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Transfer of Status

These notes are intended as a supplement to the MPLS Graduate Studies Handbook. They explain the details of Transfer of Status for research students within Statistics. The Divisional Graduate Handbook additionally contains a great deal of crucial information about all aspects of graduate studies. These notes must be read in conjunction with the relevant regulations given in the Examination Regulations. Whilst the contents of the notes reflect the wishes of the Department, they are advisory and nothing in them should be construed as augmenting or modifying the University and Divisional regulations.

Fee Implications

Before applying for transfer from Probationer Research Student to DPhil status, students should make sure that they are aware of the fee implications and that they will have adequate financial support. Applications to transfer to DPhil status need to be signed by the appropriate officer of the student’s college, who will need to be assured on this point (form GS02).

Preparing for the application to transfer from probationer to DPhil student status

Category A application

If a student has had little or no previous experience of research then he or she must prepare to make a Category A application. Most research students follow this route.

In consultation with the supervisor he or she must write a dissertation which is specifically for the purpose of supporting the application. The dissertation should be preferably 15-30 printed pages of TEX, depending on font used. It need not be bound but it should be securely fastened. It should also be typewritten or printed on A4 sheets with ample margins.

The dissertation may consist of a short piece of original work that could be included or developed to be part of a doctoral thesis, or a critical review of some part of the subject area, for example. It must offer something which is not readily available in the existing literature. Simply interlacing sections of existing texts and papers is not enough.

The purpose of the dissertation and its assessment is simply to establish whether the probationer student has the potential to undertake doctoral research. Such basic feedback should be clear and forthcoming after 12 months of graduate study, and in fairness to the student, the supervisor is expected to work towards that schedule.

Category B application

If the applicant has already had experience of statistical research (for example if he or she has studied for a Master’s degree) and thinks that he or she already satisfies these criteria, then a decision must be made whether or not the applicant should make a Category B application.

For category B applications the written work may consist of:

  • a thesis or dissertation produced in connection with another course of research or study;
  • or work that has been accepted for publication in a learned journal;
  • or other work which is in the opinion of the applicant’s supervisor of comparable standing.

If at the start of study the applicant considers that he or she has work such as this and also has carried out sufficient course work and study to prepare himself or herself for research for the DPhil, then the applicant should consult the supervisor immediately. If, in the light of the supervisor’s opinion the applicant then decides to make a Category B application, he or she should proceed to do as described in the next sections.

Timing of the application

DPhil in Statistics Category A

Category A applications should normally be made by the end of the student’s first year. Only in exceptional circumstances may this be delayed beyond the end of the fourth term, when a formal application for deferral must be made for a maximum of two terms. Form GSO.2b is required for deferral beyond the fourth term. The application should be submitted by the Wednesday of 5th week of the fourth term and the viva held before before the end of the fourth term.

DPhil in Statistics Category B

If the applicant makes a Category B application, this should be done in his or her first term of study. The application should be submitted by the Wednesday of 5th week of the first term of study.

DTC students

Note that DTC students must transfer no later than 6 terms from admission to the DTC programme.
The applications should be submitted and a viva held in the sixth term of study.

MSc by Research status

Instead of making a Category A application for transfer to DPhil student status, applicants may instead apply for transfer to MSc student status. The procedure is similar except that no written work is needed.

Transfer to MSc status is, of course, appropriate if applicants decide they would prefer to study for the MSc by Research; but it is also appropriate if applicants are uncertain. A student registered for the MSc by Research may subsequently make a Category A application for transfer to DPhil status.

The application is normally due by the end of the third term of study. Applications must be submitted by the Wednesday of the 5th week of the fourth term and the viva held before the end of the fourth term.


Making the application to transfer to DPhil status

To make an application the following must be submitted:

  • an application for transfer from Probationer Research Student to DPhil student status (form GS02);
  • a departmental application form (MAT.1);
  • two copies of a dissertation of between 15-30 pages of TEX

Forms GSO.2 and MAT.1 are available from the University website. These two forms should be completed by the applicant and the supervisor, and form GSO.2 should also be signed on behalf of the college, usually by the Senior Tutor.

Both forms should then be forwarded to Graduate Studies, MPLS Divisional Office, 9 Parks Road. The MAT.1 form has to be signed by the Director of Graduate Studies, but this can be arranged by Graduate Studies after submission of the forms. The written work must be sent either to Graduate Studies, or directly to the assessors. This must be done by the date applicants have indicated on the MAT.1 form. If the dissertation is sent directly to the assessors it is ESSENTIAL that Graduate Studies is informed that this has been done. Otherwise the office will be unable to send the assessors the correct forms and information.

Transfer Viva

After submission of the written work applicants should expect their assessors to contact them to arrange a time for the interview.

The interview will be conducted informally. There will be an opportunity for the applicant to discuss his or her research plans, but the major portion of the time will indubitably be taken up by the assessors orally examining the applicant on the work submitted.

The form of this interview will depend considerably on circumstances and the supervisor may be able to help by providing the applicant with some general indication of what to expect. Applicants can be assured that they will not be expected to commit every detail to memory. The length of the interview will vary, but it is unlikely to last for much less than an hour nor for much more than two hours.

For both Category A and Category B applications an oral presentation on the candidate’s work will be part of the assessment. Candidates will probably require some practice and training for this. The presentation may either take the form of a seminar or it may be a part of the transfer interview. The oral presentation may take place before the application is made, providing that this is retrospectively approved by the assessors.

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 10 days per year.

Having completed the interview the assessors will prepare a report. An assessment of the oral presentation will form part of the assessors’ overall recommendation. It is the responsibility of the Director of Graduate Studies to decide in the light of this report either to approve the application or to allow the applicant to transfer to MSc status, or to permit the applicant to remain only as a Probationer Research Student. An applicant failing to secure a Category B transfer to DPhil status would be allowed to apply subsequently to transfer under Category A: one further application in Category A is allowed, provided that the applicant made his or her first attempt well before the sixth term of the probationer period. Applicants whose applications to transfer to DPhil status are rejected are also allowed to apply for transfer to the status of MSc by research.

The MSc by Research should not be seen as an inferior version of the DPhil. It is less advanced in the sense that the course of research is generally of shorter duration and also in the sense that it is a course where diligent scholarship is more likely to ensure a favourable outcome. However, it is a degree with value of its own requiring a different pattern of discipline and training. For some careers, it is considered as providing a better preparation than the DPhil.

Transfer from MSc by Research to the status of DPhil student

This is similar to the process for transfer from Probationer Research Student to DPhil student, except that the time limit is nine terms from admission as PRS. A student whose application is rejected may re-apply just once more.