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 PGRs, please consult the  Guide to the thesis examination process

At least four months before submission

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

At least three months before submission

  • The PGR should start the examination entry workflow in GRAD. Once completed, an email and task will be sent to the supervisor to complete the nomination for 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 complete the GRAD workflow with the nominations and submit.
  • The workflow is checked by the Graduate School and reviewed by the Director of PGR Studies. It is then sent to Doctoral College Operations (DCO) to check the eligibility of the proposed examiners before the Progression and Examinations Group reviews and approves the recommendation.

Submitting the thesis

  • Theses should be submitted via GRAD as a PDF; soft-bound copies are not required.  
  • The thesis will be sent to the examiners (usually within ten working days).

The oral examination (viva)

  • The PGR attends their oral examination, joined by one supervisor as an observer if the PGR wishes. 
  • Information on format for the viva are available here
  • All PGRs should consult their supervisor(s) for appropriate guidance in preparation for their submission and examination. A “mock viva” may be helpful for some PGRs, and if so, they should again consult their supervisors. 

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 corrections or minor deficiencies), referral or fail.
  • The examiners prepare an examiners’ report on the viva which is passed to the Director of PGR Studies in the school before forwarding to DCO.
  • The examiners’ report is considered at the next Progression and 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 PGR can arrange for their eThesis to be submitted in accordance with the Guide to the thesis examination process 
  • 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 by the Progression and Examinations Group . The notes will be issued by DCO once they’re approved. 

Deposit of final eThesis

  • Before the final thesis is submitted, the PGR 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. 
  • PGRs only need to upload a PDF copy of the thesis to White Rose Etheses Online.  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 Progression and Examinations Group meeting
  • DCO has received confirmation that the internal examiner is satisfied that any required corrections have been completed
  • The eThesis has been uploaded
  • any outstanding tuition fees have been paid in full. 


  • Further information about the arrangements for graduation and certificates can be found on the graduation pages of the SES website.