9 Assessment

9.1 The assessment process

The purpose of the assessment process is to ascertain that candidates have reached the standard required by the criteria for the award set out in Annex 7 and in the regulations for the specific degree. Assessment must be operated fairly and consistently to ensure that the candidate has optimum opportunities to show their knowledge of the research topic and of the wider research field through the dissertation and the individual oral examination.

The assessment process set out here relates to the submission of the dissertation and the subsequent oral examination. Examiners make a preliminary assessment of the dissertation and conduct the oral examination. A recommendation from the examiners is then made to the Research Degrees Examination Board (RDEB), which makes the decisions about the award of research degrees. It is important that research students, supervisors and examiners understand that results recommended by examiners are provisional until approved by the RDEB. The RDEB may accept or revise the examiners’ recommendation.

The Research Degrees Examination Board (RDEB) makes the decisions about the award of research degrees to assure consistency of academic standards across all faculties. Examiners may inform the candidate of their recommendation after the oral examination but it must be made clear that the final decision rests with the RDEB, which may decide on a different result.

Some research degrees have a taught component that is assessed separately from the dissertation. Further information is available in the regulations for the specific degree (Annex 1 and Annex 2) and in the programme specifications for the degree (available on the University website).

9.2 Submission of the dissertation

Once a dissertation has been submitted, it is not permissible to make any alterations prior to the oral examination unless this is required under the procedure for dealing with plagiarism as set out in Section 9.2.4 and Annex 8.

The dissertation must be submitted in accordance with Section 9.2.3. It is not permissible for the dissertation to be shared with examiners prior to the formal submission process without the consent of the Academic Quality and Policy Office.

9.2.1 Content and format of the dissertation

The dissertation shall be written in English, except for candidates in Modern Languages, who may submit their dissertations in the language of the culture studied. In all other cases, permission to use another language must be granted by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education and Students) at the request of the relevant Graduate Education Director. Whenever a dissertation is submitted in a language other than English, it must include an extended summary (approximately 5,000 words for a PhD dissertation) in English.

The dissertation must include a signed declaration stating how far the work contained in the dissertation is the candidate’s own work and how far it has been conducted in collaboration with, or with the assistance of, others.

Guidance on the format of the dissertation, and an example of the declaration which must be included, are available at Annex 4.

A candidate must not submit as their dissertation work which they have already submitted for an academic award of the University of Bristol or of any other degree awarding body.

The dissertation must not exceed the maximum word count stated in the specific regulations for the degree. Unnecessary length of a dissertation may be to a candidate's disadvantage.

9.2.2 Timing of submission

The dissertation may be submitted at any time between three months before the end of the minimum period of study and the end of the maximum period of study (unless stated otherwise in the regulations for the specific degree). It must be submitted within the maximum period of study.

A candidate whose period of study has been extended must submit their dissertation by the end of the extended maximum period of study.

Dissertations submitted after the end of the maximum period of study (taking into account any approved period of suspension or extension) will not be examined.

The minimum and maximum periods of study for the degree are listed in Section 4.3. If a suspension or extension is granted this will extend the period of study (see Section 6.4).

The candidate should prepare a detailed timetable for final preparation and submission of the dissertation, in consultation with their supervisors, at least six months before the end of the period of study.

As set out in Section 5.1.2, responsibility for the content of the dissertation and the decision to submit the work rests with the candidate. Comments from supervisors in this process are advisory.

Any submissions made more than three months before the end of the minimum period of study require prior approval by the relevant Graduate Education Director. Early submission will not affect liability for tuition fees.

9.2.3 Method of submission

The candidate must submit an electronic copy of their dissertation for text comparison checking in accordance with the procedure set out in Section 9.2.4. 

The candidate must also submit two hard copies of their dissertation, in temporary bindings, to the Academic Quality and Policy Office. 

The dissertation will only be shared with examiners once the text comparison process has been successfully completed and the hard copies have been submitted.  The dissertation must only be sent to the examiners by, or at the specific request of, the Academic Quality and Policy Office.

9.2.4 Checking for plagiarism

Plagiarism is claiming the work of others, intentionally or by omission, as one’s own. If a candidate re-uses their own work from an earlier award, assignment or publication without acknowledgement this is classified as self-plagiarism. In order to avoid this issue research students are recommended to follow the guidance below:

a)    It is NOT permitted to submit the same work for two separate awards, whether the awards are both at the University of Bristol and/or elsewhere. If a candidate wishes to include, in whole or in part, work that has previously been submitted at the University of Bristol or elsewhere, for an award for which they are currently registered, then it is essential that this is clearly cited and referenced correctly with the previous award identified. It is important that candidates realise that Higher Education Institutions cannot award credit multiple times for the same piece of work so it is recommended that the inclusion of previously submitted work is only done sparingly and following discussion and guidance from the supervisory team.

b)    Research students are strongly encouraged to publish their work, including prior to submission and examination. However, it is essential that they include appropriate referencing of such published work in their dissertation. A summary of authors’ contributions to any publications resulting from the dissertation should be included within the dissertation to provide clarity on each author’s contribution. 

c)    Individual faculties and schools may have additional policies and guidelines regarding the inclusion of published work in a thesis.  Students should consult their supervisors to determine if there are any additional considerations that pertain to them.

The University reserves the right to use all legitimate means at its disposal to detect instances of plagiarism. Submitted work is therefore checked in accordance with the procedure set out in Annex 8.  Plagiarism may also be detected by examiners as part of the examination process.

If plagiarism is detected through electronic text checking or by the examiners, the matter will be dealt with in accordance with the procedure set out in Annex 8.

9.2.5 Deferred access to the dissertation

At any time before submission, the candidate may request deferred access to their dissertation for a period of up to five years. This could be due, for example, to commercial or individual confidentiality, or to prepare the work for publication. All requests to defer access must specify the reason and include a recommendation by the faculty’s Graduate Education Director. Details of the procedure to be followed, and the corresponding application form, are available here.

Even if a request for deferment is granted, copies of the final form of the dissertation must still be submitted as described in Section 9.6.2 of these Regulations and Code.

9.3 Examiners

9.3.1 Role of examiners

The competence and independence of examiners is of fundamental importance to the integrity of the assessment process and in maintaining the academic standards of the University's research degrees.

In keeping with the importance that the University attaches to oral examinations being conducted fairly and consistently, examiners are invited to comment on the examination process in confidence to the Research Degrees Examination Board. There is also a section on the Examiners’ Joint Report Form for the internal examiner to complete on the conduct of the examination unless there is an Independent Chair. If an Independent Chair has been appointed, they will complete a separate report on the conduct of the examination.

The examiners are jointly responsible for ensuring that the requirements for the assessment process in these Regulations and Code and in the regulations for the degree are followed.

Examiners should treat the candidate's work with strict confidence.

External examiner

The main function of the external examiner is to assure that the academic standards of the research degrees awarded by the University are comparable with those at similar institutions. The external examiner normally takes the lead in the discussion of the candidate's work during the oral examination.

Internal examiner

The internal examiner participates fully in the examination process and also acts as the examination co-ordinator (unless there is an Independent Chair), including:

Independent Chair

An Independent Chair, who would also act as the examination co-ordinator, will be appointed:

a) where there are two external examiners and no internal examiner;

b) where the internal examiner is inexperienced; or

c) where the faculty Graduate Education Director considers that the presence of an experienced academic would assist in ensuring that the examination is fair and conducted in accordance with the University’s regulations for the award being examined.

The faculty Graduate Education Director will ensure that the candidate is aware that an Independent Chair will be appointed.

To be appointed, the Independent Chair must:

a) be an academic member of staff at the University of Bristol;

b) have a good understanding of the University’s procedures and regulations for the award being examined; and

c) have extensive experience of oral examinations as an examiner.

The Independent Chair must not have had any prior involvement with the project or with the candidate.

An Independent Chair is not expected to read the dissertation in preparation for the examination. They must however receive copies of the examiners’ preliminary reports and must preside over discussions concerning issues raised in those reports and the plans for conducting the oral examination. An Independent Chair may make a request to the Academic Quality and Policy Office to have access to an electronic copy of the dissertation for reference if this will assist them in undertaking their role.

An Independent Chair oversees the oral examination and the deliberations of the examiners in reaching their recommendation. In the case of disagreement between the examiners, the Chair is confined to advising the examiners on their options and should use their best endeavours to assist the examiners in reaching agreement. The Independent Chair does not have a casting vote.

The Independent Chair’s responsibility normally includes the administrative duties of the internal examiner. In examinations where there is no internal examiner, the candidate may make a request for clarification of corrections to the Independent Chair who is permitted to contact the examiners once for this purpose. The Independent Chair must also ensure that corrections are approved when there is no internal examiner.

The Independent Chair must complete a report after the oral examination to confirm that it was conducted in accordance with the University’s regulations for the award being examined.

9.3.2 Selection of examiners

Two or more examiners will be appointed, at least one being external to, and independent of, the University, and one normally being a member of the academic staff of the University.

Internal examiners will normally be a non-probationary member of academic staff at the University of Bristol holding an open contract of employment of at least 0.5FTE. Exceptionally, an honorary or emeritus member of staff who meets the selection criteria may be an internal examiner, but this would usually be with the appointment of an Independent Chair to ensure that the examination is conducted in accordance with the University's regulations for the award being examined. University of Bristol honorary and emeritus staff cannot be external examiners.

Under specific circumstances, e.g. where required by the nature of the research undertaken or the nature of the award, a second external examiner may be appointed.

Where the candidate is a member of staff of the University, two external examiners will be appointed, unless approval has been obtained from the faculty Graduate Education Director to appoint an external and an internal examiner. The Graduate Education Director will determine whether there are any potential conflicts of interest or any other reason that could undermine the impartiality of the internal examiner before granting approval. This consideration will include candidates who may become members of staff prior to the award of the degree.

In the event that there is no internal examiner, a member of the academic staff of the University, independent of the candidate, the supervisor and the project, must be appointed to act as a the Independent Chair for the examination. In such cases, the Independent Chair will participate in the oral examination only insofar as is needed to advise the external examiners on the University's regulations for the award being examined.

An Independent Chair will also be appointed if an internal examiner is inexperienced or if the faculty Graduate Education Director considers that the presence of an experienced academic will assist in the examination process.

Examiners for research degree candidates are nominated by the candidate's school and approved by the faculty Graduate Education Director. Both the school and the GED must be assured of the competence and independence of the examiners selected.

During the preparation of the dissertation, the candidate and their supervisors should discuss possible external and internal examiners. The main supervisor should suggest names of examiners to the Head of School no later than four weeks before the intended submission date, using the form available here

The Head of School has overall responsibility for the nomination and appointment of appropriate examiners.

The criteria to be used when selecting external and internal examiners for research degrees are:

  • The external examiner has the required expertise in the candidate's subject area. Emeritus members of staff from other universities may perform the role of external examiner if they are still appropriately active in the field.
  • The examiners between them (including the Independent Chair if appointed) have adequate experience of examining research degrees for the same type of programme as that leading to the candidate's intended award.
  • The internal examiner (or the Independent Chair if appointed) understands the requirements of the University's regulations that apply to this award.
  • None of the examiners (or the Independent Chair if appointed) has any connection with the candidate, the research project or the supervisors or, in the case of external examiners, with the University, that might impair their ability to make a fair and impartial assessment of the candidate's work.
  • Faculties have discretion in the selection of external examiners from other institutions that are part of collaborative partnerships or centres with the University as long as there are no connections to the student, project, supervisor, University or the collaborative partnership/centre that might impair, or call into question, the fair and impartial assessment of the candidate's work.
  • Where the proposed internal examiner has participated in an annual progress review for the candidate, the faculty Graduate Education Director must be satisfied that the level of involvement with the research project has not impaired independence of judgement;
  • Examiners are normally expected to hold a research degree at the level being examined or have other relevant expertise. It is not permissible for an individual who is registered for a research degree to be an examiner.
  • A minimum period of five years must have elapsed before anybody who has held a post at the University may be nominated as an external examiner.
  • To ensure that familiarity does not prejudice objective judgement, external examiners must not be appointed more than twice a year by the University. Any exceptions to this limit must be agreed by the faculty Graduate Education Director.
  • It is important to ensure that there are no reciprocal arrangements with other institutions to provide examiners.

9.4 The Oral Examination

9.4.1 The requirement for an oral examination

Assessment of all research degrees includes an individual oral examination, unless permission for exemption has been granted by the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education and Students).

The oral examination is normally conducted within four months of submission of the dissertation.

9.4.2 The role of the oral examination

Examiners should discuss with the candidate the strengths as well as any weaknesses of the candidate's work. The oral examination enables the examiners to:

9.4.3 Preparation

The candidate should be provided with suitable opportunities to practise for the oral examination by their school through, for example, presenting and being questioned about their research.

Examiners (and the Independent Chair if appointed) will normally meet before the start of the oral examination to discuss the issues identified in their preliminary reports and to plan how they will conduct the oral examination (for further information about examiners' preliminary reports see Section 9.5.1). Examiners may write on the examined work (e.g. to indicate minor errors).

The candidate, the candidate's supervisors, the candidate’s Head of School and the examiners should avoid any action in the period leading up to the examination that might impair the ability of the examiners to make an impartial assessment of the candidate's work.

None of the examiners should be asked to comment on drafts of the candidate's work prior to the examination.

Candidates must not contact the external examiner for any reason, and may contact the internal examiner (or the Independent Chair if appointed) with regard to their examination only to discuss the practical arrangements.

Examiners should not meet the candidate's supervisors prior to the examination.

The candidate's supervisors must not contact the external examiner on any matter relating to the examination, and may contact the internal examiner (or the Independent Chair if appointed) only in respect of any special arrangements required for the oral examination.

9.4.4 Observers

With the agreement of the candidate and the Head of School, the examiners may invite the candidate’s supervisors or other persons (such as the candidate's industrial supervisor in the case of a collaborative project) to attend the examination as observers. Any observers would not see the preliminary reports and would withdraw before the examiners begin to consider their recommendations. The candidate may ask the faculty Graduate Education Director for permission, with the external examiner's consent, for the candidate's supervisor and/or any other observer to attend the oral examination. There is a clear distinction between an independent observer, as described in this section, and an Independent Chair as set out in Section 9.3.1.

Supervisors or other observers may not contribute to discussion during the oral examination, and must withdraw before the examiners begin to consider their recommendations.

9.4.5 Reasonable adjustments to the assessment of research students with disabilities

Disabled students should be offered reasonable adjustments that take into account their disability for the purpose of assessment. Research students should be signposted to Disability Services for a Disability Support Summary, which will make recommendations for reasonable adjustments appropriate for the student in any assessment, such as progression processes, presentations, or the oral examination. Students and staff should contact Disability Services for advice about reasonable adjustments to assessment.

9.4.6 Extenuating circumstances

Extenuating circumstances are circumstances external to study within the University that a student believes may affect their performance in assessment.

Candidates, their supervisors and the Head of School share the responsibility for making examiners (and the Independent Chair if appointed) aware of any extenuating circumstances that need to be taken into consideration during the conduct of the oral examination. Where appropriate, a written statement supported by relevant evidence should be provided, via the Academic Quality and Policy Office, before the dissertation is submitted.

Any extenuating circumstances that might affect the candidate's performance in the oral examination should be brought to the attention of the internal examiner (or the Independent Chair if appointed) as early as possible, normally not later than one month before the oral examination. It is however recognised that in some cases extenuating circumstances may emerge closer to the examination. Examiners will make appropriate adjustments to the conduct of the examination, seeking specialist advice where required. Relevant information and guidance is available on the University's Equality and Diversity website.

9.4.7 Special arrangements

The faculty Graduate Education Director may, with the agreement of the candidate, approve special arrangements for conducting the oral examination, such as recording it.  Requests, with appropriate justification, should be addressed to the faculty Graduate Education Director. Schools may seek agreement from the faculty Graduate Education Director for the regular use of such arrangements.

All participants must be informed in advance if the intention is to record an oral examination, and any objections must be considered by the faculty Graduate Education Director. At the oral examination, all participants must be notified that recording will take place prior to the start of the recording. The recording must stop at the formal close of the oral examination.

Files of recordings should be stored on secure University servers with access limited only to those who have a need to access the recordings. The University’s Information Handling Policy must be complied with at all times. Recordings must be retained for a reasonable period after the oral examination, and must be securely disposed of at the end of the retention period.

9.4.8 Location

The oral examination with the candidate and all of the examiners normally takes place at the University of Bristol, but may take place elsewhere with the agreement of the examiners and the candidate and with permission from the relevant Graduate Education Director. All reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that the candidate is not disadvantaged when the oral examination is held away from the University of Bristol. An examination held elsewhere will not be allowed in any cases where the supervisor or the school PGR Director (or equivalent) feels that the candidate may be placed at a disadvantage.

In exceptional circumstances, the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education and Students) may grant permission for either the candidate or an external examiner to participate remotely in the oral examination by video link. Where it is intended for the candidate or an external examiner to participate remotely by video link, the Guidelines on the Conduct of Remote Oral Examinations by Video Link for Research Degrees (Annex 5) must be followed


9.4.9
Conduct of the oral examination

All participants in the oral examination are expected to behave with respect, courtesy and academic integrity towards those present. The oral examination should be conducted in an appropriate and professional manner.

The oral examination must be conducted in English. In the case of a candidate in Modern Languages who has submitted a dissertation in a language other than English, the oral examination must be conducted in English, unless the relevant faculty Graduate Education Director has agreed a request from the candidate and the examiners to conduct the oral examination in the language of the culture studied.

The examiners are jointly responsible for ensuring that the oral examination is performed fairly, taking account of any special circumstances of which they have been made aware.

Examiners should return the examined dissertation or published work to the candidate as soon as possible after the end of the examination.

9.5 Assessment Outcomes

9.5.1 Examiners’ reports

Prior to the oral examination, the examiners each complete an independent preliminary report. A joint report is then completed after the oral examination. Examiners’ report forms are available here

Reports should, where appropriate, include discussion of the:

(a)   purpose of the research and the overall approach taken;

(b)   candidate's application of research methods;

(c)   candidate's review of the literature;

(d)   extent of any collaboration;

(e)   candidate's contribution to the advancement of knowledge in the subject represented;

(f)   suitability for publication of the work reported;

(g)   literary form and quality of presentation of the work submitted, and the inferences that can be drawn about the candidate's ability to present and defend intellectual arguments in writing;

(h)   candidate's general knowledge of the subject; and

(i)    candidate's performance in the oral examination, and the inferences that can be drawn about the candidate's ability to present and defend intellectual arguments verbally.

Each examiner must complete an independent preliminary report on the dissertation (or published work) before the oral examination, noting areas that should be explored with the candidate during the examination. Examiners must exchange their preliminary reports in advance of the oral examination.

The examiners’ judgement is based both on the work presented by the candidate and on the candidate’s performance in the oral examination. Examiners should refer to the criteria for research degrees set out in Annex 7 of these Regulations and Code and in the regulations for the degree in question to ascertain the standard required.

If an Independent Chair has been appointed, they must complete a report on the conduct of the examination. Similar information is collected from the internal examiner on the Examiners’ Joint Final Report for examinations where there is no Independent Chair.

9.5.2 Examiner Recommendations

If the examiners have agreed on a recommendation they may make this known to the candidate, but they must make it clear that the final decision rests with the RDEB, which may arrive at a different verdict.

After the oral examination, the examiners must complete and sign a joint report which sets out clearly their recommendation with its supporting rationale. Examiners may recommend that:

A  The degree sought be awarded unconditionally.

B  The degree sought be awarded subject to the correction of minor errors to the satisfaction of the internal examiner. In examinations where there is no internal examiner, the Independent Chair must ensure that minor corrections are approved by an external examiner or by a University of Bristol academic nominated by the School.

C  The degree sought be awarded once errors or omissions of substance have been corrected to the satisfaction of the examiners.

D  The degree sought not be awarded but that the candidate be permitted to re-submit a revised form of the dissertation or published work for examination.

E  (doctoral candidates only) The relevant degree of Master by research be awarded unconditionally.

F  (doctoral candidates only) The relevant degree of Master by research be awarded, subject to the correction of minor errors to the satisfaction of the internal examiner. In examinations where there is no internal examiner, the Independent Chair must ensure that minor corrections are approved by an external examiner or by a University of Bristol academic nominated by the School.

G  (doctoral candidates only) No degree be awarded but that the candidate be permitted to re-submit a revised form of the dissertation or published work for examination for the relevant degree of Master by research.

H No degree be awarded and permission be not granted to re-submit the dissertation or published work.

Award of the degree of Master by research (doctoral candidates only)

A Masters degree is not to be awarded merely because the dissertation has failed to reach the requirements for the award of a doctoral level degree. Examiners should only recommend the award of a Masters degree when the dissertation and oral exam meet the criteria for a Masters degree by research as specified in Annex 7.

If the conclusions of the examiners' joint report differ significantly from those of any of the preliminary reports, the examiners should justify the changes in their joint report.

If, exceptionally, the examiners cannot agree on a joint report after the oral examination, they should submit separate final reports.

9.5.3 Corrections

The candidate should receive written guidance on any corrections as soon as possible after the oral examination. They may meet with the internal examiner on one occasion, or may alternatively seek one e-mail response from the internal examiner, to clarify the changes required by the examiners. In cases where there is no internal examiner, the candidate may make a request for clarification of corrections to the Independent Chair who is permitted to contact the examiners once for this purpose. Any further clarification and advice should be sought from the candidate's supervisors.

The time allowed for correction of errors of substance or for resubmission is irrespective of whether the candidate was previously registered as a full-time or part-time student. If, in exceptional circumstances, a candidate requires an extension of the agreed period, they must make an application in writing to the RDEB, via the Academic Quality and Policy Office, indicating their reasons and providing supporting evidence if appropriate, and stating a date by which the corrections will be made or the dissertation resubmitted.

Minor errors

Annex 6 sets out guidance on what constitutes minor errors in a dissertation. Examiners should make clear what, if any, corrections are required. Minor corrections should be completed within 28 days of the notification from the Research Degrees Examination Board at which the examiners’ reports are considered (RDEB meeting dates are here.) If such corrections are incomplete, the candidate will be entitled to attend a degree congregation, but the degree certificate will be withheld until written confirmation by the internal examiner that the corrections have been made is received by the Academic Quality and Policy Office. In cases where there is no internal examiner, the Independent Chair must ensure that minor corrections are approved by an external examiner or by a University of Bristol academic nominated by the School.

Where there are numerous instances of errors that are individually minor but when taken together are deemed by the examiners to form a significant undertaking for the candidate to correct, a recommendation of errors of substance may be made.

Errors of substance

If substantial errors or omissions are to be corrected, examiners must provide clear written guidance for the candidate as soon as possible after the oral examination. A copy of the guidance must be attached to the examiners’ final report.

Candidates are not permitted to contact the external examiner, but may contact the internal examiner once for clarification of the revisions required. In cases where there is no internal examiner, candidates may make a request for clarification of corrections to the Independent Chair who is permitted to contact the examiners once for this purpose. The time permitted for corrections for all candidates is normally six months from the date of the meeting of the RDEB at which the decision is made. In exceptional circumstances, an extension beyond this period may be granted by the RDEB. A dissertation corrected for errors of substance will not be accepted if it is submitted after the time permitted, in which case candidature for the degree will lapse.

The internal examiner should inform the Academic Quality and Policy Office, in writing, of the satisfactory completion of the correction of errors of substance to the satisfaction of both examiners. In cases where there is no internal examiner, the Independent Chair must ensure that corrections are approved by the external examiners.

9.5.4 Resubmission

If a candidate is required to resubmit their dissertation for re-examination, examiners must provide clear and comprehensive written guidance for the candidate. Apart from contacting the internal examiner, once only, for clarification of the revisions required, the candidate may not contact the examiners for any reason in connection with the examination. In cases where there is no internal examiner, candidates may make a request for clarification of the revisions required to the Independent Chair who is permitted to contact the examiners once for this purpose.

Supervisors will provide continued guidance to candidates who have to resubmit. The level of support will be determined by the nature and extent of the work required by the examiners.

Resubmission can take place once only. The maximum time permitted for resubmission for all candidates is normally 12 months from the date of the meeting of the RDEB at which the decision is made. An extension beyond this period may be granted by the RDEB only in exceptional circumstances. A revised dissertation will not be accepted if submitted after the time permitted, in which case candidature for the degree will lapse.

To resubmit, the candidate must submit an electronic copy for checking and provide two copies of their revised dissertation to the Academic Quality and Policy Office (see Section 9.2.3) within the period specified by the RDEB, and pay the resubmission fee. Unless determined otherwise by the RDEB, the original examiners will be asked to undertake a full re-examination, normally including a further oral examination. 

If, once the examiners have read the resubmitted work, the examiners agree that no purpose would be served by holding a further oral examination, and that the work is worthy of the award of the degree for which the work has been submitted (with or without correction of minor errors), they have the discretion to waive the second oral examination. The examiners’ reports should include an explanation of why the examiners felt that a further oral examination was unnecessary.

The examiners should provide a complete new set of examiners’ reports to RDEB. This will include a report from the Independent Chair (if appointed). External examiners will be paid a re-examination fee.

9.5.5 The procedure following the oral examination

Examiners’ preliminary and joint reports are confidential until they have been considered by the RDEB. Reports must not be shared with the candidate or supervisors prior to RDEB

After consideration by RDEB, the reports are sent to the candidate (and supervisor) where there are errors of substance or a requirement to resubmit, or if the student is to be awarded a lower degree than the one for which they were submitted. In other circumstances, the reports are available on request. The report from the Independent Chair (if appointed) on the conduct of the examination is also available on request.

The internal examiner (or the Independent Chair if appointed) should forward all examiners' reports, including the pre-oral examination preliminary reports, to the Head of School (or an alternative senior member of the school's academic staff if the Head of School is the candidate's supervisor or internal examiner) for countersigning. The Head of School (or nominee) should then forward the signed reports to the Academic Quality and Policy Office. The report from the Independent Chair (if appointed) on the conduct of the examination should be included with the reports.

Where the research degree includes a taught element, the Academic Quality and Policy Office attaches the report on this element to the examiners' reports for consideration by the RDEB.

The approval process by RDEB is set out in Section 9.6.

Reports should be sent to the Academic Quality and Policy Office to arrive within 14 days of the date of the oral examination.

9.6 Results

9.6.1 Approval of recommendations

The Examiners’ recommendation is provisonal until approved by the RDEB. The RDEB has the authority to agree, alter or reject the result recommended by the examiners.

The examiners’ independent preliminary reports, their joint report and, where relevant, the report on the taught element of the degree must be sufficient to enable the RDEB to assess the scope and significance of the work submitted by the candidate and to determine whether the candidate satisfies the University's criteria for the award of the research degree. The RDEB also receives the report from the Independent Chair (if appointed) on the conduct of the examination.

The examiners' reports will be considered at the next practicable RDEB held after their receipt. Reports received less than two weeks before the date of the Board will not normally be considered until the following meeting. Dates of meetings of the RDEB and deadlines for receipt of reports are listed here.

The result of their examination will be sent to candidates by email and post normally within two weeks of the RDEB’s decision.

9.6.2 Requirements for submission of the definitive dissertation or published work

Candidates must submit the final copy of the dissertation in hard–bound printed form. Guidance on the format of the dissertation and on the binding of hard-bound copies is available in Annex 4.

Within 28 days of the date of award of the degree by the Board, a successful candidate should submit to the Academic Quality and Policy Office:

(a) A complete hard-bound copy of the dissertation or published work and commentary, including all corrections required by the examiners, which will be deposited in the University Library.

(b) A hard-bound copy of the dissertation or published work and commentary for their school (the candidate may arrange to submit this directly to the school office).

(c) A good quality copy of the title page and abstract.

(d) Completed agreement and declaration forms (available here).

Degree certificates are made available after degree ceremonies. The degree certificate will be withheld until the candidate has complied with the requirements for submission of the definitive form of the dissertation or published work and commentary as set out above.

It may be possible to make an electronic deposition if a pilot project is run by the University. Further information will be supplied if this is the case.