The final assessment period commences once a Postgraduate Researcher (PGR) has submitted their work (either in the form of a thesis, or in the case of DPhil/MPhil by publication a critical commentary and publications).
This section covers the following regulations: E17 Final Examination, E18 Examination outcomes, E19 Amendments and resubmissions, E20 Degree not awarded, E21 Appeals and E22 Deposition of final work.
Regulation E17 Final examination
- The final examination comprises two parts:
- An independent report from each examiner containing a preliminary assessment of the submission.
- A viva voce examination of the candidate of the submitted work.
- The location and mode of the viva voce examination will take place in accordance with regulation E15.ii.
- All candidates are required to attend a viva voce examination on the date and time specified by the University.
- Exceptionally, the Examining Board may approve an alternative to a viva voce examination where it is evidenced that a candidate would be seriously disadvantaged on health, disability or other grounds.
- The Chair of the final examination will report to the Examining Board any circumstances in which the examiners’ recommendations are not unanimous. The Examining Board may:
- uphold the recommendation of the external examiner (where there is one external examiner), or
- appoint an independent external assessor to review the thesis and make an independent report together with an outcome recommendation to the Examining Board. No further viva voce examination will take place within that assessment attempt. The Examining Board will consider all reports and agree an outcome decision in accordance with regulation E18.
Procedures about the final examination
These procedures relate to regulation E17.
Preliminary assessment of the submission by the examiners
This procedure relates to regulation E17.i.
- Each examiner must make an independent preliminary assessment of the submitted work using the provided report format and submit this to the Doctoral Academy before any viva voce is held. This report should indicate whether the work submitted, prima facie, satisfies the requirements of the UWE Bristol qualifications descriptor for the award on which the candidate is registered. The report should also include the examiners’ recommendations about:
- issues to explore with the candidate at the viva
- the merits and/or deficiencies of the submission
- the appropriateness of the proposed thesis title
- where possible, a provisional outcome recommendation, conditional upon the outcome of the viva voce examination.
- Read the guidance on written thesis format (PDF) for additional guidance to examiners about examining PhD/MPhil theses that include research outputs within the body of work to be assessed. This guidance also includes a short video.
- Examiners should be mindful of the requirements of the Code of Good Research Conduct and the University’s policies concerning research ethics, and academic integrity and assessment offences, and follow regulation E10 and related procedures should any concerns arise in this respect.
- The examiners’ preliminary reports are confidential. The candidate and supervisory team will not normally receive copies. At the discretion of the Independent Chair an examiner may see the other examiner’s report once all reports have been received by the Doctoral Academy.
Clarification about the right to a viva voce
- No candidate may be failed, and the degree not awarded without having had the opportunity of a viva voce examination, either at first attempt or where a resubmission attempt has been granted under the regulations.
- The exception to this will be where a candidate is found to have committed a serious assessment offence for which the agreed penalty under regulation E10 and described in the University’s Academic Misconduct procedures require that the candidate is withdrawn, and their registration terminated without any award being made.
- With regard to the total number of vivas a candidate may be required to attend, a candidate may be referred for resubmission and reassessment once only and may undergo a maximum of two viva voce examinations in total including the initial assessment, unless the Examining Board permits otherwise on the grounds of accepted personal circumstances, or other exceptional grounds.
Viva location and mode
This procedure relates to regulation E17.ii-iii.
- Where a face-to-face viva has been agreed by the University (see regulation E15.ii) this will take place at one of the University’s campus sites, or that of an affiliated academic institution where this is specified within an academic agreement or schedule, unless another location has been specifically approved as part of the examination arrangements at regulation E15.ii.
- Where the viva is held face-to-face one examiner may attend by video link using a video conferencing platform approved by the University but the remainder of the examining panel including the Independent Chair should attend the viva in person.
- Where an online viva has been agreed by the University see regulation E15.ii this will be held using a video conferencing platform approved by the University.
- In the event that the technology does not permit any online element of the viva to be conducted with the involvement of all parties to a satisfactory standard, for example, if visual contact is lost between the parties, the viva should be stopped and rearranged.
- The viva voce will normally be conducted in English.
Variation to examination by viva voce
This procedure relates to regulation E17.iv.
- Where the candidate has previously disclosed an impairment, disability, health condition or other support need for which reasonable adjustments have been approved by the University, it is important that they and their Director of Studies (DoS) discuss any specific arrangements for the final examination with the Doctoral Academy prior to the appointment of the examiners by the Examining Board. These will need to be reflected in the examination arrangements EX1 – Examination arrangements (DOC) and – where a different form of examination is proposed – approved by the Examining Board.
- The viva voce examination and examiner reporting process are overseen by the Independent Chair appointed by the Examining Board for this purpose (see regulation E16.ii).
- The examining panel will meet for a period of at least 30 minutes prior to the viva in order to plan the viva. The Independent Chair is responsible for ensuring that the viva is conducted in accordance with the regulations.
- With the consent of the candidate, supervisors and/or a representative of the Examining Board may attend the viva voce examination but may not participate in the discussion with the candidate unless invited to do so by the Independent Chair.
- There is no requirement to give a presentation as part of the viva. Where a candidate wishes to make a presentation to the examiners, they should discuss this with their DoS in the first instance and notify firstname.lastname@example.org in advance of the viva, who will notify the Independent Chair and examiners. The presentation will not normally be longer than ten minutes and must not include new material that is not included in the submission.
- There is no maximum time limit prescribed for the length of the viva voce examination. The purpose is to establish that the candidate has met the requirements of the descriptor for the award and to recommend how the submitted work may be improved for publication, and this may vary significantly between candidates. It would be considered normal for a viva to last up to two hours. Examiners are expected to be reasonable in their interrogation of the candidate. Where the examination extends into a third hour the Independent Chairs should seek to offer an optional short comfort break at an opportune moment in the discussion.
- Following the viva the examining panel will consider its decision in private. Any representative of the Examining Board may remain while the examiners decide their outcome but may not participate in that discussion. Neither the candidate nor the supervisors may be present during the panel’s deliberations.
- Having completed their deliberations, the panel will recall the candidate and provide feedback about the examination outcome decision, details about any required amendments, and any recommendations on how to improve the submitted work for publication. These will be confirmed to the candidate in writing later.
- In the case of a resubmission outcome the examiners will also provide feedback on the requirements for revising and resubmitting the work. The detail of this will also be provided in written feedback to the candidate later, but oral feedback gives the candidate an indication of how much remains to be done, and to seek clarification if necessary.
- It is strongly recommended that the DoS/supervisor is present for the feedback session and can take notes about further work for the candidate.
Reporting the outcome of the final examination
This procedure relates to regulation E17.v.
- If the examiners agree on the outcome of the examination they will submit a joint report (RD12) and outcome from the range available at regulation E18. The Independent Chair is responsible for compiling this report from feedback supplied by the examiners and submitting it to the Doctoral Academy as soon as possible. All examiners must agree the content of this combined report.
- Where the candidate is required to amend or resubmit work the Chair will also complete the required changes and feedback form which should indicate the examiners’ detailed requirements. This will be sent to the candidate and the DoS with the formal notification of outcome. It will form the checklist for the examiners upon receipt of any revised thesis.
- Where examiners wish any specific comments contained within their pre-viva preliminary assessment report to be made available to the candidate they must indicate this clearly to the Independent Chair, and it must be included on the post-viva required changes and feedback form. It will not otherwise be made available to the candidate.
- The preliminary reports and the joint outcomes report should together provide sufficient detail about the scope and quality of the work to enable Examining Board to be satisfied that the outcome chosen is appropriate.
- If the examiners do not agree, they must each submit separate reports and a recommendation for consideration by Examining Board.
- The final assessment guidance for PGR examiners (PDF) provides more information about the UWE Bristol viva process. See the guidance on incorporating research outputs in your thesis (PDF) for more information on the incorporation of research outputs in the body of work to be assessed.
Regulation E18 Outcomes from the final examination
- The examiners will recommend an outcome to the Examining Board as set out below.
- Outcome A: The candidate fulfils the criteria for the award on which they are registered and is recommended for the degree:
- Without further correction or amendment; or
- Subject to satisfactory correction of presentational/typographical errors within the material (maximum four weeks for full-time candidates and six weeks for part-time candidates). Corrections to be approved by one or all examiners; or
- Subject to satisfactory minor amendment of the material as indicated by the examiners and which can reasonably be completed within a maximum of 12 weeks for full-time candidates and 18 weeks for part-time candidates. Amendments to be approved by one or all examiners; or
- Subject to satisfactory major amendments. The material submitted displays some deficiencies in content, analysis and/or presentation in areas specified by the examiners requiring additional work which can reasonably be expected to be completed within a maximum of six months for full-time candidates and nine months for part-time candidates. No further viva examination is required, amendments to be approved by all examiners.
- Outcome B: The candidate does not currently fulfil the criteria for the award on which they are registered:
- The examiners recommend that the candidate is referred for resubmission and reassessment.
- The candidate does not currently fulfil the Doctoral/MPhil criteria and the material displays significant deficiencies of content and/or presentation in areas specified by the examiners. The candidate may be permitted to revise and re-submit the overall material for the degree and be reassessed on one further occasion with or without viva voce examination. Revisions indicated by examiners may reasonably be expected to be completed within a maximum 12 months for full-time candidates or 18 months for part-time candidates.
- Outcome C: Additional outcomes for PhD or DPhil assessment only:
- MPhil with amendments: The candidate does not fulfil the doctoral award descriptor criteria but does meet the award criteria for MPhil and may be recommended for this award subject to satisfactory amendment of the material in a manner and to a timescale as recommended by the examiners (up to a maximum of six months for full-time candidates and nine months for part-time candidates). No further viva voce examination is required. Amendments to be approved by one or all examiners; or
- Resubmit and be assessed for MPhil: The candidate does not fulfil the doctoral award criteria but has the potential to meet the award criteria for MPhil and may revise and resubmit the overall material as indicated by the examiners for assessment for the award of MPhil (within a maximum of 12 months for full-time candidates and 18 months for part-time candidates). A viva voce examination will be required.
- Outcome D: Degree not awarded. The candidate is not recommended for the award of any degree and is not permitted to resubmit for reassessment. Unsuccessful candidates for MPhil/DPhil by Publication are not permitted to apply for a further three years.
Regulation E19 Amendments and resubmissions
- The following regulations apply in relation to amendment or resubmission recommendations arising from the Final Examination as set out in regulation E18.
- Outcome A: If a candidate has fulfilled the criteria for the award subject to corrections, minor or major amendments and these subsequent changes are not considered by the examiners to be satisfactory, the candidate will be given a further 12-week period to make the necessary changes.
- Exceptionally, the Examining Board may permit a further 12-week period if amendments remain unsatisfactory upon resubmission. There is no automatic right to this extension period. If, after this additional period, the requirements have still not been met, the candidate will normally be withdrawn by the Examining Board, and the degree will not be awarded.
- Outcome B: If a candidate has not fulfilled the criteria for the award on which they are registered, one reassessment, with or without a viva voce, will be permitted. Resubmission will be required within 12 months for full-time candidates, and 18 months for part-time candidates, from the date of the formal notification of the outcome of the first assessment.
- The Examining Board may permit an extension of the resubmission period where there is good reason.
- The Examining Board may require that an additional External Examiner is appointed for the reassessment.
- In all other respects, the reassessment will be conducted in the same way as for the first assessment as set out at regulation E17.
- Following completion of the reassessment the examiners may recommend an outcome as follows:
- The candidate fulfils the criteria for the award on which they are registered.
- The award of an MPhil if a PhD or DPhil candidate has not met the higher-level requirements.
- Degree is not awarded.
- Outcome C: the requirements will be as set out in regulation E15 and regulation E17. There will be no further opportunity for resubmission for the MPhil award and a degree will not be awarded.
Procedures after the viva
This procedure relates to regulation E19.
- After the viva outcome has been confirmed by the Examining Board the Doctoral Academy will write to the candidate with the Board’s notification of outcome. The notification will include the deadline for submission of amended or resubmitted work. Candidates should refer to the post-viva guidance document (PDF), and it they have not received this notification by the relevant Examining Board publication date they should contact the PGR Assessment Team at email@example.com.
Pass subject to corrections or amendment outcomes
These procedures relate to regulation E19.
Deadlines for submitting amendments
- Deadlines for the submission or required corrections, minor or major amendments are calculated from the date of notification of the outcome of the final assessment by the Examining Board, and not from the date of the assessment.
- Amendments should be made in accordance with specific requirements of the examiners. However, candidates are ultimately responsible for deciding the manner in which to improve the material and when the amended material should be submitted within the maximum time stipulated. Candidates can choose to submit before the maximum time allowed.
- Candidates ready to submit amendments should contact the PGR Assessment Team at firstname.lastname@example.org, who will provide further instructions. Candidates must not email the amended thesis/commentary to the examiners themselves.
- The Doctoral Academy will contact the candidate once the examiners have confirmed that all amendments required to the thesis/critical commentary have been completed to their satisfaction (normally six to eight weeks from submission of the amended work). Guidance about submitting the deposition of the final work to the UWE Bristol Research Repository will also be provided by the Doctoral Academy.
- Where the award outcome is pass subject to minor amendments this means that the candidate has met the requirements of the qualification descriptor for the award and the amendments should normally be limited to amending representational errors or re-presenting and restructuring existing text/material only. New work should not normally be required.
- Where the award outcome is pass subject to major amendments this means that the candidate has met the requirements of the qualification descriptor for the award, but the material submitted does not reflect the quality of the research undertaken and requires some additional work. Some new work may be required to bring the thesis up to publishable standard including:
- limited extra research or analysis
- limited new experiments, or repeating existing ones
- re-writing some sections of material.
- This should not, however, amount to a significant extension or fundamental change in the direction of the original research and will not involve a complete re-write of the material as a whole. The examiners should be confident that this work can be completed within six months full-time or nine months part-time.
- Where the award outcome is pass subject to major amendments, the Examining Board or designated College committee may recommend that some further supervision would be beneficial. Where the candidate chooses to take up this recommendation, they will be required to pay the appropriate pro-rata fee.
Procedures about resubmission
These procedures relate to regulation E19.
Resubmission deadlines, fees and supervision
- The resubmission deadline is calculated from the date of notification of the outcome of the viva examination by the Examining Board, not the date of the assessment.
- A candidate who submits a thesis or critical commentary and collection of published works for re-assessment is required to pay the appropriate re-examination fee as advised by the Doctoral Academy.
- The Board or designated College Committee may recommend that some further supervision may be beneficial and where the candidate chooses to take up this recommendation they will be required to pay the appropriate pro-rata fee for this supervision as advised by the Doctoral Academy.
Rewriting and resubmitting the work
- Revision of the submitted work may relate to theoretical and/or methodological aspects of the research and new work may be required including any or all of the following:
- New research and/or new data
- New fieldwork or practice
- New analysis
- Substantial revision or addition to the literature review
- At resubmission the submitted work as a whole is reassessed not just new, re-written, or revised material.
- Revision of the submission should be made in accordance with the specific requirements of the examiners. The DoS/supervisory team must provide comments on the revised submission as at regulation E15.ii even if no additional supervision has been arranged (see above), but the candidate remains ultimately responsible for deciding the manner in which to improve the submission and that it is resubmitted within the maximum time stipulated. Candidates may choose to submit before the maximum time allowed.
- Candidates ready to resubmit should email email@example.com who will provide further instructions. Candidates must not email the resubmitted thesis/commentary to the examiners themselves.
The resubmission viva
- The candidate will be exempt from undergoing a further viva voce at resubmission only where the examiners unanimously agree, having reassessed the resubmitted work, that there is no need for it and that the degree can be awarded on the basis of revision of the thesis/critical commentary alone. However, a candidate cannot be failed outright at resubmission and the degree not awarded without having the opportunity to undergo a further viva.
- Where the resubmission viva is required; the DoS may request sight of the examiners’ resubmission preliminary reports from the Doctoral Academy to assist the candidate’s preparation for the viva. The candidate themselves may not have a copy of these reports however, nor should it be assumed that the examiners will limit their line of questioning during the viva to that outlined in the preliminary reports.
Regulation E20 Degree is not awarded
- The examiners will prepare a joint statement on the deficiencies of the work if there is a recommendation not to award the degree. This report will be considered by the Examining Board and once approved, will be forwarded to the candidate and they will be withdrawn from the award.
Regulation E21 Appeals
- A candidate may appeal against the decision of the Examining Board only on the grounds that there has been material and significant administrative error, or other material irregularity such that the assessment process, and consideration of any mitigating circumstances, where not conducted in accordance with the regulations.
- The appeals process is set out in the University’s Appeals Policy.
Regulation E22 Deposition of the final work
- All candidates who have been recommended for a degree must deposit their final submission including any amendments required by the examiners, on the University’s Research Repository prior to the award being conferred.
- For the awards of MPhil/ DPhil by Publication, the deposit must include the critical commentary, any research outputs that were published during registration and submitted for the award, and a bibliography listing all publications put forward for the award.
- Candidates must also comply with the requirements of the approved research data management plan for the project regarding deposition and storage of core research data underpinning their final submission.
Procedures about the deposition of the final work and conferment of the award
These procedures relate to regulation E22.
The final thesis/commentary is complete
- The Doctoral Academy will contact the candidate once the examiners have confirmed that the thesis/critical commentary has been completed to their satisfaction (normally six to eight weeks from submission of any required amendments). Guidance about submitting the deposition of the final work to the UWE Bristol research repository will also be provided by the Doctoral Academy at that point.
Third party copyright
- The candidate must ensure that use of any third-party intellectual property complies with the requirements of the University’s intellectual property policy. The deposited thesis or critical commentary must include the following statement:
- Access to a thesis or critical commentary via the UWE Bristol Research Repository may only be restricted where a previous application to do so has been agreed by the Examining Board. See the Research Governance section of the Doctoral Academy Handbook and open access to research.
"Material in this thesis/commentary* is the author’s with the exception of third party material where appropriate permissions have been obtained and attributed. This copy has been supplied on the understanding that no use of material may be made without proper acknowledgement."
*For awards by publication
Conferring the award
- The candidate will be considered to have completed their award on the date that the Examining Board decides that the award is granted.
- The University will confer the award in accordance with section C2 of the Academic Regulations. It may withhold an award from a candidate who:
- has outstanding obligations, financial or otherwise, to the University
- has not successfully completed the requirement for accredited learning (i.e. taught modules) for the Programme
- is the subject of an ongoing investigation concerning an allegation of a breach of discipline or student conduct, or an assessment offence allegation, or a research misconduct allegation.
- After designated staff from the Repository Team and the Doctoral Academy have verified that the final version of the thesis/critical commentary and bibliography has been deposited on the UWE Bristol Research Repository in accordance with University requirements, that any data management requirements have been met and all required paperwork has been completed, the Examining Board will approve the production of the Certificate and Certificate of Credit. The University will not confer the award, nor may the candidate attend an award ceremony or adopt the doctoral title until the final deposition has been made appropriately.
- Certificates will be sent to the candidate’s home address held on the University’s student information system. Any change of address must be indicated on form RD15.
- The name on the certificate will be the formal name held by the University at the time the research degree was awarded. It will not be possible to change this after the certificate has been issued.
- Queries about certificates should be emailed to the Doctoral Academy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The processes governing the granting of a posthumous award to a deceased student of the University, including postgraduate researchers, are described at section C5 of the University's Academic Regulations.