External Examiners

The University appoints two examiners for research degree vivas, at least one of whom must be external to the University. In certain circumstances a chair may also be appointed.

External Examiners play an important role in ensuring that the thesis and the knowledge displayed by the candidate are comparable to those of candidates being examined for the same degree at another University and it is therefore essential that staff appointed should have the necessary expertise to fulfil this role.

External examiners should be made aware of the Privacy information.

External Examiners Must:
  • not be a member of the University's staff or, a member of staff of the Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit, or, in the case of research students registered at an associated institution, a member of the staff of that institution. Former members of University staff may be appointed as external examiners provided that they continue to be actively engaged in research and there has been a period of at least three years between them leaving the University and the date of the viva exam. A longer period may be required if appropriate. Other honorary and emeritus staff of the University shall not be appointed as external examiners. Emeritus staff of another institution may be appointed as external examiners provided that they continue to be actively engaged in research
  • be able to demonstrate relevant expertise through publications in high quality outlet
  • have experience of supervising and examining research degrees - it is recognised that all examiners have to gain experience, so if it is necessary to appoint an inexperienced external examiner departments should ensure that the internal examiner is a senior member of staff with significant experience of examining research degrees. As a norm the internal and external examiner should have experience of examining of at least five students between them
  • have a PhD or a record of research comparable to that required for a PhD
  • normally be working in an appropriate research culture which includes graduate work - in universities the expectation is that a significant number of staff returned in the REF were of international standing
To demonstrate the independence of external examiners, the external examiner must not:
  • have been involved in the three years immediately before the viva voce examination in any collaborative project, including co-authoring, with any member of the supervisory team of the research student to be examined or any other member of the examining team
  • have or have had a close personal relationship with the research student to be examined or any member of the staff of that student’s Department
  • have or have had a close contractual relationship with the research student to be examined or any member of the staff of that student’s Department if this may give rise to a perception of a conflict of interest

If, for good reason, one of the above criteria cannot be met, the Head of School/Department should attach a special case outlining the examiner’s particular suitability for examining the thesis. Cases will be considered by the Doctoral College Director.

Only in exceptional circumstances should external examiners based outside of the UK be considered.

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