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Quality HandbookPostgraduate Research


These guidance notes relate to, and should be read in conjunction with, paragraph 35 of the Regulations for the Degrees of Master of Philosophy, Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Business Administration, and paragraphs 93, 94 and 95 of the Code of Practice for Research Candidature and Supervision.

The requirement is normally for one internal and one external examiner to be appointed (in exceptional circumstances one additional external examiner may be appointed). The team should possess sufficient experience and subject expertise to be able to examine effectively. They should also be sensitive to, and take account of in the examining process, individual student differences and diversity. Collectively the examiners should have participated in at least three doctoral examinations. and be familiar with examination practice and standards in the UK. As an example, if the external examiner possesses subject expertise but limited examining experience, this may be compensated for by an experienced internal examiner. 

In certain circumstances an Independent Chair may be required at a Viva Voce examination.  The role of the Independent Chair is to monitor good practice within the examination.  Independent Chairs do not take any part in the judgement of the thesis.  If an Independent Chair is present at the Viva, their role should be clearly explained to the student.  Following the Viva the Independent Chair should report to the Director of the Faculty Graduate School. Circumstances where an Independent Chair must be appointed are outlined in paragraph 97 of the Code of Practice for Research Candidature and Supervision.

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