Regulations for the Award of the Degree of PhD (by Published Works)

Approved for entry from September 2023

The PhD by Published Works is a doctoral qualification based on research that has already been undertaken and published. These materials will be accompanied by a critical analysis making the case that the scope, coherence, significance and contribution to knowledge of the published works is equivalent to a PhD based on a research project conducted at the university.

The criteria for the award of the Degree of PhD (by Published Works) shall be the same as those established for the Degree of PhD. 

‘Published Works’ may be defined as works which are in the public domain or which have at least been accepted for publication (provided that the candidate can provide adequate proof that this is the case). Works submitted for examination should not have been published more than ten years previous to the date of registration.

In line with research degree schemes which fall within the University's subject area of Creative and Performing Arts, the published works may take one or more of the following forms: artefacts, score, text, portfolio of original works, performance or exhibition. The submission shall be accompanied by any other items which may be required (e.g. a catalogue or audio or visual recording).

On completion of a Doctoral degree, graduates will have attained Level D, as defined by the QAA’s Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Eligibility of Candidates

1. Except as provided in Regulations 3 and 4 below, any candidate for the Degree of PhD (by Published Works) shall be a member of academic staff at Aberystwyth University, of at least three years’ standing prior to registration for the degree. The purpose of these regulations is to enable academic staff with a record of publication to obtain a doctoral award.

2. A candidate for the degree must be enrolled as a part-time candidate at the University prior to examination for the Degree. The time limit for submission of the works and critical analysis for examination is 12 months from the date of registration.

3. A person shall not be eligible to proceed to the Degree of PhD (by Published Works) under these regulations if they have been previously approved for a PhD or other related Doctoral Degree of the University.

4. A candidate who has been examined for a Doctoral Degree but who has not been approved for such a degree may not become a candidate for the Degree of PhD under these Regulations.


5. A prospective candidate for the Degree of PhD (by Published Works) shall identify the most appropriate Department of the University for registration and shall submit an application to the PG Admissions Office stating the subject with which their contribution to scholarship appears to be most nearly connected and specifying the published work or works on which their claim to the degree is based. In assessing the application, the Department shall draw upon staff with relevant subject expertise, including the candidate’s prospective advisor, to consider the works submitted in order to decide whether or not there is a prima facie case to support the referral of the works for examination, prior to admission.

6. A candidate, in submitting an application, shall be required to

(a) declare that the submission as a whole is not substantially the same as any that they have previously made or is currently making, whether in published or unpublished form, for a degree, diploma, or similar qualification at any university or similar institution,

(b) state what parts (if any) of the work or works submitted have previously been submitted for another qualification,

(c) declare that, until the outcome of the current application to the University is known, the work or works submitted will not be submitted for any such qualification at another university of similar institution,

(d) submit electronic copies, or else three hard copies of each of the published works in question, and a list of the works submitted.


7. Candidates shall be required to provide a written critical analysis which shall:

  • set the publications within the context of the literature and field in which they have worked.
  • provide a critical analysis establishing the original contribution to learning in that field which in their opinion their work has made.
  • establish that the material submitted form a coherent body of work equivalent in scope and level to a PhD in their field.
  • describe and provide evidence of the impact of their work, which may include citations and may refer to the quality of peer reviewed journals or other outlets in which the publications have featured.
  • establish the currency of the publications within the relevant literature.
  • where the submitted materials are creative works, candidates will need to demonstrate that these works were undertaken with research questions in mind, or else that the creative process considered retrospectively served to explore research questions in the way that a creative practice-based PhD would have done, to provide the appropriate academic grounding.

Word Lengths

8. The critical analysis will normally be between 5,000 – 10,000 words. However, where the published works are creative works that were not explicitly written as part of an investigation of defined research questions within a particular academic literature, up to 25,000 words will be permitted and may be required to present the case that the research outputs are equivalent to a practice-based PhD.

9. While the volume of published materials will vary in length according to the discipline area, the total submission including critical analysis should not normally be longer than the PhD limit of 100,000 words excluding appendices and references. A justification should be provided for longer submissions.

10. Candidates may submit work(s) done in collaboration with others in support of the candidature, but such work shall be accompanied by a statement signed by each collaborator indicating the nature and amount of the work done by the candidate.

11. The University shall assign an advisor or advisors nominated by the candidate’s Department. The advisor should hold a PhD and have experience of supervising research students to successful completion. The advisor(s) shall provide general guidance on the presentation of the published works for examination and advice on the critical analysis.


12. An examination board shall be established in accordance with the regulations on the submission and examination of research degrees, with a Chair, and two external examiners. A candidate’s advisor may be invited by the Chair of the Examining Board to attend the oral examination in an advisory capacity, subject to the candidate’s approval.

13. Examining Boards may recommend one of the following options:

(a) That the candidate be approved for the degree of PhD, subject to such minor corrections to the critical analysis as may be required by the Examining Board.  Corrections should be completed within a period of four working weeks.

(b) That the candidate be not approved for the degree of PhD but that, where the critical analysis submitted for examination is satisfactory in substance but defective in presentation or in detail, the candidate be allowed to modify it and re-submit it on one further occasion, not later than one year from the date of the official communication to him/her of the result, for the degree of PhD on payment of a re-examination fee.  This option is not available when a re-submitted work is being examined. Upon resubmission, a second viva will be held but this requirement may be waived at the discretion of the Examining Board where it has reached the view that the thesis clearly meets the standard to pass without amendments, or with only very minor corrections or amendments. In other, exceptional circumstances, a viva for a resubmission may be waived with the approval of the Examining Board and the Head of the Graduate School. The Chair shall advise the candidate of the arrangements which have been made for the oral examination.

(c) That the candidate be not approved for the degree of PhD.

14. Once approved by the examiners, the critical analysis and any relevant associated works or links to them, shall be uploaded to the University’s research repository.


 Reviewed: July 2023