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Institutional Arrangements

This section sets outs the institutional context for research degrees. Governance arrangements and quality assurance processes are outlined alongside the wider research environment within which these systems operate. Section contents:


9. The Pro Vice-Chancellor, Student Experience and Academic Standards is responsible for the University’s taught and research programmes of study, for academic standards and for the quality of the student experience. This Pro Vice-Chancellor has responsibility for the University Graduate College, and liaises with the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research to ensure appropriate alignment of the University’s postgraduate research activity with its research strategy. The Dean of the University Graduate College reports to the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Student Experience and Academic Standards.

10. Three College Deans of Education (for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; Biomedical and Life Sciences and Physical Sciences and Engineering) are accountable to both the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Student Experience and Academic Standards and to their respective Pro Vice-Chancellor, College Head for managing the delivery of the education strategy in their Colleges whilst ensuring alignment with University Regulations and standards. The Deans are responsible for co-ordinating relevant School, College and University activities and for supporting Schools in managing their degree programmes and achieving key indicator targets, including in relation to postgraduate research.

11. The University’s Academic Standards and Quality Committee is a sub-committee of the Senate and is responsible for advising the University on all matters relating to the promotion of academic quality and standards across the full range of its provision for students. It is chaired by the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Student Experience and Academic Standards. The Committee develops and keeps under review the University’s academic quality strategy, policy and quality assurance procedures, and the effectiveness of their implementation. It is responsible for the Code of Practice for Research Degrees, and for considering Academic Regulations and making recommendations thereon to Senate.

12. The membership of the Academic Standards and Quality Committee (ASQC) is representative of the three Colleges (Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; Biomedical and Life Sciences; Physical Sciences and Engineering) and there is cross-representation with its sub-committees (including Regulations Sub-Committee; Collaborative Provision Sub-Committee; Admissions Sub-Committee, Annual Review and Evaluation Executive) and with the University Graduate College Board, which reports routinely to ASQC.

13. Oversight of the activities of the University Graduate College is provided by its Board, chaired by the Dean of the University Graduate College, and whose membership includes student representatives, the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Student Experience and Academic Standards, and the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Research, as well as representatives of the three Colleges. The University Graduate College Board monitors and advises on institutional performance indicators associated with research student activity. Through membership of the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Student Experience and Academic Standards, matters raised by the University Graduate College Board are also referred to the University Executive Board.

14. The University’s Awards and Progress Committee determines the award of all research degrees. It is chaired by the Vice-Chancellor or the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Student Experience and Academic Standards, acting as a nominee.


15. The University uses the following indicators for monitoring research degree programmes:

.1 PhD submission rates;

.2 intake levels and overall numbers, by fee-status and mode of study;

.3 withdrawal and qualification rates;

.4 levels of research student appeals;

.5 student satisfaction reported in the HEA Postgraduate Research Experience Survey;

.6 participation in and satisfaction with the University Graduate College Training and Development Programme.


16. A primary function of the University Graduate College is the co-ordination and delivery of training and development opportunities for postgraduate research students via the University Graduate College Programme.

17. The University Graduate College also provides a locus for the discussion of matters relating to research students and for advising the University on actions to achieve relevant institutional targets and to enhance postgraduate research provision.

18. The University Graduate College operates through task-oriented programme teams, forums and networks, which are constituted by School Directors of Postgraduate Research, research student representatives, and relevant professional service staff, and which report to the University Graduate College Board (13, above).  It also provides an institutional reporting line for the University’s Graduate Centre facilities and for Doctoral Training Partnerships.

19. The University Graduate College Board reports to the Academic Standards and Quality Committee (ASQC). One of the University Graduate College Programme Teams (Assuring a Quality Experience) has a particular role in enhancing the research student experience, working to support agreed institutional priorities as specified by ASQC and as emerging from the Annual Review and Enhancement Reports from each of the Colleges.


20. Each School reports on its postgraduate research activity through Annual Review and Enhancement (ARE). College ARE meetings provide feedback to Schools and report to the ARE Executive Sub-Committee of the Academic Standards and Quality Committee (ASQC). The College ARE meetings also receive a report on the dissemination of noteworthy practice and on how issues raised previously have been addressed. The ARE Executive Sub-Committee identifies issues to be considered by the University, receives action plans from the Professional Services in response to issues raised, and provides an annual report for ASQC on the process and key outcomes.

21. Postgraduate research provision is also encompassed in the University’s Periodic Review process which undertakes a broader and deeper review of the continuing validity and relevance of programmes.


22. Cardiff University is internationally recognised as being a successful, research-intensive University, evidenced, for example, by successive Research Assessment Exercise performances (2001; 2008), the level of research income, the quality and volume of peer-reviewed publications, accolades and esteem measures bestowed upon our staff, collaborations with policy making, industrial and cultural partners, and engagement in national and global networks with other researchers.

23. Whilst all students and supervisors are located in an academic School in which excellent research and scholarship is rooted in the discipline, there is also a strong and long-standing emphasis on multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary research, supported by competitively awarded funding and institutional strategic investment.

24. The University seeks to embed students into its research environment and culture, from institutional-level perspectives and approaches to the local support provided for each student and project, through integrated strategic planning, training policies, development opportunities, and the requirements of this Code of Practice.

25. Processes and criteria for project selection, student admission and the appointment of the supervisory team must ensure that every student carries out their research in a well-supported local context, in which the infrastructure, resources and supervisory experience can deliver the research and scholarship necessary for the timely and successful completion of the research degree.

26. Supervisors, Schools and the University Graduate College together ensure that research students have opportunities and encouragement to:

.1 learn about their specialism, and the nature, conduct and management of research, including requirements and protocols that are specific to their field;

.2 interact and exchange ideas with other researchers and/or practitioners who are actively working in the field of study;

.3 engage with the wider community of research students, broadening their understanding of research and providing peer-support;

.4 benefit from and contribute to the research environment at different levels: within and beyond their research groups, including in multidisciplinary contexts; and with external groups and networks where appropriate.

27. As students of Cardiff University, postgraduate researchers are able to undertake their research and development in an environment that is underpinned by an array of welfare and support facilities. Information about these services is brought together in the Student Charter.