All research higher degree candidates should be aware of the policies and procedures applicable to the examination of a thesis.
See Sections 19 to 27 of the Research Higher Degrees Policies and Procedures.
The candidate is not only examined on the basis of his/her understanding of a body of existing knowledge but will be also be examined by individuals who must judge the approach to research, construction of hypotheses, argument and analysis. If the degree is awarded, the candidate will become the peer of the examiners.
Appointment of examiners
Two examiners are appointed for a research Masters or PhD degree thesis, both of whom must be external to the University and from different institutions.
In certain circumstances, the University Research Higher Degrees Committee (URHDC) may agree to the appointment of a third examiner. One reserve examiner is also nominated in the event that one of the appointed examiners is unable to accept the invitation to examine the thesis.
The appointment of the examiners must be approved by the College. Before examiners are appointed, the candidate is given the opportunity to object to any potential examiners. Steps should be taken to ensure that examiners are free from perceived bias, either for or against the candidate, the supervisor or the University. Examiners will be experts of international standing in the discipline and will normally be still active in research/scholarship thus ensuring that their knowledge of the field or area of professional practice is current. They must hold a qualification equivalent to or higher than the degree for which the thesis is being examined, or possess equivalent professional experience
After the examiners are nominated by the College, their identity is not revealed to the candidate until after the examination process, and then only if the examiner has not expressed the wish to remain anonymous.
The normal deadline for the submission of examiners' reports for masters or doctoral theses is eight weeks from the receipt of the thesis.
More detailed information about the appointment of examiners can be found in Section 19.2 of the Research Higher Degrees Policies and Procedures.
An examiner is given 8 weeks to examine your thesis, however at times this can be delayed depending on the individual circumstances of the examiner. Once both of your examiners' reports are received they will be considered by the Dean of Graduate Research and you will be notified of the results.
Each examiner has the option of recommending the following grades:
A: The degree should be awarded, subject to satisfying any coursework requirements (if applicable);
B: The degree should be awarded, subject to the completion of minor amendments to the thesis (specified by the examiner) to be carried out to the satisfaction of the supervisor and the Dean of Research of the College (or nominee) and subject to satisfying any coursework requirements (if applicable);
C: The degree should be awarded, subject to the completion of major amendments to the thesis (specified by the examiner) to be carried out to the satisfaction of the supervisor and the Dean of Research of the College (or nominee) and subject to satisfying any coursework requirements (if applicable);
D: The degree should not be awarded but the candidate should be permitted to revise and resubmit the thesis or take a further examination or both. A thesis may be resubmitted for examination only once;
E: Award alternate degree: in the case of a candidate who has submitted a thesis for the degree of PhD or Professional Doctorate an appropriate Masters degree or designated exit award should be awarded;
F: Non Award: the degree should not be awarded and the candidate should not be allowed to present for the degree again.
Further details can be found in the University Research Higher Degree Policies and Procedures, Sections 19-27 and Appendix F.
Minor amendments may include the correction of spelling or typographical errors and small changes to the text.
Major amendments apply when an examiner is assured that the thesis is sound but the amendments suggest changes to the structure and/or substance of some chapters of the thesis to improve the thesis without re-examination.
Consideration of examiners' reports
When the examiners agree
After receiving the examiners' reports, the Dean of Graduate Research determines the final outcome of the examination. If both examiners have recommended the award of the degree without any amendments (A grade), the Dean of Graduate Research will recommend that the degree be awarded.
If both examiners have recommended the award of the degree subject to minor or major amendments (B or C grade), or if one examiner recommends that the thesis be passed, and the other recommends that the thesis be passed subject to minor or major amendments (B or C grade), your supervisor and the Dean of Research of your College (or nominee) ensures that the amendments are made. The Dean of Graduate Research will then normally recommend the award of the degree.
If both examiners are unanimous in making any of the other remaining recommendations above (D, E or F grades), the examiners' reports are then referred to the University Research Higher Degrees Committee (URHDC), which will make a decision on the outcome of the examination.
When the examiners don't agree
When examiners are not unanimous in making any other recommendations above, you and your supervisor will be provided with copies of the Examiner Reports. In consultation with you, your supervisor will be invited to write a statement in response to the differing examiner recommendations. Your examination will be then be referred to the University Research Higher Degrees Committee (URHDC) who will determine your final examination result. The URHDC may engage a third examiner to provide the committee with additional expertise and insight.
The following Examination Diagram and Matrix may be helpful tools to assist with understanding this process.
Student Examination Appeals
You can appeal your examination grade to the Student Appeals Committee if you fall into one of the categories below:
(i) You received divergent results and a decision was made by the URHDC;
(ii) You received an (E) Award Alternate Degree or (F) Non-Award; or
(iii) You are able to provide documented evidence of a flaw in the examination process, such as prejudice or bias on the part of one or more examiners.
Your appeal to the Student Appeals Committee must be lodged with the Manager, Student Policy and Projects within 20 working days of the date of the notification of the decision.
An appeal may only be made on one or more of the following grounds:
- The appropriate policy was not adhered to or correct procedures were not followed in considering the matter;
- The decision was made without due regard to facts, evidence or circumstances.
For further information on appeals see the Research Higher Degree Policy Clause 22.6.