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Cambridge students



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.


Progress reports

Your supervisor is required to submit a formal report on your progress each term.  Reports are submitted online; you will be notified by email when your supervisor's report is available for you to download.


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 Graduate 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 dissertation (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 dissertation before the weekend or public holiday. If you submit during these times, the dissertation will be recorded on the system as the first working day back.