Changes to your programme

Change of circumstance application

During the course of your postgraduate degree, there may be changes in your circumstances that affect your programme.  In such circumstances, you should inform your school as soon as possible. 

In most cases, you will be required to seek formal permission from your School or Faculty postgraduate research committee.

The following matters must be brought to the School / Faculty for approval:

  • Application to interrupt the degree
  • Change of thesis title
  • Change in supervision arrangements
  • Change of programme including academic load
  • Application to submit thesis early
  • Application to extend the deadline for thesis submission
  • Permission to submit the thesis in a language other than English
  • Permission to exceed the prescribed thesis word limit
  • Application to undertake fieldwork/study away from the University

For more information on this, including how to apply for ‘special permissions’ please refer to the Change of Circumstances Policy for Postgraduate Research Students:

Application process

Application forms for the above can be found by following the relevant links.

Where appropriate, evidence must be provided to support the application. Depending on the nature of the permission applied for, the decision may be taken by the School PGR Committee or Faculty PGR Committee as appropriate in accordance with relevant University regulations and policies.

The application must be made before the beginning of the proposed change, or if this is not possible, immediately after a situation arises. Retrospective applications will only be considered in the most exceptional circumstances.

The Doctoral Programmes Office will confirm the outcome of the application to you and your supervisory team when a decision has been made.

PGRs in receipt of official funding

Funded students must seek advice from the Doctoral Programmes Office or Faculty contact in the first instance to ensure that they comply with their funding body’s (e.g. Research Council) regulations. All such applications will be flagged to Faculty. This will help identify whether Faculty should seek direct advice with the relevant funding body.

ESRC guide for current award holders:

AHRC guides for current award holders:

PGRs with immigration permission

PGRs must make sure that they are in compliance with UKVI requirements before applying for a change to their study.

PGRs with disability or difficulty

PGRs may require additional support or adjustments to their studies if they have a disability or long-term difficulty affecting their ability to study.

This could be:

  • specific learning difficulties (such as dyslexia);
  • mental health difficulties (such as anxiety);
  • medical conditions (such as epilepsy and arthritis);
  • deaf and hard of hearing;
  • blind and partially sighted; and
  • autism / Asperger syndrome etc.

If you think you might benefit from support, you should explore support options available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service (DASS) before applying for changes to your programme.

Sickness and other absences

You should always consult your doctor (or in the case of an emergency, the Accident & Emergency department of a hospital) if your illness is severe, if it persists, or if you are in any doubt about your health.

For illnesses lasting seven consecutive days or less: Self-certification

If your condition is not sufficiently serious to cause you to seek medical advice, the School does not require you to supply a medical certificate unless you are absent from the School for more than seven consecutive days (including weekends).  You should, however, self-certify your illness by completing and signing Part 1 of the Certification of Student Ill Health form as soon as you are able to return to the School.

If you have been, or are likely to be, ill and unable to study for more than four consecutive weeks, you should apply to interrupt your studies.

For illnesses lasting longer than seven consecutive days: GP’s certification

If you are absent from the School for more than seven consecutive days (including weekends), you should consult your doctor.  If your doctor considers that you are not well enough to attend the School, then you should obtain a doctor’s note to document your illness; or you can ask your doctor to complete and sign Part 3 of the Certification of Student Ill Health form (on the PGR intranet).  Your doctor may make a charge for this service.

If your illness causes you to miss an assessment deadline

You should notify the Doctoral Programmes Office of your illness in advance of the assessment deadline, wherever possible, and hand in the piece of work as soon as you possibly can after you are feeling well again.  If you are ill for seven days or less, then you can self-certify your illness.  If your illness has been for more than seven days, then you must attach a doctor’s note or a Certification of Student Ill Health form signed by your doctor. Agreement for an extension is required from the appropriate course convenor/supervisor/PGR Director.

If you cannot attend an examination or presentation because of ill health

If you are not well and feel unable to attend a formal assessment (such as a presentation or Mid-Year/End of Year Review), then you must inform the Doctoral Programmes Office immediately, and certainly no later than the day of the assessment. You can do this by phoning or emailing the Doctoral Programmes Office or by asking a friend or relative to do so on your behalf.  If you do not do this, you will normally be considered to be absent without good reason and will be awarded zero for the assessment.  When you return to the School, you must then either self-certify or produce evidence from your doctor, depending on the length of your absence.

The School is only obliged to offer students a maximum of two opportunities to take assessments (i.e. the original opportunity plus a re-take for either failing the subject or because of special circumstances such as ill health).  If the examiners grant you more than two opportunities, you will normally be required to take the assessment at the next scheduled opportunity.

Please Note: There is separate guidance on the conduct of thesis examination and viva (oral) examinations.

If you think that ill health has affected your performance

If you are not feeling very well but are able to proceed with an assessment or examination, but you feel that your performance has been impaired by your illness, you need to inform the Doctoral Programmes Office on the same day as the assessment. You should do this by following the procedure for self-certification.  Please note that the School will not normally consider such claims if you self-certify later than the day of assessment.

Long-term medical conditions

If you are suffering from a long-term medical condition, which is affecting your performance and/or your ability to meet deadlines.

In such cases, you should consult your supervisory team and/or the Doctoral Programmes Manager as early in the programme as possible and provide supporting medical evidence.  The School will consider your personal circumstances.  If your illness is serious or persistent, then you may need to interrupt your studies. Please liaise with the School at the earliest available opportunity to consider your options. Further, consider support from the University Disability Support Office or Occupational Health as these services can help with adjustments to study to support your continued progression on your programme.

Persistent self-certification

The School reserves the right to refer students who persistently self-certify to the Student Health Centre for a formal medical assessment.

If your illness lasts for longer than four weeks, you should apply for an interruption to your studies.


If you experience serious problems during your studies, you may apply to interrupt your degree.  Interruptions are only considered in exceptional circumstances (such as ill health, family issues, bereavement):

If you interrupt your studies, your registration will be temporarily suspended, 'stopping the clock'.  Your submission deadline and any formal reviews will be postponed accordingly.  The usual schedule of milestones and requirements will resume when you return to your studies.  

The total period of interruption must not normally exceed 12 months during the full period of the degree, and any further interruptions beyond 12 months will only be permitted under the most exceptional circumstances.

During the period of interruption, students’ registration status is put on hold and no tuition fees are payable.

If you are in receipt of an official sponsorship, you should also discuss your situation with your sponsor to ensure that you understand the financial implications of an interruption (for example, in most cases, a sponsor will stop paying any fees or maintenance awards during an interruption).

Approval process

Interruptions of up to six months can be granted by the School. If you request more than six months in the first instance, the School can only grant a maximum of six months and you will then have to re-apply for a further interruption at the end of the six months. Please note that Maternity, Paternity and Adoption Leave are exempted from this process.

If you request a second interruption, the application will be submitted to the Faculty for consideration regardless of the length.

Apply for an interruption

You should apply for an interruption using the Change of circumstance application form, attaching all relevant documentation.

Your application must also include a detailed study plan detailing the stage you have reached with your work and the remainder to be completed upon your return from interruption and how you will go about this.

Review process

Your application will be reviewed in the first instance by the School PGR Director, with whom you will be required to discuss your application before a decision is made.  If it is a second interruption request, your application will also be reviewed by the Faculty of Humanities Associate Dean for PGR.

The Associate Dean for PGR will endeavour to make a decision on the case and communicate this to the Doctoral Programmes Office within ten days of receiving the completed request.

Interruptions of more than 60 days - international students

The University of Manchester is responsible for monitoring student attendance and progress and reporting poor attendance, withdrawal and interruption to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).  

If you hold a Tier 4/Student visa, you must check its conditions carefully to ensure that you will be able to comply with them before requesting an interruption period as you may not be permitted to remain in the UK for the duration of the interruption. Retrospective interruption requests will not be considered.

If you think you may need to extend your visa as a result of having an interruption, you should contact the Student Immigration Team for further advice.

Student in Submission Pending Period

Students in the Submission Pending Period cannot take an interruption from the programme because the Submission Pending Period is not part of the programme period.   Students with mitigating circumstances during the Submission Pending Period may apply for an extension to the thesis submission deadline.


Extensions and submission pending

Registered period of programmeMaximum allowable submission pending period

1-year full-time and 2-year part-time MPhil

3.5-year full-time doctorate

6 months
3-year full-time and 6-year part-time doctorate 12 months

In extreme exceptional circumstances, students will have the option to apply to the Faculty Postgraduate Committee for permission to extend the Thesis Submission deadline at the end of the Submission Pending period, but generally, the student would have been expected to submit within the above timescale.

Extension to the submission deadline

If you are experiencing serious personal difficulties, you may make a request to extend the deadline for submitting your thesis.  Requests to extend submission deadlines are only granted in extreme circumstances where events beyond your control have made it impossible to submit on time.  

You should discuss this with your supervisory team as soon as possible and, if appropriate, make an application at least two months before your submission deadline. 

Approval process

Extensions to the Submission Deadline for a maximum of 6 weeks can be granted by the School. Extensions above six weeks must be approved at the Faculty level.  Except in exceptional circumstances, an extension should usually not be more than six months.  

Applications to the Faculty should be made using the Change of circumstance application form, attaching all relevant documentation including a plan of work for your thesis.

All applications received will be reviewed in the first instance by the School PGR Director, with whom you will also be required to discuss your application before a decision is made. If your application is for an extension of more than six weeks, it will also be reviewed by the Faculty of Humanities Associate Dean for PGR. The Associate Dean for PGR will endeavour to make a decision on the case and communicate this to the Doctoral Programmes Office within ten days of receiving the completed request.

If your application is approved, you will be charged the appropriate registration or Submission Pending fees.  If your thesis is submitted after the agreed submission deadline (with or without an extension) and if the School agrees to accept the late submission, you will be charged a late submission fee.  Please note, the late submission policy only applies to students who started their current postgraduate research programme before 1 September 2012.

Requests for extensions based on a student’s employment situation or on a computer or other equipment failure are unlikely to be approved.  Students will not be granted extensions because research has taken longer than expected, or on the basis of personal or financial situations which could reasonably have been foreseen.   

Important note for students holding a Tier 4/Student visa

If you are a student holding a Tier 4/Student visa and your research is delayed, you will need to apply to the UKVI for an extension of stay in the UK to enable you to complete your studies. 

Medical certificates and other relevant documents must be gathered as these will form an essential part of the immigration extension application. 

You are advised to contact the Student Immigration Team, in the Student Services Centre. 

Other changes to your programme

In exceptional circumstances, you may be given the approval to make changes to your programme of study or submit your thesis under specifically agreed amendments to the usual regulations. 

Any request to make the following changes to your programme must be submitted on the Special Permissions Application Form and be submitted in a timely manner.

All requests should have the support of your supervisory team and provide evidence/reasons for the change requested.  For further information and advice, you should contact your Doctoral Programmes Administrator.

Word limit extensions

You may apply to extend the word limit for your thesis from 80,000 words (PhD) or from 50,000 words (MPhil). Your application must provide compelling academic justification for your request.

Approval process

All Word Limit Extension applications will be considered by the School in the first instance. Applications +/- 10% of the word limit can be approved at School level by the PGR Director. However, if applications are for above the 10% limit, the application will be sent to Faculty for approval.

You must justify your application in detail with the support of your supervisory team and should submit your request no less than 6 weeks prior to submission. Your application will be reviewed in the first instance by the School PGR Director.  

If your application requires Faculty approval, the Associate Dean for PGR will endeavour to make a decision on the case and communicate to the Doctoral Programmes Office within 10 days of receiving the completed request.

Early submission of the thesis

You may apply to submit early (i.e. reduce the period of your degree). You may submit no earlier than 3 months before the end of the registration period (3 years). However, you will be required to pay fees for the whole period of registration (i.e. 3 years or part-time equivalent).

For students receiving funding administered/funded by the University of Manchester, please note that funding terminates at the point of thesis submission. Students receiving funding from external bodies should refer to their funder. 

Change of thesis title

Any change in the thesis title confirmed following your 1st Year Review must be approved by the School PGR Committee. Normally, titles are further defined as the writing of the thesis nears completion.  You should finalise the thesis title in consultation with the supervisor and request formal Committee approval for the change in your title before completing the Notice of Submission form in eProg.

Change in supervisory arrangements

While it is expected that you will work with your supervisors throughout your period of registration, there will be occasions when a change of supervision becomes necessary, e.g. when the original supervisor leaves the University, temporarily or permanently, or where your research topic changes significantly.

In such circumstances, another supervisor(s) will be allocated to you, and the change approved by the School PGR Committee. 

If your topic of research has changed substantially and you require changes to your supervisory team, you should ensure your new title has been approved prior to requesting to change supervisors. Changes to supervision arrangements initiated by the student for other reasons will not normally be approved.

Change in mode of attendance

If you have a change in circumstances that requires you to temporarily or permanently consider changing your mode of attendance from full time to part-time or vice versa, you should discuss this with your supervisor in the first instance. If you then decide to proceed with a change in the mode of attendance for your programme, please contact your Doctoral Programmes Administrator for information on the process.

Note, it is not expected that the mode of attendance would be changed more than twice in a programme at the most.

Permission to submit the thesis in a language other than English

Where the research and analyse of the thesis is mainly in a language other than English, a student can seek permission to submit the thesis in that language. If you think this could apply to your thesis, please discuss this in the first instance with your supervisor. If you then decide to proceed to seek permission to submit the thesis in a language other than English, please contact your Doctoral Programmes Administrator for information on the process.


If you are found to have been deceitful or dishonest in certifying illness or any other special circumstances, you may be liable to disciplinary action under the University’s General Regulation XVII: Conduct and Discipline of Students.


A withdrawal is defined as the complete and total cessation of all studying from the programme. If you want to withdraw from the programme, for whatever reason, please discuss this with your supervisor first. 

If you then decide to proceed with a withdrawal from the programme, please contact your Doctoral Programmes Administrator for information on the withdrawal process.

Tuition fees are charged on a daily basis up to and including the last date of attendance on the degree. If a refund is required, it must be requested in writing to the Student Services Centre. Refunds will not be made unless the School has issued an official last date of attendance.

Please complete the Withdrawal form and return it to