Examination outcomes and reports

An overview of the potential recommendations concerning the award or non-award of a doctoral degree.

On

After the oral examination, the examiners complete a report that is sent to Research Services for faculty approval. This is a joint report, to which the preliminary reports completed by each examiner prior to the examination are appended.  If the examiners are unable to agree on a recommendation, a third examiner, external to the University, is normally appointed.  Research Services must be informed immediately so that arrangements for this can be made.

Examiners must clearly indicate on the report form their recommendation concerning the award or non-award of the degree. The recommendations open to the examiners following first submission and oral examination are as follows:

  • that the degree be awarded without the need for any corrections to the thesis
  • that the degree be awarded once specified minor corrections have been completed to the satisfaction of the examiners
  • that the degree be awarded once specified major corrections have been completed to the satisfaction of the examiners
  • that the degree be not now awarded, but that the candidate be allowed to undergo a further oral examination without modification of the form or content of the thesis
  • that the degree be not now awarded, but that the candidate be allowed to submit a revised thesis after such modification of form or content as the examiners may prescribe, with/without oral re-examination
  • that the degree be not awarded

In addition, examiners for the degree of PhD may also make either of the following recommendations:

  • that the degree of PhD be not awarded, but that the degree of Master of Philosophy (MPhil) be awarded (subject only to the necessary changes to the cover and title page of the thesis)
  • that the degree of PhD be not awarded, but that the candidate be allowed to submit a revised thesis for the degree of MPhil after such modification of form or content as the examiners may prescribe, with/without oral re-examination

Options for other degrees may vary and are set out in the Guidance Notes for Examiners.

Once completed and signed, the joint report form should be returned to Research Services within two weeks of the date of the oral examination. Where minor or major corrections are required, the separate minor/major corrections sheet should be detached and retained until the corrections have been completed to the examiners' satisfaction. One of the examiners will be required to approve the corrections once they have been completed. This is normally undertaken by the internal examiner. The examiner should then sign and date the separate minor or major corrections sheet and return it immediately to Research Services.


Pass with minor corrections

This option may be chosen if the examiners are satisfied that the thesis meets the requirements for the award of the degree, but contains deficiencies that are genuinely minor in nature, such as typographical or presentational errors.  The nature and extent of the required corrections should be such that they can reasonably be completed and submitted to the examiner within a period of three calendar months from the date the examiners notify the student of the corrections.

If more substantial corrections are required before the award of the degree can be recommended, or if the examiners remain in some doubt that the thesis is likely to meet the required standard for the degree after minor corrections, then the examiners should make a different recommendation.

Where minor corrections are required, it is the examiners' responsibility to provide the student with details of the required changes as soon as possible following the viva.

The examiners should also advise the student of the three-month timescale for completion of the corrections.  Students who are undertaking minor corrections to their thesis will have their time limit extended by three months and can request that their UCard is extended by SSiD in line with the new time limit on their student record.

Exceptionally, the time-limit for completion of minor corrections may be extended by the faculty for a further period; however, lengthy, or repeated extensions are unlikely to be approved, as three months should be adequate time to complete any minor corrections. Students who need to request an extension should complete the Time Limit Extension form available from Research Services and, if the extension is granted, will be required to pay the standard extension fee for the duration of the extension period. 

When the student has completed the required minor corrections, they should send a copy of the revised thesis directly to the examiner who is going to check the corrections (normally this is the internal examiner, though they may specify that the external, or both, must check the corrections). It is acceptable for the candidate to email a copy of the thesis directly to the examiner for checking. This is the only circumstance where it is acceptable for candidates to send a copy of the thesis directly to the examiners.

Once the thesis corrections have been approved by the examiner, students must provide a final electronic Library copy of their thesis - see the section on final library copies.


Pass with major corrections

Examiners may choose the recommendation of pass with major corrections if they are satisfied that the thesis has the potential to merit the award of the degree for which it has been submitted, but does not yet satisfy the requirements for award and contains deficiencies that are in excess of editorial or presentational corrections. This may involve re-writing sections, correcting calculations or clarifying arguments, but should not require the candidate to undertake any further original research.

The candidate will be granted six months to complete the required corrections from the date they receive the list of required corrections. Where major corrections are required, it is the examiners; responsibility to provide the candidate with the details of the required corrections as soon as possible following the viva.

The examiners should also advise the student of the three-month timescale for completion of the corrections. Students who are undertaking minor corrections to their thesis will have their time limit extended by three months and can request that their UCard is extended by SSiD in line with the new time limit on their student record.

Exceptionally, the time-limit for completion of major corrections may be extended by the faculty for a further period; however, lengthy or repeated extensions are unlikely to be approved, as six months should be adequate time to complete major corrections. Students who need to request an extension should complete the Time Limit Extension form available from Research Services and, if the extension is granted, will be required to pay the standard extension fee for the duration of the extension period.

When the student has completed the required major corrections, they should send a copy of the revised thesis directly to the examiner who is going to check the corrections (normally this is the internal examiner, though they may specify that the external, or both, must check the corrections). It is acceptable for the candidate to email a copy of the thesis directly to the examiner for checking. This is the only circumstance where it is acceptable for candidates to send a copy of the thesis directly to the examiners.

Once the thesis corrections have been approved by the examiner, students must provide a final electronic Library copy of their thesis - see the section on final library copies.


Resubmission of a thesis

Where the examiners' recommendation is a full resubmission, the joint report should contain detailed advice to the student on the required corrections and improvements and must indicate whether the resubmission is with or without a further oral examination. The joint and preliminary reports should be completed and returned to Research Services within two weeks of the date of the oral examination.  

Research Services will formally notify the student of the requirement to resubmit by letter and will also send the student a copy of the examiners’ report containing the details of the corrections.

Students required to resubmit their thesis will have their time limit amended to 12 months from the date of formal notification from Research Services and can request that their UCard be extended by SSiD in line with the new time limit on their student record.  

A resubmission fee is charged for all resubmissions. For 2022-23 this will be £345 for a resubmission without oral examination and £420 for resubmission with oral examination.

Exceptionally, the time limit for resubmission may be extended by the faculty for a further period; however, lengthy or repeated extensions are unlikely to be approved, as twelve months should be adequate time to resubmit. Students who need to request an extension should complete the Time Limit Extension form available from Research Services and, if the extension is granted, will be required to pay the standard extension fee for the duration of the extension period.

At the end of the resubmission period, the revised thesis must be resubmitted directly to Research Services, following the same procedures as apply to a first submission (see Submission of theses). The resubmitted thesis should also be uploaded to Turnitin at the same time.  The resubmitted thesis must not be sent to either of the examiners prior to formal resubmission.

Research Services can only accept a resubmitted thesis once the student has been formally notified in writing of the examiners' decision on the first submission.

For resubmissions, the title page and front cover should be changed to show the date of the resubmission only, however it is not necessary for the thesis to state 'Resubmission'.  It is recommended that a detailed list of the corrections that have been made following the first submission is included with the resubmitted thesis.

If a resubmission with a further oral re-examination is required, this should normally take place within 10 weeks of receipt of the thesis by the examiners.

If a resubmission without a further oral examination is required, the examiners should aim to complete the re-examination within approximately 6-8 weeks of their receipt of the revised thesis.

The same reporting requirements apply to resubmissions as to first submissions, ie. the examiners must each complete an independent written preliminary report and a joint report.  There are fewer recommendations available to the examiners following a resubmission and, crucially, there is no option for a student to make a further resubmission at this stage.  

Consequently, the examiners must be absolutely confident that the thesis meets the criteria for the award of the degree, or will do so after a period of minor or major corrections, in order to recommend the award of the degree.

Following the viva, the examiners' report forms should be returned to Research Services within two weeks of the date of oral examination (or the date of re-examination in the case of a resubmission without oral).  

If additional minor or major corrections are required the examiners should retain the minor/major corrections sheet and return it to Research Services once all corrections have been satisfactorily completed.  

Following completion of the resubmission and re-examination, students must provide a final electronic Library copy of their thesis - see the section on final library copies.

Find a PhD

Search for PhD opportunities at Sheffield and be part of our world-leading research.