skip to content

First Year Registration exercise

Candidates for research degrees will undertake a form of examination following the completion of their first year. The form of the examination will differ between departments and faculties but many candidates will undertake what is referred to as a registration exercise; an exercise by which the department or faculty can formally enrol the candidate for a research degree. Candidates usually have to produce a short thesis or report which will be examined by two examiners and examined orally.

On some PhD programmes the registration exercise will comprise the undertaking of an MPhil degree course or a Certificate of Postgraduate Study. Some candidates may be enrolled for the registration exercise.

The examination will have three possible outcomes:

  1. the candidate passes and is formally registered for a research degree
  2. the candidate is required to undertake a further registration exercise because they were not able to demonstrate that they were ready to be formally registered for the degree for which they are a candidate
  3. the candidate fails the registration exercise.

The registration exercise is useful in that it formally highlights a candidate's strengths and areas which require their further development.

Submission deadline

You will be given a deadline by which you must submit your thesis for examination.  This is set at the end of 4 years for full-time students and 7 years for part-time students.  You will be sent regular email reminders of your submission deadline.  Extensions to submission deadlines are given in very limited circumstances, therefore if you do not submit your thesis by your submission deadline you risk being removed from the Register of Postgraduate Students which may have implications for your visa, funding and access to facilities, although you will still be able to submit your thesis at a later stage. You can find out more about applying for an extension to your submission deadline here.

The day you hand in your thesis (or the day it arrives at the Student Registry) will be the date recorded on your student record as being your submission date. This date is reported to funding bodies in response to their requests for submission statistics. The only exception would be if the deadline date falls on a weekend or during a public holiday, in which case, you should submit your thesis on the working day before the weekend or public holiday. 

Feedback and progress reporting

As a postgraduate student of the University you will be asked to submit a report on your progress and to comment on reports written by your Supervisor or College Tutor. 

During Michaelmas term you will be invited to submit a brief online report on your progress to date and any support that you feel you may need.  This report allows us to see how you are progressing and, if necessary, provide advice and support quickly to help you with your studies. You can tell us anything you would like to; how you feel you are getting on, share any good news about your progress or ask for advice if you have a concern or worry.   Although the primary purpose of the reports is for you to inform us of your progress and to raise concerns, the reports might also be used anonymously to analyse trends and general themes.

You will be emailed a link to the report, but you can also access the report via your CamSIS Self-Service account.  You can access guidance on how to submit a report here.

Your Supervisor or Course Director and Graduate Tutor will respond to your report providing feedback and any necessary support and guidance. 

For doctoral students these reports are also an opportunity for you to reflect on your progress from year to year and submission of the report may be preceded by a discussion by your Supervisor about your future career aspirations.  There is a link from the form to information about researcher development.

During Lent and Easter terms your Supervisor or Course Director will complete a report on your progress.  You will receive an email telling you when a report has been submitted, and can review and comment on submitted reports via your CamSIS Self-Service account.  Your Graduate Tutor can also comment on these reports.

Reports can also be viewed by administrators in your Department, Degree Committee and the Student Registry.  This is primarily to ensure that any necessary support is put in place to address any concerns or issues raised.


Frequently asked questions

I am feeling very lost – is this the best way to let the University and my College know?

This is one way of letting us know but it may not be the quickest. If you are feeling worried about your studies and need help then we would encourage you to speak to your Supervisor or College Graduate Tutor at the earliest opportunity so they can help you to resolve any difficulties or worries you are having quickly.  You can also meet with an advisor from the Students’ Unions’ Advice Service.


Is the self-evaluation report mandatory? What will happen if I don’t fill it in?

The report is not mandatory; it is up to you if you wish to submit it or not. However, we would strongly encourage you to submit a report to let us know how you are getting on so we can ensure you are on the right track and can provide any support or guidance, should you need it. Even if you are doing really well and don’t need any particular help or support, it is still very helpful for us to know! Nothing will happen if you don’t fill it in.


Does my report form any part of my formal academic assessment?

No, please be reassured that this process is designed for your benefit and your report will not be visible to examiners, nor will it be used as part of any assessment.  You should however bear in mind that if your supervisors indicate ongoing concerns about your progress, reports may be read by others (such as members of your Degree Committee or the Postgraduate Committee) as part of a wider progress review.


I have also been asked to complete a Student Barometer Survey – is this the same thing?

No.  The Student Barometer is a student opinion and satisfaction survey which gives students an opportunity to provide general feedback about their experience at Cambridge.


Why can’t I submit a report?

We have moved to a new system of reporting in Michaelmas term 2018 which is available to doctoral students and students on some Master’s programmes (MPhil, MRes, MEd, MMus, MSc and MLitt).  The system will be rolled out to other postgraduate students in future. 

If you are a student on one of these programmes and have not received an email inviting you to submit a report by 16 November 2018 please go into your CamSIS Self-Service account to see if the report is available to you to complete.  If the report isn’t available, please let us know by emailing

If you are an undergraduate student you will not be able to submit a report. 


Can I save my report part way through and come back to it later?

Yes, you can. Your report will automatically save as you enter text and you can log out and return to it at a later stage.


I have submitted my report, can I go back and edit it?

Unfortunately once your report has been submitted it is not possible for you to edit it. You can, of course, contact your Supervisor and Graduate Tutor by email or in person though, if you need to.


Who can see my report?

The system has been set up so that you, your Supervisor and your Graduate Tutor can all read each other’s reports and responses and it is intended to open up a dialogue between the three of you. Staff who support academics with the process (such as Departmental Postgraduate Administrators and College Tutorial Staff) may also be able to view your report.  We may review reports anonymously to help us to identify any common themes, trends or patterns amongst students’ responses to allow us to take action to continually improve the Cambridge student experience.


I submitted my report a while ago and I haven’t received a response – what should I do?

Please note that workload constraints will often mean there is a delay between you submitting your form and your Supervisor and/or College Graduate Tutor responding. If you have raised concerns or worries in the form and have not received a response, please mention it directly to your Supervisor or College Graduate Tutor when you see them, or contact them to raise this.


I didn’t submit my report by the deadline – have I missed my chance to do this?

Yes.  Unfortunately you will not be able to submit your report after the deadline.  You can let your Supervisor or Graduate Tutor know of any issues by email or meeting with them.


When I click “submit” I get an error message.  Why is this?

Some questions on the report are mandatory and so you will need to respond to them.  For example, if you indicate that you need help you will need to provide some further details.


I need help but I don’t want to disclose it in the form – what should I do?

Please speak to your Supervisor, Departmental Director of Education or your Graduate Tutor.  You can also contact the Students’ Unions’ Advice Service for support.


How will I know when someone else has commented on my report?

As soon as you submit your report it will be immediately available to your Supervisor and College Tutor and to staff in your Department and Degree Committee.  Your Supervisor and College Tutor should comment on your report.  When a comment is  submitted you will receive an email notification and can view the comments via your CamSIS self-service.


How will I know when a report has been written about me?

When your supervisor submits a termly report you will receive an email notification and can view and comment on the report via your CamSIS self-service.


How can I see reports written about me previously?

We instituted a new system in Michaelmas term 2018 which isn’t quite complete yet.  When it is completed (hopefully by Lent term 2019) you will be able to see reports written about you previously on your CamSIS Self-service account.  In the meantime, your Departmental Postgraduate Administrator will be able to print these reports for you.