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Research degree committees

Structures and management

The University has a committee structure which oversees the business of the University. Academic Council is the Academic Board of the University of Portsmouth and has a number of sub-committees.

University Research Degrees Committee

University Research Degrees Committee (URDC) (requires staff login) is a sub-committee of Academic Council and meets four times each academic year. Members normally have substantial research experience including successful research degree supervision or research administration. URDC conducts its business to ensure the University provides an environment for the successful completion of research projects by PGRS. It has a strategic, policy and procedural role.

PGRS representatives from each Faculty are included in the Membership of URDC.

Current Membership, Constitution and Terms of Reference (requires staff login).

URDC is supported by the Graduate School Management Board (GSMB) as an operational group and each Faculty has a Faculty Research Degrees (FRD) Committee.

In summary, URDC:

  • Sets policy regarding research degree matters;
  • Reviews and maintains regulations regarding research degrees;
  • Monitors the performances of Faculties regarding progress and completions;
  • Considers and approves the Chair, FRD Committee’s Annual Standards and Quality Evaluative Review Reports (ASQERs).

The Graduate School Management Board (GSMB)

The Graduate School Management Board (GSMB) is an operational group of URDC. It provides operational direction for all research degrees programmes and associated matters in the University. GSMB considers and develops strategic policies relating to research degrees that are then passed to URDC and other relevant University committees for consideration and approval.

Faculty Research Degrees (FRD) Committee

Each Faculty is required to operate a Faculty Research Degrees (FRD) Committee, which have delegated authority from/on behalf of URDC for certain matters detailed in the FRD Committee Terms of Reference approved by URDC (see below). Membership includes the Faculty Research Degree Coordinator as Chair, staff active in PGRS supervision, nominally the staff with overall responsibility within each School or Department and the DRDC. At least two PGRS sit on each FRD Committee and can bring matters to the Committee which are of concern to researchers within the Faculty. A member of the Research Section, Academic Registry attends each FRD Committee meeting to provide advice on the Academic Regulations, current procedures and to liaise with staff on matters relating to PGRS. Administrative staff from the Faculty are also members of the FRD Committee.

Each year, between August and October the Chair, FRD Committee will produce an Annual Standards and Quality Evaluative Review of Postgraduate Research Degree Programmes (ASQER) and this report is submitted to the FRD Committee before it is presented at URDC in December for discussion. The reports demonstrate clear evidence and evaluation of postgraduate provision and are used to confirm that standards are maintained. The research ASQER Report template and guidance notes (requires staff login) are available online.

FRD Committees deal with the day-to-day matters associated with research degrees e.g. researcher development, Annual Review monitoring, Major Review and appointment of examiners. It also undertakes a quality assurance role assessing the progress of PGRS within the Faculty, including qualification rates. FRD Committees report to URDC, and can bring matters to URDC for discussion and consideration.

The Chair, FRD Committee has delegated authority to deal with certain research matters specified in the FRD Committee Terms of Reference to ensure a timely response. A report detailing actions taken is submitted to the FRD Committee for information and is noted under devolved business.

All supervisors can bring issues to FRD Committees by requesting that their DRDC raise them for discussion at FRD Committee. PGRS can also request items to be raised by their student representative or by writing to the Chair, FRD Committee.


In summary FRD Committees:

  • Have delegated authority regarding the day-to-day management of research degree matters;
  • Deal with, through agreed process, matters regarding student registration, approval of the supervisory team and any changes to supervisors, approval of applications for Major Review and appointment of two Major Review assessors, applications for extension and suspension (interrupted study) of registration and approval of examination arrangements;
  • Ensure the Annual Review and Major Review processes for all PGRS are undertaken and if problems have been raised advise and take action where appropriate, including recommending Interim Examinations;
  • Report the submission of the Annual Review forms (UPR8A completed by the PGRS and UPR8B completed by the First Supervisor) to the Research Section, Academic Registry to confirm satisfactory progress is being made by PGRS;
  • Approve the recommendation for an Interim Examination and confirm the form of assessment following the request for an Interim Examination by the First Supervisor who is concerned that satisfactory progress is not being made;
  • Report the results of decisions taken under delegated authority by submitting copies of the Devolved Business for the agenda of FRD Committee; including all events dealt with by Chair’s Action.

Minutes from GSMB and FRD Committees are all submitted to URDC to enable issues to be discussed at an institutional level.

If you would like to read the latest minutes from both the FRDCs and GSMB committees or groups please contact the Graduate School by emailing