Developing and Approving Postgraduate Research Programmes of Study

Developing a Research Programme

Developing or amending a Postgraduate Research programme follows essentially the same processes as those outlined for standard taught programmes, but will utilise slightly different forms and focus on different areas to assess quality and assure the student experience. In summary, the primary differences are that for research programmes, the approval process focuses on the aspects that are relevant to establishing and maintaining the student experience, notably in terms of supervisory capacity, resources and facilities and the research environment.

In many cases you will be able to undertake development activity by amending an existing programme, although in subject areas which currently do not have postgraduate research programmes, or where Colleges/Schools wish to establish new partnerships with dual or double degrees, these will normally constitute new programmes.

Where possible, the establishment of any new programmes should be carried out before or simultaneously with establishing research scholarships or partnerships, to avoid any delays in recruitment and to maximise quality assurance and the protection of students.

If you are unsure as to which process to follow, please contact and we will be able to assess the proposal and support you through the correct process as efficiently as possible.

Amending an Existing Research Programme

More often than not, the process will follow the Amending Existing Programmes process, given that most subject areas have a PhD programme in existence. For this process, complete the Amending an Existing Research Programme form.

Common areas that constitute a change to a research programme which will need to be approved include:

Any change to programme title;
Addition of a partner (delivery or location)*;
Addition of a taught element (e.g. MSc Social Research methods);
Any change to candidature period.

*When proposing to add a partner to an existing programme, please refer to the Code of Practice for Collaborative Partnerships for establishing partnerships, and contact the Academic Partnerships Department for advice and support.

For Postgraduate Research programmes that include a taught component (e.g. MRes or Professional Doctorate) the process is the same as for taught programmes of study.

Developing a New Research Programme

To develop a new research programme, the process is essentially the same as for taught programmes, with a slightly different set of information and focus for both proposal and review. Currently the process is offline, using the New Research Programme Proposal Form, but this will be taken online and integrated with the online Programme Approval and Management system (PAM) in the future.

There are very few areas within the University which do not have specific research programmes, so it is worth contacting Academic Quality Services and the Postgraduate Research Office (Academic Services) to determine what is required. Most new Postgraduate programmes are Collaborative, which can be more complex to develop and manage, particularly in terms of ensuring the equivalence of the student experience between the institutions involved, but can provide excellent opportunism for students. The Academic Partnerships Department provides support and guidance on establishing new Collaborative Partnerships and Programmes.

Proposals which will require completion of a New Research Programme Proposal Form:

  • A new subject area within the University without relevant named research programmes in place.
  • A proposal to deliver a new or significantly revised subject area with a collaborative partner.
  • A new taught research programme e.g. a Professional Doctorate or MRes.

Please review the section on developing and approving new programmes of study and the specific guidance on establishing new research programmes in the Frequently Asked Questions. For Collaborative Programmes, please also see the Code of Practice for Collaborative Partnerships.

Actions Required:
  • Complete Proposal Form/ Amending an Existing Research Programme form
  • Contact Academic Partnerships Department for Collaborative Programmes
  • Complete Site Visit Report Form for Collaborative Programmes
  • Seek approval from College Research Committee
  • Submit to for review. 


Collaborative Programmes of Study | Review Phase >