A higher tier of research doctorates, awarded on the basis of a substantial body of published research outputs of high distinction indicating a sustained, consistent, and significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge or scholarship through research, and a beneficial impact for communities, a sustainable economy and society more broadly.

Higher Doctorates include:

  • Doctor of Letters (DLitt)
  • Doctor of Science (DSc)


E23 Higher Doctorates

  1. The University can award Higher Doctorates as set out in regulation E4.
  2. Higher Doctorates are awarded on the basis of a formally submitted and substantial body of published research outputs of high distinction that indicates a sustained, consistent and significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge or scholarship through research, and a beneficial impact for communities, a sustainable economy and/or society more broadly.
  3. The Examining Board considers applications and awards of Higher Doctorates on behalf of the Academic Board.
  4. Applicants for Higher Doctorates will be leading authorities in their field(s) of study and:
    • a current or previous members of university staff or staff of an affiliated academic institution having held a permanent contract of no less than four years and having held a Doctoral degree for at least four years; or
    • an alumnus of the University of at least seven years and having held a Doctoral degree for at least four years; or
    • an individual with a close, long-standing and significant research association with the University that has resulted in a sustained record of collaborative research of considerable impact upon the advancement of knowledge at the highest level and who are invited to apply by the relevant Executive Dean or by the Vice-Chancellor (individuals would normally hold a Doctoral degree and in all other respects would meet the criteria of all other applicants).
  5. Applications will comprise:
    • a specimen set of research outputs that the applicant wishes to submit in support of their application for the award
    • a statement of the extent of the applicant’s individual contribution to each of the outputs submitted where joint authorship or other types of collaboration are involved
    • where relevant, a statement confirming which part of the work, if any, has previously been submitted for another academic award
    • a curriculum vitae and full list of publications and other significant research outputs
    • a statement of no more than 6,000 words in support of the application which should set out the applicant’s view of the nature and significance of the body of work submitted in relation to:
      • its contribution to knowledge at the time of publication
      • its impact and influence on subsequent research and the development of knowledge in the field or fields of study
      • its impact outside the academic field, to show how it has led to benefits for communities, a sustainable economy and/or society more broadly
      • an indication of the relationship, if any, between the various topics covered by the work
      • the ways in which the submitted work demonstrates a sustained and consistent contribution to advanced scholarship over a number of years.
  6. Approval must be given, by an individual or group designated by the Examining Board, to make an application in any other language than English.
  7. Written research outputs submitted within the specimen set may include scholarly texts (journal articles, books, parts of books, conference articles, working papers), research reports, research-informed policy documents (usually of national or international significance), patents (published or in application), translations, and case studies of innovative work at the highest level.
  8. Other research outputs submitted within the specimen set may include artefacts, devices, products, exhibitions, performances, compositions, portfolios, designs, software, digital/visual media or other material that provides evidence of original research of significance and impact at the highest level. These outputs should be represented by a written and/or visual record of the output or details of how they can be freely accessed.
  9. There shall be a minimum of two external examiners for Higher Doctorate awards who shall be:
    • pre-eminent in the field of study of the submission
    • experienced examiners to at least doctoral level (examiner of at least ten doctoral level awards) and preferably at higher doctoral level
    • wholly unconnected with the University, the candidate, or their research.
  10. The time permitted for the consideration of submitted research outputs by the examiners and submission of examiner reports to the Graduate School will be five months from the date of circulation of the submission to the examiners.
  11. The examiners will report independently in detail on the extent to which the application satisfies the criteria set out below and on the appropriateness of the specific award sought by the candidate. They will each make an independent recommendation to the Examining Board regarding the granting of the award that:
    • the research work submitted is of high distinction
    • it constitutes an original and significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge or to the application of knowledge or to both
    • the work and other supporting evidence (curriculum vitae and full publications/research outputs list) has established that the applicant is a leading authority in the field or fields of study concerned, having made a sustained and significant contribution to advanced scholarship as evidenced by, inter alia, an established reputation in an academic community, citation of published work, demonstration of contribution to the public domain and impact outside the academic field, for example, via benefits to communities, a sustainable economy and/or society more broadly.
  12. The examination shall be undertaken by reference to the submitted material only; there will be no viva voce. If the examiners' recommendations do not accord, the Board may appoint a third external examiner to carry out a further independent assessment of the body of research work submitted.
  13. The Board may, at its discretion, invite the applicant to discuss their submitted work with representatives of the Board (normally including those who served on the panel at preliminary consideration and/or the appointed examiners).
  14. Taking into account the recommendations of the examiners, the Board may decide:
    • to grant the award of the Higher Doctorate degree, specifying which award is being granted (DSc or DLitt); or
    • not to grant the award of the Higher Doctorate degree.
  15. There shall be no resubmission opportunity, no option to award a lower level of degree and no opportunity for appeal against the decision of the Board. Unsuccessful candidates may reapply after a minimum period of three years if they remain eligible.
  16. While there will be no detailed process for feedback to the candidate, in notifying a candidate of a decision not to grant the award the Board may decide to provide general feedback, or comments that examiners have indicated they particularly wish to be passed to the candidate.
  17. The result of the candidate’s assessment and the award granted will be produced and signed by the Chair of the Examining Board and published in the format approved by the University.

Procedures about Higher Doctorates

Submission of the initial application

  1. An initial application should be made in writing for the attention of the Officer of the Examining Board, via the Doctoral Academy. The applicant should head the email or letter ‘Higher Doctorate’.
  2. Applications will be considered by the Examining Board who will decide if the application is suitable to proceed to examination; this preliminary scrutiny will normally be carried out by a panel of the Board, comprising:
    • the Chair of the Examining Board
    • the relevant College Director of Postgraduate research degrees
    • a senior member of staff who has significant subject expertise and is an established and active member of the research community within the field of the application (this person will normally be a member of the University Professoriate but they do not have to be a member of the Examining Board).
  3. Where appropriate, the panel may seek advice from an individual external to the University and wholly unconnected to the applicant or their research about the application and/or the identification of two suitable external examiners. Such an external adviser will receive a copy of the application. The panel will make its recommendation to the Board for decision.
  4. Where the application proceeds to examination, the Board will also invite two individuals to act as external examiners. Examiners will have experience of examining at least at doctoral, and preferably at higher doctoral level.
  5. The Officer to the Board will organise all examination arrangements and payment of fees by the applicant, now ‘candidate’.


  1. The applicant will pay such fees as are determined by the University, and published in its fees policy. The fee payable will be in two parts:
    • the first part to be submitted with the initial application
    • the second part, where the application proceeds to formal examination.

Please note: fees are non-refundable.

Deposition to the University Research Repository

  1. The successful candidate will be required to submit one copy of the following to the University’s Research Repository:
    • the supporting statement (see regulation E23.v)
    • a bibliography comprising the list of research outputs submitted in support of the application and a list of other publications and significant research outputs.
  2. Any material submitted in hard copy as part of the application will be returned to the candidate if requested. Hard copies of outputs will not be retained by the University.

Post-graduation obligations

  1. Individuals granted a Higher Doctorate award will normally be required to give a public lecture within one year of conferment of the award.

Doctoral Academy Handbook sections