Postgraduates

What are the guidelines for research postgraduates in the current situation?

The following are the University’s recommended Guidelines for research students at this moment. They will be updated as events develop and are a supplement to the University’s general advice to staff and students. We recognise that many research projects are distinct and that where research is undertaken and the method used varies considerably. The University wants to work with you to ensure that you are able to continue in your research at these very challenging times.  These are therefore Guidelines which should be interpreted if necessary through consultation with supervisors.

 

  1. Only students working on essential activities and individually authorized to be on University property at this time should be so.
  2. Supervisory meetings should continue but by skype or other electronic means and/or phone.
  3. For as long as government restrictions on movement of individuals, travel, or non-essential activities are in place, work with human participants should not involve face to face meetings. When research has previously been approved for working with human participants and the researchers plan to continue with this (in most cases online), they should contact research ethics (ethics@aber.ac.uk). For advice and information regarding online research see BPS guidelines  https://www.bps.org.uk/news-and-policy/ethics-guidelines-internet-mediated-research-2017 . Even when the current stringent restrictions on face-to-face meetings are lightened, government and university advice must be followed closely and such meetings should not take place unless absolutely necessary and with the informed consent of all participants. A new risk assessment should also be carried out at that time relating to COVID19. A copy of the approved risk assessment should be sent to ethics@aber.ac.uk for information and to request confirmation of ethical approval prior to any face-to-face meetings taking place.
  4. Similarly, given the restrictions announced by the Prime Minister on 23 March, fieldwork should not be undertaken. We are putting in place measures to ensure that those students responsible for animal welfare (eg at Trawscoed farm) have been identified and can still work on University property. Given the current restrictions announced by the Prime Minister on 23 March, all desk based research should be undertaken from home.
  5. Laboratory based research may no longer continue and labs have been made safe and secure. Exceptions are only possible when an overwhelming case is made to the Head of the Graduate School. This will normally only involve urgent research on COVID19.
  6. Students currently away from Aberystwyth should follow government advice when returning. Tier 4 students should ensure that they contact the Compliance Office.
  7. Students wishing to leave or stay away from Aberystwyth but continue to study should seek approval of the Head of the Graduate School on rrz@aber.ac.uk or via their departments to work remotely. Tier 4 students should ensure that they contact the Compliance Office.
  8. Students unable to make progress or wishing to take time out from their studies due to the current circumstances should discuss temporary withdrawal or an extension with their department and the Compliance Office if they hold a Tier 4 visa. Where studies are disrupted by COVID19, the university will ensure that extra time, where evidence supports an extension, will be allowed. However please note that extensions are unlikely at this moment in time to be funded, though practice may vary according to funder.
  9. Students who have entered, or are about to enter the examination phase should keep in contact with their department regarding arrangements for thesis submission and vivas. In order to avoid delays in examination, the University will consider greater use of skype or other electronic means (for which permission should be sought from the Head of the Graduate School (rrz@aber.ac.uk).
  10. The Graduate School will advise on Research Training modules but rules requiring completion of modules for progression purposes may be relaxed.

What are the guidelines for DProf postgraduates in the current situation?

The following are the University’s recommended Guidelines for DProf students at this moment. They will be updated as events develop and are a supplement to the University’s general advice to staff and students. We recognise that many DProf projects are distinct and that where research is undertaken and the method used varies considerably. The University wants to work with you to ensure that you are able to continue in your research at these very challenging times.  These are therefore Guidelines which should be interpreted if necessary through consultation with supervisors.

  1. Only students working on essential activities and individually authorized to be on University property at this time should be so.
  2. Given the current restrictions announced by the Prime Minister on 23 March, all desk based research should be undertaken from home.
  3. Supervisory meetings should continue but by skype or other electronic means and/or phone.
  4. For as long as government restrictions on movement of individuals, travel, or non-essential activities are in place, work with human participants should not involve face-to-face meetings. When research has previously been approved for working with human participants and the researchers plan to continue with this (in most cases online), they should contact research ethics (ethics@aber.ac.uk).  For advice and information regarding online research see  BPS guidelines  https://www.bps.org.uk/news-and-policy/ethics-guidelines-internet-mediated-research-2017 . Even when the current stringent restrictions on face-to-face meetings are lightened, government and university advice must be followed closely and such meetings should not take place unless absolutely necessary and with the informed consent of all participants. A new risk assessment should also be carried out at that time relating to COVID19. A copy of the approved risk assessment should be sent to ethics@aber.ac.uk for information and to request confirmation of ethical approval prior to any face-to-face meetings taking place. If you are currently collecting data, please contact your supervisor to discuss appropriate alternative methods (e.g. skype instead of face to face) which might reduce any delays in collecting data.
  5. Students currently away from Aberystwyth should follow government advice (from the UK government and the country they are in) when travelling here. Tier 4 or other visa-holding students should ensure that they contact the Compliance Office.
  6. Students unable to make progress or wishing to take time out from their studies due to the current circumstances should discuss temporary withdrawal or an extension with their department. Where studies are disrupted by COVID19, the university will ensure that extra time, where evidence supports an extension, will be allowed.
  7. Students who have entered, or are about to enter the examination phase should keep in contact with their department regarding arrangements for thesis submission and vivas. In order to avoid delays in examination, the University will consider greater use of skype or other electronic means (for which permission should be sought from the Head of the Graduate School (rrz@aber.ac.uk)).
  8. The Graduate School will advise on Research Training modules but rules requiring completion of modules for progression purposes may be relaxed.

What are the guidelines for Taught Masters Students in the current situation?

These are the University’s current recommended guidelines for taught Master’s students. They will be updated as events develop and are a supplement to the University’s general advice to staff and students.  

We recognise that many taught Master’s projects are distinct and the methods used vary considerably. The University wants to work with you to ensure that you are able to complete your Master’s in these very challenging times.   

So, these guidelines should, if necessary, be interpreted in consultation with your  department and supervisor. 

  1. All Master’s students, in accordance with current government advice, are expected to work at home. This may necessitate changes to their planned timetable or even dissertation plan, which should be discussed with their supervisor in the first instance.
  2. Formal examinations on campus will not take place in May 2020 but other assessments will continue either as scheduled or as notified by departments if there are any changes. The University is considering what arrangements to put in place in the absence of the examinations.
  3. Face-to-face teaching will NOT take place for the rest of this semester. Departments will advise students of the arrangements being made for online delivery of the remainder of taught modules.
  4. Supervisory meetings should be held by Skype, Microsoft Teams, other electronic means or by phone until further notice.
  5. At present, work with human participants must not involve face-to-face meetings. Where this can be replaced by electronic meetings, AU ethics approval and informed consent of all participants is still required. A risk assessment must also be carried out relating to COVID19 to demonstrate that neither the student nor any participants are at any increased risk of contracting Coronavirus due to their research.
  6. Data collection is challenging in the present circumstances. Where students are currently at the data collection phase of projects, the University is considering how to support and assess dissertations for which full data collection might not be possible, or for which data collection might not be possible at all necessitating a change of project or use of existing data sets. For most students, this will not yet be an issue, but you should discuss contingency plans for your project with your supervisor.
  7. Fieldwork involving travel must not be undertaken at present, in line with government advice which restricts all non-essential travel. This applies to travel within and around Aberystwyth, elsewhere in the UK or from the UK to overseas. When these restrictions change, students should follow the University Travel Policy, including a risk assessment taking account of current guidance minimising the risk of the spread of COVID19.
  8. Laboratory based research cannot continue at present as University buildings are closed to all but essential workers. Heads of Departments have identified essential workers and Site Security will only permit access for these workers.  When the situation changes, laboratory research may continue if laboratory managers deem it safe to do so (e.g. if there is sufficient distancing), but general precautions regarding the spread of COVID19 should be followed as well as any specific to the laboratory concerned.  Please review your activity risk assessment to include both the hazard of COVID19 and of lone working due to the reduction of colleagues in the laboratory. If new laboratory-based research is being planned, consideration should be given regarding the potential vulnerability of the research to disruption if laboratory access cannot continue and where possible planning alternative, non-laboratory based projects may be a prudent precaution at the present time.
  9. Summer accommodation is currently expected to be available as normal. Students should contact the Accommodation Office with any enquiries.
  10. Students currently away from Aberystwyth must follow the government’s advice on non-essential travel. Tier 4 students should ensure that they contact the Compliance Office.
  11. Students wishing to leave or stay away from Aberystwyth must follow the government’s advice on non-essential travel. Students who are already working from home away from Aberystwyth must follow the government’s advice on non-essential travel and should discuss with their supervisor their plans for working remotely on their research. Tier 4 students should ensure that they contact the Compliance Office. 
  12. Students unable to make progress or wishing to take time out from their studies due to the current circumstances should discuss temporary withdrawal or an extension with their department, the Student Advisers in Student Support, the Graduate School and if they hold a Tier 4 visa they must contact the Compliance Office. It is very important to seek advice from the department, Graduate School and the Student Advisers in Student Support as there are likely to be implications with funding and the funding bodies which will need careful consideration and advice and which may influence your decision.  Where studies are disrupted by COVID19, the University will ensure that extra time, where evidence supports an extension, will be allowed. However please note that extensions are unlikely at this moment in time to be funded, though practice may vary according to funder.
  13. Currently, it is not expected that the final deadline for dissertations due at the end September will change.
  14. We will continue to keep the arrangements above under review in order to respond to any changes in government advice. If you have specific concerns about your studies contact your department in the first instance or raise this with the Graduate School (at graduate.school@aber.ac.uk).