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Taught postgraduate issues

Student Services are available to all postgraduate students. Many postgraduate students can feel a little lost when they start at St Andrews, so popping in for a chat can often help. We are also there for you if you experience difficulties – whatever those might be - throughout your degree.  Things don’t always go to plan, so whether it’s your health, finances, family, personal life or you just aren’t very happy about something come in and see us as soon as possible.  It’s better to sort things out sooner rather than later. 

All postgraduate experiences are different.  Many students take a little time to adjust to the level and independent learning required for postgraduate study. Postgraduate students also tend to be unsure of their role, and that of their supervisor.

If you are having a problem/personal difficulty/family problem/an illness, you should contact: 

  • Student Services - your circumstances can be logged (and in some cases communicated to the School) and appropriate support and advice will be offered.
  • Your School/s - staff can provide advice on academic matters.
  • If you have been absent, view Absence reporting.

It is better to notify the University as soon as you experience difficulties.  It may then be possible to arrange deferred or alternative assessment.  It is much more difficult to arrange allowances later in the module or after the module mark has been reported.

If you have an exam and are experiencing difficulties revising, you may choose to sit the exam anyway but there are several things you should be aware of. If you choose not to sit the exam, you may need to provide some evidence as to why you were unable to attend the exam. Deferred assessment is not automatically guaranteed, and you'll need to talk to your School about your options. However, if you choose to sit the exam (especially if the School offer you deferred assessment), it is much more difficult to make allowances for your circumstances at a later date. You should also bear in mind that if you pass a module, you cannot take the module again.

If you feel that you are not getting proper supervision/feedback, you should discuss this directly with your supervisor/adviser/module coordinator. If you cannot do this, you should attempt to consult one of the following people, as you feel appropriate:

Good academic practice, or plagiarism includes:

  •  the presentation of material as yours when it is not; 
  •  the presentation of material whose origin is academically inappropriate;
  •  academically inappropriate behaviour in an examination or class test.

This includes not referring work correctly, or copying material.  Some cases are picked up by staff, and others are identified by plagiarism detection software.  The University has an Good academic practice and all cases are treated seriously.  If you have been accused of academic misconduct, you should seek further guidance from Iain Cupples, Student Advocate, at the Students' Association.

In the case of having to take a break from your studies, have a look at the guidance on taking time out. Most taught postgraduate programmes are completed in 12 months, so you may need to take a full year out to get back to where you left your studies.  To discuss this further, contact the Pro Dean (TaughtPostgraduate) and your supervisor/adviser.

If you didn't achieve the required grades to continue to the dissertation, you may be able to appeal. Please see the relevant section of Appeals, complaints and academic complaints. This document will outline the accepted grounds and process involved in making an appeal.  You may also want to seek further advice from Iain Cupples, Student Advocate.  Bear in mind that you will need proper grounds for appeal, otherwise you will not be allowed to proceed to the dissertation and may instead graduate with a Postgraduate Diploma.

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Advice and Support Centre
79 North Street
St Andrews
KY16 9AL
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1334 (46)2020


Student services

Eden Court
The Scores
St Andrews
KY16 9AS
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: 01334 462720
Fax:01334 464007

Eden Court location map

Encountered any difficulties?

Not the right match?  If you haven’t formed a good rapport with your Adviser or you’ve encountered any difficulties and wish to speak informally to someone, please contact Ellen Mackintosh ( or Dr Penny Turnbull ( Assistant Directors of Student Services, in the first instance.

Please also be aware that the University has Complaints Handling Procedure for formally addressing concerns.


  • Book an Appointment online