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Examination guidance for students

All the details to help you through your examination

The submission of your thesis and the move into the examination phase is an exciting time for Postgraduate students. The details on this page will assist you with the process, and explain what to expect at each step along the way.

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Thesis submission

All thesis submissions should be made electronically to the Research Degrees department who will confirm receipt. This confirmation will be accompanied by a link to the Guidance Note for Postgraduate Research Students which contains vital information about the viva voce and advice on how to prepare.

Within the thesis submitted for examination, you must include a completed and signed UPR16 Ethics Form. Please see further guidance in Section 8 of the Operational Handbook regarding the details for this.

Confidential thesis

When a thesis is to be confidential the UPR15 Form - Request for Confidential Thesis needs to be completed and submitted to the Research Degrees team as early as possible (ideally prior to submission of the thesis for examination) in order that arrangements can be made to ensure the appropriate arrangements are put in place.

An application for a confidential thesis is usually made in cases where there is an ongoing patent application or due to sensitive political data.

Pre viva

Once the examiners are approved by the Faculty Research Degree Committee the Research Degrees team will send out the thesis to the appointed examiners in order for them to begin their examination.

The First Supervisor will need to confirm the arrangements have been made for a viva voce examination and notify the Research Degrees team by completing the arrangements for viva voce - UPR5(A) Form

You may submit a request to the Research Degrees department to appoint an Independent Chair for the examination. Their role is to chair and maintain a record of the examination and assist the examiners in following University procedures. They will not act as an examiner of the thesis.

The viva

These can be held face to face, virtually or as a hybrid of both. There is no dress code for the viva voce, but this is a formal examination and it is expected that the candidate will dress accordingly.

Your supervisor is permitted to attend the examination with your agreement. If they do attend they should enter and leave the room at the same time as you and only participate in the discussion if asked to provide clarification on a specific matter. Supervisors are not permitted to take part in discussions with examiners regarding any recommendation made on the outcome of the viva voce.

Unless an Independent Chair has been appointed, the examination will normally be conducted under the chairship of the External Examiner. If two External Examiners are appointed then it is normally the most senior who chairs but may be either, by mutual agreement. The tone of the questioning during the oral examination should be such that it provides the candidate with the opportunity to show their full potential in their understanding of the research, appropriate research methods, and to defend their views and interpretation without being confrontational.

At the viva voce the Examiners will test the candidate’s knowledge of matters relevant to the subject of the thesis. The purpose is to enable the Examiners to clarify any ambiguities in the thesis and to satisfy themselves that the thesis is your own work. They will ensure the candidate is familiar with the relation of their work to the field of study from the literature review and that their knowledge of understanding of the subject is of the standard required for the award of the degree.

On completion of the viva voce examination you will leave the room while the Examiners discuss their recommendation. You will be asked to return and will be advised of the intended recommendation to the Academic Registrar on behalf of Academic Council. The Research Degrees department will formally notify you in writing of the Examiners decision.

The recommendations open to the Examiners following the viva voce are:

  • That the degree is awarded;
  • That the degree is awarded subject to minor amendments;
  • That the degree is awarded subject to major amendments;
  • That the degree is not awarded but the candidate will be allowed to submit a revised thesis and be re-examined with or without a further viva voce;
  • That the degree is not awarded;
  • In the case of a candidate who submitted for a PhD they may be awarded an MPhil subject to appropriate amendments to the thesis.

Covid-19 impact statement

The University recognises that the pandemic is likely to have had multiple impacts on the type and quantity of Postgraduate Research (PGR) students' work, as well as on their mental health and well-being. Any PGR student affected by the pandemic who submits a thesis may include a Covid-19 impact statement as described in the document below.

A statement is not compulsory and should only be included where you wish to highlight the impact of the pandemic and the steps taken to adjust your research activities.

The Covid-19 impact statement can be submitted (i) as a cover note submitted to the examiners to accompany the thesis, or (ii) as part of the thesis itself between the abstract and your declaration.

You should discuss the inclusion of a Covid-19 impact statement with their supervisory team and draft the content together, but the decision to include the statement ultimately rests with you as the student.

Final thesis

Once the examination process is complete and the Research Degrees team has formally informed you of the examiner's recommendation for an award, you will be asked to submit a final thesis electronically. Along with the submission of the final thesis, you must complete and submit the EThOS Deposit form. Only on receipt of these will you be eligible to attend Graduation and receive your parchment.


If you are hoping to attend graduation in July, your final thesis (as detailed above) must be submitted to the Research Degrees department by 31 May. For any final thesis submitted after this date, the award confirmation and parchments will be confirmed and produced as soon as possible and you will be eligible to attend Graduation the following year.