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guides 2009/10

edinburgh university students’ association

postgraduate guide

contents Welcome ...........................................................5 Within the University .........................................6 The Students’ Association..................................8 The Academic Environment ..............................14 Postgraduate Codes of Practice ........................18 Academic Information .......................................22 Academic Facilities.............................................28 Skills Training & Development ..........................32 Non-academic issues.........................................38 Telephone Numbers...........................................52 Notes..................................................................53

Edinburgh University Students’ Association Potterrow 5/2 Bristo Square Edinburgh, EH8 9AL Tel: 0131 650 2656 Fax: 0131 668 4177 Email: Web: EUSA is a Registered Scottish Charity (No. SCO15800)



Welcome Welcome to Edinburgh. Welcome to Edinburgh University. I am sure you will enjoy your time here. If you are new to the city, make sure you take the chance to look around - it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Edinburgh University was the UK’s first public university. The people of the city took this radical step because they saw education and research as public goods, and believed everyone should have the chance to benefit from them. Whether you are here for research, or for a taught masters program, we at the students’ association are here to help you, and make sure you get the most out of your time here. The Students´ Association is run by students, for students. We are independent of the University, and aspire to provide representation and services to support all aspects of life in Edinburgh. We produce this booklet to help you find where you can get practical help and guidance should you need them, and to help you settle in here. I hope you find it useful. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved in your Students’ Association and I would urge you to do so. We need postgraduates to ensure that you continue to have a say over how you are taught, what access you have to

the resources you need for research, and that you get the best possible deal when it comes to finding funding. The Students´ Association have over 200 registered societies offering a wide range of opportunities, and catering for the most diverse interests. Post-grads are encouraged to get involved with these - there may be an equivalent of a society you were a part of during your undergraduate degree, or maybe you want to try something new. We run bars, clubs, cafes and restaurants around the city for your enjoyment. We also offer welfare support, advice and training, aiming to ensure that life here is as comfortable and rewarding as it should be. Both the city and the University have a great deal to offer any student, and I am sure that your time here will be a memorable one. If we can be of any help during your time here in Edinburgh then please do get in touch - pop into the office in Potterrow, or email me on Best wishes and I hope to meet you soon, Thomas Graham President


within the University Edinburgh has a distinguished research and teaching reputation - in the last research assessment exercise, the University received excellent results and further enhanced its status as Scotland’s leading research University. Over 8000 of the approximately 26,000 students at Edinburgh are postgraduates, so you have plenty of mature and intellectual company, not to mention potential friends. These people will be participating in one of over 200 taught postgraduate courses, or conducting research in one of 130 or so subject areas. The University is structured into 3 colleges and 21 schools. Postgraduate study is organised at School level, usually within a Graduate School, which provides a focus for postgraduate activity and a community for postgraduate students. Although specific arrangements may vary, you can expect a basic consistency of practice. Taught postgraduates have a programme director who will usually be the first port of call for any courserelated queries or problems. The Code of Practice for Taught Courses will give you an idea of what is good practice and what you can expect. Your course handbook should give you detailed school information about all aspects of study. It is important that you read these. Research students will have 6


a first and a second supervisor, who act as advisors on research and other matters. The Code of Practice for Supervisors and Research Students has more information on supervision and this is also discussed later in this publication. Both Codes of Practice are available at (under ‘publications’), and will usually also be issued to you once you start your course.

Key contacts As well as the supervisor (for Research students) and Programme Director (for taught postgraduates), the Head of Graduate School oversees postgraduate activity in each school. Departmental Postgraduate Advisers can help if you don’t feel able to speak directly to your supervisor. Postgraduate Administrators are usually approachable and helpful in advising on relevant policy, procedures and regulations affecting your study Taught postgraduates should also be represented on the relevant StaffStudent liaison committees within your school. Here they can raise any general issues or concerns affecting students on your courses. Class reps are normally nominated in the first few weeks of semester 1. There is also a School Postgraduate Studies Committee which makes decisions

regarding postgraduate provision. This should usually include representation from taught and research postgraduate students. EUSA represents you at the University Postgraduate Studies Committee, which is responsible for setting policy for University-wide matters such as Codes of Practice, course organisation and monitoring supervisor training. The postgraduate committee of the SRC (Students’ Representative Council, see below) is regularly consulted on such matters.


the Students’ Association The Potterrow, Bristo Square, tel. 6502656, Open: 9.30 am to 5.30 pm Monday to Thursday; 10.30 am to 5 pm Friday. EUSA exists to fulfil 2 functions: to provide a variety of services to students and to represent them to the university and beyond.

Representation - How It works EUSA is student-led and student-run, managed by a team of 4 sabbatical officers. These are people who take a year out of studying and are elected by students to run the Students’ Association. Your sabbatical team for this year are: President Thomas Graham VP Academic Affairs Evan Beswick VP Societies & Activities Camilla Pierry VP Services James Wallace

In addition to the sabbaticals, there is the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) made up of over 80 elected student members. This is where student issues are discussed and debated. More focussed discussion around particular themes takes place at the 5 subcommittees (Postgraduate, Academic Services, Teaching and Learning, Welfare, External). Issues which are relevant to postgraduate students can come up in a number of these committees, but the one which is most relevant is obviously the Postgraduate Committee. Each committee has its own Convener and there are experienced staff to support them. If you have a specific problem or issue then you can contact the Convener of the relevant subcommittee through the EUSA office or via our website. If they cannot help you directly then they will point you in the right direction for help. You can also approach any member of the SRC for help or speak to one of the sabbaticals. The postgraduate convener this year is Eoin Kerrane, who can also be contacted directly through the email address EUSA can do a great deal for postgraduates either directly, through improving its own services, or indirectly through its representations to the



University on a range of issues. The Postgraduate Committee, one of the sub-committees on the SRC, is there to provide a forum for the discussion of postgraduate issues, and to represent postgraduates and the issues that concern them within the Students’ Association and to the University. So that this committee can best represent the wishes of Edinburgh University postgrads, it is important that they attend or contribute if they can. The postgraduate convener sits on the central University Postgraduate Studies Committee, representing postgraduate views to the University. Our postgrad reps also sit on the College Postgraduate Studies Committees where key decisions can be made. There are spaces on the Students Representative Council specifically for postgraduate students, and if you are interested you could stand in our campus-wide elections in October. The Postgraduate Committee proposed the publication of a Code of Practice for Taught Postgraduates, which is now well established throughout the University. They also represented students on the issue of the continuation fee. These are just some examples of the work the Committee does day-today, representing postgraduates on University committees. If you have a query, want to raise an issue, want to get involved or want help and advice from the Committee, then you shouldn’t

hesitate to contact the Convener by emailing Alternatively, come in and talk to one of the sabbaticals. There are also a number of full time EUSA staff who have a wide knowledge of student matters. For individual queries contact The Advice Place at any stage, and for queries on representation, contact sarah.purves@ There should also be student postgrad representatives within your own subject area. You can contact these reps concerning any school-based issues. If you don’t know who to contact, ask your graduate school who the School postgraduate rep is. If you have specific issues about facilities or provision, ideas and suggestions for improvements or new initiatives in your school, then you can raise these through your local rep. You could also consider being a rep yourself. If you are a postgraduate rep, you can contact the Students’ Association for support any time you need to, through

Course Reviewer The Course Reviewer (www.eusa. is an online facility provided by the Students’ Association which lets you submit reviews on all the taught courses that you take at the University. You can also browse and


the Students’ Association rate other reviews. The facility is still in its early stages, so please spread the word so it can grow into a really valuable online resource for students to consult when they are making course choices (or when they simply want to know what everyone else’s courses are like).

The Advice Place Bristo Square, tel. 650-9225 Semester Opening Hours: Monday, Thursday and Friday, 9.45-4.45 Tuesday 9.45-7pm Wednesday 10.30-4.45 Vacations: Mon-Fri, 11 am-2 pm King’s Buildings. tel. 650-5822 Open: 11 am to 2 pm, Mon- Fri, Vacations: 11 am – 2 pm, Wed; and by appointment. Holyrood tel. 651-6060 11 am - 2 pm, Mon-Fri. Vacations: by appointment only. The Advice Place is part of EUSA and independent of the University. It is a professional and confidential walk-in centre for students, offering information and advice on a wide range of student welfare issues. The Advice Place should be your first stop for advice about just about everything that affects you. It is staffed by volunteers and professional staff 10


who have extensive experience and knowledge in relation to postgraduate students. We also have staff who specialise in academic issues and can help you understand and use university procedures such as appeals or complaints, if this is necessary. The Advice Place also publishes a PostArrival guide for international students, which contains information useful to students once they have arrived in Edinburgh. This complements the PreArrival Guide produced jointly by EUSA and the University. For more information about what The Advice Place does and how to contact us, visit

Postgraduate Space Most of the Unions include areas with a more relaxed, laid-back atmosphere than some of the rowdier bars. There is a coffee bar in Teviot Row House where you can get cappucinos, lattes etc, and a dedicated Postgraduate Common Room downstairs that provides a pleasant space in which to relax and catch up with friends. The Pleasance bar at Societies Centre is also a popular choice with those looking for somewhere to have a quieter sociable drink and chat. The Blackford lounge in KB House, is reserved for postgraduates and staff. Most of our premises are wireless networked, so you can catch up on work

or check email/ the internet as you relax over a coffee.

Union Houses Teviot Bristo Square, tel. 650-4673 Teviot is the oldest and best equipped Union building in Scotland, and has undergone extensive refurbishment recently. It serves a variety of food to large numbers of students each day and provides meeting rooms, board games and newspapers. It also has snooker, pool and video games for which you have to pay. There are a number of different bars/coffee areas, and at night a variety of discos and other entertainments. The Potterrow Bristo Square, tel. 650-8090 A large-capacity venue for big name bands and club nights, as well as various theme nights. During the day there is a pleasant coffee bar serving snacks and great coffee and cakes. The Students Association offices and our largest student shop is also based in this building. The Advice Place is located just outside Potterrow. King’s Buildings Kings’ Buildings House, tel. 650-5772 KB House facilities include games rooms, squash courts, a sports hall, and shop, as well as an Advice Place. You can also take advantage of the modern

bar and catering facilities including a food court and coffee lounge. KB House is just the place to relax between lectures and bouts of work, and has an area (the Blackford Lounge) specifically for Postgraduates and staff. Pleasance 60, The Pleasance, tel. 650-2351 The Societies’ Centre has a bar open until 1am, Monday - Friday, which is often less rowdy than the other central Union houses. The Pleasance serves food at lunch-times. The Pleasance is a great place for an afternoon coffee and chat. It also hosts regular comedy nights, following on from the Pleasance’s popularity as a comedy venue during the Fringe. Shops EUSA runs several on-campus shops (including Potterrow, KB, Pollock Halls and David Hume Tower), selling various stationery items, sandwiches and snacks and newspapers and magazines, all at competitive prices.

Societies There are many different societies at Edinburgh that you can join. Most can be contacted through the EUSA offices at Potterrow, and most will also have a stall at the Societies’ Fair during Freshers’ week. This is a great opportunity to find out more about what an individual society does and what you can get out of them. A complete


the Students’ Association list of societies, with more detailed information and contact numbers, can be found at, All of our societies welcome postgrad members. Joining a society is a great way to participate in activities you enjoy, develop new interests, and meet other people who enjoy the same sorts of things as you.

Sports Facilities The Sports Union 48 The Pleasance, tel. 650-2346 Open: 9.30 am to 4pm during semester time; 9.30 am to 3 pm during vacations. Centre for Sport and Exercise, 46 The Pleasance, tel. 650-2585 Open: 8.30 am to 9.30 pm Monday to Friday, 9.00 am to 5.30 pm Saturday, 10.00 am to 5.30 pm Sunday All students are automatically members of the Sports Union, which is made up of all the sports clubs and the Intramural Sports Association. It acts with the Physical Education Department to provide facilities and resources to cater to just about everyone. There are approximately 50 different clubs, covering just about every imaginable sport. For more details and information on how to contact the club organisers, or to get a copy of the Sports Union’s annual handbook, contact the Sports Centre. The aim of the Union is to get everyone to participate in the sports scene at Edinburgh. It provides competitive sports through the clubs and a less competitive environment through an intra-mural programme, including 12


badminton, basketball, football, hockey, lacrosse, netball, rifle shooting, rowing, rugby, squash, tennis and volleyball. The University provides a number of different facilities, the majority of which are based at the Sports Centre. This has eight new squash courts, a multi-gym complex, male and female saunas and a large sports hall, with changing rooms, lockers and showers. To use the Centre for Sport and Exercise, you can pay a small fee each time you visit or, for real value for money, become a member. The membership rates for 2009/10 have not been published at the time of writing, but an annual student membership for 2008/09 cost £75 for the full year. There are also other membership options available - full information is available at, along with detailed information about the facilities and classes available. There are also gym facilities provided by EUSA in King’s Buildings House. It costs £10 per year to use these facilities. Contact EUSA reception in KB House to join.

Out of Term-time Postgraduates tend to be around at different times from Undergraduates and, whilst it is not fair to say that everything closes during the vacation, out of term time there are significant changes (particularly in relation to opening times) in the facilities available. It is worth finding out what these changes are in advance. Usually, this will be easy to find on the relevant websites.


The Academic Environment Edinburgh, like many Universities, gives a high priority to postgraduates, to developing postgraduate courses and facilities, and to improving the postgraduate experience in general.

The Intellectual Environment Whatever your school or programme of study it is important to remember that doing a postgraduate course offers a wonderful opportunity to develop your experience and enhance your critical and intellectual skills. There are various ways that you can achieve this. Your school may run seminars for postgraduates and staff and have discussion groups (maybe online) relevant to your interests. If none exists, don’t be afraid to suggest one for there are bound to be people in the same situation as you who want to exchange ideas. The University also runs a number of open seminars and lectures. These are advertised on notice boards around the University and many are listed in the University Bulletin, or on the University website. which is a valuable source of information on what is going on in the University. You may also have the opportunity to attend various conferences, either in Edinburgh itself, nationally or overseas. Your attendance 14


at these depends largely on the relevance to your research interests and how you are funded. Check with your school for information. Getting involved in the intellectual life of the University, either within your own School/College or Universitywide, can bring you enormous benefits and help you see the relation of your studies to others peoples’ work. It is also important if you want a career in research, and is a great way of avoiding or overcoming feelings of isolation and loneliness which can occur during a long-term project.

Making the most of the research experience The research environment for students is not something that can be easily categorised, since there are such divergent experiences between disciplines. Doing a PhD is a major undertaking and one which is, essentially, a personal quest. Although your research is entirely your own, you will have supervisors who will give you guidance. In the initial stages this guidance can be quite substantial, as you feel your way and establish the boundaries of your research. As this settles down you should develop a working relationship with your supervisor which satisfies both of you.

Nevertheless, there can sometimes be problems with supervision which can cause friction, although these can usually be resolved if you address them at an early stage. Some students become dissatisfied with the quality or quantity of their supervisor’s involvement with their project. There are various reasons for this, from a basic clash of personalities to more fundamental difficulties such as your supervisor’s research experience being inappropriate to your area, inaccessibility on the part of the supervisor or, by no means the least important, your lack of experience. However, most supervisors do a good job and many are excellent. If you hit it off with your supervisor, this relationship will enhance your research experience, as they are closely involved with your work and interested in what you are doing. If you are having problems, refer to the Code of Practice for Research Students, given out at the beginning of the course or available online, to see what you can reasonably expect. If you are not satisfied, follow the advice in the Code or go into The Advice Place to explore the options available to you. Make sure you take up opportunities to give feedback on your experience. The University participates in the national Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES).

You should complete this as honestly, but constructively, as possible. The purpose of this survey is to check the experience of supervision from the student view point. The University does take the outcomes seriously and takes the results into account when considering changes.

So what’s doing a PhD really like? “A great philosopher said that ‘life is a rollercoaster and you’ve just got to ride it!’ Well, maybe not a great philosopher.... but doing a PhD is full of ups and downs. I didn’t expect this when I started and my first year went by smoothly, but it’s true - sometimes things go really well, and at other times, it’s hard. Accept that this is the case and just get on with it. The pressure is really on to finish in three years, but it’s not the end of the world if you don’t. My best advice is that, whereas a few years ago, you could spend years indulging yourself, you must in today’s climate be pragmatic and be prepared not to do everything you want to.” (John, 2nd year PhD student)


The Academic Environment Top tips for PhDs from fellow PhD students: • Make notes so you can remember key points from your meetings with your supervisors • Learn a ‘dinner party’ version of your research topic so that people can actually understand what you are studying • Check out the Transkills programme at • Make use of peer groups, if available; or why not start one?

Making the most of the Taught postgraduate experience As with PhDs, there is a wide diversity of experiences between different schools and colleges. In most cases, courses comprise a combination of course work and a dissertation. The requirements for your course should be set out in a Programme Handbook which will also outline key contacts, what to do if you have difficulties etc. The issues facing Masters’ students are rather different from those facing PhD students. Many Masters’ students feel a lack of recognition of the fact that they are postgraduates: Many feel they are caught somewhere between undergraduates and PhD students. This may come from the fact that, in 16


some schools, they may be studying similar subject matter to undergraduate students. The key issue for many Masters students is that they are only here for one year. For this reason its important to raise any concerns as soon as possible to ensure that any difficulties can be addressed quickly. When you come to write your dissertation, you will find that many of your experiences are similar to those faced by PhD students. Like them, you also need realistic expectations of what facilities and support should be available. If you do not have the facilities that you need, you should take action to resolve the problem. Your Programme Handbook should set out the dissertation requirements and what support you can expect during the process. The Code of Practice for Taught Masters Students is also a useful guide and provides sensible advice about how to deal with issues that may arise. You can also contact the Advice Place at any time. Masters students must face the fact that Masters Courses tend to be for only one year, which is a remarkably short amount of time. It is important to hit the ground running, and you should be prepared for this when you arrive. It is also essential that you take the initiative to find out what is expected of you, and how the University can help you. You do

not have as much time as PhD students to get used to your new environment. If you feel that things are not going as they should, it is important to seek advice early, either from your Programme Director or The Advice Place. Many Masters students see their Masters as the first step to a PhD. Bear in mind that decisions about whether or not to apply for further study need to be made at an early stage. If this is your plan, seek information as early as possible.

Your School facilities Your school will usually be your focus in the University. It should provide research students with space to work and the equipment and facilities necessary for them to complete their project. Unfortunately, facilities for research students will vary quite considerably from school to school. What you get will depend on the school, but normally should include: bench space, dedicated study space, space for books, filing space, storage space, mailbox/ pigeonhole, access to a telephone, fax and photocopier, a desk with adequate light (and heat), access to a computer network (either a central one or through the school) and adequate research materials.

Some of these are ill-defined - what exactly is adequate heat? - but it does give you an idea of what the University expects you to be provided with. Schools should also provide a designated space on a notice board for postgraduate information, including seminars, general School and University information and job vacancies. Facilities for taught postgraduates will vary considerably between Schools, but you will be issued with a Programme Handbook which will outline the course requirements and let you know what to expect. In large postgraduate schools a definite community exists, and it is a good idea to organise yourselves, to support each other and, where appropriate, to approach your school with suggestions for improvements in facilities, practices and so on.


Codes of Practice The University has a Code of Practice for Supervisors and Research Students, and a Code of Practice for Taught Postgraduate Programmes. You will normally be given a copy of the relevant Code of Practice at the beginning of your degree. These lay out what you can expect from the University, as well as what the University will expect from you. A distinction has to be drawn between the Postgraduate Regulations, which lay down the mandatory framework for the administration and award of postgraduate degrees – available in the online ‘Degree regulations and programmes of study’ (DPRS) - and the Codes of Practice. The latter offers guidelines to staff and students on ‘good practice’. You must be familiar with the contents of both, which you should have been given on acceptance or at matriculation. Both are available on the University website at www. under ‘Regulations and other key documents’.

The Code of Practice for Supervisors and Research Students Supervisors will obviously have a very personal approach to supervision and their relationships with students, and



these will understandably vary from one discipline to another. However, if you follow the guidelines set out in the Code of Practice, things should work out. As a student, you have the responsibility to monitor your supervisory experience and be proactive in maintaining a constructive relationship, just as your supervisor has a responsibility to monitor your progress. The Code of Practice for Supervisors and Research Students deals with the research student experience through its various stages: what you can expect from your department; your supervisor’s role; your responsibilities; formal aspects of progress, including contact, monitoring, re-registration, and annual reports; supervisory absence, extensions and interruptions; the writing up process; submission and (last but not least) examination. It also outlines how to deal with difficulties in the studentsupervisor relationship, and highlights where to get more information on regulatory issues such as appeals. It is a crucial document which you, as a research student, must be familiar with and you should follow its guidance. It is also useful if you are concerned that your experience is falling short of what should be happening.

As the Code is fairly detailed, the postgraduate committee of the SRC has drawn up the following checklist to draw attention to areas which have caused students problems in the past. Hopefully you will find it useful, but you should remember that it is not definitive and should not be used in place of the Code itself. Its function is to highlight important issues before they affect you and completing your thesis becomes unmanageable.

The Checklist Read and apply the advice in the Code of Practice for Supervisors and Students and keep it for future reference. • Your supervisor has both a pastoral and an academic role. You must inform him/her of anything that you feel is affecting your work. • Your main supervisor should normally be appointed on acceptance by the School, or as soon as possible after this. If this hasn’t happened, speak to the person responsible for postgraduates in your school. • Check the facilities you can normally expect to receive from your school and discuss the situation with them if the facilities that you are given are seriously lacking. • Find out about the Library and Computer facilities available to you.

• Define the topic of study early and realistically - work closely with your supervisor. • A programme of work should be agreed with your supervisor and amended as necessary throughout your period of study. • Keep communications which your supervisor sends you and copies of correspondence that you send to your supervisor. • Ask for comments in writing if you feel there are difficulties or if procedures need to be unambiguously understood and agreed. • Discuss with your supervisor the reasons for his/her recommendations in your first year report. After your probationary year, the options available are listed. • As you reach the end of your period of study, clarify with your supervisor how the writing up of the thesis will proceed and be aware of the regulations regarding submission. Things you should be aware of: • You should meet with your supervisor regularly, especially in the early stages. This is your responsibility as well as theirs. • If your supervisor is going to be absent for more than 6 consecutive weeks, alternative arrangements for supervision should be made.


Codes of Practice • You should have a second supervisor. Be aware of the role of both supervisors. • There is a maximum period of study for your degree. • Your supervisor can arrange an extension or interruption for you if necessary, but you need to be aware of the differences between them and discuss any issues that might be causing difficulties early. • You should know what procedures your supervisor is using to monitor your progress, especially in your first year, but also in later years. • Decisions about submission and academic quality are ultimately your responsibility, with guidance from your supervisor. • You must be aware of any deadlines that apply to you, either for assignments or the end date for your thesis. These should be worked out in consultation with your supervisor, and are strictly controlled by the university administration. • Impartial advice to students and supervisors is available within schools. This is usually through a School Postgraduate Adviser. You can also consult the Head of Graduate School (sometimes called the Postgraduate Director). • You have the right to have a student postgrad representative in your school who can contact EUSA’s 20


Postgrad convener or staff for support ( • You should be aware of the appeals/ grievance/complaint procedures. • Independent advice is available from the EUSA Advice Place offices in Potterrow, King’s Buildings and Holyrood. • If you are a tutor/demonstrator there is a recommended rate of pay which the school should adhere to. Your School should have a policy on attendance at training courses for postgraduate students who are tutors.

The Code of Practice for Taught Postgraduate Programmes Some aspects of the postgraduate experience will be the same regardless of whether you are a research or taught MSc student. However, taught MSc students obviously have some different concerns. For this reason, the Code of Practice for Taught Postgraduate Programmes sets out reasonable expectations and good practice which they can expect from the University (including things like resources, academic and pastoral support); what the University will expect from them (including using the code) and guidance on University processes. You should

make sure that you are familiar with this document, and if anything comes up where you are unsure what to do, you should consult your programme Handbook and the Code of Practice. A number of the points which the SRC highlighted about the Code of Practice for Research Students and Supervisors also apply to the Code of Practice for Taught Postgraduate Programmes. In particular: Read and apply the Code of Practice for Taught Postgraduate Programmes and keep it for future reference. This has details of all the processes of the University which you might need to use during your time here. • Your Programme Director has both a pastoral and academic role. You must inform him/her of anything which is affecting your work as soon as possible. • Check the facilities and support that you can normally expect to be provided on your course. If the facilities or support given are lacking, discuss this with your Programme Director.


Academic Information The following section is a brief overview of some information which we think you’ll find useful. Details of where to get more specific information is provided within each section. You can also get advice on many of these areas from the Advice Place. Aside from general University-wide information, it is also important to familiarise yourself with the information and guidelines provided by your course and School.

Academic Assistance If you have an academic problem, or have a non-academic problem that affects your work, it is essential that you take steps immediately to deal with the situation rather than avoiding things. If you raise them early enough, most issues can be resolved in a straightforward way. Although you might not feel comfortable discussing certain issues, it is important to know that there are a number of places where people can listen and offer assistance to you. They will have seen people with issues similar to yours before, and know how to help you. It is also important to note that you have a responsibility to raise any relevant issues so they can be dealt with as soon as possible. A good place to start for any academic issues is in your School. Taught postgraduates can seek advice from 22


your Programme Director, Director of Studies, and research postgraduates from your Supervisor, Postgraduate Director or the Postgraduate Advisor. If you feel they aren’t appropriate places to turn, there are a number of different places listed in the following pages that you can turn to (usually confidentially) for help and advice. Advice Place staff are useful for sounding out the options available to deal with University problems, whether they be problems concerning your progress, regulations or provision of facilities. You can contact the specialist advisers in this area by emailing They are experienced in postgraduate matters and will be able to help you to work out the most effective way of resolving things. The Advice Place is also a useful place to go for help with non-academic problems. You can drop in to speak to an adviser, they provide the welfare section in the EUSA Advice Place Survival Guide and you may find their web site useful. They can also refer you on to other relevant places for more specific help, if necessary and appropriate. The service is independent of the University and is confidential.


This is the official process of registering with the University and is compulsory each year. You will be given instructions before the start of the year about how the process works. If there are any problems with your matriculation, the University usually tells you. However, if you are unsure of your status you must ensure that things are fine, rather than assuming (perhaps incorrectly) that they are. Along with matriculation, you also have to organise the payment of your fees and finalise any course choices (where relevant) through discussion with your Supervisor/Programme Director. Further information on matriculation is available at www.

Examinations Your school should tell you if you are required to take examinations and you should always be aware of exactly what is required of you. Exam timetables are published on the Registry website and it is your responsibility to ensure you know when and where your exams take place, where applicable. Examinations take place in various buildings around the University, so make sure you familiarise yourself with where you need to go. You need to take along your university card which has your examination number on it.

Intellectual Property Rights This is an important issue for many postgraduates, along with issues of plagiarism and copyright. Due to the complexity of the issues involved, it is impossible to provide accurate general advice, and situations vary depending on the nature of your research or the environment in which you are working. A good source of information online is the UK Intellectual Property Office. The University has a Code of Good Practice on Research which outlines the current position in relation to student ownership of intellectual property. The University also has a specialised office - Edinburgh Research and Innovation - which can offer advice on general intellectual property issues, and also on the sensitive issue of protecting your rights in relation to any potential commercial interests in your research. Code of Good Practice in Research: information/goodresearchpractice.pdf Edinburgh Research and Innovation: Intellectual Property Office:


Academic Information Academic Processes and Procedures Authorised interruption of study If you need to take a break during your course, perhaps due to illness or personal difficulties, you may apply for an interruption of studies (commonly referred to as suspension). You will need to explain the reason for this. If you think you need to apply for a suspension then you should discuss this with your supervisor in the first instance who will then take your case forward.

Plagiarism Plagiarism is defined as ‘the act of copying or including in one’s own work, without adequate acknowledgment, intentionally or unintentionally, the work of another, for one’s own benefit’ (University of Edinburgh Undergraduate and Postgraduate Assessment Regulations). This could mean including text from books, journals, websites, or text or ideas expressed by other people, including fellow students, in your work without clearly referencing these other sources. This can also include submitting work which plagiarises from your own previous work. The 24


University takes plagiarism very seriously, and involvement in plagiarism can have serious consequences for your degree. The University has produced guidelines for students on avoiding plagiarism, which also explains the University processes for dealing with cases of suspected plagiarism. You can access this at Administration/GuidanceInformation/ AcademicBestPractise/Index.htm Your School may also have more detailed guidelines on plagiarism, how to avoid it, and will explain the measures they have in place to detect plagiarism.

Appeals It is possible to make an appeal against the results you get in a written exam, dissertation or thesis and there are specific regulations detailing this process. You should be aware that you can only appeal on specific grounds, and not simply because you disagree with the result. The academic advice team in the Advice Place can provide independent and confidential information and advice on the appeals procedures. If you decide to go ahead they can also help you prepare and present your case. The University also provides some useful guidance on the process at www.

Complaints As a large public service provider, the University is committed to maintaining an effective complaints procedure to allow all members of its community to make legitimate complaints. You are encouraged to follow this in order to sort out any difficulties you might have. The procedure encourages an informal approach in the first instance so that difficulties can be resolved quickly without the need for more lengthy processes. If you are having difficulties, but your initial attempts to resolve things locally have been unsuccessful, you should make use of the procedure. It is not advisable to wait until the end of your degree and then complain about the last three or four years. Students can contact any EUSA Advice Place for independent and confidential guidance on complaints. The full procedure and accompanying guidance is available at Regulations/index.htm

Disciplinary Action The University has a Code of Student Discipline, available on the web at The purpose of this code is to protect from disruption the central activities of the University (i.e. teaching, learning

and research) and the structures on which they depend. It is an offence for any student, amongst other things, to: • Forge or falsify degree certificates or University documents or make false statements about personal circumstances, including standing or results in exams. • Cheat in exams, or to plagiarise. • Disrupt academic activities, University administration, or to infringe freedom of thought or expression. As you might expect, disciplinary procedures are very rare, but are formal and can be difficult to understand, especially if you are feeling stressed. If you are facing disciplinary procedures, you should get a copy of the Code and seek advice from one of the academic advice team in The Advice Place, who can explain the procedures and support you through the process.

Harassment/Bullying The University believes that it has a duty to ensure that people do not suffer from personal harassment, and if they do that they should be supported in pursuing any legitimate complaints. To this end, the University has developed a Code of Practice to guide staff and students on how to deal with personal harassment. This describes various


Academic Information forms of harassment and what you should do should you feel that you are being, or have been, harassed. Harassment is defined as being ‘the conduct of one person against another or others when an intimidating, hostile, or offensive atmosphere is created for the victim(s) based on derogatory name-calling, belittling remarks, ridicule, insults, verbal abuse physical assaults or threats’ The Code of Practice is available at equality/harass/stud.htm To further assist those who feel that they are being harassed, the University has a system of Contact Officers trained to advise those who have suffered harassment and to help them through the procedures. This can include simply listening, offering advice on strategies for dealing with the problem yourself, or advice and support in taking things forward more formally if this is what you want. If you are being harassed or bullied, either by another student or member of staff, and want or feel you need to talk to someone about it, both The Advice Place and the EUSA office have staff who are trained to help. You can talk to us confidentially before deciding how you want to deal with things. At all stages of the process your wishes are paramount, and confidentiality will be maintained.



Another problem that can arise, though rarely, is that of being accused of harassment. While this happens very rarely it can nonetheless be a particularly difficult issue for postgraduates undertaking teaching duties within their department. The closeness of age and similarities of experiences between postgraduates and undergraduates mean postgraduate teaching can be immensely rewarding. However, these same advantages, coupled with many postgraduates’ lack of experience, can conspire to create situations in which an innocent statement or gesture is perceived very differently by an undergraduate, thus leaving the postgraduate tutor open to accusations of harassment. Such allegations naturally necessitate investigation. To avoid this happening, there are some steps you can take. The use of non-gender specific language, to give one example, is to be recommended. Perhaps, more importantly, an increased level of vigilance and awareness of how your actions may be perceived by your students is essential. If you have any worries about this aspect of your tutoring responsibilities you can discuss this with your course organiser. Again you can always contact the Advice Place.


Academic Facilities Information Services Information Services run libraries and computer labs across the university. IS Helpdesks in the Main Library and in the Darwin Library cover both Library and IT enquiries. Main Library IS Helpdesk: tel. 6503409; Darwin Library IS Helpdesk: tel. 650-5784 (Library Online); (Computing Services Website). Check websites for opening times.

Computing Resources Edinburgh University has some of the best computing facilities of any British University. If a computer can help you with your work, you should be able to find what you need here. At the simplest level, there are central, shared computing labs all around the University whose PCs, Macs and laser printers provide a very convenient way of producing high-quality essays and dissertations. More advanced central and departmental computers carry out more complex tasks such as statistical analyses and numerical computation. At the top end of the scale, Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (in the JCMB Building) runs some of the most powerful computers in Europe for the ‘Grand Challenges’ of science. Tying all 28


these together are some of the most advanced high-speed communications networks in the world. The University’s central computing facilities are managed by the computing divisions of Information Services. These are the departments that run the central multi-user computers, the Computing Labs and maintain the communications networks (including wireless networking). The IT User Services division exists primarily to provide services for teaching and research staff as well as postgraduates. There is a strong team of staff available to offer assistance throughout the University. Information Services would encourage all new postgraduates to meet their support team as soon as possible, and you may find that your school organises introductory sessions to enable this. Ask for further details from your School. There are a large number of computing labs scattered across the University: Check and follow the link to the web-based Student Helpdesk which tells you exactly what is available. This includes 24 hour lab facilities in the Hugh Robson building on George Square. You can get dial-in access to central services if you need to access files or electronic journals from outside the university (see www.ucs.

Every postgraduate is allocated an email account by the university. If you are a research postgraduate your email address will be added to the staff email directory which can be accessed via any internet-enabled computer at www. Taught postgraduate students will be allocated a student email account which can be accessed at If you need computer training, you can find out about the variety of courses that you have access to, alongside details of when and where they run. Go to and follow the link to the web-based Student Helpdesk. There is a large amount of other information on this website, with a range of overviews and Introductory guides. Documentation for more complex packages is available at reasonable cost. Exploring www.ucs. near the beginning of your studies could save you time later on. Information Services also help individuals and departments buy software at reduced rates, through site licences and the CHEST agreement: for details of what is available, contact your support team or your nearest Information Services helpdesk. Staff can also give you advice if you want to buy your own hardware.

Library Resources The University now has nearly 3 million books, pamphlets, periodical volumes, manuscripts, Edinburgh University theses and maps. It receives over eleven thousand current periodicals. The library system is spread out over a large number of libraries and sites and includes: • The Main Library at George Square (College of HSS, general and special collections) • A collection of libraries at the Kings’ Buildings Campus covering different subject specialisations (Darwin, Robertson, James Clerk Maxwell) • Moray House Library (Education) • A selection of other subject-specific libraries, including The Europa Library (Law), Moray House Library (Education), and New College Library (The Library for the School of Divinity). Each provides its own services, including acquisition, lending and reference services. All can trace items not held by the University/local libraries, and borrow or photocopy them through inter-library loans. Opening times for all libraries are available on the library’s website (www. They vary from site to site, and are different during the vacation,


Academic Facilities so check the library you want is open before you go. The Main Library is open until 12am during Semester time. Please also note that the Main Library is undergoing significant redevelopment and there may at times be disruption to users, although EUSA is being consulted regularly regarding the changes to try and minimise any disruption. Any potential disruptions will be communicated via plasma screen in the Main Library, on MyEd, and on the Main Library Redevelopment Project website ( so keep an eye on these communications at times when Main Library access is particularly critical for you. The library does not plan to close at any point, but it may suggest that students avoid working in particular areas of the library to avoid being affected by disruptions. Alternative study spaces may be advertised at particular times throughout the year (e.g. exam times). The Library’s central on-line public access catalogue, can be consulted in each library, as well as via the University’s website, which also provides a gateway to the on-line catalogues of other academic and research libraries in the UK and across the world, including that of the National Library of Scotland. The new ‘Searcher’ search engine, developed within Information Services, allows students 30


to quickly identify the online and paper journals which they can access as students of the university. Many books can be borrowed for four weeks, and you can take up to twenty five books out at a single time. A recall system operates for books in demand, and you will be reminded promptly if your books become overdue. Information Services staff can provide information on accessing other academic and research libraries, including those of Napier and HeriotWatt. For more information on University libraries, and on the resources, training and software available in them, explore Library Online ( Other academic resources outwith the university include:

National Library of Scotland George IV Bridge, and 33 Salisbury Place; tel. 226-4531 See for full details of opening times and resources. The National Library is a copyright library which has copies of every written work published in Britain, as well as an extensive collection of rare books and manuscripts, along with a selection of

reference works. Most of the National Library is situated on George IV Bridge, although the Map and Science Libraries are located on Salisbury Place. Some postgrads find this a more tranquil place to work than other libraries, particularly because access is severely restricted. The NLS tends to be undergraduatefree.

personal application, not by post, and require identification. Staff may answer postal enquires about the availability of sources for particular study topics. The website is useful and also provides access to local statistical and census information.

George IV Bridge, tel. 0131 225-5584 Open: 9 am to 9 pm Monday to Friday 9 am to 1 pm Saturdays Located across the road from the National Library of Scotland is the Edinburgh’s Central Library which is a public borrowing library. It provides a useful alternative to the University Library. It is worth joining and is free to join. The Edinburgh room provides a huge collection of local archive material of all descriptions and has a large and well informed staff.

© Image Holly Priestman

Central Library

Scottish Record Office Historical Research Room, General Register House, Princes Street, tel. 0131 556-6585 This is an important research centre for postgraduates, holding one of the most varied archive collections in the British Isles. Readers’ permits are issued on


Skills Training & Development There are many opportunities to develop personal transferable skills, generic, employment-related or subject-specific research skills whilst at Edinburgh. For details of the wide variety of training opportunities throughout the University, consult htm

Careers Service 33 Buccleuch Place, tel. 0131 650-4670 Weir Building, King’s Buildings, tel. 0131 650-5773 The University Careers Service offers support with career planning to all postgraduates, whilst you are a student and for up to two years after graduation. Specific support for postgraduates The full range of graduate careers is open to postgraduates, and the Careers Service can help you to identify your options and assess your potential for any career, whether you are considering an academic career or something completely different. The Careers Service offer a number of career planning courses, delivered in partnership with the Postgraduate Transferable Skills Unit, designed specifically for current postgraduate research students. Please see the 32


Careers Website for further information on these courses, as well as additional resources available for postgraduate students. Careers Advice Whether you have firm plans about your future or are struggling to decide on your next steps, you may find it useful to have a confidential, informal discussion with a qualified, experienced Careers Adviser. Depending on your needs, it may be helpful to have several guidance interviews - and you are welcome to do so. If you have a quick query, the Careers Service offers a daily drop-in session. You can find the times of these sessions on the Careers Service website. Careers Information The Information Centres at both locations contain information on a wide variety of occupational areas, employers, job vacancies, further study (UK and overseas), the destinations of PhDs and graduates from postgraduate courses, and much more. There is always a member of the Information Team on hand to help you find the information you need. Careers Service Events The Careers Service offers a comprehensive range of events, including occupational information

sessions, skills workshops, job-hunting seminars, employer presentations, careers fairs and more. Keep an eye on the website to see what events are coming up. Looking for a job Whether you are looking for part-time work, permanent employment, summer internships, voluntary opportunities or something else, make sure you keep an eye on the vacancy database SAGE. It advertises hundreds of jobs in a huge range of sectors, including opportunities specifically for postgraduates, and the site is updated daily. Advice on CVs, Application Forms, Assessment Centres and Interviews In addition to a range of talks, and the advice and information available on the website, the Careers Service holds reference and takeaway material, including books, DVDs and magazines to help you with all aspects of your job hunt. Careers Advisers are more than happy to provide feedback on your CV or application form. Bring it to a full guidance interview or drop in to a duty session. You can also book a practice interview with a Careers Adviser and get some constructive feedback on your performance.

Research Training The approach taken by Universities in the UK towards research training is changing quite dramatically, with a move towards formalisation. The type of research training you receive is, in many cases, up to you. The University provides many opportunities, and it is up to you to take them. Most Schools/Colleges will provide training courses and programmes. Courses are also run by the library and computing services. In some cases, you may need to go outside the University. If you feel that you need to acquire certain skills, it is up to you (and your supervisor and department) to make sure that you get them. Be willing to do a little detective work to find out where the appropriate training can be found.

Postgraduate Transferable Skills Unit Details of transkills courses, locations and contacts can be found at: www. Postgraduate research provides wider benefits than having a thesis to be proud of when you graduate, or a piece of paper to show to prospective employers. Postgraduate students


Skills Training & Development today are expected to have a wide range of professional and research skills, be adaptable, self-aware and, in the case of PhD students, write for publication as well as their thesis. PhD and masters graduates who have developed these skills can find themselves in high demand, for example in academia, teaching, business and in the public or voluntary sectors. To help students acquire these important skills, the University provides transferable skills training courses. The Postgraduate Transferable Skills Unit provides courses aimed at developing broad transferable professional skills which will help you beyond your postgraduate degree. As the programme is largely funded by the UK Research Councils, the programmes are largely geared towards PhD candidates. Students undertaking an MSc by Research also have access to these programmes. Taught MSc students will have in-house training where necessary, although some taught MSc programmes will use some of the Postgraduate Transferable Skills Unit’s services. This training will normally constitute an integral part of your course. Transkills also provides information about a wide range of training opportunities for all postgraduates 34


provided by other parts of the university.

Tutoring and Demonstrating Many postgrads are asked to take on teaching responsibilities in their schools. Teaching can be a very valuable experience, particularly if you are hoping to pursue a career as an academic. Teaching is also a good way of developing transferable skills which may be useful to you even if you do not intend to become an academic. It can also be an enjoyable experience. It may be that you have a formal contract for teaching as part of your research post, which will set out the number of hours you are required to teach, as well as arrangements for payment. Otherwise you can arrange or may be asked to teach on a casual basis, and there is a framework to support this. There is a Code of Practice for tutoring and demonstrating, and the University has reviewed its casual teaching structures, so that tutoring and demonstrating are now subject to clearer standards across the University. The University has a pay scale which sets minimum rates for teaching which is available at:

payscales/Tutoring_and_Demonstrating. htm. Note that tutoring will usually be paid at a higher rate than lab demonstrating to reflect the extra time for preparation. It is hoped that rates will be applied consistently across Schools. If you are offered lower rates contact the Postgraduate Committee at EUSA (, so that we are aware of inconsistencies. Keep an eye on how much you are expected to do for your money. For example, two different courses may pay you for 10 hours work over a term, but how much marking will you be expected to do? You are unlikely to be paid for marking in addition to the fee you are paid for your actual contact time. Support and Training Support and training, if you teach, is available both in your school and through the Centre for Teaching Learning and Assessment (TLA). Your department should provide you with sufficient resources and information to teach well. This may include provision of course materials, photocopying, library access and secretarial support. The TLA Centre (see below for details) provides training for all postgraduates involved in teaching, either at generic sessions, or for specific groups organised in conjunction with individual

Schools or subject areas. Information can be found at services/tutdems/index.htm, where there are a number of useful resources including the Tutors and Demonstrators handbook and the Code of Practice on Tutoring and Demonstrating. This important document sets out the roles and responsibilities of tutors/ demonstrators and also sets out the support you can expect from your School in relation to your teaching. If you are interested in teaching you should speak to your supervisor or Head of Graduate School/ Postgraduate Director. Alternatively, ask postgraduates already in your school who are teaching. They can tell you who is course organiser on different courses and who may need tutors/ demonstrators. Outside the University There are occasionally opportunities for teaching outside the university. The Open University sometimes advertise in the press for postgraduate students to help in their summer schools, for example in the Times Higher educational supplement. You can also contact one of the outside agencies such as a tutorial college (listed in the Yellow Pages telephone directory) or offer to tutor schoolchildren by advertising in the local press (The


Skills Training & Development Scotsman and The Evening News). You can also check for appropriate vacancies though SAGE (Student and Graduate Employment database), which is based within the University Careers Service. Further information on SAGE can be found later in this booklet. Ultimately, whether you teach for the money or the experience, your teaching should be enjoyable and worthwhile with the support of your school and the University.

Centre for Teaching, Learning and Assessment Paterson’s Land, Holyrood Rd, Edinburgh, tel. 651 6661 www.tla. Open: 9 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 5 pm Monday to Friday The main aim of the TLA Centre is to promote and support all aspects of University teaching and learning. In addition to research and policy advice, the centre participates in a wide variety of workshops, seminars and conferences, often in association with Schools and Colleges. The centre organises events for postgraduates who are involved in teaching and demonstrating. These include an orientation workshop on



“Effective Tutoring” which is intended to be supplementary to whatever is offered at School or course level. Details of all the sessions are available at htm. For those involved in lab demonstrating there are discipline-specific sessions at the start of term. Dates and times are available at In addition there are courses for demonstrators from any discipline. The Centre has a resource room with a collection of books, reports, papers and other materials relating to teaching and learning in Higher Education. These are available for consultation or loan. Training courses designed specifically for postgrads are run with the help of staff from many departments. Courses include: Communication Skills, Project Planning, Computing and Time Management. Most courses are free, and are repeated throughout the year. For a complete list of courses for each college, see the TLA website.

Institute for Applied Language Studies (IALS) 21 Hill Place, Edinburgh, tel. 650-6200 Open: 8.30 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday The institute offers courses in a number of modern languages to both students and non-students. Courses are targeted to ability and students get a discount if they attend classes at certain specified times. New courses start several times a year and courses are offered through the summer. The best thing to do if you are interested is to go and pick up a leaflet or talk to IALS staff.


non-academic issues No-one has ever completed a postgraduate course or degree without experiencing at least one moment of self-doubt. Indeed, many claim to have spent their entire postgraduate course on the verge of giving up only to produce a perfectly satisfactory thesis or sail through their exams. As a postgraduate you will find that you are much more ‘on your own’ than you were as an undergraduate. It often takes time to get used to this crucial difference. In your academic work you are expected to be much more self motivated, and pursue your own original lines of enquiry without continuous external guidance. This requires a great deal of time and effort, and can leave you with little time or inclination to deal positively with the non-academic problems which you may encounter. Because of this, and because the schools and the University have a strong vested interest in seeing that their postgraduate students succeed, there are many University and EUSA services intended to help you deal with any issues that may arise during your course or degree. You can get more information about any of these services at




There are various types of accommodation available in Edinburgh: University flats or halls, private flats, lodgings etc. The quality of city-centre accommodation is fairly high, and you should, therefore, expect to pay at least £85 a week for a room in a shared flat. However, rents vary and this is only a guide. At the start of term, there will be a lot of students looking for accommodation. If you don’t have something arranged before you get here, you should aim to arrive at least a week or two before you start, to give yourself time to look for something suitable and get settled in. For an estimate of a realistic weekly budget to cover living costs in Edinburgh check out the International Office web site at: Finding Accommodation Accommodation Services, Pollock Halls, Edinburgh, tel. 0131 667 1971 Reception Centre opens 8am-6pm week days The University Accommodation Services (AS) deals with applications for all University residences: Pollock Halls, outward Halls, student houses, and University flats, as well as advertising some privately owned lodgings and flats. If you are a first year postgraduate you should have

• Relatively well regulated and organised management with formalised procedures of lease renewal, etc. • Fairly low deposits are usually required

received information from AS about University accommodation, along with the relevant application forms. If you are an international student, you will be offered a place in University accommodation if you apply before the deadline. If you have not received this, contact the Accommodation Service as soon as possible. The University has a limited number of flats specifically intended for married couples or couples who live together, but it has very few properties available for postgraduates with children. There is a long waiting list, but you should check with AS anyway. Renting University flats (etc.) has some advantages: • Generally lower rents than on the open market • Rents are fixed for a year and are usually adjusted in July • Rent is paid either monthly or once each semester • Relative security of tenure

On the other hand, accommodation is only available to Edinburgh University students and their dependants, which is a problem if you wish to share with a non-student, or student from another institutions. However, remember the Advice Place can provide information on finding alternative accommodation. If applying for a University flat through the As you are advised to follow procedures to the letter, applying as early as the Spring semester in February for a flat in July or September. As is not the only way to find accommodation, though, and it is extremely heavily used so you must begin searching as early as possible. Some other options include: • Look at adverts on notice boards • Check the Edinburgh Evening News/ The Scotsman (particularly the Thursday property section) • Advertise on the notice board outside the EUSA office in the Potterrow student centre • Put notices in shop windows in your preferred area • Ask around in your Department • Consult the University Bulletin


non-academic issues The Advice Place provides information on finding accommodation and information on the legal aspects of renting accommodation. It is advisable to be flexible in what you are looking for, and it is often better to get some temporary accommodation and continue looking until you find exactly what you’re looking for. There are also a number of independent flat agencies in Edinburgh (see Property Management in the Yellow Pages), but they tend to be expensive and are often of limited use to postgraduates. You must make sure you know what you are getting involved with, and you should seek advice if you are not sure. You may wish to ask fellow students about their experiences with particular Letting Agents. Council Tax City of Edinburgh Council. tel. 0131 200 2000, The Council Tax is a charge imposed by the Council to help pay for local services. Full-time students in Scotland are usually exempt from the council tax but must apply to the Council for this exemption. Contact the council to tell them who you are, where you live, where you are studying and what your student matriculation number is, so that they can check your student status (and that of your flatmates) and grant the exemption. If you live out-with the City of Edinburgh 40


Council area ask Registry for ‘certificate of student status’ and send it to your local council. PhD students should note that they will no longer be classed as full-time students if they extend their studies beyond 4 years. If anyone in your house is not a fulltime student, then you will receive a council tax bill, the amount depending on the value of the property. Only the non-students or part-time students will be liable for this bill. Full-time students retain their exemption even if they live with non-students. There is a 25% single persons discount applied to the bill if there is only one non-student, or part-time student, living in the property. Again, the other residents must contact the council to confirm their student status. Full time PG taught students can claim exemption during their course. PG research students can claim exemption for up to 4 years of their study. Under some circumstances, a nonstudent resident may be eligible for Council Tax Benefit, which should either cover or reduce the outstanding amount, depending on who else lives there: see later section on benefits for details. There are special provisions for some international students living with their non-student dependants, who can still claim full exemption. Contact The Advice Place for details. If you get into difficulties, or require more information,

contact The Advice Place for assistance. Bring any relevant correspondence with you.

Financial Advice Fees The regulations relating to payment of fees are set out in the Postgraduate Programme and at uk/fees/PGfees.htm If you are a PhD student, once you have completed the period for which annual fees are payable, as specified in the link above, you will also be required to pay a matriculation fee of ÂŁ80 per session until you submit your thesis. There is also an annual continuation fee until submission, which kicks in after the prescribed period of study for your course. This is ÂŁ500 this year. Aside from the lure of getting a job in the real world this is an additional incentive to focus your mind on completing as soon as possible after the prescribed period. At the discretion of the University, if you withdraw from a course you may be entitled to a partial refund. This is set out in the PGfees link above. Research costs are charged for some courses in addition to course fees. The level of these will vary according to the course and in some cases are paid for by Research Councils. One

way or another, they have to be paid. Therefore, it is always worth checking what it is you are expected to pay and when. This should be made clear to you in your admissions offer. If it is not, make sure that you find out. If there are any problems with your fees, then you should contact the University finance department as quickly as possible to ensure that the problem can be sorted out. The University has a policy on student debt (available student/tuitionfees/docs/collection_ policy.pdf), which means that you MUST discuss payment problems as soon as possible or the University will take steps quickly to recover the debt. This could include withdrawing access to services such as library and computing facilities. If you are having financial difficulties at any point you can discuss this confidentially with the Advice Place.


non-academic issues To graduate you must also pay a fee (which this year is £40) and once you graduate, you become a member of the General Council of Edinburgh University. Financial Assistance Discretionary Fund This fund is intended as a source of relief for those students who are struggling financially. It cannot be, nor is intended to be, a student’s primary source of income. The fund is targeting to help those students who are most in need of financial support: mature students, students with dependants, students with special needs, and those who may potentially be forced to withdraw due to financial hardship. To find out more about eligibility criteria, contact The Advice Place. Application forms can be submitted at any time during the year and are available from The Advice Place. Educational and Charitable Trusts Students may apply to educational and charitable trusts for funding. Each has its own qualifying criteria for awards and they are generally difficult to obtain. See, where you will find a list of private bursaries and trusts, as well as a search engine to help you find those to which you may be eligible to apply.



Student Loans The only postgraduate students who may be able to claim a student loan under the Government’s scheme are students undertaking a postgraduate course of initial teacher training or community education. Contact the Student Awards Agency for Scotland ( on 0845 111 1711 for more information or speak to staff in the Advice Place.

Students and Benefits If you are normally resident in the UK, are not subject to immigration control and would like to make a claim for social security benefits such as income support, job seekers allowance or sickness benefits etc, contact your local benefits office. Details of all local office contact details can be found at: www.

International Students and Public funds When International Students (and their dependants) enter the UK, they are usually subject to a condition which requires them to be able to support and accommodate themselves “without recourse to public funds”. If you then claim public funds, you are in breach of the immigration regulations, may

jeopardise your immigration status in the UK and may have to leave the UK without completing your course. This could also have an impact on any further visa applications to the UK. Public Funds are currently defined as: Income Support, Income Based Job Seekers Allowance, Housing Benefit, Social Fund, Council Tax Benefit, council housing (unless it is hardto-let accommodation leased to the University for their use), Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Carer’s Allowance, Child Benefit, Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits and Pension Allowance. Under very limited circumstances you may claim for certain benefits, but you must seek proper advice before claiming. Ask at the Advice Place. Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) Full time students are not normally entitled to JSA for the duration of their course, including vacations, regardless of whether or not they receive student support. Part-time students who are not subject to immigration control and have very limited study commitments may be eligible for JSA, provided they can demonstrate that they are available for and actively seeking work. Seek advice before making a claim. Please note that students currently in the “writing up” stage of their PhD may be able to sign

on for JSA, although this area of law may be subject to change so you should get advice before claiming. If you are unsure of your eligibility for benefits, and/or would like some assistance or advice with making a claim, contact The Advice Place. Couples who are both full-time students and who have children may be able to make a claim for JSA during the summer vacation period. Ask at the Advice Place for more information on this. Income Support (IS) The majority of full time students are not entitled to IS for the duration of their course, including all vacations. However, certain categories of students do retain the right to claim IS while studying full-time, these are: fulltime students who are on long term sick leave, part-time students who are sick, part-time students who are carers, lone parents and lone foster parents who have children under the age of 16 (or under the age of 12 from October 2008), disabled students who satisfy one of several conditions e.g. you qualify for a disability premium, and pensioners (i.e. those over 60). In exceptionally limited cases, students from abroad who are subject to immigration control may be able to claim an ‘urgent cases payment’ due to a temporary delay in receiving funds.


non-academic issues However, you should seek advice BEFORE claiming. Housing Benefit (HB) and Council Tax Benefit (CTB) HB and CTB are NOT available to most students on full-time courses. Full-time students should however claim for exemption from council tax payment. The following students can still qualify for HB: part-time students, a student on IS, Couples with children when both partners are students, students with disabilities (seek advice for full details), single parents or single foster parents and pensioners (i.e. those over 60). Additionally, part-time students and the non-student partner of a fulltime student can claim HB and CTB. Applications should be made to The City of Edinburgh Council, Chesser House, 500 Gorgie Road, Edinburgh, EH11, tel. 0131 200 2000. Tax Credits If you have children, and you are not subject to immigration control, then you could make a claim for Tax Credits. Tax Credits are designed to supplement your income and are dependant on your family income and circumstances. There are different elements to these Tax Credits, namely Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit and Child Care Tax Credit.



You can make a claim for Child Tax Credits if your income does not exceed the ÂŁ50,000 whether you are employed or not. If you are a lone parent and are working 16 hours a week or more, or you are a couple and between you are working 30 or more hours a week, or just one of you is working 30 hours or more, than you may also be entitled to Working Tax Credits. How much you get depends on your income. Anyone who is disabled or is over the age of 50 and is in low paid employment may also be eligible for Working Tax Credits even if they do not have children. Anyone in receipt of Working Tax Credits can also make a claim for Child Care Tax Credits if you are working for at least 16 hours per week. Couples should both be working at least 16 hours each per week. These Tax Credits can assist with the cost of formal registered childcare. Again how much you get will depend on your income and the cost of your child care.

For more information about Tax Credits contact the Advice Place or see www. National Health Service (NHS) Prescriptions In the UK, although you can register with an NHS Doctor to get free healthcare, you do usually have to pay for any medication that your doctor prescribes for you if you are over 18 years old. If you are not entitled to assistance with the cost of prescriptions but need regular medication, you may want to consider paying for a Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC). People who have to pay for more than 5 prescription items in 4 months, or 14 items in 12 months, could save money by buying a PPC. Ask your pharmacist for more information on this scheme. From 1 April 2008, the charge for a single prescription item is £5, whereas a 4-month PPC will cost you £17 and a 12-month PPC £48. If you are on a low income, you can fill out an HC1 Form, available from the Advice Place or any pharmacist, to see if you can get assistance with the cost of prescriptions. Some categories of people are exempt from paying for prescriptions such as: those in receipt of social security benefits; anyone in receipt of Tax Credits if your gross annual income does not exceed £15.050 (you should

automatically receive an exemption card once your Tax Credits have been assessed); women who have had a baby in the previous 12 months; anyone who has a specified medical condition that requires essential medication such as insulin or thyroxine (your doctor or pharmacist can tell you if your medications are exempt from payment and how to obtain a payment exemption certificate). Prescribed oral contraceptives are also exempt from payment. National Health Service (NHS) Sight Tests and Glasses In Scotland there are no longer charges for standard NHS eye tests but you may still have to pay the cost of lenses and frames from an optician. Therefore, it is wise to shop around and see what deals are available. Assistance with the cost of NHS optical and dental care can also be sought if you have a low income. This is done by filling out and HC1 form, available from the Advice Place or any pharmacist. If you are in receipt of Tax Credits, and your gross annual income does not exceed £15,050, then you are automatically entitled to assistance with the cost of buying glasses as well as being entitled to a free eye test.


non-academic issues Dental Treatment In Scotland everyone is entitled to a free dental check-up by an NHS registered dentist, but all other treatment requires payment. Anyone in receipt of social security benefits or Tax Credits (if your gross annual income does not exceed the ÂŁ15,050 threshold), and women who have had a baby in the previous 12 months, are entitled to free dental treatment. If you are a student on a low income and do not fit the criteria for free dental treatment, you can apply on an HC1 form (available from the Advice Place or any pharmacist) for assistance with the cost of your NHS treatment. Be aware that it is not easy to find an NHS dentist in the UK, as many dentists now only carry out private healthcare. However, if you live in Edinburgh you can phone 0131 537 8424 or check to see if there is an NHS dentist in your area. If you are having problems registering with a dentist and need urgent dental treatment, emergency dental treatment is available at the Chalmers Dental Centre, 3 Chalmers Street, just off Lauriston Place between 9am and 4.45pm Monday to Friday. Please note however that this is strictly for emergencies and only necessary, not



general, treatment will be carried out here. You will be charged NHS prices for any treatment you receive.

Child Care All parents with young children face difficulties in arranging the child care they need at a price they can afford. Make sure you plan ahead and investigate all possibilities. If you form relationships with other parents in your community, you may find that they are willing to provide occasional child care on a reciprocal basis. The Discretionary fund may also be able to offer assistance with child care costs. Contact The Advice Place for more details. University Day Nursery 79/81 Dalkeith Road, Edinburgh. tel. 667-9584, The University Day Nursery provides a centre where children are cared for while their parents are engaged in studies or other University duties. The Nursery is open 8.30 AM to 5.30 PM five days a week, with lunch and snacks provided. It is run by trained staff under the supervision of a Matron. The Junior Nursery cares for children between 6 weeks and 2 years of age, while the Senior Nursery looks after children between 2 and 5 years old. There are some subsidised places for students.

reaches two years of age. Contact City of Edinburgh Council for more information, on 0131 469 3479.

General Welfare

Contact the day nursery for more information. There are a limited number of spaces, especially subsidised spaces, so check early for availability and prices. There is also the Unitots Nursery, based in the Psychology building at 7 George Square which is an independently run nursery. For more information call 650 3448, or check out www.unitots.psy. For other childcare providers see The City of Edinburgh Council Education Department at www.scottishchildcare., or telephone 0800 032 0323. They hold a list of all registered child minders, playgroups, out of school care service and crèches in the city. The City of Edinburgh Council also operates nursery school classes during school hours, either during the morning or afternoon. Applications to the head teacher are accepted when your child

If something non-academic is causing problems that affect you and your course-work, it cannot be stressed how important it is that you seek help as quickly as possible. Don’t jeopardise your course over something which may be relatively easy to deal with, given some external help. There are a variety of people who can help you with any problems you may have while a student. Within EUSA there are staff based in The Advice Place to provide professional and confidential advice on any issue great or small. The EUSA Advice Place Survival Guide is a good source of information on many issues which affect students. During the summer months it might be slightly harder to find the person that you want within the university immediately. Please be patient. However, if you ask at The Advice Place, they may be able to point you in the direction of someone who can help. Besides The Advice Place, you can also seek help from the professional counsellors at the University’s Student Counselling Service (see below) and


non-academic issues from the student volunteers at Nightline (tel. 557-4444) who provide a friendly, anonymous help line. Within the city there are other centres for help, including The Samaritans (tel. 0345 90 90 90), Alcoholics Anonymous (tel. 2252727), Citizens’ Advice Bureaux (tel. 557-1500), Caledonia Youth for advice on sexual health and contraception for anyone aged up to 25 years old (tel. 229-3596) or, if you are over the age of 25, you can contact the Family planning clinic (tel. 332 7941). The most important thing to remember is that there is always someone, somewhere who can help you with any problem, however large or small. Never feel shy about asking for help - these people and organisations are here to help you, so please use them. Health Services Richard Verney Health Centre, 6 Bristo Square, EH8 9AL, 0131 650 2777, 0131 650 8241 (Nurses Appointments, 0131 668 4427 (out of hours), Mondays-Fridays (excluding public holidays): 9am-11am - open access Saturdays: 9am-10am - urgent cases only; otherwise consultation my appointment. You should register with a doctor as soon as you arrive in Edinburgh so that,



if needed, you can receive treatment quickly and easily. The University Health Service is located near the Potterrow and will accept anyone living within a 3 mile radius. It has its own pharmacy and runs regular asthma clinics. If you live further away, make sure to find a GP near you. The Advice Place can give advice on how to find a doctor near you. Student Counselling Service (SCS) 31 Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh, tel. 650-4170 Open: 9.30 am to 4.45 pm during term time 10am to 1 pm during vacations. King’s Buildings, tel. 650-5773 Open: 9.30 am to 4.30 pm during term time 2 pm to 4.30 pm Wednesdays during vacations. Holyrood, tel. 651-6200 Open: 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Thursday during term-time. This is a University operated service which provides a professional staff who can counsel you on any personal difficulties you may be having. It operates from 3 sites. Appointments should be made for the counselling service: there may be a short waiting list at certain times of the year. It is essential that you seek help if you are having problems, before they get out of hand. The service is confidential. The Counselling Service

does close for a month during the summer vacation, but The Advice Place has a list of other counselling and support agencies in the city, should this be necessary. Chaplaincy The Potterrow, Bristo Square, tel. 6502595 (650-5773 at King’s Buildings) The Chaplaincy Centre is available to all members of the University. The Centre acts as a meeting place for students from many religious traditions and cultures. The chaplains welcome contact with international & postgraduate students and are happy to discuss any issue of life, including faith. For information visit their website at:

Information for International Students There are approximately 4000 international students (postgraduate and undergraduates), studying at the University of Edinburgh. International students in Britain are faced with a host of immigration regulations and general bureaucracy. However, help is available. The University has prepared a Pre-Arrival Guide, which you should have received before you arrived, and EUSA has produced an International Post-Arrival Guide, which is an essential reference. It is distributed in the

Freshers’ Week mailing, and is also available free from The Advice Place: make sure you get a copy. It details all the organisations which exist in Edinburgh specifically to help you cope. A few of these are detailed below. Special information on Immigration The UK immigration rules are very complex and it is essential that you abide by the rules. Otherwise your immigration status in the UK may be affected and you may have to leave the UK without completing your course. Further information about immigration and working in the UK can be found in the International Students Post-Arrival Guide, available from the Advice Place. Alternatively you can get advice from either the International Office at 57 George Square or from the Advice Place at Potterrow. Many International students are allowed to do some work while they are in the UK. This will depend on the visa stamp endorsed in their passport. If you are allowed to work, there are certain restrictions on the type of work that you can take and the number of hours you can work each week. Anyone entering the UK as a student for more than six months would normally have a ‘restriction’ visa stamp. This visa allows you to work up to 20 hours per week during the University term-time,


non-academic issues and as many hours as you wish during university holidays. If you are here on a student visa you cannot be selfemployed, engage in business, provide services as a professional sportsperson or entertainer or take a job that is considered a full-time, permanent career vacancy. The rules for student nurses and for anyone undertaking an internship as part of their course are slightly different. Please contact the International Office or The Advice Place at Potterrow for more information. You can check to see if you have a ‘restriction’ visa that will enable you to work part-time by looking at the wording on the visa stamp – it should state that it is a student visa and it will also state ‘No recourse to public funds. Work (and any changes) must be authorised’. However, if your Visa stamp states ‘No work. No recourse to public funds’, then you are not permitted to work under any circumstances. There are separate rules for dependants of international students. Again, contact either the International Office at 57 George Square or The Advice Place at The Potterrow for further advice. There are also separate rules for students who are from the European accession countries (Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary and the 50


Czech Republic) who wish to work during their studies. This, involves registering for or getting permission to work. Please check the rules before taking up employment. More information on this can be found in the International Students Post Arrival Guide or on the UK Border Agency website at: www.ind. The Advice Place at Potterrow has immigration advisers who should be able to assist you with any immigration related queries, as well as any general or academic queries. Feel free to contact them if you have any queries about the University, living in Edinburgh, immigration or anything else. Alternatively contact one of the organisations below for information or assistance. International Office, 57 George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9JU. tel. 0131 650 4296, internat Staff in The International Office can deal with a wide range of issues affecting international students such as immigration queries, welcome services upon arrival in Edinburgh, social events, information seminars on a variety of issues and budgeting information.

International Students’ Centre 22a Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh. tel 650 4281; www/ Open: Mon-Wed 12-4pm Thurs 12-6pm Fr 12-4pm The International Students’ Centre is run by students for students. Students can meet up in the ISC, where there is a wide selection of international periodicals and newspapers, as well as other information of interest to international students. The centre is open every day at lunchtimes (12-2pm). There is a microwave and fridge for the use of International students. The student volunteers organise a busy programme of social activities, including parties, nights out, and weekend trips to places of interest in and around Edinburgh, and elsewhere in Scotland. Drop in to find out more. English for International Students The University requires all postgraduates whose first language is not English to take an English language test before they matriculate. The purpose of the test is to find out which students should be offered English Language tuition. This does not affect your admission to University.

Studies, 21 Hill Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9DP. Tel. 0131 650 6200. The Institute also runs day classes (15 or 20 hours per week) in General English from September to June and these may be of interest to the families of overseas students. The British Council The Tun, 4 Jacksons Entry, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8PJ, Tel. 0131 524 5700 scotland.htm The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for educational and cultural relations. They work with organisations in Scotland, the UK and internationally to connect Britain and the world through the arts, education, science and governance. Their website has information on courses, scholarships, work-experience programs for international postgraduates, employment opportunities for English language teachers, information on arts and culture, information on your rights

Details of tuition courses, which may be free or undertaken at a reduced rate for eligible postgraduates, can be obtained from the Institute of Applied Language and much more.


Telephone numbers Advice Place......................................................................... 0131 650-9225 King’s Buildings.................................................................... 0131 650-5822 Holyrood............................................................................... 0131 651-6060 British Council...................................................................... 0131 524-5700 Travel line (for info. on buses).............................................. 0870-6082608 Careers Service (Buccleuch Place)....................................... 0131 650-4479 Careers Service (Kings’ Buildings)........................................ 0131 650-5773 Central Library...................................................................... 0131 650-8020 Centre for Teaching, Learning and Assessment.................. 0131 651-6661 Chaplaincy ........................................................................... 0131 650-2257 City of Edinburgh Council Department of Education ........... 0131 469-3479 City of Edinburgh Council Social Work Department ............ 0131 200-2324 Computing Services (at George Square) ............................. 0131 650-3409 Computing Sciences (at King’s Buildings)............................ 0131 650 4964 Council Tax........................................................................... 0131 200-2000 EUSA ................................................................................... 0131 650-2656 Genito Urinary Medicine (GUM Clinic)................................. 0131 536-2103 (men) ............................................................................................. 0131 536-2104 (women) GUM Clinic Gay Man’s Line................................................. 0131 536-4444 Institute for Applied Language Studies ............................... 0131 650-6200 International Students Centre ............................................. 0131 650-4281 Kings’ Buildings House (KB) ................................................ 0131 650-5772 Lothian Racial Equality Council............................................. 0131 556-0441 Main Library (at George Square)........................................... 0131 650-3409 National Library of Scotland . ............................................... 0131 623-3700 University Parking . .............................................................. 0131 650-2086 Rape Crisis Centre . ............................................................. 0131 558-1612 Societies’ Centre administration.......................................... 0131 650-2615/2345 Sports Union......................................................................... 0131 650-2346/7 Student Counselling Service................................................ 0131 650-4170 Teviot Row House................................................................ 0131 650-4673 Unitots nursery..................................................................... 0131 650 3448 University Day Nursery......................................................... 0131 667-9584 Scottish Women’s Aid.......................................................... 0131 226-6606










Postgraduate Guide 2009  
Postgraduate Guide 2009  

Guide for Postgraduates provided by EUSA