Postgraduate taught courses: responsibilities of the student

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The University expects the student to accept his or her obligation to act as a responsible member of the  University’s academic community. The student is also expected to take ultimate responsibility for the successful completion of the course.

It is important for the student to understand as soon as possible which parts of the course all students must study and those which allow a choice of options and to seek advice when this is not clear; to take particular care to ensure that he or she is aware of any qualifying examination or tests involved in the course, the consequence of failing any such requirements, and what opportunities are available for re-taking the qualifying examination or tests; and to ensure that the standard of his or her English is sufficient for the successful completion of the course.

In order to make the most effective use of the academic support provided, the student should endeavour to develop an appropriate working pattern, including beneficial and professional relationships with his or her dissertation supervisor and academic advisor. To facilitate this, the student should discuss with the supervisor/academic advisor the type of guidance and comment which he or she finds most helpful, and agree a schedule of meetings. The student should also be aware of his or her joint responsibility with the supervisor/academic advisor to ensure that regular and frequent contact is maintained, and to be encouraged to take the initiative to maintain contact when necessary

In working with supervisors or other academic staff, students should also:

  • recognise the demands made on the supervisor’s time and the need to prepare adequately for meetings and to observe deadlines
  • accept the importance of constructive criticism within the academic support relationship, and seek a full assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of any work
  • give full weight to any suggested guidance and corrective action proposed by the supervisor in the event of problems
  • seek to identify those skills which may help to contribute to the completion of the course, possibly including: subject specific skills, general study skills at postgraduate level, or general or transferrable skills. Students should then identify how those skills might best be developed or acquired during the course

Throughout the course, it is important for the student to:

  • if appropriate, gain experience of timed written examination methods prior to the formal  examination. Students taking a two-year course should give particular thought to the demands of a course which examines work undertaken during the first year at the end of the second year, and whether any of the  training courses available within the University would help in this connection, e.g. courses on study skills
  • be familiar with the regulations relevant to the course, including the Examination Regulations, course handbook and examination conventions, paying particular attention to the date, time and place for the submission of extended essays, projects, dissertations etc
  • ensure that he or she maintains progress in accordance with the requirements and timetable laid down for the course in the relevant course documents
  • make full use of the facilities for career guidance and development, and consult his or her supervisor or academic advisor for advice and encouragement where appropriate
  • discuss with the academic advisor or the Director of Graduate Studies as soon as possible any issues or concerns which may arise with relation to supervision arrangements
  • inform the supervisor, academic advisor or the Director of Graduate Studies and college advisor at once of any circumstances that might require the course of study to be modified or abandoned or registration as a graduate student to be extended, suspended or withdrawn, e.g. health problems or family circumstances

It is essential for the student to:

  • ensure that, in addition to making entries for the examination by the right date, approval for options, dissertation titles, methods of assessment etc. is sought within the required timetable, and that any work required as part of the assessment of the course is submitted by the required deadline at the right date, time and place
  • note that penalties may be imposed for late submission. Requests for an extension to the deadline for a piece of work should be made in good time through the student’s college or department, after discussion with the academic advisor/course director as appropriate
  • take full responsibility for the work involved in dissertations, extended essays, or other similar material, and be aware of the University’s guidance on plagiarism
  • ensure that he or she is aware of any formal limits on the assistance that a supervisor may give in connection with a dissertation, extended essay, library project or other similar form of assessment.  Where the extent of permitted assistance is not set out in the course handbook, it should be set out in the Examination Regulations
  • allow adequate time for writing up such work, and pay particular attention to final proof-reading of any material submitted for assessment

It is the student’s responsibility to decide, after any necessary consultation with the relevant college officer (where applicable), whether there are circumstances relating to the examination of the course (e.g. illness, bereavement, etc.) which should be drawn to the attention of the examiners. If appropriate, the college will support the student in submitting information about factors affecting performance to be forwarded to the examiners. The student must not contact the examiners directly about such matters.

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