Thesis Examination

(1)9.57 The research student must successfully defend their thesis in a viva voce examination before a research degree by published work shall be awarded.

Examining Teams

(1)9.58 The viva voce examination must be conducted by an examining team. Each examining team shall comprise two external examiners.

(1)9.59 External examiners must have expertise in the student’s area of research and be an experienced researcher – demonstrated through research publications – and have experience of supervising and examining research students.

(1)9.60 External examiners must not be a member of the University’s staff or a member of staff of the Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit.

(1)9.61 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 voce examination. 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.

(1)9.62 Members of the examining team must not:

1. have been involved in the three years immediately before the viva voce examination in any collaborative project, including co-authoring, with the academic adviser(s) of the research student to be examined or any other member of the examining team

2. have or have had a close personal relationship with the research student to be examined, the student’s academic adviser(s), any member of the staff of the student’s Department, the other member of the examining team, or the chair of the viva voce examination

3. 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

4. have had substantial involvement in the work of the research student to be examined – including substantial co-authoring and collaborative activities

5. have their own work as the focus of the work of the research student to be examined

(1)9.63 The Head of Department or their nominee shall be responsible for nominating members of the examining team. The appointment of research degree by published work examiners shall be subject to approval from the Graduate Dean.

(1)9.64 The examiners shall be responsible for:

1. ensuring that they are familiar with these regulations and the decisions that the examining team may make on completion of the viva voce examination

2. undertaking an assessment of the thesis in advance of the viva voce examination and completing independent pre-viva voce examination reports which must be submitted to the Graduate School Office at least one day before the viva voce examination takes place

3. conducting the viva voce examination with the other member of the examining team and agreeing with them a joint decision on completion of the examination

4. advising the research student of the decision made by the examining team

5. producing a written report  on the changes and corrections required by the examining team and submitting this to the Graduate School Office if the research student is required to complete amendments to the critical appraisal

6. preparing a joint post-viva voce examination report with the other member of the examining team and submitting this to the Graduate School Office

7. assessing the changes and corrections made by a research student who was required to complete amendments to the critical appraisal and confirming whether these have been completed satisfactorily

8. returning to the Graduate School Office the published works submitted for examination

Examination Chairs

(1)9.65 A chair for the viva voce examination must be appointed.

(1)9.66 The chair of the viva voce examination is not a member of the examining team and does not examine the thesis. The chair of the viva voce examination is present to ensure that the viva voce examination is conducted in accordance with these regulations and standard practice for the discipline.

(1)9.67 The chair must be a senior member of the University’s academic staff who has previously examined at least one research student of the University.

(1)9.68 The research student’s academic adviser must not be appointed as the chair for the same student’s viva voce examination.

(1)9.69 The Head of Department or their nominee shall be responsible for nominating the chair of the viva voce examination. The appointment of the chair of the viva voce examination shall be subject to approval from the Graduate Dean.

(1)9.70 The chair of the viva voce examination shall be responsible for:

1. making all arrangements for the viva voce examination and communicating these arrangements to the research student and the examiners

2. notifying the Graduate School Office of the date and time at which the viva voce examination will take place

3. providing the examining team with administrative and/or procedural advice as needed

4. ensuring that the examining team’s joint decision on completion of the viva voce examination is consistent with the decisions permitted under these regulations

Examination Conduct

(1)9.71 Research degree by published work viva voce examinations shall normally be held at the University, including appropriate University Hospitals of Leicester sites. In exceptional circumstances, and with the prior approval of the Graduate Dean, the viva voce examination may be held at another appropriate location.

(1)9.72 The viva voce examination shall normally be held within three months of the examiners receiving the research student’s thesis.

(1)9.73 Only the research student, the examining team, and the examination chair shall normally be present during the viva voce examination. The research student’s academic adviser may attend that student’s viva voce examination as an observer; the attendance of the academic adviser shall be at the discretion of the examining team and permitted only with the consent of the research student.

Examination Outcomes

(1)9.74 The examiners shall on completion of the viva voce examination jointly make one of the following decisions:

1. to award the degree for which the research student was examined with distinction (research students examined for the degree of MD by Published Work)

2. to award the degree for which the research student was examined

3. to award the degree for which the research student was examined subject to the satisfactory completion of amendments to the critical appraisal

4. not to award the degree for which the research student was examined

(1)9.75 If the examining team is unable to agree a joint decision, advice must be sought from the Graduate School Office.

(1)9.76 A decision to award a degree subject to the satisfactory completion of amendments to the critical appraisal shall involve amendments that are:

1. communicated in writing to the research student following the viva voce examination

2. completed and submitted to the examining team within a period of one to three months, as specified by the examiners, from the date at which the research student is provided with the examining team’s post-viva voce examination report including details as to the changes and corrections required

(1)9.77 Research students who following examination are not awarded the degree for which they were examined may submit a further application for admission to a research degree by published work programme provided that a period of at least two years has passed since the date of the viva voce examination. A further application for admission to a research degree by published work programme shall not be accepted should the research student not be awarded a degree at the second attempt.

Award and Conferral

(1)9.78 The research student shall receive formal notice of the award of the degree following receipt by the Graduate School Office of a decision by the examining team that an award should be made.

(1)9.79 The University may withhold the award of a research degree by published work until such time as the research student has complied with the final submission requirements specified in (1)9.53 to (1)9.54.

(1)9.80 The conferral of the degree shall take place at the first appropriate degree congregation following award of the degree. The research student must wear full academic dress when presented at the degree congregation.

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