Tavi building

Essex doctorates

The following guidance and resource pages are for Professional Doctorate students on University of Essex validated courses, their supervisors, as well as course teams.

We currently support a community of over 300 students across a range of professional doctorate programmes at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust. The Essex-validated doctoral programmes currently include professional doctorates in Child, community and educational psychology (M4), Advanced practice and research: consultation and the organisation (D10D), Advanced practice and research: systemic psychotherapy (M10)Advanced practice and research: social work and social care (D55), and Child and adolescent psychoanalytic psychotherapy (M80). Further details regarding the doctoral programmes, including details of the taught elements, can be found on the course Moodle pages and in the course handbook.

The guidance below offers information regarding the research phase of the doctoral programme. This includes information regarding thesis submissions and viva examinations, monitoring student progress (Supervisory Panels) and intermissions. More information for current Trust-Essex Doctoral students can be found on our Student Regulations and Policies pages.

For further information relating to the management and governance of all research carried out within the Trust, including funding opportunities, please visit the getting started webpages. Alternatively, please visit Noclor Research Support.

Intermission of studies

If you are a Doctoral student on an Essex validated programme and your studies are being disrupted by circumstances outside of your control, you may wish to apply for an intermission of studies. An intermission is approved for a defined period of time, after which you would return to your studies. 

A request for intermission of studies requires formal approval and requests are governed by the University regulations and guidelines.

How to intermit your studies

Firstly, students are advised to discuss their reasons for requesting a period of leave with their supervisor or course lead in the first instance as there may be some practical things you need to consider. 

Please be aware that retrospective leave of absence will be granted in exceptional circumstances only. Students should, in consultation with their Supervisor/Course Lead, request leave as early as possible in the term affected by their extenuating circumstances.

Please complete the PGR Intermission Form and return to the signed form to the Academic Quality unit: academicquality@tavi-port.nhs.uk

While you are away

You will continue to have access to your Moodle account and library resources, and there will be opportunities for you to be kept in the loop with your programme via Moodle and social media groups. The University of Essex will also use your Essex email account to remain in contact with you about aspects of your return to your studies.

Essex supervisory panels

The purpose of Supervisory Panels (SP) is to ensure that students are being supported appropriately and that they are progressing as expected on the research phase of their doctorate programme. Supervisory Panels are a regulatory requirement and in order to progress to the next year of their study and re-enroll, all doctoral students must successfully complete a Supervisory Panel.

Advice, monitoring and reports

The purpose of Supervisory Panels is to provide the student with advice on their research and to provide an opportunity to reflect on the student’s progress including assessment of training needs and assessment of progress against the published progress milestones. 

In advance of the meeting, the Supervisory Panel should receive a written report from the student on progress and a future work schedule as well as oral or written comments on the student’s progress from the supervisor. The Supervisory Panel may also receive a formal report of extenuating circumstances from the student, which should be considered by the panel and included in the report to the Research Students Progression Board (RSPB)

The Supervisory Panel Meeting

Supervisory Panels should normally consist of the supervisor(s), plus at least one other member of the academic staff who is not involved in supervising the student, who should chair the panel. Where the supervisor is a less experienced member of staff who has not supervised a doctoral student through to completion, the chair must be an experienced supervisor.

Following discussions, the chair should complete a report of the panel, including any recommendations made, which should subsequently be seen and acknowledged by the supervisor and the student. If there is concern about the student’s progress this must be indicated clearly in the chair’s report. A copy of the report should then be forwarded to the Course Lead, along with the student’s report, for consideration at the next Board of Examiners/RSPB meeting.

The following recommendations/summary of overall progress are detailed below:

  • No concerns at this point – you should progress to the next academic year 
  • You are facing substantial difficulties with progress but these may be resolved with close supervision/monitoring
  • There are major concerns over progress and/quality of outputs

Supervisory Panel forms

Supervisory Panel forms can be found by by following the link for Downloadable Essex Proformas

The Forms included are:

  1. ESSEX Research Student Progress Report – Student
  2. ESSEX Research Student Progress Report – Year 1 M4 Students Only
  3. ESSEX Research Student Progress Report – Year 1 M80 Students Only
  4. ESSEX Research Student Progress Report – Supervisor
  5. ESSEX Research Student Progress Report – Panel Chair

Please be advised that ALL forms pertaining to Supervisory Panels should be uploaded to MyResearch. To do this, log on to MyTap

Essex registration periods explained

Professional Doctorate programmes validated by the University of Essex have minimum and maximum periods of study.  Students may hand their thesis in at the end of the minimum period; however, if they are unable to do so, they may extend their registration – subject to approval of the Research Student Progression Board (RSPB). Extensions are at least one term and a maximum of one year at a time. Students may have more than one extension up until the maximum periods of study and further extensions beyond the maximum are permitted if they have proven extenuating circumstances.

Students studying beyond the minimum period are said to be ‘continuing’ (Tavistock terminology) and they will be normally charged a reduced fee for that research phase of the course. This recognises that students at this phase of their programme will be predominantly writing rather than doing data collection.

For part-time Integrated Professional Doctorate (IPD) students (D55, D10D, M10) who started before September 2020, the minimum period of study is four years and the maximum period of study is six years. This means that fees for IPD professional doctoral programmes will be up to four years at full fee and two continuing years at half fee.

For IPD students, any approved extension requests beyond the minimum period (beyond Year 4) into the continuing period (Years 5 and 6) will be charged half the normal fee.

We recommend that for IPD students who are coming to the end of their maximum period in September 2021 or whose research progress has been severely impacted owing to the effects of the pandemic and are unable to study, take a period of intermission. Please be advised that no fees are applied during an intermission. 

Full-time doctoral students have a minimum period only (M80 – four years, M4 – three years).  Any extensions will be for unforeseen reasons and are likely to be for one or two terms only. From September 2021, any approved extension requests beyond the minimum period will be charged the normal fee on a pro-rata basis. 

Your viva and submitting your final thesis

Before you are due to submit your thesis for examination you must complete an ‘Approval of Research Degree Thesis Title’ form (AoT). This form starts the process of appointing your examiners and ensures the University is ready for your submission. To ensure your viva is arranged in good time, please submit the form at least 3 months ahead of when you’re due to submit your thesis.

Examination arrangements documentation

The supervisor(s) will, in liaison with the student, complete the Examination Arrangements documentation which includes the Examiner Nomination forms. 

Please note that the examination panel normally consists of an internal examiner and an external examiner. If the student is employed by the Trust, the panel will consist of two external examiners and a Chair.

Thesis submission

Instructions on how to submit your thesis will will be issued by the University of Essex Post Graduate Research Education (PGRE) team once you have been formally notified of the approval of your Approval of Title form (AoT).

All students must formally submit their thesis in an electronic PDF format via email to pgrsubmission@essex.ac.uk. Your submission must also include a completed RD1 form and an SPLd form (where appropriate) as separate documents.

Please copy in our Academic Quality team (academicquality@tavi-port.nhs.uk) when submitting your thesis to the PGRE team, so that if you do experience any difficulties with uploading your dissertation, we can support you appropriately.

Thesis documentation must be sent from your University of Essex email address so that the Post Graduate Research Education (PGRE) team can verify your identity as a student.

If the thesis file is too large to send via email attachment please contact Academic Quality in the first instance.

Format of your thesis

Students must make sure the thesis is formatted as follows:

Page Layout

• Double line spacing should be used for everything except quotations, footnotes, captions to plates etc.

• It is desirable to leave 2.5cm margins at the top and bottom of the page.

• The best position for the page number is at the top right 1.3cm below the top edge.

• Numbers for graphs, diagrams and maps are best located in the bottom right hand corner.

Word count

*In all cases including quotations but excluding appendices table of contents/figures, abstract, acknowledgements, references, bibliography and footnotes (as long as the latter do not contain substantive argument). Please note these are word limits not targets.

The thesis should contain a summary or abstract not exceeding 300 words.


Electronic submission of appendices as separate files are permitted provided the contents do not contain substantive argument/evidence, and are not used to store parts of the main body of the thesis. This is important to observe, as there is no requirement for examiners to view or read electronic appendices.

Word Count

For Professional Doctorate the normal word count is 40,000 words; however, students must also check with their supervisor/course handbook if unsure.

Submitting your thesis to TurnitIn

Alongside the formal submission of the thesis to the University of Essex, student must upload their thesis to the Professional Doctorate Thesis / Dissertation Submissions 2019/2023 Moodle Page: https://moodle.tavistockandportman.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=1670

It is recommended that students submit their thesis to Turnitin at least three days before the formal submission date and include the digital receipt with your thesis submission.

Please contact Moodle Support (DigitalEducation@tavi-port.ac.uk) if students are ready to begin the Turnitin submission process or if further support is needed.

The viva examination

Following the submission of the thesis, the student will attend a viva examination. Until further notice, all viva examinations will be convened remotely via Zoom. 

The unit is responsible for co-ordinating the viva arrangements and will be able to support you through the examination process and with the technical aspects of remote delivery of vivas. 

Fees during the examination period

In terms of doctoral students examined by viva-voce, no further charges will be applied for students who have minor corrections to compete after the viva(normally this is three/six months) because during this period, students require little in the way of supervision. However, it is recognised that for students who essentially fail the viva and are referred for a period of 12 months are required to make more substantial changes and will therefore require significant supervision.  With this in mind, students will be charged the continuing student fee for the 12-month period of the referral.  Please be advised, that students opting to submit before the one-year deadline will not be offered a fee rebate.

For a better viewing experience we recommend you upgrade your browser.