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The University of Southampton
Quality HandbookPostgraduate Research

Examination and Examiners

General guidance

A research student will normally be examined by an external and an internal examiner; in exceptional circumstances, one additional external examiner may be appointed. Research students who are members of staff of the University of Southampton should have two external examiners and an internal examiner appointed.  Examiners, both internal and external, should have sufficient experience and appropriate subject expertise to be able to examine effectively. They should also be sensitive to, and take into account in the examining process, reasonable adjustments, equality and diversity.  Collectively, the examiners should have acted as examiner for at least three doctoral examinations, and be familiar with examination practice and standards in the UK.  

It is the responsibility of the member of the supervisory team acting as co-ordinator to ensure that arrangements for the examination are made.  The co-ordinating supervisor should ensure that the Doctoral College (Faculty) Team is advised of the date of the viva voce.

Nominations for examiners should meet the requirements as specified in the Regulations for Research Degrees and the Code of Practice for Research Degree Candidature and Supervision to satisfy the University of the independence, expertise and experience of the examining team.

The viva voce will be chaired by the internal examiner or by an independent chair.  The role of the chair is to: monitor good practice and to ensure that the examination is conducted according to the Regulations and the Code; to ensure that the student is treated fairly and appropriately and that the outcome represents fairly the views of the examiners.  The Code of Practice sets out the circumstances when an independent chair must be appointed by the Faculty.  The independent chair is required to provide a written report which should be submitted to the Faculty Director of the Graduate School immediately following the examination and any reported concerns will be reviewed with a view to satisfactorily resolving the matter.  

A research student must satisfy the examiners in both the thesis and the viva voce.  Following the viva voce, the examiners will recommend one of the outcomes as defined in the Regulations for Research Degrees.

Doctoral Degrees with a Substantial Taught Element

The University offers a number of doctoral degrees with a substantial taught element; for example the Doctor of Clinical Psychology.  The University also offers the Integrated PhD programme in certain disciplines.  These programmes require separate examiners for both the taught and the research elements. 

An external examiner should be appointed for the taught element of such programmes in accordance with the University’s policies and procedures regarding the appointment of, and the roles and responsibilities of external examiners for taught programmes.  This examiner may serve as an external examiner for a cohort of students for the taught element. 

A research student must not be examined in their taught and research components by the same external examiner.  Note, however, that the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology operates on a cohort examiner basis for both the taught and research components, which reflects the system used for similar programmes elsewhere in the UK; and that the Doctorate in Educational Psychology operates on a panel basis, which reflects the system used for similar programmes elsewhere in the UK.


Useful Documents

Postgraduate Research Examining Team: Guidance for Faculties

Guidance for Examiners of Postgraduate Research Awards

Conducting a viva voce as a videoconference - guidance

Examiners' Nomination Form - Postgraduate Research

Examiner's Independent Report Form (MPhil and Doctoral Programmes)

Examiner's Independent Report Form (Portfolio MPhil/PhD Health Psychology Research & Professional Practice)

Chair's Report Form - Postgraduate Research Viva Voce

Examiners' Joint Report and Recommendation Form: MPhil

Examiners' Joint Report and Recommendation Form: Doctoral Programmes

Examiners' Joint Report and Recommendation Form: Portfolio (MPhil/PhD Health Psychology & Professional Practice)

AP08 External Examiner (PGR & PGT only) Claim for Fees and Expenses Form

AP07 Bank Information Form

Guidance for Travelling and Expenses (non-university personnel)

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