Policies

Examination, examiners and awards

Thesis examination

9.208

All research students must successfully defend their thesis in a viva voce examination before a research degree shall be awarded.

9.209

The viva voce examination for research students registered for the degree of PhD or MPhil and submitting a practice based thesis must address both the critical/reflective component and the practice component of the thesis. The examining team shall be required to attend a presentation of the practice component of the thesis and this shall normally be arranged to coincide with the viva voce examination.

Examining teams

9.210

The viva voce examination must be conducted by an examining team. Each examining team must comprise at least two members. At least one member of the examining team must be an external examiner.

9.211

Members of the research student’s supervisory team must not be members of the same student’s examining team.

9.212

A second external examiner must be appointed if it is not possible to appoint an internal examiner.

9.213

The examining team must comprise two external examiners if the research student to be examined is a member of the University’s academic staff.

9.214

The examining team shall normally comprise one internal examiner and one external examiner if the research student to be examined is a member of the University’s non-academic staff, including research students who have held Graduate Teaching/Research Assistant posts. The Dean of the Doctoral College may if appropriate require that two external examiners shall be appointed.

9.215

Members of the examining team must not:

  1. have or have had a personal or contractual relationship with the research student to be examined, the research student’s immediate family, any member of the student’s supervisory team, any other member of the examining team, or – if appointed – the chair of the viva voce examination
  2. have had substantial involvement in the work of the research student to be examined –including substantial co-authoring and collaborative activities
  3. have their own work as the focus of the work of the research student to be examined.

9.216

The Head of Department or their nominee shall be responsible for nominating the members of the examining team. The nomination of examiners for research students registered at an associated institution shall be the responsibility of that institution. The Head of Department or their nominee shall normally take advice from the supervisory team of the research student to be examined in identifying possible examiners, but the final decision shall rest with the Head of Department or their nominee. The Department shall not be required to consult with the research student to be examined in identifying possible examiners, but may do so where appropriate. The research student must under no circumstances approach possible examiners directly.

9.217

The appointment of all research degree examiners shall be subject to approval from the Dean of the Doctoral College.

Internal examiners

9.218

The internal examiner must be one of the following:

  1. a member of the University’s academic staff
  2. a research fellow of the University
  3. a clinical or scientific member of staff of the University Hospitals of Leicester National Health Service Trust, holding an honorary position with the University.

Internal examiners of research students registered at an associated institution may be a member of the staff of that institution. Other honorary and emeritus staff of the University shall not be appointed as internal examiners.

9.219

A member of the probation review panel of a research student registered for the degree of PhD, MD, PsyD, or MPhil may be appointed as the same student’s internal examiner.

9.220

The internal examiner must have expertise relevant to the student’s area of research and must be an experienced researcher – demonstrated through research publications – or have equivalent professional experience.

9.221

The internal examiner shall be responsible for:

  1. making all arrangements for the viva voce examination, including any subsequent viva voce examination if the student is referred for resubmission, and communicating these arrangements to the research student and the external examiner(s)
  2. notifying the Doctoral College Office of the date and time at which the viva voce examination will take place
  3. ensuring that they are familiar with these regulations and the decisions that the examining team may make on completion of the viva voce examination
  4. undertaking an assessment of the thesis in advance of the viva voce examination and completing an independent pre-viva voce examination report which must be submitted to the Doctoral College Office at least one day before the viva voce examination takes place
  5. conducting the viva voce examination with the external examiner(s) and agreeing with them a joint decision on completion of the examination
  6. advising the research student of the decision made by the examining team
  7. providing the research student with a verbal report (minor amendments) or written report (major amendments or referral for resubmission) on the changes and corrections to the thesis required by the examining team
  8. preparing a joint post-viva voce examination report with the external examiner(s) and submitting this to the Doctoral College Office together with, if required, a copy of the written report on the changes and corrections to the thesis required by the examining team
  9. assessing the changes and corrections made to the thesis by the research student and then confirming whether these have been completed satisfactorily if the examining team has required either minor or major amendments
  10. assessing the resubmitted thesis and, if needed, conducting a further viva voce examination if the examining team has decided that the research student should be referred for resubmission.

External examiners

9.222

The external examiner must not be a member of the University’s staff or or, in the case of research students registered at an associated institution, a member of the staff of that institution.

9.223

The external examiner must have expertise in the student’s area of research and be an experienced researcher – demonstrated through research publications – and have experience of supervising and examining research students.

9.224

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 viva voce 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.

9.225

The external examiner must not:

  1. have been involved in the three years immediately before the viva voce examination in any collaborative project, including co-authoring, with any member of the supervisory team of the research student to be examined or any other member of the examining team
  2. have or have had a close personal relationship with any member of the staff of the research student’s Department
  3. have or have had a close contractual relationship with any member of the staff of the research student’s Department if this may give rise to a perception of a conflict of interest.

9.226

The external examiner shall be responsible for:

  1. undertaking an assessment of the thesis in advance of the viva voce examination and completing an independent pre-viva voce examination report which must be submitted to the Doctoral College Office at least one day before the viva voce examination takes place
  2. conducting the viva voce examination with the internal examiner and agreeing with them a joint decision on completion of the examination
  3. agreeing with the internal examiner the requirements for changes and corrections that the student will be asked to make to the thesis
  4. preparing a joint post-viva voce examination report with the internal examiner
  5. assessing the changes and corrections made to the thesis by the research student and then confirming whether these have been completed satisfactorily if the examining team does not include an internal examiner and has required either minor or major amendments
  6. assessing the resubmitted thesis and, if needed, conducting a further viva voce examination if the examining team has decided that the research student should be referred for resubmission.

Examination chairs

9.227

A chair for the viva voce examination shall be appointed if one or more of the following criteria apply:

  1. the internal and external examiners have between them examined fewer than five research students in the past three years
  2. the internal examiner has little or no experience of examining research students at the University
  3. the examining team does not include an internal examiner
  4. the research student to be examined is a member of the University’s staff
  5. the examining team requests that a chair is appointed
  6. the Head of Department or the Dean of the Doctoral College requests that a chair is appointed.

9.228

The chair of the viva voce examination is not a member of the examining team and shall not examine the thesis. The chair of the viva voce examination shall be present to ensure that the viva voce examination is conducted in accordance with these regulations and standard practice for the discipline.

9.229

The chair of the viva voce examination must be a senior member of the University’s academic staff who has previously examined at least one research student of the University.

9.230

A member of the research student’s supervisory team must not be appointed as the chair for the same student’s viva voce examination.

9.231

The chair of the viva voce examination must not have or have had a close personal or contractual relationship with the research student to be examined, the research student’s immediate family, or any member of the research student’s supervisory team.

9.232

The Head of Department or their nominee shall be responsible for nominating the chair of the viva voce examination. The appointment of the chair of the viva voce examination shall be subject to approval from the Dean of the Doctoral College.

9.233

The chair of the viva voce examination shall be responsible for:

  1. providing the examining team with administrative and/or procedural advice as needed
  2. ensuring that the examining team’s joint decision on completion of the viva voce examination is consistent with the decisions permitted under these regulations.

If the examining team does not include an internal examiner, the chair of the viva voce examination shall be responsible for making all arrangements for the viva voce examination, including any subsequent viva voce examination if the research student is referred for resubmission, and communicating these arrangements to the research student and the external examiners.

Examination conduct

9.234

Research degree viva voce examinations shall normally be held at the University, including appropriate University Hospitals of Leicester sites. In exceptional circumstances, and with the prior approval of the Dean of the Doctoral College, the viva voce examination may be held at another appropriate location.

9.235

The viva voce examination shall normally be held within three months of the examiners receiving the research student’s thesis.

9.236

Only the research student, the examining team, and – if appointed – the examination chair, shall normally be present during the viva voce examination. Members of the research student’s supervisory team may attend that student’s viva voce examination as observers; the attendance of members of the supervisory team shall be at the discretion of the examining team and permitted only with the consent of the research student.

9.237

The research student’s first supervisor shall normally be available at the time of the viva voce examination should they need to be contacted by the examining team.

Examination outcomes

9.238

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

  1. to award the degree for which the research student was examined with distinction (research students examined for the degree of MD)
  2. to award the degree for which the research student was examined
  3. to award the degree for which the research student was examined subject to the satisfactory completion of minor amendments to the thesis
  4. to award the degree for which the research student was examined subject to the satisfactory completion of major amendments to the thesis
  5. to refer the research student for resubmission of the thesis for the same degree as which they were examined
  6. to award a degree lower than that for which the research student was examined (research students examined for the degree of PhD, DSocSci, or EdD)
  7. to award a degree lower than that for which the research student was examined subject to the satisfactory completion of minor amendments to the thesis (research students examined for the degree of PhD or EdD)
  8. to refer the research student for resubmission of the thesis for a degree lower than that for which they were examined (research students examined for the degree of PhD or EdD)
  9. to fail the thesis with no right of resubmission.

9.239

If the examining team is unable to agree a joint decision, advice must be sought from the Doctoral College Office as to whether an additional external examiner should be appointed and a further viva voce examination held.

9.240

The examining team may take into account the wishes of the research student if presented with a choice between a decision to:

  1. refer the research student for resubmission of the thesis for the same degree as which they were examined, or
  2. award a degree lower than that for which the research student was examined

The research student’s wishes should be discussed at the time of the viva voce examination but the student shall not be required to provide an immediate response. The wishes of the research student should be made known to the examining team before its decision is submitted to the Doctoral College Office. The examining team shall not be bound to follow the expressed wish of the research student.

9.241

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

  1. largely typographical or grammatical and may include corrections to references and/or diagrams and the re-writing of small sections of text
  2. communicated verbally to the research student at the end of the viva voce examination
  3. completed and submitted to the internal examiner within one to three months, as specified by the examiners, of the viva voce examination.

9.242

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

  1. more than typographical and other minor corrections and may include substantial re-writing of parts of the thesis
  2. communicated in writing to the research student following the viva voce examination
  3. completed and submitted to the internal examiner within three to six months, as specified by the examiners, from the date at which the research student is provided with the examining team’s post-viva voce examination report including details as to the changes and corrections required.

9.243

A decision to award a lower degree to a research student who was examined for the degree of PhD, DSocSci, or EdD shall be conditional on:

  1. the thesis meeting the requirements for the degree of MPhil (research students examined for the degree of PhD or EdD), or
  2. the student having successfully completed the assessed components excluding the thesis and other programme requirements (research students examined for the degree of DSocSci or EdD).

9.244

A decision to refer the research student for resubmission of the thesis shall be made if the examining team agrees that the research student should:

  1. undertake further research or repeat completed research, and/or
  2. re-write or restructure large parts of the thesis

The examining team shall specify a referral period of between six and twelve months from the date at which the research student is provided with the examining team’s post-viva voce examination report including details as to the changes and corrections required. A resubmission fee shall be payable.

9.245

If the research student is referred for resubmission of the thesis, the examining team shall decide whether a further viva voce examination is needed. The decision whether to hold a further viva voce examination shall be taken once the examiners have assessed the resubmitted thesis. A further viva voce examination shall, if needed, normally be held within three months of the examiners receiving the resubmitted thesis.

9.246

The examiners shall on completion of the assessment of the resubmitted thesis, and a further viva voce examination if one is held, jointly make one of the following decisions:

  1. to award the degree for which the research student was examined
  2. to award the degree for which the research student was examined subject to the completion of minor amendments to the thesis
  3. to award a degree lower than that for which the research student was examined (research students examined for the degree of PhD, DSocSci, or EdD)
  4. to award a degree lower than that for which the research student was examined subject to the completion of minor amendments to the thesis (research students examined for the degree of PhD or EdD)
  5. to fail the thesis with no right of resubmission

9.247

If the examining team decides following resubmission to award the degree for which the research student was examined subject to the completion of minor amendments, the amendments needed shall be as specified in 9.241.

9.248

If the examining team decides following resubmission to award a degree lower than that for which the research student was examined, this shall be conditional on the requirements specified in 9.243.

9.249

A decision to refer for resubmission a research student who was examined for the degree of PhD or MPhil on the basis of a practice based thesis, or to require minor or major amendments to a practice based thesis, may involve changes to the critical/reflective component of the thesis and/or the practice component.

9.250

Research students who are required to make minor or major amendments to the thesis or who are referred for resubmission of the thesis must not contact members of the examining team regarding the changes or corrections required. Research students who need clarification on any points relating to the changes or corrections required must seek advice from the supervisory team.

Award and conferral

9.251

The research student shall receive formal notice of the award of the degree following receipt by the Doctoral College Office of a decision by the examining team that an award should be made.

9.252

The University may withhold the award of a research degree until such time as the research student has complied with all thesis final submission requirements, including submission to the University Library of an electronic copy of the thesis.

9.253

The conferral of the degree shall take place at the first appropriate degree congregation following award of the degree. Full academic dress must be worn when the research student is presented at the degree congregation.

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