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Confirmation of Status

Confirmation of DPhil status

The purpose of confirmation of status is to enable research students to receive an assessment of their work by one or more assessors. It is intended to provide an important indication that if work on the thesis continues to develop satisfactorily, then consideration of submission of the thesis within the course of three further terms would appear to be reasonable. It therefore provides a second stage of formal progress review in the 3-4 years of the student’s overall research programme.

Please note however that Confirmation is by no means automatic. Those whose work does not demonstrate the necessary aptitude for research at doctoral level will not be allowed to continue in that status.


Confirmation of status must take place no later than nine terms after admission to graduate status. Students are advised to apply for their first attempt at confirmation of DPhil status by the end of the eighth term after admission as a graduate research student. This timetable has been set to allow sufficient time to make confirmation of status a helpful part of a student’s development as a scientific researcher. Students are therefore encouraged very strongly to apply for confirmation of status at least 6-12 months before they expect to submit their thesis for examination.

Confirmation forms

The candidate’s application, using forms GSO.14 and MAT.3, accompanied by his or her progress report. Two assessors will be appointed to interview the candidate. The assessors will also examine the student’s Skills Training. The assessors will need to confirm that the student’s training is at the required rate of ten days per year.

Work required

Confirmation applications provide an opportunity for the assessors to decide whether you are likely to have enough material for submission in a year’s time; and for you to focus on constructing a thesis from the results you have, or are likely to obtain by then. Although some students will require more than 3 years in total to complete their theses, it is essential that everyone should be able to demonstrate at Confirmation a sound core of research already achieved, and a realistic timetable for the future.

To meet the first of those aims you should give evidence of your work: in abstract form if you have produced papers and/or given a conference talk, and in more detail if not. In the latter case, drafts of parts of the thesis already written are likely to be the most appropriate material to submit. To meet the second aim, you might provide, for example, a table of contents of your proposed thesis, with dates for completion of each chapter. If you propose to submit a report substantially different from that described above, you should consult your supervisor as to whether it is likely to be suitable.

If progress has been normal, nothing like the technical detail provided at the PRS to DPhil transfer stage is required at Confirmation. In particular it is not expected that a substantial piece of work need be written specifically for the Confirmation process.

Confirmation viva

The interview may take place at any time during the term. Any student who is not successful may have one more attempt to be confirmed in DPhil status. Applications for the second attempt must be received no later than the end of 8th week of the ninth term in the student’s third year and the assessors may require evidence of progress such as written work etc. at this second interview (the assessors will have indicated what is required of the student when making their report of the first attempt). The report of this second attempt must be made before the beginning of the fourth year.

If, after considering a candidate’s application for confirmation of status, it is concluded that the student’s progress does not warrant this, the status of student for the degree of Master of Science by Research may be approved.

Deferral of confirmation

Directors of Graduate Studies are able to approve requests to defer confirmation of status in exceptional cases. If, for good reason, students are unable to submit an application for confirmation of status by the end of their 9th term, they may apply to defer this for a maximum of three terms, with the support of their supervisor, by completing form GSO.14b before the end of their 9th term. It is for the Director of Graduate Studies in each department to decide how many terms a candidate may be allowed to defer.