Examination process overview

A summary of the main steps and timescales for the submission and examination of theses to help you know what to expect.

For more detailed information to help supervisors provide the right level of support to their students, please consult the guide for research degree supervisors. The University has very specific requirements for the format and presentation of the thesis. These are explained in detail in our Guide to the thesis examination process

At least four months before submission

  • The student and supervisor should start thinking about the examination entry process and identifying appropriate examiners for the thesis.

At least three months before submission

  • The candidate should fill out an examination entry form and pass it to their supervisor to complete. If this is not received in Postgraduate Research and Operations at least three months before the thesis is submitted there could be a delay in sending the thesis out to examiners.
  • The supervisor should consult the eligibility criteria for the appointment of examiners and approach potential examiners.
  • Once the potential examiners have informally agreed, the supervisor should fill in the form with the nominations and send it to the PGR tutor to countersign.
  • The form is then sent to Postgraduate Research and Operations to check the eligibility of the proposed examiners before the examinations group reviews and approves the recommendation.

Submitting the thesis

  • Candidates should take the required number of copies of the thesis in the specified format and binding to the Student Services Centre counter where they will be asked to sign a statement of academic integrity form.
  • Postgraduate Research and Operations checks the format of the thesis and dispatches it to the examiners (usually within two working days).

The oral examination (viva)

  • The candidate attends their oral examination, joined by their supervisor if the candidate prefers. If not attending, the supervisor should be available for consultation if necessary.

After the oral examination

  • The examiners informally notify the candidate of the result (usually immediately, but no more than 24 hours afterwards). They will be given one of the following results: pass (or pass subject to the correction of minor editorial deficiencies or stated minor deficiencies), referral or fail.
  • The examiners prepare an examiners’ report on the viva which is passed to the Postgraduate Research Tutor in the school before forwarding to Postgraduate Research and Operations.
  • The examiners’ report is considered at the next examinations group meeting. The examiners’ recommendation is always subject to final approval by the examinations group.
  • Once the internal examiner has approved any corrections, the candidate can arrange for their thesis to be hard-bound in accordance with the Guide to the thesis examination process and prepare their eThesis (if required).
  • Referred candidates will receive individual notes for guidance which outline the required changes to help them prepare to resubmit. These notes must be submitted with the examiners’ report for approval at a graduate board’s examinations group meeting. The notes will be issued to the candidate by Postgraduate Research and Operations once they’re approved. Students can find out more in the guidance document for referred students.

Deposit of final thesis

  • Before the final thesis is submitted, the student and supervisor should discuss the thesis retention arrangements for the Library to agree whether the thesis can be made available immediately, or whether a restriction on access is needed. This may be necessary if the work is commercially or politically sensitive, or if there are plans to publish. 
  • The final, hard-bound version of the thesis (including any required corrections) should be deposited at the Student Services Centre counter (with a completed thesis deposit form if the student is not required to upload an eThesis).
  • The final eThesis must be uploaded (for doctoral students who commended study from September 2009) using the online deposit process. Please see the eThesis page for further advice.

Publication of pass list

A candidate’s name will be published on a pass list after:

  • the examiners’ report has been approved at a graduate board’s examinations group meeting
  • the Postgraduate Research and Operations team has received confirmation that the internal examiner is satisfied that any required corrections have been completed
  • the Postgraduate Research and Operations team has received the final, hard-bound thesis
  • for candidates who started their research after September 2009, the final eThesis has been uploaded
  • for candidates who started their study before September 2009 (not depositing an eThesis) PGR & Operations has received a completed and signed thesis deposit form
  • any outstanding tuition fees have been paid in full. 


  • Candidates are eligible to graduate in their absence (in absentia) or at a degree ceremony. Candidates must register their preference online.