Thesis examination

(2)9.46

A higher doctorate may be awarded on the basis of an examination of the written thesis without a viva voce examination.

(2)9.47

The examination shall normally be completed within six months of the examiners receiving the higher doctorate candidate’s thesis.

Examining teams

(2)9.48

The examination must be conducted by an examining team. Each examining team must comprise three examiners. At least two members of the examining team must be external examiners.

(2)9.49

Members of the examining team must have expertise in the candidate’s area of research and be an experienced researcher – demonstrated through research publications – and have experience of supervising and examining research students. Examiners shall be required to have seniority and experience appropriate for the examination of a higher doctorate candidate.

(2)9.50

Members of the examining team must not:

  • be the higher doctorate candidate’s academic adviser (if allocated)
  • have or have had a close personal or contractual relationship with the higher doctorate candidate, the candidate’s immediate family, the candidate’s academic adviser (if allocated), or any other member of the examining team
  • have had substantial involvement in the work of the higher doctorate candidate whose work is to be examined – including substantial co-authoring and collaborative activities
  • have their own work as the focus of the work of the higher doctorate candidate which is to be examined

(2)9.51

The Head of Department or their nominee shall be responsible for nominating members of the examining team. The appointment of higher doctorate examiners shall be subject to approval from the Graduate Dean.

External examiners

(2)9.52

External examiners must not be a member of the University’s staff or a member of staff of the Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit.

(2)9.53

Former members of University staff may be appointed as external examiners provided that they continue to be actively engaged in research and there has been a period of at least three years between them leaving the University and the date of the examination. A longer period may be required if appropriate. Other honorary and emeritus staff of the University shall not be appointed as external examiners. Emeritus staff of another institution may be appointed as external examiners provided that they continue to be actively engaged in research.

(2)9.54

External examiners must not:

  • have been involved in the three years immediately before the examination in any collaborative project, including co-authoring, with any other member of the examining team
  • have or have had a close personal relationship with any member of the staff of the higher doctorate candidate’s Department
  • have or have had a close contractual relationship with any member of the staff of the higher doctorate candidate’s Department if this may give rise to a perception of a conflict of interest

Internal examiners

(2)9.55

If appointed, internal examiners must be one of the following:

  • a member of the University’s academic staff
  • a research fellow of the University
  • a clinical or scientific member of staff of the National Health Service, or an academic member of staff of the Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit, holding an honorary position with the University

Other honorary and emeritus staff of the University shall not be appointed as internal examiners.

Responsibilities of the examiners

(2)9.56

The examiners shall be responsible for:

  • ensuring that they are familiar with these regulations and the decisions that the examining team may make on completion of the examination
  • undertaking an examination of the thesis and completing independent examination reports
  • communicating with the other members of the examining team and agreeing with them a joint decision on completion of the examination
  • producing a written report  on the changes and corrections required by the examining team and submitting this to the Graduate School Office if the higher doctorate candidate is required to complete amendments to the critical appraisal
  • preparing a joint post-examination report with the other members of the examining team and submitting this to the Graduate School Office
  • assessing the changes and corrections made by a higher doctorate candidate who was required to complete amendments to the critical appraisal and confirming whether these have been completed satisfactorily
  • returning to the Graduate School Office the published works submitted for examination

Examination outcomes

(2)9.57

The examiners shall on completion of the examination jointly make one of the following decisions:

  • to award the degree for which the higher doctorate candidate was examined
  • to award the degree for which the higher doctorate candidate was examined subject to the satisfactory completion of amendments to the critical appraisal
  • not to award the degree for which the higher doctorate candidate was examined

(2)9.58

If the examining team is unable to agree a joint decision, advice must be sought from the Graduate School Office.

(2)9.59

A decision to award a degree subject to the satisfactory completion of amendments to the critical appraisal shall involve amendments that are:

  • communicated in writing to the higher doctorate candidate following the examination
  • completed and submitted to the examining team within a period of one to three months, as specified by the examiners, from the date at which the higher doctorate candidate is provided with the examining team’s post-examination report including details as to the changes and corrections required

(2)9.60

Higher doctorate candidates who following examination are not awarded the degree for which they were examined may submit a further application for admission to a higher doctorate programme provided that a period of at least two years has passed since the date of the examination. A further application for admission to a higher doctorate programme shall not be accepted should the candidate not be awarded a degree at the second attempt.

Award and conferral

(2)9.61

The higher doctorate candidate shall receive formal notice of the award of the degree following receipt by the Graduate School Office of a decision by the examining team that an award should be made.

(2)9.62

The University may withhold the award of a higher doctorate until such time as the higher doctorate candidate has complied with the final submission requirements specified in (2)9.43 to (2)9.44.

(2)9.63

The conferral of the degree shall take place at the first appropriate degree congregation following award of the degree. The higher doctorate candidate must wear full academic dress when presented at the degree congregation.