34. Admission and Study (taught postgraduate)

Selection and admission 

34.1   Selection of students for taught postgraduate programmes must be in accordance with the University’s Admissions Principles and Procedures for Postgraduate Taught Programmes.

34.2   No student shall be admitted and permitted to register for any programme of study at the start of any academic year if that student has previously withdrawn from the same or cognate programme of study due to academic failure within the last three years.


34.3   Students must register on their programmes within the first two weeks of teaching of the academic year. If a student is unable to register in that time, they will be required to suspend their studies until the following academic year or withdraw from the programme.

34.4   No student registered for a programme of full-time study leading to a qualification of the University of Bristol may study concurrently on a programme of full or part-time study leading to the award of a qualification at this or another higher education provider, except:

  • Where a student is awaiting the academic outcome from a Master’s degree but is able to commence further study on a new taught postgraduate or research postgraduate programme.
  • Where a research postgraduate student is undertaking a programme or unit for credit to directly support them as a teacher (e.g. the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice).

34.5   Students on some taught postgraduate programmes may be permitted to register initially for a postgraduate diploma or postgraduate certificate, subject to faculty approval.

34.6   For awards of the University of Bristol,except as specified below, credit points may only be used once and may not be used towards two or more taught awards of this University or of another higher education provider and this University. The exceptions are:

a)   where an award at one level may be subsumed into an award at a higher level;

b)   where a University award or award of another institution has independent standing as a professional qualification and is accredited by a professional body;

The use of credit or a lower award from this University towards an award of another institution is at the discretion of that awarding institution, including as part of articulation agreements where a partner institution might count the credit or qualification obtained at Bristol towards their own award.

Period of study

34.7   The period of study commences when the student is first registered for the degree programme. Students are expected to complete their programme within the specified normal period of study and must not exceed the maximum study period.

34.8   The maximum study period normally only applies to students who are undergoing re-assessment.

34.9   The following table shows the normal and maximum periods of study for taught postgraduate degrees. These periods of study include extensions but exclude suspensions of study. A student will normally only be able to take a supplementary year due to exceptional circumstances once during their programme of study.


Title of award

Student mode of attendance

Normal study period

Maximum study period

Postgraduate Certificate

60 credit points



Not less than 15 weeks' study

6 months



6 months


12 months


Part-time variable

Not applicable

Not more than three years

Postgraduate Diploma

120 credit points


Not less than 31 weeks' study

12 months




12 months


24 months


Part-time variable

Not applicable

Not more than three years

Masters degree by intercalation

180 credit points


12 months

12 months

Masters degree

180 credit points



12 months

24 months



24 months


36 months


Part-time variable

Not applicable

Not more than five years*

MA in Law

240 credit points


24 months

Not more than three years


4 years

Not more than five years

MSc in Social Work

300 credit points


24 months

Not more than three years

PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education)

60 credit points



12 months

Not more than three years

Not more than eight years study for part-time variable students on the MSc in Teaching and Learning for Health Professionals and the Master of Laws (LLM) by Advanced Study.

For the Postgraduate Dental Studies programme, the maximum period of study for a part-time variable mode of study is 24 months for the Certificate, 48 months for the Diploma and 72 months for the Masters degree.

School Responsibilities

34.10      Schools will ensure that:

a)      At the commencement of their period of study, students are given the opportunity to meet key teaching and support staff, and other students on the programme.

b)      Students are provided with induction/orientation information in electronic or paper format to include a detailed induction programme, a timetable and calendar of key academic events. Students should also receive a copy of the University and Faculty Student Handbook or be directed to the online versions.

c)      Students receive appropriate handbooks (for the programme, unit/s and dissertation), outlining programme requirements and academic standards, contact details of key staff and their office hours/weekly availability and sources of academic and pastoral help and sources of general and skills training. Students should also be given access to general and discipline specific careers advice. Health and Safety training should be provided by schools as appropriate.

d)      Students on professional programmes receive information on any professional requirements, including any compulsory practical, clinical or professional placements and fitness to practice procedures. Additional professional and clinical skills and competency requirements will be specified in full in programme specifications.

e)       Teaching staff have expertise in the subject area and that students can interact with a range of appropriate teaching staff on their programme of study.

f)      The learning environment is suitable for a diverse student body, including disabled students, international students or students working in professional employment who do not often visit the University campus, whether they are studying full-time, part-time or on a part-time variable basis.

g)      Students are made aware of the facilities available to them during their studies (e.g. library, office/laboratory/workshop space), and of any requirements for their use. Students working remotely, including those 'writing up' their dissertation (or equivalent), should be given access to appropriate facilities and resources to support their study, including those available electronically.

h)        If a student is required to participate in a professional or industrial placement, the School will ensure that the student has access to appropriate facilities, information and support while on the placement

Student Entitlements

34.11      Taught postgraduate students can expect:

a)      Information on tuition fees, registration, induction, the timetable and staff office hours/availability.

b)      Information on programme and unit content and requirements and how academic progress towards the award is monitored.

c)       Adequate opportunities to meet their personal tutor and/or programme director (as applicable), unit directors and dissertation supervisor(s) for informal and formal discussions about academic progress or pastoral matters.

d)      Information on the return of required written work, with formative feedback, within an agreed time scale (typically three weeks for full-time students, unless exceptional circumstances arise, in which case students will be informed of the deadline).

e)      Access to a learning infrastructure that supports their academic progress and their ability to complete the degree successfully within the required time period. Where relevant, details of appropriate language courses should be provided, bearing in mind the challenge of taking a language course while committed to a full-time programme of study

f)        Access to an appropriate learning environment, including a wider research environment, (in the University or collaborating institutions) within which there is relevant and sufficient expertise and appropriate facilities available to support the programme of study.

g)      Information about the support and guidance available at School/Faculty/University level (e.g. student handbooks, student web pages), including information on complaints and appeals procedures and information on student representation procedures at School/ Faculty/University level and on student feedback opportunities

Student Responsibilities    

34.12      Taught postgraduate students are expected to:

a)      Register with the University at the start of the academic year, ensuring that they are registered on the correct units with sufficient credit points for the programme.

b)      Pay the required tuition fee and ensure that they have the necessary financial support to enable completion of the programme

c)       Take responsibility for their own personal and professional development and academic progress, making the most of those learning opportunities that will enhance their capacity for independent and ‘self-directed’ learning.

d)      Meet the University’s requirements for good academic conduct, including timely submission of assessed work by the set deadline, attending at meetings with unit directors and dissertation supervisor(s) as required, attend lectures, seminars and practical sessions regularly and take an active part in the programme of study.

e)      Maintain effective working relationships with teaching staff (programme director, personal tutor, unit directors, dissertation supervisor) and other students, treating all with respect and consideration.  Students on professionally-recognised vocational programmes are additionally expected to maintain standards of conduct commensurate with professional practice standards.

f)        Maintain academic integrity, acknowledging fully the work of others in their coursework and assessed work, and be familiar with the referencing conventions of the discipline or programme, so that their work is free from plagiarism.

g)      Notify the University of any disability, exceptional circumstance or support needs that may affect their study or performance in assessments, in line with these Regulations and Code of Practice.

h)      Notify the University of changes in their personal information (teaching time/home addresses, telephone numbers) by updating their personal details online.

i)        Notify their programme director of any potential change in circumstance (requests for a change in mode of attendance, suspension of study, resumption of study, extension of study, programme transfer or withdrawal) in good timeNotify their programme director of any potential change in circumstance (requests for a change in mode of attendance, suspension of study, resumption of study, extension of study, programme transfer or withdrawal) in good time.

j)       Be familiar with, and comply with, University Regulations and Guidelines including: these Regulations and Code of Practice, relevant programme regulations, the Rules and Regulations for Students (including the University’s Intellectual Property Policy for Students) and the Assessment Regulations

k)       Be familiar with relevant University rules on health and safety, data protection, research ethics and confidentiality and the norms of good research practice applicable to their disciplinary area.

l)        International students with visa / immigration queries must only discuss these with the specially trained staff based in the Student Visa Team

Monitoring of the progress of taught postgraduate students

34.13         Faculties should monitor the progress of taught postgraduate students at boards of examiners meetings and as part of its internal review processes.

34.14         The University expects informal monitoring of student progress within 2 - 3 months of initial registration. Practice may vary according to the discipline, student cohort or mode of study.

34.15         Monitoring of student progress normally includes monitoring of attendance on units and performance in seminars and may also include informal evaluations of a student’s progress in a unit/programme.

34.16         Informal reviews of student progress will help ensure that the student is in a position to overcome practical or academic hurdles to progress and will enable the student to discuss any concerns about progress with the unit/dissertation supervisor. The student should see and comment on any written report made about their progress.

34.17         All part-time variable students, defined here as students on non-standard professional programmes who are studying part-time, typically less than 0.5 FTE*, must be registered for, and study, a minimum of one unit per academic year.  The programme director and faculty graduate education director must approve any exceptional cases where a student is unable to meet this requirement. A student who does not study at least one unit per year and who does not have an approved exemption will be required to withdraw from their studies.

(*This regulation does not apply to taught postgraduate students who are designated part-time variable purely because they are undertaking a Supplementary Year.)

34.18         Part-time variable students should receive timely feedback on their progress from the unit director, normally in advance of commencing study on another unit.

The Dissertation

34.19       For most postgraduate Masters awards, an extended piece of work, such as a dissertation or project, is required. Postgraduate Masters awards with an enhanced research component normally require dissertation/s worth 90 to 120 credit points. Dissertation requirements are outlined in the University Policy on ‘Dissertations in Taught Postgraduate Programmes’ and in individual programme specifications.

34.20      The dissertation / research project must normally be submitted by 31 August*, or where the 31 August is on a weekend a bank holiday in England or a University closure day, the next day that is not on a weekend, a bank holiday in England or a University closure day. Faculties may alter this deadline date for part-time or professional Masters programmes. Information on submission procedures and submission deadlines are published in faculty and/or school handbooks. *For 2023 and 2024, the deadline for submission is 5 September.

34.21      The dissertation must be a student’s own work. A student may not include in any dissertation (or equivalent), material previously submitted and approved for an award of a degree at this or any other university.

34.22   School responsibilities concerning the dissertation:

a)      To assign each student a dissertation supervisor by the start of the dissertation.

b)      To provide students with information and guidance on the dissertation process. Students may receive information in a school handbook, in a dissertation workshop, seminar, work session or via Blackboard. Where appropriate, information will cover the use of text comparison software such as Turnitin in relation to academic integrity and plagiarism, including how to make individual requests not to use Turnitin if there are contractual, security or safety obligations on the University to safeguard sensitive material in a dissertation from third parties – see Annex 14.

c)       To inform students of how formative feedback will be provided on the draft section(s) of the dissertation.

d)      To provide students with relevant legal and regulatory information and guidance e.g. health and safety, research ethics, copyright, data protection, plagiarism, criminal records bureau check procedures.

e)      If a student's research requires a period working away from the University, the School should ensure that appropriate supervisory/personal tutor arrangements, understood by the student, are in put in place to cover these periods.

f)        To inform students of the independent sources of help/advice that are available should a problem arise during the dissertation process, e.g. programme director, personal tutor.

g)     In schools where a dissertation or research project has a placement element or a student spends time at a company location, the dissertation supervisor and the safety officer will seek to ensure student safety by ensuring that the company has a safety code of practice.

34.23   Dissertation supervisor’s responsibilities

a)      To be aware of and understand University policies and procedures.

b)      To be knowledgeable about the general or specific research area of the student’s dissertation so as to provide guidance on the nature of the dissertation and the standard of work expected.

c)       To advise on the planning of the dissertation; to discuss the timetable and dates for completion of different stages.

d)      To advise the student on training necessary for completion of the dissertation, e.g. statistical or software courses which may include referral to other sources of help and advice. To advise on techniques, research methods, research ethics and other relevant issues (e.g. criminal records check procedures, intellectual property), and to encourage the student to become aware of recent developments in the research area.

e)      To supervise and maintain contact with the student through meetings, email or telephone contact where appropriate (e.g. when a student is working on a placement away from Bristol) as detailed in school handbooks. 

f)        To propose adequate arrangements for supervision of students during study leave (or unavoidable absence) to the Programme Director or Head of School, as applicable.

g)      The dissertation supervisor will not proof-read or edit the work. In programmes where a specified proportion of the draft dissertation may be read by the dissertation supervisor, they may comment on the following as applicable: dissertation or report structure, content of sections, research sources and methodology, referencing and style.

h)     Where there is sensitive material in the dissertation, the dissertation supervisor will consider whether there are contractual, security or safety obligations on the University to safeguard the material from third parties. If the school mandates the use of Turnitin for submissions, the student or supervisor may initiate a request for an exemption from the Turnitin requirement on the appropriate form. The supervisor is responsible for submitting all requests to the relevant Faculty Education Director (or nominee). Where the student initiates the request, the supervisor must provide a recommendation on the form. If the Faculty Education Director (or nominee) approves the request, the dissertation supervisor will undertake a manual check on the dissertation in relation to academic integrity and plagiarism and will inform the school when the check has been completed – see Annex 14.

i)      Where re-assessment of the dissertation is permitted by the Board of Examiners, the dissertation supervisor will ensure that the student understands the feedback given by the examiners and knows what is required for re-submission. The student can normally expect at least one meeting with their supervisor to clarify these points and can expect the supervisor to read and comment on one revised draft prior to re-submission.

34.24   Student’s responsibilities during the dissertation

a)      To agree a suitable dissertation topic with their dissertation supervisor and to work on a research plan in consultation with that supervisor.

b)      To attend dissertation workshops and seminars (where provided) and be familiar with relevant school information on the dissertation process.

c)       To agree a schedule of meetings with their dissertation supervisor at the start of the process, initiate meetings, attend all scheduled meetings and presentations and remain in contact during the period of the dissertation.

d)      To be responsible for their own progress with the dissertation, keeping their dissertation supervisor informed of their overall progress, raising any problems they are having with the dissertation with their dissertation supervisor at the earliest opportunity. To work on their dissertation taking account of advice and guidance and submit work by set deadlines.

e)     To ensure that ethical or statutory checks are carried out early in the dissertation process so that the progress of their research is not delayed. Criminal records bureau, research ethics or intellectual property checks or approval may take weeks/months to complete.

f)        Where required by the school, to provide the dissertation supervisor with a draft section of the dissertation by the specified deadline, in accordance with school dissertation guidelines.

g)      To be responsible for the quality and standard of their own work. They should proof-read the final draft, ensure it is legible and check that both citation and referencing have been done to the required standard.

h)      Where there is sensitive material in the dissertation, the student will consider, in discussion with their dissertation supervisor, whether the University should safeguard the material from third parties due to contractual, security or safety obligations. If the school mandates the use of Turnitin for submissions, the student or the dissertation supervisor may initiate a request for an exemption from this Turnitin requirement on the appropriate form – see Annex 14.

i)       To submit the dissertation within the normal study period for the programme

j)        Where the Board of Examiners permits re-assessment of the dissertation, the student must take account of the feedback from examiners to improve the re-submitted work.

Feedback Opportunities

34.25      Taught postgraduates may provide feedback on their experiences through their student representatives on school staff/student liaison committees, through ‘end of programme’ and unit questionnaires as well as providing their views during University Quality Reviews. They may express their views through student representatives on relevant faculty committees and by providing feedback on their experiences to the University Quality Team.  At University level, there are student representatives on the University Learning and Teaching Committee, University Academic Quality and Standards Committee, University Education Committee, Senate, Student Experience Committee and the Board of Trustees.