be particularly useful (but not exclusively so) for students new to the UK or new to Durham.

Pastoral Meetings are undertaken by someone independent of the student’s research section and can be organized at any time during the year, as and when the students need them.

Postgraduate students have a choice of staff from the Postgraduate Studies Committee to speak to, which includes:

  • (1) the Postgraduate Section Representatives for Astronomy - Dr Peder Norberg, AtMol - Dr Kevin Weatherill, CMP - Dr Budhika Mendis, CfAI - Dr Kieran O'Brien and IPPP - Dr Michael Spannowsky,
  • (2) the Postgraduate Administrators, Mrs Joanne Richardson and Mrs Emma Worden
  • (3) the Director of Postgraduate Studies Prof Ian Smail.
  • a pastoral meeting can be organized by the student, when needed at any point during the year, by contacting one of the members of the Postgraduate Studies Committee (listed above) or another member of staff (at the discretion of the Director of Postgraduate Studies). The arrangements for the meeting, time, and place, can be decided between the student and staff member.

Pastoral meetings will be advertised via the quarterly report system and through emails, which will include basic details of the process and the list of potential interviewers.

Tier 4 Student Engagement and Travel Monitoring Procedures (Physics database – International Tier 4 students only)

www.dur.ac.uk/physics/local/immigration/

Background

The University is required to hold a Tier 4 Sponsor Licence and monitor the attendance, engagement and progression of all Tier 4 students. The University has a responsibility to ensure that systems are in place to provide evidence that students are meeting their programme requirements and the UK Visa and Immigration service (UKVI) must be notified if students miss any of the expected contact points that are defined by each Department or the University Student Immigration Office.

The monitoring of Tier 4 students is required by law and the University must ensure that students are engaging with their chosen programme, with engagement not limited to attendance. Following a recent review and audit of existing monitoring systems within the University (e.g. signing registers), it was concluded that this interaction structure did not always demonstrate that programme requirements were being met. Therefore a new procedure for monitoring the engagement of postgraduate students with their degree programme will now be in place from October 2017. In addition from October 2017 all Departments are required to also monitor student travel outside of the UK. Please see below for the details of your responsibility in reporting this.

Monitoring Process

  1. Each month Tier 4 Postgraduate students (only) will be asked to complete a brief journal entry (max 400 words), via the internal database, to indicate their academic activities that have taken place over the previous month. Students will have two weeks following the end of the month to complete the entry, which can be accessed by logging into the Physics database. For example, the October journal will be completed between the 1st and 14th November. Once completed, supervisors will be invited to confirm if the record is correct, and add additional comments or concerns. Once the deadline has passed you will no longer be able to update your entry but will be able to view it. Examples of expected contact points include attendance at lectures, seminars or supervisor meetings, submission of work and publications, research and lab work and activities off campus including conferences and outreach (the examples given are not exhaustive).
  2. All Tier 4 Postgraduate students are required to complete a Training Needs Analysis form (TNA) on the internal database in conjunction with their supervisory team before the end of October in each academic year. Students who do not start their degrees in October will be asked to complete the TNA at the end of their first month of study and then every subsequent 12 months.
  3. All Tier 4 Postgraduate students are required to complete their Quarterly Reviews on the internal database when activated. The review must be completed by the time the following review is activated. Supervisors should also complete their section of the reviews.
  4. All Tier 4 Postgraduate students are required to engage with the Annual Review process completed on DUO. Notifications about this process are sent out during the year, with October- starting students being notified in March/April.

Important:

  • It is your own responsibility to remember to complete the various interactions – so please ensure that you make a note of all the relevant processes and respond to email notifications as they come in during the year.
  • If you missed more than two journal articles, a single Quarterly Review, Training Needs Analysis or Annual Review, we will be required to contact the Immigration/Compliance Department and further action may be taken.

If you require further information about the new procedure or have any access issues, please contact the Postgraduate Administrators (Joanne and Emma) physics.postgraduate@durham.ac.uk, who will be able to assist you.

Department of Physics travel monitoring system for Postgraduate Students

All Tier 4 students must report to the Postgraduate Administrators any plans to travel outside of the UK before it takes place. The Department will then ask supervisors to check the details and a record will be kept. We would also ask that students also complete the Absence Register section of the Physics database with these details

Resources

Information about our Postgraduate Committees can be found at the links below:

Students also have the opportunity to be members of other Committees within the Department, including:

Postgraduate Prizes in Physics

There are a number of prizes that Postgraduate students can be nominated for by their supervisors with the Physics Department. Details of previous winners can be found on the Physics Postgraduate Prize webpages

Postgraduate Prizes in Physics

The Department of Physics celebrates excellence through the award of a variety of Postgraduate prizes awarded throughout the academic year and they are presented during the Physics Congregation reception in late June. Previous winners can be found via the links below.

There are a number of prizes that Postgraduate students can be nominated for by their supervisors with the Physics Department:

THE WINTON DOCTORAL PRIZE IN PHYSICS (May), to the value of £1000 will be awarded annually by the Board of Examiners in Physics for the best thesis submitted by a postgraduate student studying for a doctoral degree in the Department of Physics using computational methods. The award is made based on the supervisor’s recommendation and the examiners reports on the Ph.D. and viva, which must have been completed.

THE WINTON MSC PRIZE IN PHYSICS (October/November), to the value of £500 will be awarded by the Board of Examiner for the MSc in Particles, Strings and Cosmology to the student who has achieved the highest overall mean weighted module marks.

THE WINTON POSTER PRIZE IN PHYSICS (November), to the value of £150 for first place and £75 for two runners up, will be awarded annually by the Board of Examiners in Physics to the winner of the Winton Poster Prize. The posters will normally have been presented by the students at an academic conference within the previous 12 months.

ELSEVIER RESEARCH PRIZE (October/November), to the value of €125 of books published by the Elsevier Publishing Company, will be awarded annually by the Board of Examiners in Physics to a postgraduate student at the end of the first year.

KEITH NICHOLAS PRIZE (May), to the value of £100, will be awarded annually by the Board of Examiners in Physics to a postgraduate student of Physics on the basis of outstanding overall performance. The prize will normally be awarded to students in their final year of supervised study.

THE ALAN MARTIN DOCTORAL PRIZE (May), to the value of £1000 will be awarded annually by the Board of Examiners in Physics for the best thesis submitted by a postgraduate student studying for a doctoral degree in the Department of Physics. The award is made based on the supervisor’s recommendation and the examiners reports on the Ph.D. and viva, which must have been completed.

GRAHAM RUSSELL PRIZE (May), to the value of £100, will be awarded annually by the Board of Examiners in Physics to a postgraduate student of applied physics on the basis of outstanding overall performance. The prize will normally be awarded to students for work in their final year of supervised study.

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