PhD & MPhil examination process
Detailed information on the PhD and MPhiL Examination process.
The examination of a PhD thesis is administrated by the College of Science and Engineering College Office. Once a student submits their thesis for examination (and the College Office has received the officially nominated examiners) the thesis will be sent out to the examiners for examination. The examination process is then as follows:
Preliminary report - 2-3 months
On receipt of the thesis, the examiners will complete a preliminary examination and return a report (Part I) to the College Office. This usually takes between 6-8 weeks but it depends on the examiners other engagements. Once the examiners have received the thesis, the oral examination can be organised; this is usually organised by the Principle supervisor and internal examiners, although there may be help from the Level Office and a Non-Examining Chair (if one is appointed). It is strongly advised that the viva is not organised beforehand in case there is a delay in receiving the examination paperwork. This gives the examiners suitable time to effectively examine the thesis.
Oral examination (viva voce)
The Oral Examination, or viva voce, is usually held no later than 3 months after the examiners officially receive a thesis for examination (depending on their availability). The oral examination is a key part of the examination process. The internal examiner, or the non-examining chair if one has been appointed, is responsible for ensuring that the details of the oral examination, including the date and place, the names of all those participating or attending is provided in advance to all those who are to be present (i.e. the candidate, all examiners and any observer). The oral examination may be used to establish a student's general knowledge of the field of research, to establish the extent of any collaboration, to ascertain that they can work independently and lead the work of others, and to confirm that the work is indeed their own. The examiners may tell a student what their views are at the end of or after the oral examination but their views are a recommendation to the College Office which will be made final at the next Postgraduate Board of Examiners meeting. The College of Science and Engineering Postgraduate Board of Examiners has the power to modify or, exceptionally, to overturn the examiners' recommendation. A student may begin any corrections given to them as soon as they are given them.
"The role of the Non-Examining Chair is to ensure that due process is carried out. The non-examining chair needs to be a person with appropriate experience of postgraduate research examining from within the University. The Non-Examining Chair need not be from the same School as the student. The Non-Examining Chair must ensure that all parties to the examination process fully understand the expectations of them and should offer assistance and facilitation where necessary. The Non-Examining Chair must not express an opinion on the merits of the thesis." (Regulation 3 and 27.3, Postgraduate Assessment Regulations for Research Degrees). The Non-Examining Chair is required (predominantly) to chair the student's viva voce and to complete a Non-Examining Chair report form following the viva. The form should then be submitted directly to the College Office. The College Office will provide a nominated Non-Examining Chair with the form in an email.
With approval from the student and examiners, a supervisor may observe the oral examination (Regulation 27.4, Postgraduate Assessment Regulations for Research Degrees).
Following the Oral Examination
Following a student's oral examination/viva the examiners will complete a report and send it to the College Office along with any corrections they require the student to undertake. The report will be sent to the Board of Examiners for approval and the student will be sent a letter with a copy of the examiners report and corrections to the address the student provided on their Notice of Intention to Submit form. The student should ensure that the College Office has their current address by reviewing the details listed in MyEd and updating this accordingly.
Board of Examiners
When the College Office receives the examiners' report following the oral examination, the examination reports (Part I and Part II) will be sent to the next Board of Examiners. The meetings are held once a month, usually on the last Friday of each month. You can check the dates at the meeting schedule link below. The members of the Board will look at the reports and finalise the recommendations from the examiners. The student will then be officially notified of the approved recommendation by letter - the time given for them to complete the corrections begins from the date on the letter. A copy of the Part II report (along with a list of corrections if the examiners provide it) will be enclosed in the letter. A copy of the letter is sent to the Principle Supervisor and Internal Examiner. The College Office will use the mailing address the student provided on their Notice of Intention to Submit form to write to them. If this address changes, it is the student's responsibility to notify the College Office by updated their address details in MyEd.
The Board of Examiners meeting schedule can be found within the College Academic Affairs SharePoint:
Recommendations following Oral Examination
Sometimes a student is recommended to resubmit their thesis for re-examination rather than make corrections. Students will be required to pay a Resubmission Fee to resubmit their thesis, please see PhD and MPhil thesis resubmission.
Corrections to a thesis
Required corrections to a thesis can be recommended to take between 3 and 24 months. It is usual to have at least minor corrections to make to a thesis. However, it is possible that a student may not have any corrections to make. If this is the case, the student will be able to be awarded after the first Board of Examiners meeting (following submission of the Final Submission Documentation). When a student has completed the required corrections to their thesis, they must send a copy (either electronic or paper - depending on the preference of the examiner(s)) of the corrected thesis to the internal examiner for approval. The external examiner may also wish to see the corrected thesis. They will then read the thesis again and, if they are satisfied that the corrections have been completed, they will complete the Certification of Corrections form. This form should be returned to the College Office as soon as possible so that your examination paperwork can be sent to the Board of Examiners for final approval. Once the examiners have told the student that the corrections have been completed to their satisfaction, the student can prepare the Final Submission Documentation. This can then be submitted to the College Office. The sooner the final submission documentation is submitted to the College Office, the quicker the student will receive their award letter after approval at the Board of Examiners meeting. A student should not prepare the final submission documentation until the corrections have been approved by the examiners. The examiners may ask for one or two corrections to be amended.
Board of Examiners
When the College Office receives the Certification of Corrections form from the examiner(s) they will send all of your examination paperwork to the next Board of Examiners meeting for approval. If and when the Board approve the paperwork, the student will be allowed to be awarded - providing they have submitted their Final Submission Documentation.
The student will be sent a letter from the College Office informing them that they have been awarded the degree of Phd/MPhil and will give details on registering and attending the Graduation Ceremony