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.

Supervisors must not contact examiners about the examination process beyond discussing the practical arrangements for the oral examination – which may cover any extenuating circumstances (see Section 9.4.6) – with the internal examiner or the Independent Chair (if appointed). Supervisors must not discuss the examiners’ recommendation with examiners during any part of the examination process.

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