i have to submit my thesis by sept, or i will fail my phd.


I got a letter from my uni, saying if i don't submit by sept 1st, they will remove my registration and i will fail my phd!

i keep having panic attacks, i have 7 chapters to write and i am scared i wont be able to complete my thesis by the deadline.

I've written two papers which I will turn into chapters, (both me being first author) but took me in total 2 years to write them. but i need to expand on them big time and turn them into "thesis" chapters, and make them longer, so they feel more like a thesis chapter.

And now i am working on my 3rd (and last) results chapter.

they assurred me, it's better to write papers and get them published, and then turn my papers into thesis chapters...they wanted me to write a 3rd paper, but i will now say no!

i am panicking

early this year, my father got sick, so for a few months i could not concentrate on my thesis.

i hear it takes 1 year to write a thesis. and i only have 3 months :(

what shall i do ?


What year are you in? It's usually possible to run over but have you used up your extra time already? It will be tight but doable I think. I just started writing up to submit Xmas. I am still doing a lot of analysis as I go too. But I only have 3 days/week childcare and limited extra time. I think 3 months really flat out is the minimum for writing up.

If it really is THE deadline - you might need to compromise a bit and do just what you absolutely have to to submit. I am already thinking I will have to scrap one of my chpaters because there just won't be time.


Hi Lara, How long have you been registered?

One option is to suspend your registration - that should give you more time to submit - obviously it would be non-paid though, you could use your fathers illness as a basis for this

It is possible to write up in 3 months - dependent on how much you've got to do - after all my data analysis was done, I more or less wrote the whole thing (80,000 words) Feb-April- but get used to having no life - its a full time comitment and you'll be working 7 dyas a week and +12 hours a day - but if you have to do it then do it

So it is possible. definately don't write any more papers until its done tho!

Good Luck



If you feel like this is completely unfair you could go and talk to the students union at the university you are registered at. They are completely independent of the university. If they're no help then go to the national union of students. they can both give you advise about whether or not you have grounds to appeal this kind of decision and how to go about it.

I also know of plenty of people who have suspended their studies but then it comes down to cash flow issues.

It sounds like a really horrible situation and I hope you manage to get it resolved. Ultimately, it's in no ones interest if you don't get that PhD. It doesn't look too great on your department in the RAE.


Seems like a good time to go and speak with a student advisor (or the equivalent at your uni). They're usually the people that know all the rules on getting extensions, how to deal with personal issues when they affect your work, and what you need to do to make sure you get the support you need to finish your PhD. I know there are rules, but I can't believe that any uni in their right minds would let you fail because you missed a deadline, particularly when you've had personal issues.

Don't panic about what might or might not happen- try and get it sorted with people who can help you, then you can concentrate on getting your PhD finished.

Good luck


Awwwww wow I am so touched by all the wonderful helpful and supportive messages, you all are so kind! I really appreciate it!

Sorry I cannot respond to you all individually, But I want to thank each and everyone one of you! :)

Okay, basically its quite embarrassing, but i've been doing this phd for 8 years! I know pathetic. but in my defence, i've had really crappy projects given to me.

my first year was completey discounted, and my project was bad, all the postdocs in my lab and the other boss thought so too, and my supervisor was quite horrible to me. So I started again in my 2nd year, with a new project and another supervisor. but that project was crap too! and finally I made up my own project with the help of a visiting professor who really helped me!

Only in the last few years that I was able to get good data.



Thanks for the advice! I will write to the graduate officer and my graduate tutor about my situation and see if I can get an extention.

The problem is my phd supervisor is at another university. my lab and boss and supervisor moved universities, but my registration remained with the first uni.

during the move:
I was told by my supervisor to transfer to writing up stage, a few years ago, so they didn't have to pay my registration fees! hence why the uni is saying, I should submit, as i have been on "writing up stage" for more than 2 years. but it was during those years, that i really got all my data together. but i can't really tell them that, as you're not meant to do experiments during writing up stage.


I wish I had thought of "suspending my registration". because I'm writing my thesis at home, and I worked as a RA for a year to save up money to be able to write my thesis. During the time I was working as a RA i was told i would have plenty of time to work on my phd (but my RA took over my whole life).

lots of poor judgements.
but i have composed an email and i will send it tonight. and see what happens.
but yah i like the advice, to just keep it simple and to the minimum ad leave out things that will take far too long and are too complicated.

Thanks again everyone!! I really appreciate it :)


8 YEARS!!! Yep a LOT of poor Judgments. Not what you want to here, but to be honest, I think the UNIVERSITY might (i.e. do) have right on their side here.


8 years is quite some time - but not uncommon. It surprises me that some people are so shocked that others take that long. Lara, don't be too embarrassed about taking that long - lots of people actually do take ages to complete their PhDs, particularly those who have worked in faculty jobs before submitting. Although, when you became a full-time RA you should have suspended your studies (in fact, isn't it against the rules to work full-time and be registered on a full-time PhD?).

In my subject area, the average time for submitting is 4/5 years (not the 3).

Lara, at this stage you should just get the PhD knocked out asap and take the chance that you may get it thrown back for re-writing.


I know a couple of people in their sixth year - and with your bad first year and another year working full-time you could say this is really only your sixth year too! I can't offer much advice as I'm not very familiar with uni regulations etc. but surely if you are close to finishing you might be able to work something out with them?


I am in my 5th year but first year of writing up as I intermitted for one year then came off the register for another (so 2 years after my daughter was born). I almost intermitted retrospectively in my first year after my mother died - so perhaps you can also intermit retrospectively (or get off the register retrospectively?). There's always someone in my dept who gets to 6 years (one such just had her viva at last). 4 is about average but 5 is not rare either.

This is not at all how I planned it and I badly misjudged my data collection and that has really eaten into my time. It happens. Be a shame not to wrap this baby up and put it to bed now. You had very bad advice to remain on the register as an RA - I wonder if that could be reversed.


Thanks again everyone! Yeh alot of poor advice and bad judgments. Thanks to everyone who's been so nice and encouraging about the fact i've been doing this phd for 8 years.

you're right, i should just wrap this baby up! ;) and just get it over and done with. I am just about to email the graduate tutor and ask them if i need to, can i get an extention, but i will work super hard the next few months and just get it written. and yes you're right, worst case scenario, if i dont fail, i might just get thrown back a "re-write" and that gives me another chance.

i shudder to think what the examiners are going to think about all those years. i'm worried how i will defend myself to explain why it's taken 8 years.

i didnt know about the RA job and the phd student status should have been suspended. and i cant tell my uni, because i wouldnt want to get my supervisors into trouble.

i am going to take the next 6 weeks and write a first draft of my entire thesis.


thanks again everyone! I especially appreciate the support regarding how long i've been doing this. thanks so much, really means alot to me :)


lara, my undergrad/master's degree was in a different country with a different system, meaning, in short, that i never had any exams, from when i started at uni, until the end of my master's. mimimal study time was 4 years, average study time in my subject was 6.5 years. i was expected to follow some lectures and seminars, of my own choice, but nobody ever checked if you did or didn't. in order to progress, i had to write seminar papers (8000-10'000 words each) on topics of my own choice, and never got more feedback than "passed". this kind of unstructured studying is highly selective, more so than batteries of exams tend to be: less then 30% of the students ever made it to the final exams. towards the end i had to write a master's dissertation, without any supervision, it was expected to take 1-2 years, and had to include original research, mine turned out to be 170 pages. after this being accepted, i could sign up for the final exams, 4 months later.