Annex 6

Guidelines on the Conduct of Remote Oral Examinations by Video Link for Research Degrees

  1. Normally, the oral examination for a research degree will take place at the University of Bristol. An oral examination may only be conducted remotely by video link in exceptional circumstances, when the candidate or an external examiner is at a distance from the University (normally outside the UK) and is unable, for reasons that should be detailed, to travel to Bristol at the appropriate time. It is only permissible for one participant of the oral examination to be remote.

  2. In all cases, the decision to allow an oral examination to be conducted remotely by video link rests with the Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (PGR) who must see and approve the detailed arrangements for running the examination. Any request to conduct an oral examination remotely by video link must have the written agreement of the candidate, all of the examiners and the Head of School, and the approval of the Faculty PGR Director before it is submitted as an attachment to the ‘Appointment of Research Degree Examiners Form’ to the Academic Quality and Policy Office (or on a separate form if, for an unforeseen reason, it is required after the appointment of the examiners has already been approved). The request will then be forwarded to the Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (PGR) for approval.

  3. All parties should have the benefits and difficulties of the technology to be used explained prior to requesting a remote oral examination. No pressure should be put on any party to assent to the oral examination being carried out remotely. All reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that the candidate is not disadvantaged compared with the standard oral examination. A remote examination should not be used in any cases where the supervisor or the School PGR Director (or equivalent) feels that a candidate may be placed at a disadvantage.

  4. As with other examination costs associated with research degrees, any expenses of remote oral examinations will normally be met by the school. However, if the remote link is to be used because of the candidate's inability to return to Bristol, the school will normally require the candidate to contribute all or part of any additional costs. These costs may be payable in advance of the examination taking place.

  5. If exceptional circumstances make it necessary for the examination to be conducted remotely the following points should be observed:
    • The technology used must accommodate the anticipated needs of the examination.
    • The quality of the equipment to be used (and particularly that to be used by the remote party) must be taken into account when agreeing and arranging the remote examination.
    • Oral examinations by video link may take place over a secure link supported by the central or local IT team as an alternative to the central facilities, although the latter is recommended as more secure.  
    • The video link facilities should be available for sufficient time for the examination to take place. If there is doubt about the length of time required, every effort should be made to ensure that possible overrunning can be accommodated. It is suggested that the facilities are booked for at least one hour beyond the anticipated length of the examination.
    • Time should be allowed in advance of the examination for all parties to undertake a short training session and become familiar with the use of the technology. It is recommended that a trial run is undertaken prior to the oral examination to ensure that the technology used meets requirements.
    • If the examiners are at different sites, they must take account of their need to share their preliminary reports and consult privately with each other on the conduct of the examination.
    • If the candidate is the remote party, they must be accompanied by an approved independent person, such as a member of academic staff at another academic institution. Any materials brought by the candidate into the room should be identified at the start of the examination.
6. Oral examinations carried out by remote link will not be routinely recorded.

7. Appeals will be conducted under the University's standard procedures. Student may wish to contact Just Ask, a confidential service provided by Bristol Students’ Union, for advice on the appeals process.