Structure of a PhD

Five phases

At the University of Derby, there are five phases leading to the creation of your thesis and award of your PhD. We will support you through each phase to help you recognise your potential and achieve your research degree.

1 Preliminary ideas for your research project

You will begin to develop some initial ideas for your research project, either by yourself or with your supervisory team. You will look at potential aims and objectives for your research and consider an appropriate methodological approach.

2 Developing your initial research project

Working now closely with your supervisory team, your initial research ideas will become clearer to help you refine your research question and to identify scope and boundaries with your project. You will begin to develop your project methodology and critical reading and writing skills.

3 Writing your thesis

You will now be in regular contact with your supervisory team as you build on your data collection, critical reading and writing skills. You will also look to engage with development opportunities to support the project and your own skills as a research student. You will be writing regularly and getting feedback from your supervisor team as you move closer towards writing up your research as a thesis.

4 Submitting your thesis

You will complete an analysis of your research findings, write this up in a thesis and submit it towards your PhD. You should now begin to look for opportunities to disseminate your research while working with your supervisory team to prepare for your viva voce.

5 Viva voce – defending your thesis

Your viva voce [Latin: with living voice] is an oral examination where you will give a verbal defence of your thesis. There are normally two examiners who will ask you questions about your research and how it has made an original contribution to knowledge.

After your viva voce exam, you may need to complete some revisions to your thesis before you can graduate.