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Registration and status

1. Registration and matriculation

No student can be registered for a postgraduate degree without submitting a formal application, and receiving a formal letter of acceptance.

Students who have been accepted for admission to a postgraduate programme are required to matriculate at the commencement of their studies and each year thereafter on the anniversary of their first matriculation date until the requirements for the award of their degree have been fulfilled, or their studies discontinued. Postgraduate students must re-register each year online regardless of whether they are in, or away from, St Andrews. Where a student is away from St Andrews for academic reasons and unable to matriculate online, it is the responsibility of the student and the school to make alternative arrangements with Registry (see Location of Studies (PDF, 352 KB)). To become a fully registered student, students must complete the matriculation agreement as part of the online matriculation process. The matriculation agreement is the electronically signed contract between the student and the University, which mutually binds both parties to abide by the University's rules and regulations.

Where a supervisor joins the staff of the University of St Andrews, the PGR Pro Dean shall have the power to admit the PhD students of that member of staff to the University, accrediting the research performed by that student in the previous institution. The student will be able to graduate with a PhD from the University of St Andrews if the period of full registration at St Andrews is equal to or exceeds one year. This period shall not include a ‘continuation’ year or any extensions granted by the Pro Dean. If the student’s full registration at St Andrews is less than one year, then the student can be admitted to the University but will have to submit the research for examination by the original institution. It is the incoming student’s responsibility to ensure that such arrangements do not infringe the regulations of the original institution

1.1 Fees

The schedule of fees can be found on the University website.  Fees are payable on initial registration and at the beginning of each academic year or semester thereafter. All fees are subject to annual revision, and the revised fees will apply to all students. Failure to pay fees on matriculation may lead to discontinuation of studies.

1.2 Periods of study

Please see the policy on Length of Study and Associated Fees for Postgraduate Research Students (PDF, 251 KB).

1.3 Co-Tutelle (Joint PhD Programmes) 

The University may collaborate with other universities to register postgraduate research students under a co-tutelle (joint degree) agreement when this is strategically justified. This agreement facilitates joint supervision and awards to be formally recognised. A co-tutelle arrangement should only be proposed when all parties involved are confident that the partner institutions share appropriately high academic standards and quality assurance.

A formal co-tutelle agreement must be in place before the student matriculates for the first time. The rules that govern a co-tutelle or joint PhD programme (in terms of selection, admission, supervision, progress and review arrangements, training, assessment, etc.) must be negotiated between the institutions prior to signing the co-tutelle agreement, so that the minimum requirements of both can be met.

Where St Andrews is the lead institution our internal postgraduate research policies and procedures should be followed. Any exceptions to normal University policies may be approved by the Dean, but only where there is good reason and there are assurances that the standard of the PhD and the quality of the student experience will not be compromised.

Where St Andrews is not the lead institution, the following minimum progression and examination arrangements must be met:

  • Every research student will undergo a progress review at least once in each year of registration. The institution at which the research student is currently hosted will undertake the review, but the Lead Institution will have overall responsibility for the process. When necessary, the School postgraduate committee will request a copy of the research student’s reports from the partner during the academic year to allow for monitoring to take place. The requirements, timing, style, assessment criteria and potential outcomes of the progress review must be made clear to research students from the beginning of their co-tutelle programme (see also Progress Reviews and Termination of Studies for Postgraduate Research Students (PDF, 155 KB)).
  • If, due to the requirements of the partner institution, the thesis is presented in a language other than English, the student will be required to provide a summary in English as outlined in the Postgraduate Senate Regulations (section 2.C.XII.5) at the time of submission.
  • Examination requirements must be agreed at the point of the co-tutelle proposal. The examining committee should always include at least one internal examiner from St Andrews and one external examiner (i.e. external to both institutions). The external examiner should be agreed by both institutions.
  • Every student must complete an oral examination. The preference is to have a viva at St Andrews or a similar oral examination organised by the partner institution. Where a viva is not the norm at the partner institution, a compromise arrangement should be agreed at the time of proposal, eg thesis examination by committee followed by a public defence.

For additional information about co-tutelle degrees, please contact the Collaborations and Study Abroad team at

2. Changes to terms and conditions of study

The University believes that the periods allowed under the regulations are sufficient in most circumstances for students to complete their degrees or programmes. Research students and supervisors should be aware that some research councils impose heavy penalties on schools where theses are submitted late.

There is a distinction between an extension and a leave of absence. Students who are within their prescribed period of study can obtain leave of absence for personal reasons. A student who applies for leave of absence must be unable to work on the thesis for a significant period of time. On the other hand, extensions are appropriate after completion of the prescribed period of study where thesis completion has been delayed due to unforeseen difficulties. For additional information on leave of absence, please see the Leave of Absence, Re-engagement, and Withdrawal (PDF, 403 KB).

Written application for leaves of absence or extensions are normally made to the Pro Dean by the student but may be made by a principal supervisor or programme coordinator on behalf of a student in exceptional circumstances where, for example, a student is physically or mentally incapable of doing so.

The University currently expects all PhD degrees should be completed within four years for full-time students, or seven years for part-time students. These periods exclude any leave of absence granted by the Dean(s), and may be altered in line with specific research council guidelines.  Records of submission rates will be reviewed annually by the Pro Dean and by the Academic Monitoring Group.

2.1 Extension of time limit

If a thesis is not submitted within the time limit an extension may, in exceptional circumstances be granted by the Pro Dean. For additional information on extension please see the policy on Length of Study and Associated Fees for Postgraduate Research Students (PDF, 251 KB).

Students who matriculated for the first time before 1 January 2017 and did not opt in to the updated policy should consult Length of Study for Postgraduate Research Students (PDF, 122 KB)

2.2 Withdrawal from a programme

A student wishing to withdraw from a postgraduate programme should write to the Pro Dean, stating the effective date of withdrawal. Before formally withdrawing students are advised to discuss the implications of withdrawal with their supervisor or programme coordinator and with the Pro Dean. The supervisor or programme coordinator should confirm the date of withdrawal. Students are also advised to discuss the financial implications with Registry.

Registry will send a notice stating the date of withdrawal. In the case of students sponsored by UK research councils or similar bodies, this date should be adhered to in correspondence with the research councils or other bodies. In such cases the principal supervisor is also responsible for ensuring that the sponsor has been informed of the withdrawal.

Students may be withdrawn from a programme of study if all contact has been lost with the student for a period of over one month.

Candidates who allow their registration to lapse without having obtained leave of absence and who subsequently apply for reinstatement will be reinstated only with the approval of the Pro Dean following a positive recommendation from the relevant Head of School. If a reinstatement is granted, a student will be required to pay the appropriate fee for the period of renewal (e.g. full-time, part-time tuition fee, continuation fee, extension fee, etc).

For overseas students there may be visa implications if a student withdraws from their studies at the University. If a student is no longer registered at the University, the University can no longer sponsor them to remain in the UK. Students should ensure that they take advice on their particular situation (see Visas).

2.3 Termination of studies

If serious problems regarding a student's progress are identified, it may prove necessary to discontinue the student's studies or register them for a lower degree. Often concerns leading to termination of study proceedings will come to light through the annual progress review. For further information please consult the policy on Progress Reviews and Termination of Studies for Postgraduate Research Students (PDF, 155 KB).

For overseas students there may be visa implications if studies have been terminated. If a student is no longer registered at the University, the University can no longer sponsor them to remain in the UK. Students should take advice on their particular situation (see Visas).

General enquiries

Nicola Milton
Executive Officer to the Proctor
tel: +44(0)1334 462131

Emily Feamster
Academic Policy Officer, Proctor's Office
tel: +44(0)1334 462010