Undertaking a research project that spans at least three years* can be a daunting task. While not as structured as a taught postgraduate programme, the PhD is segmented into four stages, each with distinct milestones to help you monitor your progress and pursue your research at the best pace. The outline below details each stage for candidates entering the programme with an MA degree from Warwick or with a Master’s-level degree from another university. For information about the course structure if you are a candidate on the MPhil (2+2) programme, please see the routes to PhD page for more information.

*Full-time students are registered for four years initially, the fourth year being a writing-up period not subject to fees; part-time students are initially registered for five years.


Year 1

Your first year lays the foundation for your research, and during this foundation year all candidates are registered as MPhil students in the first instance. During this year, you will meet with your supervisors approximately once every month (as a minimum) to develop your research, discuss your progress and plans and prepare for appropriate meetings with a Graduate Progress Committee (GPC). You will also take our core PhD seminar, which engages you with a broad range of philosophical issues beyond your thesis topic that are central to different philosophical traditions. Additionally you are expected to attend any relevant postgraduate seminars, including modules on the taught MA programme. In the summer term, you will prepare and submit written work for the GPC in advance of your first year review, which is used to determine whether you are ready to upgrade from MPhil student to a full PhD.

Year 2

In your second year, you will continue to meet your supervisors at least once a month and prepare for your two major GPC meetings in the autumn and summer terms. By the second progress review meeting, you should have produced approximately 25,000 words towards your thesis and you should submit 3,000 words of new material produced since the last GPC.

Year 3

By summer term of your third year, you should have produced all of the first draft of your thesis and you should submit 30,000 words of new material produced since the autumn term GPC. Continuation year Although you should aim to finish in year 3, a number of students submit during their continuation year. In the autumn term, if a student’s supervisor deems it appropriate, students will prepare and submit written work for a GPC. Usually, however, students who are within two months of submitting their final thesis will not be required to attend a GPC in this continuation year.

Submission and the viva

You should aim to submit your finished thesis in the first six months of your fourth year. After you submit, you will defend your thesis in front of internal and external examiners as your final assessment for the degree (the viva).