This guide sets out the expectations of the University with regard to the examination of research degrees and the procedures to be followed in the conduct of research degree examinations. Where a University officer is named in the guidance, this refers to the member of staff concerned or their authorised nominee/deputy.
Contact the Doctoral College for further advice on research degree examinations, email
Under the University’s Regulations, a thesis shall consist of one or more pieces of work as specified in the relevant course regulations or departmental guidance. The length should not exceed the word limit specified for that degree, unless prior permission is obtained from the Academic Director.
Degrees by research are normally awarded in a specific subject. A student may pursue research across more than one subject. A degree may be awarded that names more than one subject if:
(a) A supervisor is appointed in each of these subjects;
(b) The examiners appointed are deemed to be competent in each subject; and
(c) The examiners recommend the award of the degree in each of the relevant subjects
The University’s regulations define the requirements for the thesis for each research degree as follows:
1.1 Degree of Master by Research, Master of Medical Science; and Master of Surgery (MA, MSc, LLM by Research, MMedSci, MS)
A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements of a degree of Master shall be clearly and concisely written, show evidence of originality in knowledge and interpretation, and shall also be judged on its scholarly presentation. In addition, it shall contain a full bibliography.
The thesis shall not exceed 40,000 words, exclusive of appendices, footnotes, tables and bibliography.
1.2 Degree of Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of MPhil shall constitute an original contribution to knowledge. The thesis shall be clearly and concisely written, well argued, and shall show a satisfactory knowledge of both primary and secondary sources. In addition, it shall contain a full bibliography and, where appropriate, a description of methods and techniques used in the research.
The thesis shall not exceed 60,000 words, exclusive of appendices, footnotes, tables and bibliography.
An appendix may contain material that functions as data to supplement the main argument of the thesis, and may not contain material that is an integral part of the thesis. An appendix may not exceed 5,000 words in length unless permission to exceed this length is given by the Academic Director.
1.3 Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
To satisfy the requirements for the degree of PhD, a thesis shall constitute a substantial original contribution to knowledge which is, in principle, worthy of peer-reviewed publication. The thesis shall be clearly and concisely written, well argued, and shall show a satisfactory knowledge of both primary and secondary sources. In addition, it shall contain a full bibliography and, where appropriate, a description of methods and techniques used in the research.
In addition, the Board of Graduate Studies has resolved that a thesis submitted for the degree of PhD should be an original investigation characterised by rigorous methodology and capable of making a significant contribution to knowledge commensurate with the normal period of registration for a full-time or part-time student.
The thesis shall not exceed 80,000 words, exclusive of appendices, footnotes, tables and bibliography. Any requests to exceed the word limits set out above are subject to approval by the Academic Director.
An appendix may contain material that functions as data to supplement the main argument of the thesis, and may not contain material that is an essential or integral part of the thesis. The total length of all appendices may not exceed 5,000 words in length unless permission to exceed this length is given by the Academic Director.
1.4 Degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) by Published Work
To satisfy the requirements of the degree of PhD in Published Work, the submitted material must constitute a substantial original contribution to knowledge. The material shall be clearly and concisely written and well-argued.
A candidate must submit for examination material from a nominated field of study together with a covering document of 5,000 - 10,000 words. The covering document must explain the inter-relationship between the material presented and the significance of the published works as a contribution to original knowledge within the relevant fields. In addition, the covering document must include, as an appendix, a full bibliography of all the work published by the candidate. A candidate may include with their submitted material work that has not been published only with the prior approval of the Academic Director.
1.5 Degree of Doctor of Medicine (MD)
To satisfy the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Medicine a thesis shall consist of a substantial original contribution to medical knowledge which is, in principle, worthy of publication. The thesis shall be clearly and concisely written and well argued and shall show a satisfactory knowledge of both primary and secondary sources. In addition, it shall contain a full bibliography and, where appropriate, a description of methods and techniques used in the research.
The maximum length for an MD thesis is 70,000 words, exclusive of appendices, footnotes, tables and bibliography.
1.6 Degree of Doctor of Education (EdD)
To satisfy the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Education the thesis shall consist of an original contribution to knowledge which is, in principle, worthy of publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The thesis shall be clearly and concisely written and well argued and shall show a satisfactory knowledge of both primary and secondary sources. In addition, it shall contain a full bibliography and, where appropriate, a description of methods and techniques used in the research.
In the Department of Education Studies the thesis may take the form of one study not exceeding 50,000 words in length or two studies each not exceeding 20,000 words in length exclusive of appendices, footnotes, tables and bibliography.
1.7 Degree of Doctor of Engineering (EngD)
Candidates are normally required to follow taught modules as set out in the Course Regulations. Exemptions may be granted under the University’s AP(E)L procedure by the Academic Director if a student has completed relevant study elsewhere or has substantial industrial experience.
Candidates are required to submit a portfolio of work and to pass an oral examination to be conducted by the Panel of Examiners. The precise requirements for the portfolio are set out in the Course Regulations. No word limit is specified for the EngD portfolio.
In order to be eligible for the award of the degree of Doctor of Engineering, candidates are required to demonstrate innovation in the application of knowledge to the engineering business environment, together with a number of specific competences. In addition they must demonstrate the following competences: expert knowledge of an engineering area; the appreciation of industrial engineering and development culture; project and programme management skills; teamwork and leadership skills; oral and written communication skills; technical organisational skills; financial engineering project planning and control; the ability to apply their skills to new and unusual situations; the ability to seek optimal, viable solutions to multi-faceted engineering problems and to search out relevant information sources.
1.8 Degree of Doctor of Clinical Psychology (DClinPsych)
In order for the candidate to be eligible for the award of the degree of Doctor of Clinical Psychology, the research thesis shall consist of an original contribution to knowledge which is, in principle, worthy of publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
The research thesis shall not exceed 20,000 words in length exclusive of appendices, footnotes, tables and bibliography.
1.9 Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA)
Candidates are required to submit a portfolio of work demonstrating innovation in the application of knowledge in business and management contexts.
To satisfy the requirement for the award of the degree the portfolio of work must demonstrate innovation in the application of knowledge in business and management contexts.
The portfolio shall not exceed 80,000 words in length.
A candidate must attend an oral examination, which shall cover the portfolio itself and the field of study in which the portfolio has been written. The examiners may also require the candidate to take a written and/or practical examination. The candidate must complete satisfactorily the oral examination and, where required, the written and/or practical examination, in order to satisfy the requirements for the degree.
Candidates should receive advice from their supervisor(s) on the presentation of the thesis in a format appropriate to the academic discipline. In addition to any guidance specific to the academic department, all theses submitted for examination must conform to the University’s requirements for presentation which are set out below. Theses that do not meet these requirements will not be accepted for examination and may result in delays to the examination process.
2.1 Length of Thesis
Theses should be written clearly and concisely. Candidates should not feel that their thesis must necessarily be as long as the maximum word limit allowed for the degree concerned. You should discuss the appropriate length for your thesis with your supervisor(s) in view of the nature of the work you have undertaken. The word length permitted for each research degree is given in Section 1. Theses which exceed the word limit may not be accepted for examination.
Approval is required to submit a thesis exceeding the word limit. This should usually be requested prior to thesis submission; a statement explaining the reason for exceeding the word limit, with support from the candidate’s supervisor should be submitted to the Doctoral College for consideration by the Academic Director. This approval does not preclude examiners from recommending that the thesis be shortened.
2.2 Typing of Thesis
Theses should be typed with 1.5 line spacing, with the exception of the abstract/summary, which may be single spaced. Page numbers should be typed at least 1.5 cm into the page. The final library-bound thesis should be formatted in line with the guidance at section 17.1 of this guidance.
Candidates are advised that they will be required to correct any typographical errors to the satisfaction of the examiners before the award of the degree is approved by the Senate. Candidates should therefore carefully proofread their thesis for typographical errors and correct them before submitting the thesis. The University understands that, in the course of producing a high-quality piece of work for assessment, students may wish to receive input from a third party prior to submission. The proofreading policy sets out what the University considers to be appropriate in regards to proofreading and the checks that should be in place when proofreading is undertaken.
Guidance from Disability Team, Wellbeing Support Services - May 2021
We would expect all students to take some care in proofreading their work but acknowledge that it is more challenging for students with Specific Learning Differences (SpLD) to recognise their own errors.
We encourage students to use the technology available to them to assist with this. Texthelp Read and Write is often used - it has an enhanced spell and grammar check and also reads aloud text which can help with proof reading.
The Library has information on useful technology tools which we encourage students to use, especially those doing theses.
For PhD students whose work needs to be of a standard for publication, we would encourage them to use various means to assist them with proof reading - whether that is specialist study skills, technology or proof reading services. We encourage supervisors to be aware of any students with a SpLD and to provide constructive feedback on drafts where more work is needed on language or structure. They should be aware that this may be a challenging area for the SpLD student.
2.4 Title and Title Page
The title should describe the content of the thesis accurately and concisely.
The title page of every volume shall give the following information in the order listed (see model title page for an example):
- The full title of the thesis and the subtitle, if any;
- The total number of volumes if more than one and the number of the particular volume;
- The full name of the author, followed, if desired, by any qualifications and distinctions;
- The full name of the qualification for which the thesis is submitted (i.e. Doctor of Philosophy in Physics);
- The name of the University and of the department, school or centre in which the research was conducted;
- The month and year of submission (or resubmission).
You will be required to provide a correct version of your title page if it does not meet the requirements as listed above.
2.5 Table of contents
The table of contents shall immediately follow the title page. It shall list in sequence, with page numbers, all relevant subdivisions of the thesis, including the titles of chapters, sections and subsections, as appropriate; the list of references; the bibliography; the list of abbreviations and other functional parts of the whole thesis together with any appendices. The table of contents should be followed by the list of illustrations and tables.
If a thesis comprises more than one volume, the contents of the whole thesis shall be shown in the first volume and the contents of each subsequent volume in a separate contents list within that volume.
2.6 Tables and Illustrated Material
The lists of tables and illustrations shall follow the table of contents but be placed before the acknowledgements and should include all tables, photographs, diagrams, etc., in the order in which they occur in the text.
Any acknowledgements shall be on the page following the table of contents and list of illustrations and tables.
The acknowledgements should be followed under a separate heading by a declaration in which the author indicates any material contained in the thesis which they have submitted for a previous degree, has been published or is derived from collaborative research. The declaration shall state that the thesis is the candidate’s own work except where it contains work based on collaborative research, in which case the nature and extent of the author’s individual contribution shall be indicated, using the following wording:
‘This thesis is submitted to the University of Warwick in support of my application for the degree of [Doctor of Philosophy]. It has been composed by myself and has not been submitted in any previous application for any degree [(if parts previously used add: (apart from the background material in sections XXX which was previously submitted for YYY degree).]
‘The work presented (including data generated and data analysis) was carried out by the author except in the cases outlined below:
‘List of data provided and/or analysis carried out by collaborators.
‘Parts of this thesis have been published by the author:
‘List of publications including submitted papers.'
2.8.1 Inclusion of materials from a prior thesis
Candidates should note that they may incorporate work already submitted for another degree (e.g. a Master’s) into the current thesis as long as the material concerned is indicated clearly in the text and the declaration refers to the incorporation of this material. Such material may provide support for a thesis but it will not be taken into account in evaluating the achievement of the requirements for the degree for which the thesis is being examined.
2.8.2 Inclusion of Published Work (excluding PhD by Published Work)
Candidates may include in a thesis any material arising from work on the thesis which had appeared in print before the thesis was completed or examined. For further info see section 3. Work published or submitted for publication before the beginning of a candidate’s period of study may be included within a thesis, provided that it is clearly acknowledged in the declaration and set apart from the main body of the thesis (e.g. in an appendix) but this work should not in itself form part of the material to be examined for the degree.
There shall be a summary or abstract of the thesis, which should not exceed 300 words, included after the acknowledgements and declaration. The summary should not extend beyond a single A4 side, and to facilitate this, single spaced typing is permitted for the summary only. The summary shall provide a synopsis of the thesis and shall state clearly the nature and scope of the research undertaken and of the contribution made to the knowledge of the subject treated. There should be a brief statement of the method of investigation where appropriate, an outline of the major divisions or principal arguments of the work and a summary of any conclusions reached.
Where abbreviations are used a list of definitions shall be provided at the beginning or end of the thesis and the location of the list should be clearly indicated in the table of contents. Abbreviations may be used at the discretion of the author. For an abbreviation not in common use, the terms shall be given in full when the abbreviation is first used followed by the abbreviation in brackets.
2.11 Research Training
It is permissible for a thesis to include information on the research training undertaken by the student during their period of study if the candidate and supervisor feel this to be appropriate.
Theses submitted for any higher degree by research shall contain a full bibliography and references. The Library website offers advice on referencing.
2.13 Covid-19 Impact Statement
Candidates may wish to submit a Covid-19 impact statement to inform examiners of the impact of any Covid-19 related disruption on their research. This should be uploaded as a separate document at the time of thesis submission.
3.1 Inclusion of published material
Candidates may include material arising from work on the thesis which has been published before the thesis was completed or examined. Work published or submitted for publication before the beginning of a candidate’s period of study may be included within a thesis, provided that it is clearly acknowledged in the declaration and set apart from the main body of the thesis (e.g. in an appendix) but this work should not in itself form part of the material to be examined for the degree. The inclusion of published work in a thesis is not the same as PhD by Published Work which requires work to be published prior to the beginning of the registration period.
All theses submitted for examination should meet the standard presentation requirements and word count for the specific degree. All theses, including those incorporating published material, should meet the relevant requirements for the award of research degrees. The inclusion of publications does not of itself verify the quality or significance of the work in meeting the criteria for the award of a research degree. The thesis examiners will ultimately determine whether a thesis is acceptable and meets the required University academic standard.
The research work must be performed, and the papers written, during the period of registration for the degree for which it is submitted. Papers that have been submitted and accepted to a conference, or are under peer review in reputable peer-reviewed journals and have not been rejected, or that are published already are permitted (but not required). The published paper can be attached as an appendix to comply with copyright regulations.
The candidate must normally be the first author in at least one of the papers. The candidate must have had a demonstrable substantial or significant input in the investigation underpinning the papers as well as the draft and revisions of the manuscript itself. The independent contribution and comprehensive effort of the PhD candidate must be evident in all parts of the work.
Any material included within a thesis, derived from collaborative work must be acknowledged appropriately.
Departments/Faculties may have additional advice in place to complement this guidance.
3.2 Alternative thesis formats
Candidates registered on practice-based courses should follow departmental guidance on the format of the thesis as follows:
The written element should meet the standard presentation requirements for the specific degree.
The Doctoral College strongly encourages students and supervisors to be creative and adaptive in considering any changes they could make to particular research projects and to consider what can be achieved that will mitigate against the effects of Covid-19 related disruption. However it is recognised that in some cases students may wish to inform examiners of the impact of Covid-19 related disruption on their research. Examiners will consider this statement alongside the student’s thesis and performance in the oral examination (if held), but will ensure that the Requirements for the Award of Research Degrees are met and the integrity of the examination is maintained before the recommendation of any award.
4.1 Guidance for PGRs
Any PGR submitting their thesis for examination before the end of September 2024 may choose to submit a Covid-19 impact statement alongside their thesis. The statement is not compulsory and should only be included where a student wishes to highlight the impact of the pandemic and the changes made to their research as a result. Students considering the submission of a Covid-19 impact statement should discuss with their supervisor(s) in the first instance.
Covid-19 statements, not exceeding 600 words, should be submitted to the Doctoral College together with the thesis for examination (uploaded as a separate document). Students may wish to include:
- Details of planned research activities disrupted due to the impact of Covid-19 e.g. inability to undertake/complete fieldwork as a result of travel restrictions, lack of or reduced access to facilities such as labs/libraries/archives, changes in the way in which they were able to liaise with research participants etc
- An explanation of the expected impact on the thesis if the stated research activities had not been disrupted and how disruption was mitigated against (where possible)
- Any other relevant factors relating to the impact of Covid-19 related disruption on the research
The statement should not include reference to issues arising from personal circumstances such as illness, disability or funding issues relating to Covid-19 as these should be addressed through other mechanisms e.g. temporary withdrawal, extension. In submitting a statement, students agree that the contents will be provided to their examination team (usually internal examiner, external examiner and examination advisor).
4.2 Guidance for examiners
Examiners are responsible for ensuring that academic standards are upheld in relation to the Requirements for the Award of Research Degrees. Where a student has submitted a Covid-19 impact statement, examiners may wish to allow some flexibility in relation to the scope and volume of the thesis, such as where the planned research activities have been disrupted, but not in relation to its quality or the criteria for the recommendation of an award.
As the examiners’ recommendation is a matter of academic judgement, it is their decision as to the allowance given to the scope and/or volume of the thesis in relation to the reported disruption experienced by the student. Examiners are asked to consider the information provided by the student and to decide whether, in their academic judgement, the research meets the requirements for the award of the appropriate degree.
Examiners are asked to confirm that they have considered the Covid-19 impact statement in their joint report to the Doctoral College.
If examiners recommend that corrections or a resubmission is required, these should only be those necessary to meet the criteria for the award and not to address the disrupted research activities.
Academic departments are required to nominate examiners for each candidate for approval by the Academic Director, in accordance with the requirements below. Candidates and their supervisor(s) should complete the nomination of examiners form and pass to the relevant Head of Department/Director of Graduate Studies for departmental approval prior to consideration by the Academic Director. Completed forms should be sent to the Doctoral College one month before thesis submission to ensure timely dispatch to examiners. Candidates should not seek to contact their examiners once they have been appointed.
5.1 General principles
Normally two examiners should be nominated, one of whom is a member of academic staff of the University and one who is external to Warwick, usually a member of academic staff at another institution of higher education or research institute. Additional examiners may be required for Joint PhDs, co-tutelles and EngD examinations.
In addition to the two examiners described above, an industrial examiner should be appointed for the degree of Doctor of Engineering (EngD). It is not necessary for an industrial examiner to hold a qualification or record of completed research equivalent to the degree being examined, nor to have previous supervisory or examination experience to the level being examined. However, the proposed industrial examiner should normally be working in a senior position in a commercial organization with relevance to the subject of the research, and generally have experience of working at this level with other organizations. A copy of their curriculum vitae should be provided with the nomination of examiners form, which demonstrates a sustained level of achievement, identifying them as an expert within the field.
Two external examiners and an experienced examination advisor are required for examinations for the award of PhD by Published Works.
The constitution of the examination team for candidates registered on joint programmes/subject to a co-tutelle agreement will be set out in the agreement and may involve the inclusion of examiners from both home and host institutions, in addition to external examiner(s). The Doctoral College can advise on specific requirements for individual candidates.
A candidate's supervisor(s) should not serve as internal examiner. Where there is no suitable member of staff within the department to act as either internal examiner or examination advisor, every effort should be made to identify a suitable member of staff elsewhere in the University. If there is no other suitable internal examiner, a second external examiner should be appointed in place of an internal examiner. An examination advisor is always required in the event that two external examiners are nominated.
Where the candidate is, or has been, within the 12 months prior to the submission of the thesis, a member of the academic staff, research staff, administrative or library staff of the University, the examination shall be conducted by two external examiners, unless the candidate is a full time student, in which case one internal and one external examiner may be nominated. Any potential conflicts of interest arising from the candidate’s employment should be declared to the Doctoral College at the time of nomination. Exceptionally, where the candidate is a Knowledge Transfer Partnership Associate who has not been based on the University campus whilst pursuing their research, a case may be made for the appointment of one internal and one external examiner.
An external examiner shall not normally be a former member of staff at the University unless at least three years have elapsed since their leaving date from the University.
5.2 Experience and qualifications of examiners
Probationary staff shall normally not be appointed to examine higher degrees by research. Examiners are normally expected to have previous experience of supervising and examining theses for the degree they are being nominated to examine. Examiners for a higher degree by research must normally hold a qualification or a record of completed research comparable to that required for the higher degree in question.
Where a proposed examiner does not have a qualification equivalent to that of the higher degree being examined or equivalent record of research, has little or no previous experience of supervision and examination at research degree level and/or is a probationary member of staff, departments are required to make a special case for the appointment of the proposed examiner. This case should be attached to the form for nomination of examiners and address the examiner's particular suitability to examine the thesis concerned. A curriculum vitae setting out the nominee's research record should also be included. It is recognized that staff have to gain experience as examiners and the pairing of a relatively inexperienced internal examiner with an experienced external examiner will usually be acceptable as long as the internal examiner has relevant subject expertise, a case has been made as outlined above, and an examination advisor has been appointed. The appointment of inexperienced external examiners will only be considered in exceptional circumstances; for example, for very specialized projects for which it was difficult to identify an experienced external with the necessary subject expertise. In such cases a very experienced internal examiner would be normally be regarded as essential.
5.3 Honorary and Emeritus examiners
Honorary staff of the University shall not be appointed as external examiners for higher degrees. Where an honorary member of staff is appointed as internal examiner an examination advisor shall also normally be appointed.
Emeritus Professors and Readers may be considered for appointment as internal examiners if they have only recently retired from the University or remain research active, Emeritus staff from other universities may be considered as external examiners on the same basis (a maximum interval of three years may be taken as a guideline of appropriate recency).
Departments should disclose details of any situations which have the potential to impair the ability of the examiner(s) to make a fair and impartial assessment of the student’s thesis. A non-exhaustive list of potential sources of conflict is provided below:
a) Nominated examiner’s substantial involvement in the student’s research, for example direct and sustained input/advice into the work being examined.
b) Membership of an annual review panel should not compromise the ability of an individual to act as internal examiner, unless they undertake a more active role in the student’s research;
c) Close personal relationship between the nominated examiner and the student, supervisor or other nominated examiner;
d) Close professional relationship between the nominated examiner and the student, supervisor or other nominated examiner for example joint holding of grants, co-authorship of papers, working in the same Institution (in the case of two external examiners). This may be mitigated by the size and relative independence of the research team;
e) Nominated examiner having acted as personal tutor to the student;
f) The work of the nominated examiner is the focus of the student’s research;
g) In cases where the student’s research has involved collaboration with or funding of research by an external party, the nominated examiner not being independent of that relationship;
h) Nominated examiner having direct commercial interest in the outcomes of the research;
i) Nominated examiner working in the same institution/department as another nominated examiner.
The existence of a potential conflict of interest should not necessarily be a bar to the appointment of a nominated examiner. However, departments, examiners and students are required to declare any potential conflicts which may affect the integrity of the examination process at the point of nomination, or in the case of situations that only become apparent after examiners have been appointed, as soon as reasonably possible.
6.1 Appointment of examination advisor
It is recommended that consideration should be given to appointing an examination advisor in all cases. The examination advisor, who shall be a member of staff of the University other than the candidate’s supervisor, will advise and assist the examiners in following University procedures (hence should be experienced and/or knowledgeable in the procedures) and chair and maintain a record of the oral examination but not otherwise act as an examiner of the thesis. The use of video recording does not obviate the need for an examination advisor.
The examination advisor should be identified on the nomination form and should normally be a member of staff from the Department, School or Faculty with substantial experience of research degree examinations at Warwick. It is also possible, where the examiners are both very experienced, to appoint an inexperienced member of staff as an examination advisor in order to gain experience of the examination process.
In cases where there are two external examiners an examination advisor must be appointed.
In the event that experienced examiners are nominated, Departments can recommend to the Academic Director that an examination advisor is not appointed. In order for an internal examiner to be considered experienced, and therefore able to conduct an examination without an advisor present, they must have experience of conducting an examination at the same or higher level on at least one previous occasion at Warwick.
In addition to the above, Departments should note that students have the opportunity to request that an examination advisor be appointed for their examination. If requested, Departments should nominate an examination advisor.
In the event that the viva is due to beheld via video conference, departments are strongly advised to consider appointing an examination advisor, particularly if the internal examiner does not have experience of conducting meetings by video conference. In addition to the usual duties of the examination advisor, the advisor should be responsible for ensuring that the student is not disadvantaged due to the format of the viva, attempting to resolve any technical issues and stopping the viva at any point they deem necessary due to technical issues.
6.2 Role of examination advisor
Where there are two external examiners (and no internal examiner) appointed, the responsibility for fixing a time and place for the viva and informing the examiners and student rests with the examination advisor. Otherwise, the examination advisor should liaise with the internal examiner about these arrangements.
Prior to the viva the examination advisor may request that the Doctoral College supply them with copies of the independent report of each examiner. The Doctoral College will send these onto the examination advisor, subject to their receipt prior to the viva.
At the beginning of the viva, the examination advisor should introduce the examiners and explain to the student what is going to happen.
If the viva is being conducted by video conference, the examination advisor should be responsible for ensuring that the student is not disadvantaged due to the format of the viva, attempting to resolve any technical issues and stopping the viva at any point they deem necessary due to technical issues.
The examination advisor should be present throughout the viva (including any viva required as part of the examination of a resubmitted thesis), but is not expected to take an active role in questioning the student. However, the advisor should have regard to how the student is reacting and, if the student is clearly distressed or misunderstands a question, to intervene either to put the student at ease or to ask the examiner to clarify the question. The examination advisor should also ensure that the student is given an opportunity at the end of the viva to make any additional comments.
The examination advisor should be present while the examiners reach their decision, so as to be able to advise them on the options open to them and University procedures (for example, where the examiners do not agree). If the student is to be told straight away of the outcome of the viva, again the examination advisor should be present to clarify any questions on subsequent procedures that the student might have.
The examination advisor is not required to complete an independent report prior to the viva, but should complete the relevant section of the joint report following the viva.
In the case of recommendation (b) minor corrections or (c) major corrections and where there are two external examiners, the examination advisor is responsible for the nomination of one of the external examiners to check that the corrections have been completed satisfactorily. The examination advisor is also responsible for forwarding the corrected theses for checking to the nominated external examiner.
Submission and viva
Candidates must submit their thesis during their period of registration or during a period of extension approved by the Academic Director. If submitting after the period of authorised extension expires, the University may refuse to examine a candidate’s thesis or require them to request leave to submit . The timing of submission should be carefully discussed with the supervisory team but it is ultimately the candidate’s decision when to submit.
7.1 Early Submission
The University’s regulations permit candidates to submit their theses more than a month before the end of their fee-paying registration (usually 3 years for full-time PhD and 5 years for part-time PhD). Candidates who are ready to submit earlier than one month before the end of their fee-paying registration should consult their supervisor(s). If it is agreed that an early submission is appropriate, the candidate and their supervisor(s) should complete the Early Submission Form for a Research Thesis. This form requires authorisation by the candidate’s departmental Director of Graduate Studies, who should confirm that approval for early submission has been granted. Once approved the form should be sent to the Doctoral College, however Academic Director approval is not required. This form will not be sent to the examiners of the thesis. Candidates should be aware that early submission will not normally entitle them to any reduction or rebate in the fees normally payable for their degree. They will normally be expected to pay any remaining fees to the University.
7.2 Maintenance Awards
Candidates are only entitled to receive their maintenance awards up to and including the month of their first thesis submission. Once this has been processed through the system the candidate’s accounts will be reviewed and adjustments made if required. Candidates are entitled to keep any payments relating to the month of their submission, regardless of which date within the month the submission date is. In the case of any overpayments, candidates will be notified of the value of the refund due and the charge will be transferred to their student account for payment.
For self-funded students fees will be capped at 36 months full time equivalent, but will not be reduced below this.
For students whose fees are covered by an external sponsor, funder or university scholarship fees will be reduced pro-rata to the month of submission, capped at a minimum of 36 months full time equivalent.
7.4 Late Submission
Any thesis not submitted to the Doctoral College by the expected end of registration date (including any period of approved extension) will be considered a late submission. If a candidate does not expect to be able to submit during their standard registration period, they should discuss with their supervisor whether it would be appropriate to request an extension, noting that extensions are only granted in extenuating circumstances. Failure to submit the thesis on time may result in a candidate being permanently withdrawn from the University.
If a candidate is not able to submit by the end of their registration period (including any period of approved extension) it may be possible to submit the completed thesis for examination at a later date by requesting ‘leave to submit’. When the thesis is ready for examination a candidate should submit a request, outlining the reasons for not being able to submit during the registration period supported by their former academic department which will be considered by the Academic Director. Candidates considering requesting leave to submit at a later date should be aware that they will not have access to University facilities or be entitled to supervision after the end of their registration period. Requests should be sent to email@example.com. If approved, the Doctoral College will reactive the candidate’s registration period to allow access to University facilities during the examination period, subject to any visa requirements.
Candidates submitting for the award of EngD should submit directly to WMG. All other PGR candidates are required to submit an electronic version of the thesis for examination, together with a completed Thesis Submission Declaration Form via the Doctoral College online form. Candidates are not required to submit printed theses at this stage; the Doctoral College will provide hard copies to examiners if required. If submitting a Covid-19 impact statement this should be uploaded as a separate document.
The Doctoral College cannot accept a thesis without a completed Thesis Submission Declaration Form. Candidates submitting a thesis for the award of PhD by Published Work should also submit a completed PhD by Published Work Thesis Submission Checklist.
Candidates submitting for PhD by Published Work should be aware that two copies of any published material not available electronically will need to be submitted separately. Please contact the Doctoral College in advance of submission if any published work is not available in an electronic format.
Candidates will receive a confirmation of receipt email within five working days of submission. During our peak periods we may not be able to confirm receipt should a candidate contact us for an update. If a thesis does not comply with the presentation requirements it will not be accepted for examination and candidates will be contacted via their Warwick email address with details of the outstanding requirements.
The Doctoral College reserves the right to ask for alternative electronic copies of a thesis if the original version of your thesis is not compatible with Turnitin, the source-matching software used by the University.
Upon receipt of a thesis submitted in accordance with this guidance, the Doctoral College will extend a candidate’s registration period to allow access to the University’s facilities during the examination period.
For both new and resubmitted theses an electronic version will be sent to each examiner as soon as possible after submission. Examiners are asked to examine the thesis within a maximum of four months from the date on which they receive it (three months for Master’s by Research or a resubmitted thesis). Examiners are required to prepare an independent report on the thesis before any oral examination or conferral with the other examiner has taken place. After the final decision on the thesis has been reached a joint report is required which sets out the examiners’ final recommendation. The examiners’ decision is subject to the approval of the Chair of the appropriate Faculty Education Committee who will scrutinise the examiners’ reports before the Doctoral College confirms the outcome of the examination. Should the examiners suspect a candidate of plagiarism, the examination process shall be stopped and an investigation undertaken as outlined in Regulation 11
An oral examination is required for the first submission of all theses except for Master’s degrees by research where the holding of an oral is at the discretion of the examiners. If revisions to the thesis are required (either minor/major corrections or a resubmission) a separate set of notes for guidance jointly agreed by the examiners must be prepared for the candidate and returned as soon as possible together with the independent and joint reports to the Doctoral College. Guidance notes should be presented as a single agreed set of notes which clearly set out the amendments required. In the case of minor/major corrections it is the responsibility of the examiners to inform the candidate of the revisions required and the deadline.
The University expects the examiners to act expeditiously in completing the examination process and has set the following deadlines by which the different stages of the process should normally be completed:
Viva (PhD/MPhil/MD/EdD/EngD/DBA first submission) - within 4 months of examiners' receipt of thesis
Viva (PhD/MPhil/MD/EdD/EngD/DBA resubmission or Master's by Research (if required)) - within 2 months of examiners' receipt of thesis
Completion of examiners' independent reports - At least one week prior to the viva (where held). If no viva required (e.g. for Master's by Research or if examiners do not require a second viva for a resubmission), within 2 months of examiners' receipt of thesis
Completion of joint examiners' report - Within 2 weeks of viva (if held). If no viva held, within 1 month of completion of independent reports
Review of examiners' recommendations by Chair of relevant Faculty Education Committee - Within 2 weeks of Chair's receipt of examiners' reports
Whilst recognising that examiners will have many other commitments, examiners are asked to adhere to these time limits if possible as delays to the examination process can cause considerable distress to candidates, especially if they are required to resubmit the thesis. If it appears that the expected time period will be exceeded, the Doctoral College should be informed immediately so that the situation should be explained to the candidate.
It is recognised that further delays may occur should it be necessary for the Chair of the Faculty Education Committee to refer the examiners' recommendation to an external adjudicator. In the unlikely event of a referral to an independent adjudicator, the Doctoral College will contact the candidate and their academic department to inform next steps.
10.1 Requirements of the award
To satisfy the requirements of the degree of PhD in Published Work, the submitted material must constitute a substantial original contribution to knowledge. The material shall be clearly and concisely written and well-argued. The covering document shall explain the inter-relationship between the material presented and the significance of the published works as a contribution to original knowledge within the relevant fields. It shall contain a full bibliography of all the work published by the candidate.
A candidate must submit for examination published material from a nominated field of study together with a covering document of 5,000 - 10,000 words. The covering document must explain the inter-relationship between the material presented and the significance of the published works as a contribution to original knowledge within the relevant fields. In addition, the covering document must include, as an appendix, a full bibliography of all the work published by the candidate. A candidate may include with their submitted material work that has not been published only with the prior approval of the Academic Director.
Candidates are required:
- to declare that the submitted material as a whole is not substantially the same as published or unpublished material that they have previously submitted, or are currently submitting, for a degree, diploma, or similar qualification at any university or similar institution;
- to state which parts if any of the work or works submitted have previously been submitted for any such qualification; and
- where the work submitted includes work conducted in collaboration with others, to provide a written statement on the extent of the candidate’s individual contribution to the material and the conditions and circumstances under which the work was carried out. This statement should normally be signed by all collaborating parties.
The material submitted shall be examined by two external examiners appointed by the Academic Director on the recommendation of the Head of the appropriate Department or School. In the case of collaborative work the examiners must satisfy themselves that the submitted material attributed to the candidate constitutes a substantial original contribution to knowledge.
A candidate shall be required to undergo an oral examination which shall be on the submitted material itself and the related general field of study.
10.2 Recommendations available to examiners
Regulation 38.11 sets out the recommendations open to examiners of research degrees. Further clarification on the use of each recommendation in relation to theses submitted for PhD by Published Work is set out below:
Award Degree in Question
This recommendation should be chosen if the candidate has met all the requirements for the degree and the thesis is essentially free of typographical errors.
Pass with Minor Corrections
In the case of a PhD by published work, the examiners may require minor corrections to the covering document only.
Pass with Major Corrections
In the case of a PhD by published work, the examiners may require major corrections to the covering document only (first submission only, not available for a resubmitted thesis).
Resubmission of Thesis
A candidate should normally be allowed to resubmit a revised covering document and/or a different selection of published material if it contains work which is adequate in substance but which requires greater revision than permitted under major corrections but still can be completed within 12 months. Where, however, faults are found in the substance of the work, resubmission should be allowed only if the thesis is generally acceptable, faults notwithstanding, and where the substitution of published material is not so different to the original material as to constitute virtually a new thesis. On resubmission, the examiners will have available the same range of recommendations as in the original submission, except that a candidate will not be permitted a further resubmission or pass with major corrections.
Examiners may advise but not require a candidate to resubmit a thesis for a lower degree. Candidates can be permitted to submit a revised covering document and/or a different selection of published material for a degree of lower status providing the thesis is generally acceptable for the lower degree, faults notwithstanding, and where the substitution of published material is not so different to the original material as to constitute virtually a new thesis. A recommendation to resubmit for a lower degree will be advisory only and will not be binding on the examiners at the time of resubmission. A candidate will be permitted to resubmit on only one occasion for the degree in question.
Award Lower Qualification
PhD by Published Work candidates whose theses clearly do not meet the requirements for the degree for which the thesis was submitted and who are considered unable to bring the thesis up to an acceptable standard within the 12 month period allowed for resubmission may be considered for the award of a lower degree of MPhil or the appropriate Masters degree by Research. The award of a degree may be subject to minor amendments.
If award of the lower qualification is subject to minor amendments to the covering document, these must be completed by the candidate to the satisfaction of nominated external examiner. Minor corrections should not entail a significant amount of further research or analysis. The examiners must specify the time available for completion of the corrections, up to a maximum of three months. The nominated external examiner shall ensure that the one copy of the thesis has been amended.
Failing the Candidate
This recommendation will only be made exceptionally and where the examiners deem the thesis of such poor quality as to make it unlikely that the candidate will be able to improve it to an acceptable standard for the award of any degree within the 12 month period allowed for resubmission.
11.1 Requirement to hold an Oral Examination
All candidates for doctoral degrees and for the degree of MPhil are required to attend an oral examination after the first submission of the thesis. In the case of MA/MSc/LLM/MMedSci/MS degrees, an oral examination shall be held where one or both examiners consider this to be necessary to the examination process, at the discretion of the examiners.
There is no requirement for the examiners of a resubmitted thesis to hold a second oral examination, however, a second oral examination should be held where one or both of the examiners considers this to be necessary to the examination process. A second oral would be usual if the examiners are considering the award of a lower degree or failing the candidate.
11.2 Arrangements for the Oral Examination
The internal examiner is responsible for organising the oral examination. Where no internal examiner is appointed, the examination advisor is responsible for organising the oral examination. The Doctoral College cannot undertake to assist with these arrangements. The date chosen should be as convenient as possible to all parties, including the student. The supervisor(s) should also be consulted and the oral should normally be held on a date on which the supervisor(s) is available in order to provide support to the student immediately before/after the viva. If the viva is being held by video conference, it should be scheduled at a time that is reasonable in relation to the time zone in which all parties are located, if not the UK.
At least two weeks before the date of the oral examination, the internal examiner or examination advisor should inform the external examiner, the candidate and the supervisor(s) in writing of the date and place of the oral examination. The internal examiner or examination advisor should also act as ‘host’ for the oral examination.
A viva can take place by video conference if all parties to the examination agree. Any video conferences held should be conducted on a secure platform as recommended and supported by the University’s Audio Visual Services department. ‘Domestic’ Skype is not considered to be a sufficiently stable platform for the conduct of vivas.
11.3 Conduct of the Oral Examination
It is recommended that in all cases where an oral examination will be held, departments should consider the appointment of an examination advisor, who will chair and maintain a summary record of the oral examination and be available to advise the examiners on university procedures and the recommendations available to them. Where an examination advisor is appointed, they should always be present at the viva (including any viva held for a resubmitted thesis). Should a department consider that an examination advisor is no longer necessary, approval should be obtained from the Academic Director prior to the viva.
It is the responsibility of the examiners in their joint report to provide a summary of the issues covered and the candidate's performance in the oral examination. The purpose of the oral examination is to enable the examiners to clarify any ambiguities in the thesis, to satisfy themselves that the thesis is the candidate’s own work, that the candidate is familiar with the relation of their work to the field of study and also that their knowledge and appreciation of adjoining fields in the subject are up to the standard expected for the award of the appropriate degree.
The examination advisor and/or the examiners should attempt to make the candidate feel at ease and to ensure that the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the thesis are covered in the oral examination. Examiners may request advice on University procedures from the examination advisor and information from a candidate’s supervisor, and, if they wish, ask the supervisor to be present at the oral examination. A supervisor can only be present at an examination at the request of the examiners and should play no part in the oral examination.
11.4 Feedback to the Candidate and Supervisor(s)
Where both examiners have agreed upon a recommendation, they are normally expected (but not required) to make it known to the candidate during or at the end of the oral examination if one is held. The examination advisor (if one is appointed) should be present when such feedback is given to the candidate. Where no oral is held (for example following a Masters by Research examination or a resubmission) the internal examiner is expected to make the outcome known informally to the candidate (and supervisor(s)). In all cases, the examiners must make it clear that this is their recommendation and that the final decision rests with the Chair of the Faculty Education Committee and the Senate and that the candidate should expect to receive official notification of the approval of the decision in due course from the Doctoral College.
In the case of minor/major corrections, the examiners should inform the candidate of the corrections required and the deadline for completion. The candidate should proceed to correct the thesis from the date of receipt of the corrections. The examiners might also wish to provide other feedback on the thesis at this stage, particularly if revisions or corrections are required. Please note, however, that although the examiners may provide the candidate with informal feedback and comments on any revisions required at the oral examination (and the internal examiner may undertake to do this when an oral is not conducted), the examiners should still submit a written note of guidance for revision with their reports, as this forms part of the formal record of examination.
It is the responsibility of the internal examiner to make the examiners’ decision known and provide feedback to the supervisor(s) on any corrections required after the examination. Where two external examiners are appointed, the examination advisor should inform the supervisor(s) of the outcome of the examination and the external examiners should therefore ensure they let the examination advisor know their decision.
If the internal examiner/examination advisor anticipates any difficulty in making contact with a candidate where no viva has been held they should contact the Doctoral College for advice.
The examiners should prepare independent reports, without consultation, before any oral examination or conferral with the other examiner has taken place. The report should be sent to the Doctoral College by email one week before the oral examination takes place.
The independent report should be sufficiently detailed to enable the Chair of the appropriate Faculty Education Committee to assess the scope and significance of the work and the examiner’s considered view upon it. It should assess the work in relation to the requirements specified for each degree. Examiners should look for evidence of training in and application of research methods appropriate to the particular field of study and should take into account the evidence of originality, critical power and publishable quality as appropriate to the degree concerned. The literary form must be satisfactory and the thesis should not be of unnecessary length. Examiners may require a candidate to confirm the length of the thesis. For Doctorates and the MPhil, the candidate must satisfy the examiners that they are well acquainted with the general field of knowledge to which the subject relates. For a Master’s degree by Research, the candidate should satisfy the examiners that they have a general acquaintance with the published work relating to the subject of the thesis.
The report should highlight any particular strengths and any areas of concern and identify the major issues which the examiner wishes to explore in the oral examination, if one is to be held. This will not preclude the examiners raising additional issues during the course of the oral examination.
In the unlikely event that an examiner suspects a candidate of plagiarism, the examination process should be stopped. The internal examiner or examination advisor should make a report to the Head of the candidate's Department. The case will then be dealt with in accordance with the procedures set out in University Regulation 11.
Under Regulation 11 cheating is defined as “an attempt to benefit oneself or another, by deceit or fraud. This shall include reproducing one's own work or the work of another person or persons without proper acknowledgement.”
An independent report is required both when a thesis is first examined and also when a resubmitted thesis is assessed, whether or not a second oral examination is to take place. The individual report should conclude with the examiner’s independent recommendation on the thesis in line with the list of recommendations available to the examiners.
The joint report should normally be completed on the day of the oral examination or immediately after the examiners have conferred as to the quality of the thesis where no oral is held. The joint report need not be as detailed as the individual reports but should briefly summarise the examiners’ conclusions on the work and should summarise the issues covered and comment on the candidate’s performance in the oral examination (if held) in sufficient detail to enable the Chair of the appropriate Faculty Education Committee to judge how the joint recommendation relates to the recommendations made in the individual reports. If a candidate has submitted a Covid-19 impact statement, examiners are asked to confirm in the joint report that this has been considered.
The examination advisor (if one is appointed) should complete the relevant section of the joint report. If the examiners recommend that the degree for which the student has submitted be awarded, no more than a signature and a brief summary comment on the viva from the examination advisor may be necessary. If it was necessary for the examination advisor to intervene at any stage, this should be noted in the report and the circumstances explained.
If the decision is for resubmission, to award a lesser degree or no degree at all, a longer report is likely to be required, especially if the performance in the viva had a bearing on this decision. The examination advisor is not expected to provide a full transcript of discussions. It is up to the examiners to explain why the student's performance in the viva was unsatisfactory. The examination advisor should be able to say that the viva was conducted fairly and that the student was given adequate opportunity to answer the questions put by the examiners.
Examiners should ensure that there is no unnecessary delay between the examination of a thesis and the submission of the joint report on the work. It is the responsibility of the internal examiner or examination advisor to ensure that all reports are submitted promptly, together with any list of corrections or notes of guidance for resubmission, to the Doctoral College.
In the unlikely event that the examiners cannot agree on a joint recommendation on the thesis, an external adjudicator, who shall be external to the University will be appointed. The decision of this external adjudicator will normally be expected to prevail.
12.3 Confidentiality of reports
Examiners' reports should remain confidential to the examiners, the examination advisor, the Chair of the appropriate Faculty Education Committee, the Doctoral College and the external adjudicator (if appointed), until the reports have been formally approved by the Chair of the appropriate Faculty Education Committee. After that, the Doctoral College will release the joint examiners’ report to the student via their department. Independent reports will not normally be released. Should a student request copies of the independent reports, providing that the examiners have indicated their willingness for these to be shared, these will also be provided by the Doctoral College. Should a student request copies of their examiners' reports by submitting a subject access request, we would be legally obliged to release these.
Examiners’ reports may be released where deemed appropriate in the consideration of an appeal, complaint or investigation into suspected cheating, research misconduct or similar procedure.
Should the Chair of the Faculty Education Committee require further advice when considering examiners' reports for approval, they may consult with the Academic Director, who in exceptional cases may ask for the matter to be referred to an external adjudicator.
Regulation 38.11 sets out the recommendations open to examiners for research degrees. Further clarification of the use of each recommendation is set out below:
This recommendation should be chosen if the candidate has met all the requirements for the degree and the thesis is essentially free of typographical errors.
This recommendation is appropriate where the thesis is generally acceptable, and the corrections required can be completed in 3 months (or less). Minor corrections should not require any further significant research and should not substantially alter the results and/or conclusions of the thesis. They may require corrections of errors and omissions of a clerical nature, minor changes in phraseology, and small improvements in descriptions, explanations and/or corrections of faults in subsidiary arguments.
Examiners are asked to list the ‘Minor Corrections’ as a separate, jointly agreed accompaniment to their report. Examiners do not need to attach a list of typographical corrections to the reports, but may choose instead to annotate a copy of the thesis if this is more convenient. However, any other corrections should be included within the jointly agreed list attached to the examiners’ reports.
The examiners must specify the time available for completion of the corrections, up to a maximum of three months. The internal examiner (or nominated external examiner) shall ensure that the thesis has been amended. In the case of a PhD by Published Work, the examiners may require minor amendments to the covering document.
Examiners may recommend the award of the degree without delay, so long as the thesis is corrected before deposition in the University Library. The internal examiner (or nominated external examiner where there is no internal examiner) is requested to confirm that the corrections have been carried out to their satisfaction and the degree cannot be awarded until this has been confirmed in writing to the Doctoral College.
Alterations of a more substantial nature will require major corrections to be completed within a maximum period of six months or resubmission of the thesis, which will need to be completed within 12 months or such shorter period as recommended by the examiners.
Major corrections should not entail a significant amount of further research or analysis and is normally offered where the candidate has satisfied the examiners that the research/analysis has been undertaken, but has failed to be fully articulated in the thesis. The recommendation of major corrections is not available for a resubmitted thesis.
Examiners are asked to list the ‘Major Corrections’ as a separate, jointly agreed accompaniment to their report. Examiners do not need to attach a list of typographical corrections to the reports, but may choose instead to annotate a copy of the thesis if this is more convenient. However, any other corrections should be included within the jointly agreed list attached to the examiners’ reports.
The examiners must specify the time available for completion of the corrections, up to a maximum of six months. At least one examiner, usually the internal (where appointed) shall ensure that the one copy of the thesis has been amended. In the case of a PhD by Published Work, the examiners may require major amendments to the covering document.
Alterations of a more substantial nature will require resubmission of the thesis, which will need to be completed within 12 months or such shorter period as recommended by the examiners.
In such exceptional cases, the thesis as first submitted must, in the view of the examiners, be close to MPhil standard. Where a candidate is permitted to submit a revised thesis for the degree of MPhil, they should have the right, should the examiners deem the work as submitted to be of sufficient quality without revision, to be awarded the degree of MA, MSc or LLM (as appropriate) instead. Where a thesis is re-examined for the degree of MPhil, an additional external examiner will be appointed and an oral examination be held.
Under these circumstances, where a thesis is not subsequently approved for the award of an MPhil, it is expected that the candidate shall be awarded the degree of MA, MSc or LLM as appropriate.
In such exceptional cases, the thesis as first submitted must, in the view of the examiners, be close to PhD standard and the award of an MPhil would seriously undervalue the work. Where a candidate is permitted to submit a revised thesis for the degree of PhD, they should have the right, should the examiners deem the work as submitted to be of sufficient quality without revision, to be awarded the degree of MPhil instead. Where a thesis is re-examined for the degree of PhD an additional external examiner will be appointed and an oral examination be held.
Under these circumstances, where a thesis is not subsequently approved for the award of the PhD, it is expected that the candidate shall be awarded the degree of MPhil.
This should be recommended only where the thesis is of highly exceptional quality.
A candidate should normally be allowed to resubmit a thesis if it contains work which is adequate in substance but which requires greater revision than permitted under major corrections but still can be completed within 12 months. Where, however, faults are found in the substance of the work, resubmission should be allowed only if the thesis is generally acceptable, faults notwithstanding, and where the amount of further research required is not such as to constitute virtually a new thesis. In the case of a PhD by Published Work, the examiners may permit the submission of a revised covering document and/or a different selection of published material
If resubmission is recommended, examiners are required to supply the Doctoral College with a jointly agreed note providing details on the points of which the candidate needs to take account when revising the thesis, and in a form suitable for giving to the candidate. It is important that the candidate is given clear and non-contradictory guidance on the revisions required and therefore that a single note is jointly agreed by the examiners. This note should be attached to the examiners’ reports (but be separate from them) and will be forwarded to the candidate by the Doctoral College once the examiners’ recommendations have been approved. Examiners should also specify in their recommendation the length of time which the candidate has for resubmission of their thesis. This is at the discretion of the examiners up to a maximum period of 12 months.
On resubmission, the examiners will have available the same range of recommendations as in the original submission, except that a candidate will be permitted to complete major corrections or resubmit on only one occasion (unless the resubmission is specifically for a higher degree than the one for which the thesis was originally submitted – see recommendations d) and e) above) .
Examiners may advise but not require a candidate to resubmit a thesis for a lower degree. Candidates can be permitted to submit a revised thesis for a degree of lower status providing the thesis is generally acceptable for the lower degree, faults notwithstanding, and where the amount of further research required is not such as to constitute virtually a new thesis. A recommendation to resubmit for a lower degree will be advisory only and will not be binding on the examiners at the time of resubmission. A candidate will be permitted to resubmit on only one occasion for the degree in question. Notes of guidance should be provided as indicated above.
Candidates whose theses clearly do not meet the requirements for the degree for which the thesis was submitted and who are considered unable to bring the thesis up to an acceptable standard within the 12 month period allowed for resubmission may be considered for the award of a lower degree:
PhD; the degrees of MPhil or the appropriate Masters degree by Research may be awarded.
MD; the degree of MMedSci may be awarded
EngD; the degrees of MPhil or MSc by Research in Engineering may be awarded
EdD; the degree of MA or MSc by Research in Education or in Applied Linguistics and English Language Teaching
LLM; the Diploma in Legal Studies.
If award of the lower qualification is subject to minor corrections, these must be completed by the candidate to the satisfaction of the internal examiner (or a nominated external examiner where there is no internal examiner). The examiners must specify the time available for completion of the corrections, up to a maximum of three months.
This recommendation will only be made exceptionally and where the examiners deem the thesis of such poor quality as to make it unlikely that the candidate will be able to improve it to an acceptable standard for the award of any degree within the 12 month period allowed for resubmission. Where the examiners wish to make this recommendation for a Master’s degree by Research, it is normal to hold an oral examination.
Post-viva and final submission
The recommendation of the examiners is subject to the approval of the Chair of the appropriate Faculty Education Committee who will scrutinise the examiners’ reports before approving the recommendation. There may therefore be a delay between the oral examination and the approval of the award of a degree by Senate.
In the unlikely event that the examiners are unable to agree on the recommendation to be made, or if for any other reason a further opinion is required on the work submitted, an external adjudicator may be appointed. Examiners/academic departments should contact the Doctoral College as soon as possible to discuss the nomination and approval of an external adjudicator.
Where a decision of minor corrections or major corrections is recommended, a jointly agreed list of the corrections concerned should normally be appended to the examiners’ reports to enable the relevant Faculty Education Committee Chair to evaluate the nature of the changes required to the thesis. Examiners do not need to attach a list of typographical corrections to the reports, but may choose instead to annotate a copy of the thesis if this is more convenient. However, any other corrections should be included within the jointly agreed list attached to the examiners’ reports.
The Doctoral College will normally expect the candidate (and supervisor(s)) to receive the list of corrections and deadline for completion (up to 3 months from date of receipt for minor corrections and up to 6 months from date of receipt for major corrections) directly from the examiners, wherever possible on the day of the oral examination, if one is held, to enable the candidate to complete the amendments as quickly as possible. Where an oral examination is not required, the internal examiner should ensure that the candidate is notified of the corrections at the earliest opportunity. (If there are two external examiners, the examination advisor should ensure that the candidate is notified of the corrections at the earliest opportunity.) The Doctoral College will notify candidates of the deadline for completion of corrections; this is the date by which the corrected thesis should be submitted to the internal (or nominated external) examiner.
Once corrections have been addressed, the candidate should provide a copy of the amended thesis directly to the internal examiner, or nominated external examiner, who is required to inform the Doctoral College by email as soon as the corrections have been satisfactorily completed. Upon receipt of confirmation that corrections have been completed to the satisfaction of the examiners, the Doctoral College will provide the candidate with instructions for submitting the final thesis in order to complete the examination process.
In the event that a resubmission is required, the examiners should provide a jointly agreed note of guidance which lists the revisions which are required to the thesis. These should be listed in a clear and unambiguous way and in sufficient detail to enable the candidate to be sure of what is required of them. This statement should be separate from the examiners’ reports but should be attached to the reports when they are returned to the Doctoral College. This statement is required even though the examiners may have provided the candidate with feedback at the oral examination. It will be the responsibility of the Chair of the Faculty Education Committee, when approving the reports and recommendation, to ensure that the guidance on resubmission provided by the examiners is clear and unambiguous.
Candidates who are required to resubmit their thesis will be contacted by the Doctoral College who will provide the single note of guidance prepared by the examiners on the revisions required. A time limit will be set for the resubmission (up to 12 months) and this must be strictly adhered to. There will be a fee payable when the thesis is resubmitted; this can be made via the online payment form. When a candidate resubmits their thesis to the Doctoral College, they should submit an electronic version, together with a memo detailing how they have addressed the requirements for revision set out by the examiners in their single note of guidance.
16.1 Supervision during resubmission period
Supervisor(s) are expected to provide detailed guidance to the candidate on the work to be done in light of the guidance prepared by the examiners. Where necessary the supervisor(s) and the candidate may wish to discuss the changes required with the internal examiner but the latter must normally avoid taking on a substantial supervisory role in relation to the candidate during the resubmission period.
Departments are responsible under the Guidelines on Supervision and Monitoring of Research Degree Students for ensuring that students whose theses are referred for resubmission are provided with appropriate advice by the supervisor and internal examiner, or examination advisor where two external examiners are appointed. A student who is required to resubmit is entitled to receive a level of supervision equivalent to a student at the writing up phase. Supervisors should normally read through the revisions prior to resubmission, noting that it remains the student's decision when to submit the thesis within the time allowed by the examiners.
16.2 Examination of a resubmitted thesis
When assessing a resubmitted thesis, examiners should pay particular attention to the way in which the candidate has revised the thesis according to the recommendations made by the examiners in their written statement to the candidate. The candidate is expected to provide the examiners with a memo, together with the revised thesis, detailing how they have addressed the requirements for revision set out by the examiners in their single note of guidance. In most cases the original examiners will examine the resubmitted thesis. In the event that a new examiner has been appointed in the period between the first submission and the resubmission, the examiners will be expected to judge the quality of the thesis according to the stipulations for improvement made by the initial team of examiners.
The procedures for the examination of a resubmitted thesis are essentially the same as for the initial submission of the work and examiners' independent reports and a joint report are again required. There is no requirement for a second oral examination although one may be held at the discretion of the examiners. An oral examination would normally be held if the candidate is resubmitting for a higher degree and an oral examination has not previously been held. If an oral examination is held and an examination advisor was appointed for the initial examination, they should also be present at the subsequent oral examination. Should a department consider that an examination advisor is no longer necessary, approval should be obtained from the Academic Director prior to the viva.
Unless the candidate is resubmitting the thesis for a higher degree, only one resubmission of a thesis is permitted and therefore the only recommendations available to examiners of a resubmitted thesis are:
- To award the degree
- To award the degree subject to completion of minor corrections
- To award a lower degree with or without minor corrections
- To award no degree/fail the candidate
Unless the candidate is resubmitting the thesis for a higher degree than on the original submission, award of a higher degree is specifically excluded at this stage. A recommendation of major corrections cannot be made but if minor corrections are required they may be of greater extent than usually permitted but it should normally be possible for the candidate to complete them within three months.
Following a successful examination (i.e. once the examiners have recommended the award of a degree and any corrections have been completed to the satisfaction of the examiners), the candidate should arrange for their thesis to be library-bound according to University specifications, as set out in Appendix B. Please note that the Library Declaration and Deposit Agreement form must be signed and bound in with the thesis, immediately prior to the Title Page. Candidates are required to submit evidence that a library-bound copy of their thesis has been ordered, together with an electronic copy in PDF to the Doctoral College. Candidates submitting for the degree of Master’s by research are not required to submit an electronic copy of their thesis.
For single-sided theses a 4 cm margin must remain on the left hand edge (binding edge) and adequate margins on the other three edges to allow for trimming after binding. Final hard bound copies of the thesis may be double-sided, in which case a 4 cm margin must remain on both the left-hand and right-hand edges with adequate margins on the other two edges. Page numbers should be typed at least 1.5 cm into the page.
When both the library-bound order confirmation and electronic copies (if applicable) have been received, a candidate's name will be included on a pass list for the award of the appropriate degree. The library-bound copy will subsequently be deposited in the University Library and the electronic copy will be uploaded to the University’s institutional repository (WRAP). Unless otherwise indicated on the Library Declaration and Deposit Agreement, this will be made openly accessible on the Internet and will be supplied to the British Library to be made available online via its EThOS service.
Theses submitted for a Master’s degree by Research (MA, MSc, LLM, MS or MMedSci) are not deposited in WRAP and hence are not made available via EThOS.
17.2 Restriction of Access/Embargo
On submission of the thesis candidates are required to complete the Library Declaration and Deposit Agreement, indicating that their thesis will be deposited in the University Library in both hard and digital copy format following successful completion of the examination process.
Candidates can choose between four available options in respect of the availability of the thesis. The first three options can be selected without the requirement to seek the approval of the Academic Director, as follows:
i) Both the hard and digital copy thesis can be made publicly available immediately;
ii) The hard copy thesis can be made publicly available immediately and the digital copy thesis can be made publicly available after a period of two years;
iii) Both the hard and digital copy thesis can be made publicly available after a period of two years.
Candidates wishing to restrict access because of their intention to publish would normally be expected to choose option (ii); where a thesis contains sensitive or confidential material, option (iii) would be recommended.
The final option, to embargo the thesis for a period exceeding two years, will require the prior approval of the Academic Director and will be granted only in exceptional circumstances. Restrictions to access in excess of two years have been agreed in the past where the material, if made publicly available in that time, could jeopardise the application for a patent, is commercially very sensitive, could endanger the author or other parties, or could jeopardise the reputation of an individual or individuals. Requests should be made by the candidate and supported by the candidate’s supervisor, in writing, to the Doctoral College.
Section 2.5 of the Library Declaration and Deposit Agreement allows candidates to deposit an abridged hard and/or digital version of their thesis in the Library, should it contain material protected by third party copyright for which they have been unable to obtain permission for inclusion within the thesis. In such circumstances the sensitive material must be available to the examiners, but may be presented in a separate volume which does not then form part of the Library copy.
17.3 Permission to Copy
A declaration giving permission for reproduction may be made on the Library Declaration and Deposit Agreement to grant powers of discretion to the depository library to allow the thesis to be copied in whole or in part without further reference to the author. This permission covers only single copies made for study purposes, subject to normal conditions of acknowledgement. If the form is not signed and completed, it will be assumed that permission to reproduce single copies has been given.
Once the Doctoral College has received the final electronic thesis and confirmation that a library-bound copy of a candidate’s thesis has been ordered, and all of the internal paperwork in respect of the examination has been concluded, their name will be placed on a pass list for the conferral of the award by the Senate at the next available opportunity. Formal notification of award will be sent to the candidate’s University email address and any other email address held on the student record shortly after the award has been conferred. Candidates will not receive a conferral email or be eligible to attend a Degree Congregation if they have any study-related debts to the University.
Following conferral of the award, candidates will be invited to attend the next available Degree Congregation. Congregations are held in mid-July and late January each year and candidates may receive their degree in person or in absentia. Hard copy degree certificate cannot be provided until the degree has been conferred formally at a Congregation whether you decide to be present in person or not. However all eligible students receiving an award from the University of Warwick will automatically receive a digital certificate in addition to their hard copy certificate, in the weeks following conferral. These do not need to be requested and will be provided automatically. Digital certificates are not available for the small number of joint award programmes where hard copy certificates are not produced by the University of Warwick. Additionally, digital certificates are not currently available for graduates from Cranfield, Exeter and Warwick joint degree programmes, due to the bespoke formatting of the certificates. For further information please see Awards and Ceremonies website.
In the unlikely event that the examiners recommend that the thesis be failed or that a candidate be awarded a lower degree than the one for which they were registered, they have the right of appeal under Regulation 42.
Information on the grounds eligible for making an appeal are set out in Regulation 42. Candidates who believe they have grounds for an eligible appeal should complete the appeals form and email it to within 10 working days of the notification of the assessment decision. Candidates considering submitting an appeal can seek advice from the Dean of Students’ Office or the Students’ Union Advice Centre.
If an appeal is not eligible under Regulation 42, the candidate will be contacted to explain why their appeal cannot be considered.
If the appeal is eligible, the candidate will be contacted to confirm receipt of their appeal and explain the appeals process. If the appeal is eligible, it may be sent to the candidate's academic department for its response.
All paperwork relating to the appeal will then be considered by an Appeal Review Panel (ARP), which is constituted of academic members of staff as outlined in Regulation 42, which will determine whether or not the candidate has established grounds for appeal. If the ARP determines that grounds for appeal have been established, it will refer the appeal to the relevant examiners.
In certain circumstances an appeal may be referred to a meeting of a Graduate Appeals Committee (GAC).
Regulation 42 outlines the procedure of the Academic Review Panel and Graduate Appeals Committee.
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