Accessibility statement

12. Assessment

See also: Appendix 1: Policy on the recordings of second progress review meetings and oral examinations for research degrees, Appendix 8: Policy and process for the appointment of examiners for research degrees, Appendix 9: Guidance for Examiners on Degree Outcomes

12.1

Assessment rules for PGR programmes are overseen by the SCA and exceptions to these rules must be approved by the SCA. Exceptions to these rules (eg in relation to the number of internal and/or external examiners, the timing of the examination, and/or the addition of a public defense) are often required for double and joint PhDs with international partners (see section 15). 

Nature of the thesis

12.2

Assessment for a PGR award will be on the basis of a thesis and/or approved alternative assessment format (see below) and an oral examination (viva voce) if required (see below). Material submitted for examination or re-examination remains the property of the University. 

12.3

For the avoidance of doubt, references in the PoRD to the thesis will also include any approved alternative assessment format. 

Types of thesis

12.4

Monograph thesis. A monograph thesis is a unified, single author document comprising a number of chapters with an introduction and conclusion. The relevant Graduate School Board should determine - and specify in its PGR handbook - the length (word count/page count) of a monograph thesis for each of its PGR programmes (including associated transfer and exit awards), taking into account the type and length of the programme and disciplinary norms. 

12.5

Journal-style thesis. A journal-style thesis presents research of an equivalent quality and volume as a monograph thesis but incorporates one or more chapters that are in a format suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed title alongside a supporting commentary. The relevant Graduate School Board should determine - and specify in its PGR handbook - if a journal-style thesis is permitted for a PGR programme (including associated transfer and exit awards) and any additional stipulations that apply (additional stipulations require PPPC approval), taking into account the type and length of the programme and disciplinary norms. 

Alternative assessment formats for practice-based PGR programmes

12.6

For a practice-based PGR programme (and associated transfer and exit awards), an alternative assessment format, for example a portfolio of practice-based work (which may include creative products such as musical compositions, performances, films, literary works) may be appropriate instead of, or in addition, to a thesis. If the alternative assessment format replaces a thesis, there must be a written element. The thesis or written element should put the practice into its research context (fit with the wider field of study, research methodology and process, originality and relevance). A department wishing to introduce or modify an alternative assessment format must seek approval from PPPC for what is being proposed - which should take into account the type and length of programme and disciplinary norms - and include the details in its PGR handbook.

Requirements for all assessment formats

12.7

Work submitted by a PGR candidate for assessment must:

i. meet the criteria for the degree on which they are enrolled, including in terms of original contribution to the field (PhD and MPhil); 

ii. form a coherent body of interrelated work;

iii. meet the University’s standards with respect to research integrity;

iv. be chiefly their own, and where work has been undertaken in collaboration with others this is explicitly acknowledged in the submission in accordance with University guidance;

v. with respect to the main text, be written in English (unless permission for an exception is granted, pre-submission, by SCA on the request of the relevant departmental Graduate School Board);

vi. be derived from research undertaken whilst enrolled on their PGR programme (unless permission for an exception is granted, pre-submission, by SCA on the request of the relevant departmental Graduate School Board and this fact is explicitly acknowledged in the submission. All research must have had appropriate ethical sign-off); 

vii. not have been previously submitted for any degree or other qualification at the University or elsewhere (unless a resubmission for a lower award, OR where the previously submitted work is explicitly identified in a declaration signed by the candidate (which also identifies their contribution to the previously submitted work) as preliminary work from which the remaining work submitted has developed, OR an element of collaborative work between PGR candidates, subject to meeting rules around the level of contribution and statement of authorship); 

viii. meet the University's and any relevant departmental and - where applicable - programme-specific requirements for the format of the thesis and submission of the thesis and/or approved alternative assessment format (eg word count) (unless permission for an exception is granted, pre-submission, by SCA on the request of the relevant departmental Graduate School Board) 

ix. not lead to liability under English law, including (but not limited to) intellectual property law, data protection law, defamation law, and discrimination law;

x. be deposited with the University post-examination in its original form or as a detailed record where the former is not appropriate (eg in the case of a performance) in accordance with University guidance.

Variation from the approved departmental assessment requirements

12.8

If a PGR wishes to deviate from the approved departmental assessment requirements (eg thesis word count, the nature of an approved alternative assessment format) for the programme on which they are enrolled this must be approved, pre-submission, by SCA on the request of the relevant departmental Graduate School Board. The examiners must be informed of the approved exception by the department. If a PGR submits work that deviates from the approved departmental assessment requirements without prior SCA approval, the examiners should notify PGRA but continue with the examination process. It is then for the examiners to decide, as part of the examination process, whether, and if so in what way, the deviation from departmental requirements should affect the outcome (eg corrections, or revise and resubmit, or failure, depending on the nature of the transgression and with reference to the criteria for the PGR award in question (see section 2 of the PoRD). 

Failure to submit a thesis for examination

12.9

Failure to submit a thesis for examination by the deadline (see section 7) will result in failure.

Examiner appointment

12.10

Examiners are appointed by the SCA, acting on behalf of Senate, on the nomination of the relevant Graduate Chair. PGRA has delegated authority from the SCA to undertake external examiner approval within certain set parameters. Those examining a journal-style thesis or alternative format assessment should ensure that they are aware of the department's rules and the relevant University guidance.

12.11

At least two, and not more than three, examiners, including at least one external examiner, shall be individually appointed for each candidate. Where three examiners are appointed, two shall be external examiners. Where two external examiners are used, and there is no internal examiner, an independent chair should be appointed and one of the external examiners must be designated to fulfil the academic expectations normally assigned to the internal examiner following the examination.

12.12

Any candidate for a PGR award who is (or has been during the five years prior to the date on which they submit their thesis for examination) an Academic, Research or Teaching member of staff of the University at grade 6 or above (excluding PGRs offered grade 6 ART positions in the six months prior to submission or between submission and examination; also excluding Marie-Curie trainee positions and equivalent) shall be examined by at least two, and not more than three, examiners, two of whom shall be external examiners. This requirement is to reduce the risk of bias (positive or negative) towards the candidate and to protect the University from accusations of bias. Exemptions from this requirement may only be made by the SCA on the recommendation of the Graduate School Board concerned. Where a second external examiner is required, the candidate shall, in this instance, be liable for the examiner’s fee unless they are completing the PGR award as a requirement of their employment contract in which case the department should be liable for the fee.

Independent chair

12.13

An independent chair should be a member of current academic staff in the relevant faculty (and not necessarily an expert on the subject of the thesis) other than the supervisor. The role of the chair (where used) is to communicate with the candidate and supervisor(s), arrange the oral examination, oversee the process, and to ensure that the examination is conducted according to the University’s policies and regulations. 

The role of the supervisor in the examination process

12.14

The roles of supervisor and examiner are quite separate and it is for this reason that the University has a policy that a candidate’s supervisor(s) cannot be appointed as their internal examiner. A supervisor's main responsibility is to help the PGR to pursue his or her research and to present this work to best advantage. The role of an examiner is to determine whether work presented for examination meets the academic standard required. Thus, when a PGR discusses with their supervisor(s) the submission of the thesis, any endorsement by the supervisor(s) of the intention to submit in no way prejudges the outcome of the subsequent assessment, which is entirely a matter for the examiners. The supervisor(s) may discuss with their PGR the purpose and possible nature of the examination, while making it clear that they are unable to predict how the examination will be conducted, or its outcome.

Internal examiners

12.15

The role of the internal examiner is to communicate with the candidate and supervisor(s), arrange the oral examination, oversee the process, and to ensure that the examination is conducted according to the University’s policies and regulations. 

12.16

An internal examiner will normally be a member of the University’s Academic, Research or Teaching staff, other than the candidate’s supervisor(s). The internal examiner must be able to make an independent academic judgement on the candidate’s thesis. Full details regarding eligibility for appointment, and support for new internal examiners, are in Appendix 8 on the appointment of examiners. 

External examiners

12.17

An external examiner will normally be a senior member of the academic staff of another higher education institution in the United Kingdom or overseas. External examiners should be independent, impartial, of suitable professional standing and not have any known conflict of interest which might impinge on their role as external examiner. Full details regarding eligibility for appointment are in Appendix 8 on the appointment of examiners.

Unexaminable theses

12.18

In cases of a thesis being rendered unexaminable as a result of remote (ie third-party) printing errors or file corruption, the examiners should notify PGRA as soon as possible, and no later than four weeks after receipt. PGRA will contact the candidate to request an examinable version of the thesis originally submitted for examination, to be submitted within five working days.

Requests for confidentiality

12.19

Where it has been agreed that the content of a candidate’s thesis should not be divulged publicly, the examiners should honour the request: this may be particularly important in the case of commercially-sponsored studentships and/or in the very rare cases where access to a thesis is to be restricted. In such cases, the candidate may be asked to provide an abstract suitable for placing in the public domain.

Requirement for an oral examination

12.20

The requirement for an oral examination is as follows:

MPhil, PhD, EngD

  1. Every candidate for the MPhil, PhD or EngD degree is required to attend an oral examination on the subject of the thesis and on related matters. The oral examination forms an important part of the examination for the award of the degree; it is by no means simply a formality.
  2. Very exceptionally, the SCA may grant exemption from the oral examination for an MPhil/PhD/EngD candidate on the recommendation of the examiners concerned where the thesis has met the requirements for the degree, but the candidate is permanently unable to present themselves for oral examination for medical or compassionate reasons. The examiners should always accompany their recommendation with a full explanation of the particular circumstances. The approval of the Committee for waiving the oral examination must be obtained before the examiners submit their joint report (see below). The oral examination may not be waived, except with the candidate's consent, in cases where the thesis fails to satisfy the examiners.

MA/MSc by research

  1. Candidates for the degree of MA/MSc (by research) may be required, as a condition of their programme, to attend in person an oral examination on the subject of the thesis (or other materials submitted for examination) and on related matters. Where not required by the programme, an oral examination may nevertheless be required for an individual candidate, at the discretion of the examiners, in order to ensure that the work submitted for examination is the candidate’s own or that the candidate meets the standard required for the degree. In both cases, the oral examination forms an important part of the examination for the award of the degree; it is by no means simply a formality. The decision as to whether or not to require a candidate to attend an oral examination should be made as soon as possible (and no later than six weeks) after the receipt of the thesis by the examiners.
  2. Where the oral examination is a requirement of the MA/MSc (by research) programme, the SCA may, very exceptionally, grant exemption from the oral examination on the recommendation of the examiners concerned where the thesis has met the requirements for the degree, but the candidate is permanently unable to present themselves for oral examination for medical or compassionate reasons. The examiners should always accompany their recommendation with a full explanation of the particular circumstances. The approval of the Committee for waiving the oral examination must be obtained before the examiners submit their joint report (see below). The oral examination may not be waived, except with the candidate's consent, in cases where the thesis fails to satisfy the examiners.
  3. If an oral examination is not a requirement of the MA/MSc (by research) programme, there should be procedures in place (for example, a presentation by the candidate with the internal examiner present) for the department to ensure that the work submitted for examination is the candidate's own.
  4. Where an oral examination is held for an MA/MSc (by research) candidate then the process should follow that for MPhil/PhD candidates. Where an oral examination is not required (see (i) above) then the examiners should exchange preliminary reports, before agreeing a joint examination report (which may refer to the preliminary reports). 

The purpose of the oral examination

12.21

The purpose of the oral examination is to allow the examiners the opportunity to explore and to satisfy themselves regarding the areas listed in points below: 

MPhil, PhD, EngD 

  1. in the case of a PhD or EngD candidate, that the thesis represents a substantial original contribution to knowledge or understanding, and is worthy of publication, either in full or in an abridged form; or in the case of an MPhil candidate, that the thesis represents a recognizable original contribution to knowledge or understanding;
  2. that the candidate is well-acquainted with the general field of knowledge to which their research relates (the examiners should make a particular point of ensuring that the questions they ask at the oral examination serve to establish the candidate's wider background knowledge if this is not evident in the thesis);
  3. that there is evidence of training in, and the application of, appropriate research methods;
  4. that the work submitted is the candidate’s own (or, if done in collaboration, that the candidate’s share in the research is adequate); 
  5. that the mode of presentation is satisfactory.

MA/MSc by research

  1. that the candidate has completed a piece of research commensurate with the period of study, including some original work;
  2. that the candidate has an adequate understanding of research methods;  
  3. that the work submitted is the candidate’s own (or, if done in collaboration, that the candidate’s share in the research is adequate); 
  4. that the mode of presentation is satisfactory.

12.22

The oral examination also allows the candidate an opportunity to respond to any shortcomings identified by the examiners.

12.23

In accordance with UK norms, oral examinations at York are 'closed', that is only the candidate and examiners are present (with the addition, in some instances, of an independent chair, independent observer or the supervisor). 

12.24

Candidates are encouraged to access support in preparation for the oral examination. BRIC offers sessions on preparing for the oral examination and departments should also provide support, such as offering their PGRs the opportunity to undertake a mock oral examination. 

The organisation of the oral examination

12.25

It is the responsibility of the internal examiner (or the member of staff appointed as independent chair (see above), if no internal examiner is appointed) to make arrangements for the oral examination.

12.26

The internal examiner should agree on the date of the oral examination in consultation with the external examiner(s) and the candidate. The oral examination should be held within three months of the date of submission of the thesis. Permission to hold the oral examination more than three months after the submission date due to examiners' availability must be obtained from PGRA (acting under powers delegated from the SCA) with candidate and examiners copied in. Permission to hold the oral examination more than three months after the submission date due to a PGR's extenuating circumstances must be obtained from PGRA who will seek approval from SCA, following consultation with the examiners. Supporting evidence of the extenuating circumstances must be provided by, or on behalf of, the PGR and the oral examination should be held as soon as reasonably possible and normally no later than 12 months after the date of submission of the thesis.

12.27

The examination party (ie the candidate, the external examiner(s), and the internal examiner and/or the independent chair) must all participate in the oral examination. The oral examination should be held at the University of York, with all the examination party physically present, unless alternative arrangements are approved (see below).

Off-site oral examinations (all the examination party are physically present but not at York)

12.28

A Graduate Chair may grant permission for off-site oral examination ie for the oral examination to be held away from the University of York - but with all the examination party physically present at the venue - as long as the premises are suitable for conducting an oral examination. A written proposal must be sent to the Graduate Chair from the internal examiner that indicates that the candidate and all members of the examination party are in agreement.

Hybrid oral examinations (the candidate is physically present but an examiner is remote)

12.29

 The Graduate Chair may grant permission for a hybrid oral examination ie where the candidate is physically present at York (or approved off-site venue) with at least one other member of the examination party but one or more other members of the examination party participates in the oral examination remotely (via a video-conference link). A written proposal must be sent by the Graduate Chair from the internal examiner that indicates that all members of the examination party are in agreement. Hybrid oral examinations will typically be used where a department believes that the most suitable external examiner is international and it makes sense for that individual not to travel to York. 

Online oral examinations (the candidate is remote)

12.30

Online oral examinations (i.e. where the candidate participates in the oral examination remotely (by a video-conference link), without being accompanied by any other member of the examination party) are not an automatic right. For permission for an online oral examination to be granted - by PGRA (acting under powers delegated from the SCA) - the request must be submitted by the Graduate Chair to PGRA on the required form, which includes notification that the examiners' and the candidate have given their agreement. Online oral examinations are not appropriate where there are any concerns about the candidate in terms of academic misconduct, or there are likely to be practical difficulties in establishing a reliable and safe internet connection. It is recommended that online oral examinations are avoided, where possible, where a department has concerns about a candidate's well-being or where a downgrade or fail outcome is likely.Guidance on online vivas is available.

Preparing for and conducting the oral examination

12.31

Each examiner should prepare a preliminary report on the thesis (on the correct form in the candidate's Google examination folder) which reflects their independent academic judgement and identifies the principal issues which they wish to raise in the oral examination (where relevant). Once both examiners have completed their independent preliminary reports (and prior to the oral examination, where relevant), access should be provided to each other's reports.    

12.32

Before the oral examination, the supervisor should ensure that the examiners are made aware of any disabilities or other circumstances (eg exceptional stress) that may affect the candidate’s performance and if the candidate needs specific arrangements to be put in place because of disability, exceptional stress and/or cultural differences. If the candidate has a disability, reasonable adjustments to the examination process (eg the provision of longer rest breaks) may be needed to accommodate this. 

12.33

In order to ensure that the oral examination is conducted fairly, the internal examiner should act as chair of the examination and shall ensure that it is conducted in accordance with this Policy. Where two external examiners are used, and there is no internal examiner, the department concerned should provide an independent chair (see above) and the independent chair shall submit a brief report on the conduct of the oral examination to the SCA. 

12.34

At the request of the candidate, and with the consent of the examiners, the supervisor or another member of academic or professional support staff approved by the relevant Graduate Chair may be present at the oral examination as a silent spectator. 

12.35

Care should be taken to make the candidate feel at ease at the examination. To this end, the layout of the examination room should be given careful thought and provision should be made for short breaks/refreshments etc. as required, particularly for longer oral examinations. In addition, the examiners should consider, for example, starting with general comments or questions, or whether positive points can be made about the thesis. It is also important to give the candidate ample opportunity to talk about what they consider to be the strengths of the thesis.

12.36

Candidates should have access to a copy of their thesis in the oral examination, and this may be annotated, but they should not bring any additional materials to the examination without the prior agreement of the internal and external examiners (to allow, for example, a candidate to demonstrate a computer simulation). No new research should be presented at the oral examination.

Recording the oral examination

12.37

A recording (audio or audio-visual) must be made of all oral examinations for research degrees, as a means of providing an objective record of the oral examination in the event of an appeal. The University makes appropriate recording equipment available to departments for this purpose or departments may use a built-in record function when an oral examination is taking place via video-conferencing. Recordings will be stored centrally in a secure manner, and will be listened to only if an appeal is received from the candidate based on the conduct of the examination, or by an additional examiner subsequently appointed where the examiners have failed to agree between themselves whether or not the candidate has satisfied the requirements for a particular degree and the departmental Graduate School Board has been unable to resolve the disagreement (see below). Recordings will be destroyed one year after the final result of the examination has been confirmed by the SCA or, if an appeal is received, after consideration of the appeal within the University or subsequently by the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIAHE) has been concluded. 

12.38

Each department is responsible for ensuring that a recording is made of all oral examinations undertaken by PGR candidates, in accordance with Appendix 1. These requirements are not waived for oral examinations conducted via video-conferencing.

Examination outcome

12.39

Following the (oral) examination of a candidate for a research degree, the following recommendations are open to the examiners. Further guidance for examiners on when the various examination outcomes should be used is available in Appendix 9.   

For PhD and EngD candidates

a) If the examiners agree that the requirements for the degree concerned have been satisfied they may recommend:

i. that the degree should be awarded with no corrections; OR

ii. that the degree should be awarded subject to corrections to the thesis, to be completed within three months of the candidate receiving the list of corrections, to the satisfaction of the internal or another of the examiners; OR

iii. that the degree should be awarded subject to corrections to the thesis, to be completed within six months of the candidate receiving the list of corrections, to the satisfaction of the internal or another of the examiners.

(b) If the examiners agree that the criteria for the degree concerned (as set out in section 2) have not yet been satisfied AND it is reasonable to assume that the criteria could be satisfied if the PGR undertakes further work, as set out by the examiners, AND that this further work could realistically be completed within 12 months, they may recommend: that the candidate should be allowed a period not exceeding 12 months, from the date on which they received notification of the revisions to be made, in which to revise and resubmit the thesis for re-examination (referral). A candidate will normally be given only one opportunity to revise and resubmit their thesis.

(c) If the examiners agree that the criteria for the degree concerned (as set out in section 2) have not been satisfied they may recommend:

i. that the degree of MPhil should be awarded with no corrections to thesis; OR

ii. that the degree of MPhil should be awarded subject to corrections to the thesis, to be completed within three months of the candidate receiving the list of corrections, to the satisfaction of the internal or another of the examiners; OR

iii. that the degree of MPhil should be awarded subject to corrections to the thesis, to be completed within six months of the candidate receiving the list of corrections, to the satisfaction of the internal or another of the examiners; OR

iv. that the degree of MA (by research) or MSc (by research) should be awarded with no corrections to thesis; OR

v. that the degree of MA (by research) or MSc (by research) should be awarded subject to corrections to the thesis, to be completed within two months of the candidate receiving the list of corrections, to the satisfaction of the internal or another of the examiners; OR

vi. that no degree should be awarded;

Additionally, for EngD candidates:

vii. that the degree of MSc should be awarded.

Note that the EngD and iPhDs have Postgraduate Diploma and Postgraduate Certificate exit awards from the taught component of the programme. 

For MPhil candidates

(a) If the examiners agree that the criteria for the degree concerned (as set out in section 2) have been satisfied they may recommend:  

i. that the degree should be awarded with no corrections; OR

ii. that the degree should be awarded subject to corrections to the thesis, to be completed within three months of the candidate receiving the list of corrections, to the satisfaction of the internal or another of the examiners; OR

iii. that the degree should be awarded subject to corrections to the thesis, to be completed within six months of the candidate receiving the list of corrections, to the satisfaction of the internal or another of the examiners.

In choosing between (ii) and (iii), the examiners should take into account the scale of the corrections and the other commitments of the PGR (eg full-time work). If in doubt, examiners should opt for (ii), as a PGR can submit their corrections earlier than the six-month deadline. 

(b)  If the examiners agree that the criteria for the degree concerned (as set out in section 2) have not yet been satisfied AND it is reasonable to assume that the criteria could be satisfied if the PGR undertakes further work, as set out by the examiners, AND that this further work could realistically be completed within 12 months, they may recommend: that the candidate should be allowed a period not exceeding 12 months, from the date on which s/he received notification of the revisions to be made, in which to revise and resubmit the thesis for examination (referral). A candidate will normally be given only one opportunity to revise and resubmit their thesis. 

(c) If the examiners agree that the criteria for the degree concerned (as set out in section 2) have not been satisfied they may recommend:

i. that the degree of MA (by research) or MSc (by research) should be awarded with no corrections to thesis; OR

ii. that the degree of MA (by research) or MSc (by research) should be awarded subject to corrections to the thesis, to be completed within two months of the candidate receiving the list of corrections, to the satisfaction of the internal or another of the examiners; OR

iii. that no degree should be awarded. 

For MA/MSc by research candidates

(a) If the examiners agree that the criteria for the degree concerned (as set out in section 2) have been satisfied they may recommend: 

i. that the degree should be awarded with no corrections; OR

ii. that the degree should be awarded subject to corrections to the thesis, to be completed within two months of receiving the list of corrections, to the satisfaction of the internal or another of the examiners; 

(b)  If the examiners agree that the criteria for the degree concerned (as set out in section 2) have not yet been satisfied AND it is reasonable to assume that the criteria could be satisfied if the PGR undertakes further work, as set out by the examiners, AND that this further work could realistically be completed within 4 months, they may recommend: that the candidate should be allowed a period not exceeding four months, from the date on which they received notification of the revisions to be made, in which to revise and resubmit the thesis for examination (referral). A candidate will normally be given only one opportunity to revise and resubmit their thesis.

(c) If the examiners agree that the criteria for the degree concerned (as set out in section 2) have not been satisfied they may recommend: that no degree should be awarded.

It should be noted that a mark-scale is not applicable to an MA/MSc (by research), and the degree of MA/MSc (by research) may not be awarded with distinction or merit. 

Completion of examiners’ reports

12.40

The examiners should complete the Examination Outcome form and Examiners Joint Report form (in the candidate's Google examination folder) within two weeks of the oral examination (if held). The report should conclude with a clear recommendation indicating whether or not the candidate has satisfied the requirements for the degree concerned.

12.41

The Examiners Joint Report should contain sufficient detail to enable the SCA to assess the scope and significance of the work contained in the thesis. In particular, it should give a brief description of the subject matter. The report should go on to contain specific statements about each of the matters listed above under ‘the purpose of the oral examination’. The Examiners’ Joint Report form contains a separate section for comments on the oral examination (where applicable). The examiners should give a brief account of the length of the examination, the ground covered in it, and the level of the candidate's performance. If the examiners have had to use the oral examination to establish the candidate’s wider background knowledge, this should be stated; and they should also give an indication of how well the candidate responded to the questions concerned.

12.42

In any case where the examiners recommend that the candidate should not be awarded any degree or should be awarded a degree for which they were not enrolled (i.e. an MPhil or MA/MSc (by research) if a PhD or EngD candidate; an MA/MSc (by research) if an MPhil candidate), it is important that the examiners' report should include a clear and full statement as to why they are not prepared to recommend that the candidate should be given the opportunity to revise and resubmit the thesis. In such cases it may be open to the candidate to appeal against the examiners' recommendations on the grounds of unfair or improper conduct of the examination, or prejudice on the part of the examiners, but not their academic judgement.

Ratification of the examiners’ reports and approval of the result  

12.43

The Examiners’ Joint Report should be submitted to the Graduate Chair in the department concerned for ratification as soon as possible, and in any case within two weeks of the date of the oral examination. Where no oral examination is held (for example, in the case of a candidate for the MA or MSc (by research)), the examiners’ report should be submitted to the department concerned as soon as possible and in any case within three months of the date of the submission of the thesis for examination. 

12.44

After departmental ratification, the Joint Examiners Report should will be sent to PGRA, who will forward it to the candidate and the supervisor. PGRA will arrange for the result to be approved by a member of the SCA, acting on behalf of the Committee. 

Dealing with corrections

12.45

If the examiners recommend that the degree should be awarded subject to corrections , they should submit their list of corrections in the Examiners Joint Report form and submit any other corrections material (eg an annotated thesis) to PGRA within two weeks of the examination. PGRA will process and send the corrections to the candidate within two weeks of receipt from the examiners.

12.46

The final version of the corrected thesis ( plus a 'tracked changes' version of the corrected thesis and document that summarises the changes made ) must be submitted by the candidate electronically to PGRA within the timeframe set out in the examination outcome section (counting from the date on which the candidate was sent the list of corrections). Failure to submit the final version of the corrected thesis by the deadline will result in failure of the degree. PGRA will send the corrected thesis to the internal examiner, who should consider the corrections and send a completed corrections approval form to PGRA within two weeks of receipt of the corrected thesis. 

12.47

Any consultation between the candidate and the internal examiner about the direction or appropriateness of corrections must happen well in advance of the deadline for the submission of the corrected thesis as no further revisions can be made after submission of the final version of the corrected thesis. 

Deposit of the thesis and conferral of the award

12.48

If the examiners recommend that a degree should be awarded, and following the completion, to the satisfaction of the internal or another of the examiners, of any required corrections, the candidate must deposit the thesis in accordance with the University's requirements (see also Deposit of research data below). Deposited material remains the property of the University. 

12.49

The approval of the award following examination will usually be communicated to the candidate within two weeks of the deposit of the final version of the thesis to the White Rose E-thesis Online repository.

12.50

The award will be conferred (ie the degree certificate issued) to the candidate at the next available degree ceremony. 

Failure to deposit the final version of the thesis

12.51

Failure to deposit the final version of the thesis in accordance with the University’s requirements, and within the deadlines stipulated in the relevant correspondence from PGRA, will mean that the candidate will not have met the requirements of the degree, and will be deemed to have failed.

Disposal or deposit of research data

12.52

PGRs should, with reference to their data management plan (see section 11), ensure that their research data is treated appropriately at the end of their programme. Where research data is archived and shared in a data repository this should be recorded when the thesis is deposited. 

Disagreement between examiners

12.53

In the rare cases where the examiners fail to agree between themselves whether or not a candidate has satisfied the requirements for a particular degree and the departmental Graduate Chair (acting on behalf of Graduate School Board) is unable to resolve the disagreement, the examiners should submit individual reports to PGRA to be put to the SCA together with a recommendation for the appointment of an additional external examiner. The additional external examiner will decide, on the basis of the other examiners’ reports, of the thesis, and of the recording of the oral examination (where available) whether or not the candidate has satisfied the requirements for the degree. The decision of the additional external examiner, which will be communicated by the University to the other examiners, will be final.

Revision and resubmission of the thesis

12.54

If the examiners agree that the requirements for the degree concerned have not yet been satisfied but there is the potential for the requirements to be satisfied if the PGR undertakes further work, as set out by the examiners, and this further work could realistically be completed with the time allotted (see above), they may recommend that the thesis should be revised and resubmitted for examination. PGRA will send an official letter of notification to the candidate once the examiners' report (plus the list of required revisions) has been received in PGRA and has been approved by the SCA. 

12.55

Where a recommendation for the revision and resubmission of a thesis is made, the examiners should provide advice on the Corrections/Revisions form (in the candidate's Google examination folder) concerning the points which should be borne in mind by the candidate when revising the thesis. This should be submitted to PGRA alongside the Examiners Joint Report Form within two weeks of the examination. 

12.56

The candidate should not expect to receive a mechanical list of revisions to be made, particularly when the revisions required involve major improvements in the depth, intellectual quality, analysis, argument or structure of the thesis. If the candidate requires any clarification regarding the required revisions after receipt of the examination report, the candidate should contact their supervisor who can then judge if it is necessary to request further clarification from the internal examiner. Neither candidate nor supervisor should contact the external examiner directly without their express permission.

12.57

The University expects that candidates will be given a fair and reasonable opportunity to revise the thesis to the required standard, whatever the circumstances of the resubmission. To this end, the candidate should be offered the opportunity of an initial meeting with the supervisor to discuss the examiners’ requirements for revision. Thereafter, the need for further meetings will vary from case to case, according to, for example, the availability of the candidate and the extent of the revisions needed. The University accepts that there may be cases in which the candidate/supervisor relationship comes under strain as a result of the examiners' decision to refer the thesis; and in these cases it may be more appropriate, at the discretion of the Graduate Chair of the departmental concerned, for another member of the department to take on responsibility for mediating feedback. Candidates in their revise and resubmit period will retain access to computing and library facilities. 

Examination following revision and resubmission

12.58

The outcomes of the examination are the same recommendations as listed above under ‘examination outcomes’ except that a candidate’s thesis may only be revised and resubmitted on one occasion (i.e. outcome (b) does not apply).

12.59

The candidate should prepare and submit for examination their revised thesis as per the process for the original submission, and as specified in the University's requirements. In addition to their revised thesis, the candidate must submit a document which details how the revised thesis addresses the points raised by the examiners in the Corrections/Revisions form. The document should be sufficiently detailed (including examples where relevant) to show clearly where and how all the points in the Corrections/Revisions form have been addressed. The examiners may, in addition, require a ‘tracked changes’ version of thesis and, if so, should specify this in the Corrections/Revisions form. The candidate must pay the prescribed re-examination fee before submission.

12.60

The re-examination of a candidate following the revision and resubmission of the thesis will normally be conducted by the individuals who conducted the original examination. In exceptional circumstances (for example due to a substantial change in the health or employment circumstances of an examiner), a new examiner or examiners may need to be appointed by the SCA. 

12.61

Where an examiner must be replaced between an initial examination and a re-examination of the thesis, the second examination will normally have the same status as any other re-examination. The new examiner should have access to the original examiners’ reports in order to inform their assessment, but the primary measure of success should be the academic judgement of the examiners as to whether the standards of the award have been met, rather than whether the revisions outlined by the original examiner have been made. Exceptionally, where the examiners agree that the change of examiner may have resulted in conflicting views about the nature of appropriate revisions, they may recommend (to the SCA) a further referral of the thesis. 

12.62

Following the revision and resubmission of a thesis, an oral examination will be automatically scheduled within three months of the submission of the revised thesis:

(i) If the examiners agree that the revised thesis provides sufficient grounds for a pass or pass with corrections outcome for the intended award then they may decide that the scheduled oral examination is not required and can be cancelled, in which case they must specify their reasons for this decision in their preliminary reports. A decision that an oral examination is not required should be made as soon as possible and ideally no later than 6 weeks after submission of the revised thesis;  

(ii) If the examiners are considering a downgrade (with or without corrections) or fail outcome, the scheduled oral examination should take place unless the examiners make a case to SCA - and the case is accepted by SCA - that the resubmission is sufficiently flawed as to render an oral examination obsolete (i.e. the performance of the candidate in the oral examination would not be able to influence the outcome of the examination process); 

(iii) If the candidate does not attend the scheduled oral examination, the examiners should make a decision based on the revised thesis alone unless the candidate was affected by serious unforeseen extenuating circumstances (eg medical emergency) such that it is appropriate to reschedule the oral examination. A rescheduled oral examination should take place as soon as possible and within one month of the original date and PGRA must be informed. If the examiners are not convinced of the case made by the candidate and/or the oral examination will be delayed by more than one month (from the original date) and/or there has already been one or more postponements of the oral examination, the candidate's case must be referred to SCA for consideration and SCA may decide that the examiners should make a decision based on the revised thesis alone. If a PGR is on a Student Visa, the Visa Compliance team must be consulted before any decision to reschedule an oral examination is made.

12.63

Each examiner must submit an independent preliminary report on the revised thesis.

12.64

If an oral examination is held, the examiners should complete and submit the Examination Outcome form and Examiners Joint Report form (in the candidate's Google examination folder) within two weeks of the oral examination.

12.65

If an oral examination is not held, the examiners should exchange their independent preliminary reports, before completing and submitting the Examination Outcome Form and Examiners Joint Report form, as soon as possible and in any case within three months of the date of the submission of the revised thesis for examination.