Royal Decree 99/2011 (amended by Royal Decree 534/2013), governing accredited doctoral degree programmes, implements the third cycle of accredited higher education, amending issues related to doctoral thesis preparation and assessment, including international doctor distinctions. This page summarizes the process and regulations for PhD in Software, Systems and Computing students, approved by the programme committee.
As established in Royal Decree 99/2011, students shall have a maximum of three years' full-time study in which to complete their PhD from their admission to the programme until the submission of their PhD thesis.
Notwithstanding the foregoing and after authorization from the PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee, students may enrol for part-time PhD studies (student status change form). In this case, students shall have a maximum of five years' part-time study in which to complete their PhD from their admission to the programme until the submission of their PhD thesis. The status change is for full academic years and it should be sent before the beginning of each academic year (before June).
If students have not submitted their thesis deposit application within three years, the PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee may authorize a one-year extension of this period, which could exceptionally be extended by another year. In the case of part-time studies, the PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee may authorize a two-year extension, which could, exceptionally, be extended by another year. Extensions requests should be sent by email to the PhD address before June each course by completing the Extension request form.
Leave due to illness, pregnancy or on any other ground provided by the regulations in force shall not be taken into account for the purposes of computing the above period, and they should be notified as soon as possible. The time spent taking bridge courses shall not be taken into account either.
Also, students may apply for a maximum of one academic year's temporary leave from the programme, extendable by up to one more year. An application stating the grounds must be addressed to the PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee, which shall make a decision on whether or not to accede to the request before June.
On the other hand, the UPM has established the procedure for preparing and submitting annual research plans in its PhD Thesis Preparation and Assessment Regulation. This regulation establishes that the PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee shall annually assess the Research Plan that all programme students are required to draft as of the end of their first year on the PhD programme, as well as all the documented activities that the student has completed as part of the programme and the reports issued by the student's tutor and thesis supervisor. Positive assessment is a requirement for continuation on the programme. In the event of a negative assessment, which shall be properly justified, the PhD student shall be re-assessed within six months, for which purpose the student shall draft another Research Plan. In the event of another negative assessment, the PhD student shall be obliged to leave the programme.
PhD thesis supervisor
No later than six months as of their enrolment, PhD candidates shall be appointed a thesis supervisor by the PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee to advise on the preparation of their PhD thesis. Thesis supervisors shall be programme faculty members holding a PhD and having accredited research experience. Faculty non-members shall also be eligible provided that they comply with the PhD in Software, Systems and Computing and standard UPM PhD programme criteria.
A student's tutor and PhD thesis supervisor do not necessarily have to be the same person.
New students are advised to contact programme faculty and UPM research groups associated with the programme in order to scope out the topic that they intend to research. Students shall have to notify the programme administrative officer if, as a result of such contacts, a faculty member agrees to supervise their thesis. No later than three months from the start of the course, all students must have selected a research topic so that the PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee can assign thesis supervisors. Otherwise, the PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee shall assign ex officio a thesis supervisor to the student.
PhD thesis co-supervision
On academic grounds, where, for example, topics are interdisciplinary or programmes have national or international partners, a PhD thesis may be co-supervised by more than one thesis supervisor holding a PhD degree and having accredited research experience. The PhD candidate shall have to apply to the PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee for co-supervision using the Thesis co-supervision application form in the first or second year. The Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos shall forward the respective application to the UPM PhD Committee, which shall take into account the report issued for the purpose by the PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee.
The UPM PhD Committee may request any further reports that it requires and shall decide on the application in no more than two months.
The aforesaid authorization may be withdrawn at a later date if the UPM PhD Committee resolves that co-supervision is of no benefit to thesis development.
PhD thesis supervisor substitution
Any PhD candidate that would like to substitute their PhD thesis supervisor shall have to apply to the PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee using the Thesis supervisor substitution application form. Thesis supervisors can be substituted any time up until the PhD thesis is deposited. The Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos shall then apply to the UPM PhD Committee for the thesis supervisor to be substituted.
The UPM PhD Committee may request any further reports that it requires and shall decide on the application within two months.
The PhD programme encourages student mobility by promoting sojourns at other national or international institutions of higher education or research centres of excellence at which students can opt to complete part of their research for their thesis.
The sojourns should be recorded in the PhD student's Activity Log. For this purpose, students should submit a Mobility Application to the PhD Programme Committee beforehand. Students are asked to cooperate fully on the completion of this application, as the stated information is also necessary for ANECA and other agencies to monitor and possibly evaluate the PhD Programme.
Additionally, students are reminded that, in order to be able to opt for the International PhD Mention, the minimum length of a sojourn at a higher education institution or research centre of excellence outside Spain is three months, and the PhD Programme Committee must have been previously informed of the aforesaid sojourn.
PhD candidates shall draft a research plan every year. This research plan shall state at least the PhD thesis title, the research methodology and goals, as well as the research resources and time chart. Students shall draft their first research plan at the end of their first year on the programme. If students decide that they would like to modify the title of their PhD thesis at a later date, they shall have to submit an application to the PhD Committee using the PhD thesis title amendment form. This research plan shall be improved and further specified in successive years.
The PhD candidate and the thesis supervisor or supervisors shall be responsible for submitting the annual research plan to the PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee detailing the progress and the most significant interim results of the PhD thesis research. Only students that have paid the academic supervision fees shall be entitled to submit this report. The UPM PhD Committee shall establish the format and submission date for this report. The research plan shall be fullfilled at Politécnica Virtual.
The PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee shall annually assess each PhD candidate's research plan, plus the reports to be issued by the thesis supervisors. Students shall not be allowed to continue on the programme unless they receive a positive assessment.
In the event of a negative assessment, which shall be duly justified, PhD candidates shall have to prepare another research plan for reassessment within six months.
If the reassessment is negative again, PhD candidates shall be expelled from the programme.
Instructions for writing and presenting PhD theses
PhD theses shall be written and defended preferably in Spanish, although they may also be written in English. In any case, they shall have to include a summary in both Spanish and English (maximum 4000 characters). Additionally, if duly justified and reasoned, the UPM PhD Committee may authorize, at the request of the PhD candidate and with the consent of the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos, theses to be written and presented in a different language (Application for language other than Spanish or English).
Students applying for the International Doctor Distinction may write and present theses in any of the languages commonly used in scientific communication in the respective branch of knowledge other than the official languages of Spain.
PhD theses that are written in neither Spanish nor English should include an additional summary in Spanish or English (minimum 20 pages).
Out of regard for non-Spanish-speaking academic staff sitting on the board, theses may be defended in a language other than Spanish provided that all the board members agree.
Theses shall be written according to the following instructions prepared for the purpose by the UPM, taking into account that they should be submitted electronically.
Assessment before proceeding to PhD thesis defence
The PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee must assure the quality of PhD theses before their formal presentation. The PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee is responsible for verifying the continual improvement of the final PhD dissertation to be submitted by PhD candidates.
Report issued by PhD thesis supervisor
PhD candidates that have completed their research, written a preliminary version of their thesis and received a positive assessment of the latest research plan submitted shall inform the PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee that they would like to proceed to the pre-defence of their thesis, attaching a report from the PhD thesis supervisor or supervisors (Thesis supervisor reporting form).
PhD thesis pre-defence or equivalent procedure
No later than 30 days as of the submission of the above report, the PhD candidates shall proceed to a pre-defence before a panel of experts with accredited research experience and picked by the PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee (the choice shall be delegated to the programme coordinator and shall take about a week) in the presence of the thesis supervisor or supervisors.
The pre-defence may be replaced by an equivalent mechanism that assures the quality of PhD theses through the assessment of the quality indicators submitted by PhD candidates. In order to opt out of the public pre-defence proceedings, PhD candidates shall have to have authored at least two articles (on the research developed in the thesis) in JCR-listed publications and have the approval of their thesis supervisor or supervisors.
Prior to the public pre-defence or equivalent procedure, PhD candidates shall, in any case, have to submit a PDF file containing a draft or 20-page summary of their PhD thesis referencing the state of the art, scientific methodology, original contributions, references and conclusions, plus any preliminary results disseminated in publications (which should be listed on the Thesis results form and also be submitted via the Politécnica Virtual web environment).
PhD candidates shall not be allowed to proceed to pre-defence unless they have previously disseminated some preliminary results in a peer-reviewed publication. The PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee may establish requirements to assure the quality of the publication.
Application for pre-defence or equivalent procedure
The PhD candidate shall have to submit the following documents to the programme administrative officer in order to apply for the pre-defence or equivalent procedure:
A PDF file containing the draft of the PhD thesis.
A PDF dossier with publications derived from the PhD thesis. For each article, the dossier should contain:
The cover of the journal, congress proceedings, etc., in which the article was published.
The contents page of the publication (listing the article related to the PhD thesis).
A copy of the pages of the above publication, including the full text of the article (a downloaded copy of the article, if it is an online publication). The manuscript submitted for publication by the doctoral candidate shall only be acceptable if the paper has been accepted and not yet been published (in this case, the letter of acceptance should also be attached).
Additional documents specifying the quality data supplied in the document listing the publication details (impact factor, paper acceptance rate, type of review, etc.).
A list of web addresses against which the submitted documents can be checked.
The doctoral candidate must enter all the data on the scientific output of the PhD thesis through the Politécnica Virtual online application.
After document submission, the draft of the PhD thesis and the dossier of publications will be submitted to two experts. The supervisor or supervisors will be notified of the panel of experts. The supervisors shall have to contact the experts and the PhD candidate to arrange the date and time for the pre-defence procedure, if any. The administrative officer shall be notified of this date and time in order to book the venue and announce the pre-defence.
Pre-defence or equivalent procedure report
All members of the panel of experts responsible for appraising the pre-defence or equivalent procedure shall issue a report for the purpose (Pre-defence or equivalent procedure report). The reports by the panel of experts shall be submitted to the PhD programme administration office on the date of the pre-defence, or, for equivalent procedures, no later than two weeks as of the appointment of the panel of experts.
In the event of a duly reasoned and justified negative report, PhD candidates shall have to modify or rewrite the research and resubmit the thesis for pre-defence or equivalent procedure. If the report contains suggestions for improvement, the PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee shall decide whether to make it compulsory for or leave it to the PhD candidate or PhD thesis supervisor or supervisors to make the suggested changes to the final dissertation.
Final authorization by the PhD programme academic committee
The PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee shall not be able to authorize the PhD thesis to proceed to defence unless the pre-defence or equivalent procedure report is positive and it has checked that any compulsory changes have been made. In addition, the student should have acquired all the programme competences by enrolling for the training activities (or its recognition).
The PhD thesis supervisor or supervisors and the PhD candidate shall be notified by the PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee of the decision on whether or not the thesis has been authorized to proceed to defence and the respective grounds, if any, no later than a fortnight as of it receiving the pre-defence or equivalent procedure report.
Before a PhD thesis can be admitted to defence proceedings, PhD candidates shall have to have published some preliminary results in highly reputed specialized journals listed in JCR or equivalent catalogues, or in CORE A or A* Conferences or own use patents evidenced by means of a purchase agreement or licensing contract. In any case, the affiliation of the student must be "Universidad Politécnica de Madrid".
The Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos shall submit the respective report certifying to the aforesaid preliminary results having been published to the UPM PhD Committee before PhD theses are deposited.
PhD thesis confidentiality
Under exceptional circumstances, for example, where there are non-disclosure agreements with companies or there is a possibility of patents being generated covering the thesis content, the school or college responsible for the PhD programme shall be able to apply to the UPM PhD Committee for thesis confidentiality.
The UPM PhD Committee may request any further reports that it requires and shall decide on the application within two months.
The aforesaid authorization may be withdrawn at a later date if the UPM PhD Committee decides that the aforesaid circumstances no longer apply.
Proposing board members
The PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee shall propose seven doctors with accredited research experience and specialized in the subject matter to which the thesis refers or a related area (Board member proposal form).
The Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos shall submit this proposal to the UPM PhD Committee before students deposit their PhD thesis and attach a reasoned report on the qualifications of each and every one of the members proposed to sit on the PhD thesis examining board. The acceptance of the members proposed to sit on the board shall have to be certified (Board member acceptance form).
In the event of PhD theses that are subject to confidentiality clauses, all proposed board members shall have to sign a statement undertaking not to disclose the content.
No more than two members from the same higher education institution or organization shall be eligible to sit on a thesis examining board. A member that meets any of the criteria for abstention established in article 28 of Act 30/1992 of 26 November shall not be eligible to sit on a board.
Higher education academic staff shall be eligible to sit on PhD thesis boards even if they are on leave, in retirement, on special services or secondment in which case they are considered to be members of the higher education institution where they are serving at the time. Retired faculty members shall be considered as members of the higher education institution at which they were serving before retirement.
If the submitted information is considered to be incomplete, the UPM PhD Committee may request further particulars to assess the qualifications of the proposed candidates. The acceptance of the members proposed to sit on the board shall be entered in the student's academic record.
Enrolling for PhD thesis defence
Having been authorized by the PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee to proceed to the defence of their thesis, PhD candidates have to enrol for PhD thesis defence. To do so, they shall have to pay the enrolment fee and any outstanding annual academic supervision fees, including charges for the on-going year. PhD candidates shall not be allowed to deposit their PhD thesis until they have enrolled.
Depositing PhD theses
Once all the required formalities for thesis defence have been completed, the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos shall apply to the UPM PhD Committee for admission of the PhD thesis for deposit. The PhD thesis shall be immediately admitted for deposit provided that the following formalities are found to have been completed:
PhD candidates have:
presented and approved the Research Plan corresponding to the previous year
The Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos has:
given final authorization for the presentation of the thesis and stated whether the PhD thesis is eligible for an international doctorate.
certified the publication of the preliminary results of the thesis, which PhD candidates shall have entered via the Politécnica Virtual web environment
submitted the PhD thesis board member proposal application
approved or submitted to the UPM PhD Committee the application for confidentiality for PhD theses subject to non-disclosure agreements
submitted the required documentation for PhD theses eligible for the international doctorate.
PhD theses have to be deposited for 15 days as of the day after the acceptance of their deposit.
The Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos has to notify PhD programme academic staff that the thesis has been deposited and give them access to a provisional copy of the PhD thesis forwarded to the UPM PhD Committee.
The UPM PhD Committee shall announce all theses deposited at any time on the UPM's website. The office of the vice rector responsible for PhD programmes shall set up the procedure to be followed by any duly accredited doctor to gain access to the full text of deposited theses and, if applicable, submit, in the written format of their choice, any comments they would like to make to the PhD programme academic committee by the end of the deposit period.
If any comments are raised, the school responsible for the PhD programme shall review the content and write to the UPM PhD Committee stating its opinion on whether the process should proceed or be stopped. They have a period of seven days as of the expiry of the deposit period to do so.
Authorization to proceed to PhD thesis defence
If no comments have been raised by the end of the deposit period or any that were raised have been addressed, the UPM PhD Committee has to decide whether or not to authorize the thesis to proceed to defence.
The Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos shall be notified of the decision, which shall then be reported to the PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee and to the PhD candidate and the thesis supervisor or supervisors within at most five days. If the thesis is not authorized to proceed to defence, the grounds and reasons for the decision have to be specified.
The UPM PhD Committee's decision shall be considered firm and final and puts an end to the administrative procedure.
Appointing the examination board
At the same time as it notifies its decision authorizing the PhD thesis to proceed to defence, the UPM PhD Committee shall approve the board that is to examine the thesis considering the proposal submitted by the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos. The board shall be composed of five regular members and two substitute members.
The UPM PhD Committee shall appoint two of the board members as chair and secretary of the board.
In the event of the resignation, on a justified ground, of a regular member of the board, the chair shall proceed to appoint one of the substitute members. If the examining board chair has unexpectedly to be substituted, the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos shall put forward one of the members sitting on the board to stand in. In any case, the UPM PhD Committee must be notified of the substitution as soon as possible.
The Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos shall be notified of the appointment of the board so that it can forward the notification of appointment and a copy of the thesis to each member. The Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos shall also have to notify the PhD candidate and thesis supervisor or supervisors of the board's appointment within five days.
The thesis shall have to be defended no later than three months after the board is appointed. Otherwise, a proposal of board members shall have to be resubmitted to the UPM PhD Committee.
Defending and assessing PhD theses
PhD thesis defence proceedings
Notice of the defence proceedings shall be served by the chair and notified by the secretary to the board members with sufficient advance notice.
Once notice of the proceedings has been served, the chair of the board shall establish the proper substitution procedures. If any of the members fail show up on the date set for the public defence and presentation proceedings, the substitutes shall join the board. If this is not possible, the chair shall, after deliberation with the other members and the chair of the PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee, decide whether or not the defence proceedings should go ahead. For the defence to go ahead, at least four members shall have to be present. If it is decided to suspend the proceedings, another date shall be set for the defence in agreement with the other members of the board and the PhD candidate. Any changes to the board shall have to be notified to the UPM PhD Committee as soon as possible.
If any member is prevented by an act of God from attending the defence proceedings but remote access (audio or video conferencing) is an option, the board's chair has, in accordance with the applicable legislation, the authority to allow the member to attend remotely under the same conditions as the members present and to participate in the defence proceedings and subsequent deliberations.
The PhD thesis shall be assessed at the defence proceedings. These proceedings shall take place in a public hearing and shall consist of the presentation and defence of the developed research work by the PhD candidate before the members of the board.
The board that assesses the thesis shall have access to the PhD student activity document stating the training activities that they have completed. This document is designed for monitoring purposes and shall not result in a quantitative score. It shall, however, serve as a qualitative assessment mechanism to supplement the examination of PhD theses.
The board members shall have to express their opinion and shall ask the PhD candidate as many questions as they see fit. Any PhD holders present at the public hearing shall be entitled to ask questions at the time and in the manner stated by the chair of the board.
At the end of the defence and discussion of the PhD thesis, each board member shall write an appraisal of the thesis (Thesis appraisal form).
The examining board will have an activity document, which includes the Teaching Activities, Seminars, etc. of the student. This document will used to complement the evaluation of the PhD thesis.
The examining board shall issue a report and the overall grade awarded to the thesis on the following scale: "rejected", "approved", "very good" and "excellent". The examining board may award the "cum laude" distinction if the overall grade is "excellent", and the result of the secret ballot is unanimously in favour.
Each board member shall issue a secret vote on whether or not to award the "cum laude" distinction. These votes shall be placed in an envelope that shall be sealed and signed on the top flap by all the board members. The secretary of the board shall deliver the envelope to the PhD programme administrative officer, who shall forward it to the PhD programme academic committee.
The envelope containing the secret votes shall be opened at the next PhD programme academic committee meeting. The PhD thesis shall be awarded the "cum laude" distinction if the board votes unanimously in favour.
Archiving PhD theses in digital format
After PhD theses have been approved, the higher education institution shall take charge of digitally archiving and forwarding a copy of the respective thesis and any necessary supplementary information electronically to the ministry responsible for PhD programmes for the record.
Any PhD theses subject to non-disclosure clauses shall be published in the UPM's open repository once the protection or knowledge transfer process has come to an end, which circumstance the PhD candidate shall duly report to the UPM.
Once the public thesis defence and presentation proceedings are complete and the PhD thesis has been approved, PhD candidates shall be eligible to apply to the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos registry for their PhD degree certificate, for which purpose they shall have to pay the respective fees.
International Doctor Distinction
The "International Doctor" distinction (International doctor application form) may be added to its reverse of the PhD degree certificate, provided all the following circumstances apply:
During the required PhD research period, the PhD student has completed a stay of at least three months studying or conducting research at a prestigious institution of higher education or research centre outside Spain. The visit and activities shall have to be endorsed by the director of and authorized by the PhD in Software, Systems and Computing Academic Committee and shall be added to the candidate's documented activities. An original certificate issued by the institution of higher education or research centre where the stay is completed must be provided. This certification should include the starting and ending dates of the stay, as well as the name of the director of the research group in which the student collaborated.
Part of the PhD thesis, at least the summary and conclusions, has been drawn up and presented in any of the common languages for scientific communication in the respective field of knowledge other than the official languages of Spain. This rule shall not apply where the stays, reports and experts come from a Spanish-speaking country.
At least two experts from a non-Spanish higher education institution or research institute have given their review of the manuscript (Expert thesis report). The experts should each submit an original report together with their resumes.
At least one member of the thesis examining board holding a PhD and not responsible for the visits mentioned in section 1 should be from a non-Spanish higher education institution or research centre.
Theses shall be defended at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.
The Universidad Politécnica de Madrid shall provide a document stating that the PhD thesis has been awarded the "International Doctor" distinction. Also, "International Doctor" shall be added to the reverse of the PhD degree certificate.
Extraordinary PhD awards
The prizes shall be awarded to worthy applicants who defended a thesis in the previous academic year that was graded «cum laude».
Applications shall be addressed to the director of the Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingenieros Informáticos and submitted to the UPM general registry by the closing date established by the UPM PhD Committee.
Schools and colleges shall then formulate reasoned proposals for the award of the prizes, subject to a report by the academic committees of the PhD programmes taken by the candidates for extraordinary PhD prizes. These proposals shall be forwarded, together with the applications submitted by applicants, to the UPM PhD Committee by the date set by the aforesaid committee.
Finally, the UPM PhD Committee shall award the extraordinary PhD prizes, all of which shall be of equal rank.
The periods established in these regulations shall be calculated as calendar days, not including the period from 1 to 31 August. Deadlines that fall on a Saturday shall be extended to the next working day.