Graduate School


Tools and Resources for Research Students

The University has a huge number of resources for Postgraduate Research Degree (PGRD) students. Below you will find a number of resources which may help you throughout your studies.

Student Handbook

This is a dedicated resource giving you information and guidance on the administrative, academic and support arrangements for all research degree programmes. Download the Student Handbook (PDF).

Skills Forge 

Skills Forge is an interactive web-based system for booking your place on Graduate School Workshops, managing your Professional Research and Excellence Skills (PRaXiS) development and maintaining a record of your progress with your doctoral degree. You can find Skills Forge at: View the step by step Skills Forge guides: Skills Forge guide for students and Skills Forge Guide for Supervisors. For login issues and FAQ's, please see here.


As Postgraduate Research students and Professional Doctorate students do not follow the terms and semesters which apply to the rest of the University it is important to note that the library operates reduced opening hours outside of term-time. Find out more about the University Library. There are also a number of subject specific GSDP workshop to help provide advice on effective literature searching run by faculty librarians, these can be found and booked on to via skillsforge.


Funding your way through a PhD can be daunting, there are however tools to help you secure additional funding including The Alternative Guide to Funding which can be accessed using your University email address and registering as a new user in the green box (option 1).

Charities and Trusts also provide research funding, further information can be found by downloading our PhD Studentship Funders 2015. Please note that most of these funders operate to strict closing dates for submissions so please read the guidelines very carefully and give yourself plenty of time to prepare a submission.

We also run a GSDP workshop 'Attracting commercial research sponsors' for those students who are seeking funding for a current programme of work that may have commercial implications. Please visit Skillsforge to find further course details and to book.

Useful books

In addition to finding resources and literature for your studies, the University Library also has a range of books to provide advice on completing your postgraduate research studies. From applying for funding through to sitting your viva these books provide useful information and guidance on the whole postgraduate research degree process. Here are some examples:


  • Phillips, E., & Pugh, D. S. (2010). How to get a PhD: a handbook for students and their supervisors (5th Ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press. (Shelfmark 378.242/PHI)
  • Rugg, G., & Petre, M. (2010). The unwritten rules of PhD research. Maidenhead: Open University Press. (Shelfmark 378.242/RUG)
  • Gill, J. & Medd, W. (2013). Your PhD coach: how to get the PhD experience you want. Maidenhead: Open University Press 

Doing a Professional Doctorate

  • Smith, N-J. (2009). Achieving your Professional Doctorate. Maidenhead: Open University Press. (Shelfmark 378.1553/LEE)
  • Scott, D. (2004). Professional doctorates: integrating professional and academic knowledge. Maidenhead: Open University Press. (Shelfmark 378.242/PRO: Also available as an e-book)

Managing a research project

  • Bell, J. (2014).Doing your research project: a guide for first-time researchers in education, health and social science (4th ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press (Shelfmark 300.72/BEL; Also available as an e-book)
  • Potter, S. (2006). Doing postgraduate research (2nd ed.). London: Sage. (Shelfmark 001.42/DOI)

Writing a thesis

  • Murray, R. (2011). How to write a thesis. Maidenhead: Open University Press. (Shelfmark 808.02/MUR: Also available as an e-book)
  • Dunleavy, P. (2003). Authoring a PhD: How to Plan, Draft, Write and Finish a Docotoral Thesis or Dissertation. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. (Shelfmark 808.02/DUN)
  • Mewburn, I. (2012). How to tame your PhD. Melbourne: Thesis Whisperer Books
  • Ridley, D. (2012). The Literature Review (2nd ed.). London: Sage Publications Ltd
  • Wallace, M & Wray, A. (2014). Critical reading and writing for Postgraduates. London: Sage Publications Ltd

The Viva

  • Tinkler, P. (2004). The doctoral examination process: a handbook for students, examiners and supervisors. Maidenhead: Open University Press. (Shelfmark 378.242/TIN)
  • Murray, R. (2011). How to survive your viva: defending a thesis in an oral examination. Maidenhead: Open University Press. (Shelfmark 378.242/MUR)

Useful websites

The postgraduate Forum
Research Methods
Writing your Thesis
Viva Advice
After you have completed your Phd

Vitae provide a huge range of invaluable resources for all types of postgraduate researchers and research staff, including tips on managing your doctorate, working with your supervisors and careers advice.

They also run a range of events for postgraduate researchers including GRAD schools and careers events. Dependent upon your funding source, many of these events are free and may be a good opportunity for you to meet other PhD students and to develop your career in research.

Vitae also produce an electronic newsletter for postgraduate researchers, keeping you up-to-date with some serious and not so serious aspects of studying for a doctorate.


Why is referencing so important? For research degrees you will be expected to reference to an academic standard. Good referencing practice is an important part of avoiding plagiarism.

Make referencing easier using software.You will be managing larger numbers of references than you will have done for your previous degrees. This makes it crucial to manage your referencing well throughout your studies – when it comes to writing up being able to have instant access to all your references and cite them automatically in your document really makes life easier. You may find using referencing software such as EndNote/EndNote Web, Mendeley or Zotero an invaluable way of keeping track of all your references. The Graduate School Development Programme also runs a number of sessions on how to use these tools, please refer to the Brochure or visit Skillsforge to search for these workshops.

The University Library has resources to help you with referencing style and also offers workshops on referencing and using referencing tools.For more unusual sources you may wish to consult a style manual, which can be found in the University Library. Important: Before you start you should check with your First Supervisor what the correct referencing style is for your department.

Thesis binding

Before submitting your thesis you should arrange to have it bound. You should read carefully the Instructions and notes on Submission, Format and Binding in your Research Degree Handbook before you have your thesis bound. The University’s Printing Services now offer a full thesis binding service for all postgraduate research students. Printing Services can undertake the full production of your thesis, ensuring quality print, correct paper selection, black hard cover thesis binding and gold foil blocking. Please provide your thesis in PDF format and refer to the Postgraduate Research Handbook for the exact requirements. Please ensure you have provide an additional PDF for the text to appear on the cover and spine in gold foil blocking. The cost of thesis binding is just £25.00, which includes three lines of gold foiling on the front cover and one line on the spine. Additional lines of gold foiling are £5 per line. The cost of printing your thesis starts from just 4p per side for mono printing. The University binding service can only bind hardbound theses up to 280 pages, if your thesis is likely to be over this we recommend -

Barwell Bookbinding
Unit 7
Royal Clarence Marina
Cooperage Green
Weevil Lane
PO12 1FY

Careers service

Purple Door Careers & Recruitment is dedicated to helping you to work out what you need to do to attain a satisfying and enjoyable career. You can visit the Purple Door Careers Centre at any time where you will find lots of information about different careers, study options and where to find opportunities. If you need further advice and guidance you can arrange to meet a Careers Adviser who can help you plan your next steps. You can register with Purple Door Recruitment working proactively with employers on behalf of students to find full-time, part-time and voluntary positions both in the local area and throughout the UK. Visit our careers service

Academic Skills and Maths Café

All students at the university are also able to access a variety of academic support services such as the Academic Skills Unit and Maths Café.