How the research degree examination process works

Exam process


You will usually have two examiners, with at least one being external to, and independent of, the University. The other is usually a member of the University’s academic staff. Under certain circumstances you may have a third examiner or an independent chair.

None of the examiners will have seen your work before.  They will read your dissertation, prepare preliminary reports and arrange a time for the oral examination.

Oral exam (also referred to as a viva)

  • All research students will have an oral exam unless, in exceptional circumstances, an exemption has been granted.
  • Your internal examiner or independent chair should give you at least ten days’ notice of the exam.
  • If approved, observers - which may include your supervisor - may attend the oral exam. Observers cannot contribute to discussion during the exam.
  • The examiners will return the examined dissertation or published work to you as soon as possible after the end of the exam. 

In exceptional circumstances an oral examination may be conducted remotely by video link. If you wish to ask for a video link you or your supervisor will need to complete the relevant section of the Appointment of Research Degree Examiners form, or if this has already been submitted, the separate viva by videolink request form.

Where remote participation by video link is proposed, requests to IT Services for video link support should be raised through the service desk. The Brief Description field should be titled ‘Video link support for a remote PGR viva required for [enter date of viva if known or period in which it is likely]’. The email addresses of the participants should be included in the Request Details field and, if known, information on the date/time and where the viva will be held. You may wish to ask for advice as part of the request. IT Services can offer advice on a suitable location, plus there is mobile equipment available if required.  IT Services can also offer advice on an appropriate platform:  It is normally recommended that BlueJeans video conferencing is used but Skype for Business may be used as an alternative.

Examiners' reports

  • The reports cover the content of your dissertation and your performance in the oral exam.
  • These reports allow the Research Degrees Examination Board (RDEB) to assess the scope and significance of your work.
  • The examiners can tell you what they are recommending to the Board, but the RDEB, will make the final decision and any award.
  • You will not receive any official notification at this stage.

Research Degrees Examination Board (RDEB)

The RDEB meets six times a year to consider examiners' recommendations and make awards.

Notification of award

You will be notified of your exam result by post and e-mail. Awards can also be seen on the web using studentinfo.

Revision or re-examination

If you are required, by the RDEB, to do further work on your dissertation, you will be informed in writing by the Academic Quality and Policy Office after the examination board meeting at which your examiners' reports are considered.

Minor corrections

If minor corrections are required, for example typing, spelling, grammar, punctuation or inadvertent omission, examiners will make clear what corrections are required. Your degree will be awarded and you are invited to attend a Degree Congregation.

You must complete corrections within 28 days of notification, following the Board meeting. Your degree certificate will be withheld until we receive written confirmation the corrections have been made.

Errors or omissions of substance

  • If you have to make substantial corrections, examiners will provide clear and comprehensive written guidance. This will be separate from the examiners' report. 
  • You are normally allowed six months from the date of the Board meeting where the decision was made, to make the corrections. 
  • In exceptional circumstances an extension to the time allowed may be granted.
  • You may send your corrected work directly to your internal Examiner or independent chair. 
  • Your examiner(s) will inform the Board in writing, when you have completed the corrections to their satisfaction.


  • If you have to resubmit your work for a full re-examination, examiners will provide clear and comprehensive written guidance for you.
  • You are normally allowed 12 months from the date of the Board meeting where the decision was made, to make the corrections.
  • In exceptional circumstances an extension to the time allowed may be granted.
  • To resubmit, you must submit copies of your revised work to the Exams Office and to blackboard an in the same way as for your first submission and pay a resubmission fee.
  • The examiners will carry out a full re-examination, usually including an oral, and provide a second set of report forms to the Board.

Your degree certificate

Your degree certificate will be available after your degree ceremony, whihc are held in February and July each year.


The procedure for examination appeals is set out in the Examination Regulations.
You must complete the  and submit it to your Faculty Education Manager within 15 working days from the date of publication of the result.

Regulations and code of practice

The Regulations and Code of Practice for Research Degree Programmes provides a framework of procedures and practices to support research degree candidates and their supervisors.

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