School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences

Research students

Information for Doctoral Researchers in MPS.

The School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences welcomes all of our Doctoral Researchers.

We encourage both new and continuing students to take time to familarise yourself with the MPS Handbook for Doctoral Researchers, which is updated each year.

The information below should help to answer the most frequently asked questions amongst Doctoral Researchers.

Should you have any other questions not answered below, you should first contact Amelia Redman in the MPS School Office in Pevensey 2. You are also welcome to contact the Director of Doctoral Studies, Prof Sebastian Jaeger if you are a Physics and Astronomy doctoral researcher or the sub-director, Dr Omar Lakkis, if you are a Mathematics doctoral researcher. 

What are the training requirements for my PhD?

You should speak to your supervisor about your training requirement which depend upon whether you are a doctoral researcher in Mathematics or Physics and Astronomy

Can I undertake any extra paid work as part of my PhD?

You should check with your supervisor first, but if they agree there are opportunities to work in the department as a tutor once you have completed the required training course.

There are also opportunities to undertake work as part of our outreach programme, you should contact Dr Darren Baskill for more information about this

Does the department provide computers?

If you have a studentship at Sussex, check with your supervisor that you have sufficient funds to buy a computer from your Research Training Support Grant (RTSG).

Alternatively, if you are willing to accept a refurbished laptop or desktop at no cost to your RTSG or yourself, the Schools Computing Support Engineer, Roberto Scipioni keeps a small stock.

Any computer purchased with School funds, or loaned to you, remains the property of the School and must be returned to Roberto or the School office when you finish your studies.

To buy a laptop or desktop, there are two routes:

(1) Select from a list of computers and accessories available through ITS.  Buying through ITS ensures that your computer will be maintained by them through its working life.  You may be able to order using the above link and your RTSG subproject code.   If need be, the School office will purchase on your behalf.  Email mpsresearchsupport@sussex.ac.uk or call in to see Amelia Redman.

(2) If  ITS do not have a computer appropriate to your requirements, Roberto Scipioni can purchase for you.

Is there any support available to help me improve my English language skills?

The Sussex Centre for Language Studies offers free support to doctoral researchers whose first language is not English. 

How do I print, scan or photocopy?

Check the instructions for printing from the multi-function printers

If your printer credit runs out, contact Amelia Redman and he will add more for you. 

How do I access the building during evenings or weekends?

Request a SALTO card which will allow you to access the building when the main doors are locked. You can also request access to labs and offices as required. 

Are there any Research Development opportunities available?

There are research development opportunities available to you. Please see the list below.

Researcher-Led Mental Health and Wellbeing Initiatives

Researchers are invited to submit proposals for initatives/interventions designed to benefit the mental health and wellbeing of Sussex doctoral researchers, aligned to one or more five themes. There are also opportunties to get involved with, without submitting your own proposal, by suggesting an idea for an initiative, or expressing your interest in helping other researchers to deliver a proposal. 

For individuals submitting a full proposal, a maximum of £750 is available per project. Applications will be reviewed by members of the Understanding the Mental Health of Doctoral Researchers Project Steering Group. 

Researcher-Led Initiative Fund

The Researcher-Led Initiative Fund (RLI Fund) gives researchers greater input into their development by supporting them to organise activities that will enhance their professional and research skills.

Open to doctoral researchers and early career researchers, the RLI Fund aims to complement the training and development opportunities provided through the Research Development Programme and within Schools. Researchers can now also apply to the fund to organise public engagement activities.

Thesis Boot Camp – Apply for a place

Thesis Boot Camp is an intensive and supportive writing environment for late-stage doctoral researchers. The core idea is to give you the necessary time, space, and encouragement to make significant progress on your first draft. It's not designed to provide specific advice on editing, restructing, or polishing a thesis - the focus is on overcoming writer's block to produce a large number of words.

Support is provided through short tutorials, group discussion, and 1-to-1 consultations with the facilitator. Attendees are required to complete preparatory tasks to get the most out of the weekend.   

The weekend is fully catered, but no overnight accommodation is available. 

Three Minute Thesis Expressions of Interest

An 80,000 word thesis would take 9 hours to present. Your time limit... 3 minutes!

Following the success of our 2016 and 2018 competitions, Three Minute Thesis (3MT) returns to the University as part of our Festival of Doctoral Research. 3MT is an academic competition that challenges doctoral researchers to describe their research within three minutes to a general audience. 

How do I get funding for conferences, travel and training?

Funding for conferences, travel and training

How do I book travel for conferences and other events?

The University requires travel to be booked via Key Travel where possible. Contact them by emailing sussex@keytravel.com or calling 0845 1220102 witht the details of your trip to request a quote. This quote can then be sent to Amelia Redman who will arrange payment from your source of funding (normally your Research Training Support Grant (RTSG)). 

Sometimes it might be more cost effective to book directly through an airline or hotel. In this case, you must first request a quote from Key Travel to confirm that this is the case. 

You must apply for Travel Insurance (via the admin tab on Sussex Direct) and complete a Risk Assesment form for every trip which takes you away from the university overnight. Ask at the school office if you need help with this. 

How do I claim back expenses after a trip away from the University?

You should reclaim out of pocket expenses using the Unit 4 Finance system where possible.

Alternatively you can use a Student Expenses Claim Form 

Once completed, return this form to Amelia Redman along with your reciepts for processing.

How do I pay money back to the University if asked to do so?

To repay, call the Cashier’s office with your card details on +44 1273 877367 (International), or you can go in person to the Cashiers office in Sussex House (door to the right of the main entrance).

Please provide the cashiers with the account code ("subproject") that the money should be refunded to.

You can also refund by inter-bank transfer.  Ask the Cashiers or contact Richard Chambers in the School Office if you need help or information.

I am going away on a period of fieldwork or long term attachment (LTA) or a placement, what do I need to do?

There are several forms you must fill out before you leave, there are more details at the Going on Fieldwork or LTA pages

I am having some personal problems or am unwell and need to take some time off, what should I do? 

You can request a break from your PhD in periods of one month or more by completing the Intermission Request Form. This should be returned to Amelia Redman along with any relevant evidence. 

Doing this will 'stop the clock' on your PhD so that you do not lose any time from your maximum period of registration. 

Speak to Tom if you have any further questions. 

You may also find it helpful to contact the Student Life Centre who can provide advice and support in a number of areas. 

Am I entitled to Annual, Maternity, Paternity or Adoption Leave?

Yes, further information can be found in the policy on annual leave and maternity, paternity and adoption arrangements

How do I change from full to part time studies, or vice versa?

You should speak to your supervisor in the first instance. If you decide to go ahead, you should complete the change of registration form and return it to Amelia Redman. Your request will need to then be approved by the Director of Doctoral Studies. 

I have completed all of my research and am writing up my PhD, how do I change to pre-submission status?

After a minimum of three years (or five in the case of part-time students), you may apply to change to pre-submission status. This incurrs a much lower fee but means you are only entitled to minimal supervision and may no longer be eligible for a desk in the department. Pre-submission status will only be granted if you can demonstrate that you have completed your research and a produced a clear draft for your thesis. 

Please note that in order to change to pre-submission status, you should also submit the intention to submit form alongside your pre-submission application. This will enable preparations for your viva to take place.

Please consult the MPS Pre-submission Policy prior to submitting an application.

You should complete all forms and return to Amelia Redman

How do I submit my thesis?

The first step is to notify the university of your "Intention to Submit" by completing the appropriate form. 

Hand in the form (or email a scan of it) to the MPS School Office on mpsresearchsupport@sussex.ac.uk who will forward it to the Research Student Admin office in Sussex House.  The form must be accompanied by a one-page Abstract of the thesis.

You can find the "Intention to Submit" form on the Research Student Administration Office's webpage.  It is important to read this page because it gives detailed guidance on how to prepare and lay out the thesis.  You can also find an explanation of how the viva examination process works, and related matters such as copyright and embargoes.

The university's formal statement of requirements are in Section 10 of the Handbook & Regulations for Doctoral Researchers.

Submit a "paper-style PhD thesis".

You can submit a paper-style PhD thesis if you have already published some of your research (or at least have the paper(s) accepted for publication).  "Paper-style" comprises published (verbatim) papers together with traditional thesis chapters presenting original results.  It is suggested that, if need be, the papers should be accompanied by a discussion of how all the reported research fits together in a coherent manner.  Or else linking chapters could be included.

Your supervisor should advise on the structure of the thesis and provide feedback on each draft.

"You may incorporate, as an integral part of the thesis, any of your work published before the submission of the thesis, provided that the greater proportion of the work for the thesis has been carried out after registration for the degree and under supervision. Candidates submitting a ‘papers-style’ thesis are required to include a declaration confirming their contribution to each paper, especially in cases where the co-author is a supervisor. Examiners will be asked to pay particular attention to consistency or otherwise in the quality of those parts of the thesis which have not been submitted for publication (linking chapters)."