Upgrade experiences

Avatar for Wasabi65

I am interested to know what experiences PhD students have of the MPhil/PhD upgrade process.
Talking to colleagues it appears that there are vast differences in how this process is managed in other Universities.
I have very recently passed this particular milestone and, although it was far from easy, it was a huge test of my intellectual and mental strength. My particular institution takes it very seriously. The provision of a report (mine went to about 13,000 words) describing the study in depth and current progress was required. In addition to this, I had to give a presentation and had to undergo a 1.5 hour 'defence' of my study. I was told that this was necessary to reassure the examiners that my study was sufficient for the level of PhD study and that I was capable of delivering it.
However, PhD students from other institutions describe a process which is more like a discussion and a rather laid-back affair.
I'd be interested to hear other's experiences of this.


Mine was a similarly rigorous defence. Present were my two supervisors, we were linked to the third supervisor via a conference call to Australia, and two independent academics. Whereas it sounds like you had to submit a separate report of progress, our institution required submission of a chapter - they felt it was fairer to write & submit something which would eventually count towards the overall thesis, rather than having to write 13,000 additional words which may not be of use.
Other than that, it was very much the same - presentation & 1.5 hour grilling. It felt good that two people from an entirely different discipline were able to add their comments and encouragements & once it was over I could feel confident that the study was as robust as it could be.
It will indeed be interesting to find out about the experiences of others. Mine is a relatively 'new' university; I wonder if there are different approaches in older institutions...


Thumbs up and congratulations for passing the milestone.

Just curious, when did you start your phd and how much time did it take to reach the upgrade process? I would be interested to know what is the usual time frame?


Mine was the same as Mog's, but without the presentation. I had to submit introductory chapter with methods, methodology, etc. and a further chapter of the actual research, plus timetable for completion.
Usual time frame is: 9 months for full time (to allow a further 3 months for adjustments before the year deadline) and 18 months for part time (to allow a further 3 months for adjustments before the 2 year deadline). I had a minor alteration of focus - a narrowing, but that was all. I found it a positive process; helped me a lot with focus, which I wasn't aware I needed, but did.

Avatar for Acarpous

It seemed to be mostly a formality at my institution. I produced a report detailing my research rationale, methodology, chapter discussions, progress to date and timetable of intended future work - no more than about 10 pages in total - sent it in and got the upgrade approved by return. No discussion, presentation or anything.