Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Submission and Examination


(MPhil/) PhD students enrolled on or after 1 August 2011 are automatically registered for 4 years full-time (7 years part-time). The expectation remains for you to submit your thesis for examination by the end of three years of enrolment for full-time students (5 years part-time).

If required, the fourth year (seventh year for part-time students), called the ‘Submission Pending’ year, will be dedicated exclusively to writing-up, polishing final drafts and submission. No extensions will be given beyond 4 years "except in truly exceptional circumstances, normally on health grounds or significant personal difficulties" (from the Student Records website).

When submission is less than four months away, you should read the Doctoral College’s Guide to Examinations for Higher Degrees by Research. At least one month before you are due to submit, you must complete Part 1 of the Submission of a Research Thesis form, You will then e-mail the form to the Director of Graduate Studies (, cc'ing

Choosing examiners

At least one month before your intended submission you must complete your part of the University's "Submission of Research thesis and Nomination of Examiners" form and then pass this to the Director of Graduate Studies, as above.

Examiners are appointed by the University but the Department will want to have your views on who you think would be best. You should discuss with your supervisor well in advance who you think would be the best examiners for your particular work. Your internal examiner should not normally be someone who has had extensive involvement with your academic work, nor your personal tutor. If you are both happy with the choice, your supervisor (who should not approach the examiners directly) will ask the Director of Graduate Studies to contact them informally to see whether they are willing and available.

If you are not entirely happy with your prospective examiners or if you want a range of advice, you may also discuss this with the Director of Graduate Studies. Remember that one or both of the examiners are likely to be important referees for you in the future, so it is vital that you make the most of this opportunity to have someone expert and distinguished in your field reading your work. Any student who is or has been an academic/academic related member of staff may require two external examiners.

In some cases an examination advisor will be appointed when an oral examination (viva voce) is held. The Graduate School may also request that an advisor is appointed. The advisor shall be a member of staff of the University other than the candidate’s supervisor. The examination advisor will assist the examiners in following the University procedures and chair and maintain a record of the oral examination but not otherwise act as an examiner of the thesis. In cases where there are two external examiners, or the internal examiner is inexperienced, an examination advisor must be appointed.

The internal examiner will notify you of the date, time and location of the viva. When an internal examiner is not appointed, the exam advisor will do this task.

Word limit

The word limit for a PhD in the Faculty of Arts is strictly 80,000. This is exclusive of footnotes/endnotes, appendices, tables and bibliography. If you feel that you have a special reason to exceed the word limit, you should contact the Doctoral College for advice.

Presentation of the thesis

Please see the Doctoral College's guidelines on the presentation and formatting of your thesis.


There is no set style for PhDs in the Faculty of Arts, although PGRs should choose a recognized style, such as MHRA, MLA or Harvard.

For students on the PhD in English and Comparative Literary Studies, we recommend MHRA. MHRA is preferred because Warwick's regulations rule that footnotes/endnotes are not included in the 80,000 word limit (footnotes/endnotes, appendices, tables and bibliography are all excluded) and MHRA allows for discursive notes (allowing you to include brief commentary inessential but pertinent to your main argument in footnotes/endnotes).

MLA discourages discursive notes, and allows only bibliographic notes: if you find that your footnotes/endnotes are all bibliographic (that is, they give only references to texts without further commentary), then MLA may suit your needs.

It should also be noted that MLA uses a 'Works cited' reference list, which is usually too limited for a PhD. A PhD reference list should show all of your 'working out' by including all texts that have influenced your thinking and writing and not simply those from which you have quoted: use either a 'Bibliography' in MHRA; or a 'Works cited' plus a 'Further works' section in MLA.

Please remember to be consistent with referencing throughout your thesis. The MHRA Style Guide has recently (2017) been made available online, but a copy of the MHRA handbook can still be downloaded for free here; Anglia Ruskin produces an excellent guide to the Harvard system of referencing; and more information on MLA can be found here.


You must submit your thesis directly to the Doctoral College via their online form.

It is very important that you also tell the Department that you’ve done so – please send a brief email to the Director of Graduate Studies, cc'ing

Submitting the final draft

Following a successful examination (i.e. once your examiners have recommended the award of a degree and you have completed any minor corrections to the satisfaction of your examiners), the Doctoral College will contact you with instructions on the submission of the final version of your thesis.