Regulations for the Submission and Examination of Research Theses
Time Limits and Extensions
1. The expectation is that candidates will submit their thesis within the time-limit laid down by regulation. A candidature may be suspended or a time-limit extended by the University, but in exceptional cases only.
2. Normally, suspensions/extensions will be granted only on compassionate grounds, or in cases of illness, serious domestic difficulties, inordinate professional commitments or unforeseen research difficulties which can be demonstrated to have adversely affected the candidate. A full and reasoned case, supported by appropriate medical or other independent evidence, must be made for consideration by the University. In the case of candidates who cite exceptional professional commitments, the request must be accompanied by written confirmation and description by the employer of the exceptional workload borne by the candidate.
3. A clear statement must be supplied, showing that the department concerned has evaluated the situation in which the candidate finds themselves and that it considers the requested extension to be appropriate. This should include a schedule of work leading to submission within the extended time limit proposed. The candidate should also provide a written statement.
4. Applications for suspensions/extensions must be routed via the candidate's supervisor and Institute to the Graduate School.
Submission and Language of Thesis
5. Around three months before submission is expected, the candidate shall complete an Intention to Submit form which will initiate procedures for examination including nomination by the Department/Institute of an external examiner(s). External examiners are expected to be in place prior to submission. This will ensure that the examination process can begin promptly upon submission.
6. For the purpose of the examination, candidates shall submit the following to their department:
a. Two typed and bound copies of the thesis in permanent, hardback binding or in temporary, security binding each of which shall contain:
i. a summary not exceeding three hundred words in length;
ii. statement, signed by the candidate, showing to what extent the work submitted is the result of the candidate's own investigation; acknowledgement of other sources shall be made by footnotes giving explicit references. A full bibliography must be appended to the work;
iii.a declaration, signed by the candidate, to certify that the work has not already been accepted in substance for any degree, and is not being concurrently submitted in candidature for any degree;
iv. a signed statement regarding availability of the thesis.
b. An additional, loose copy of the summary prepared by the candidate.
c. A completed form of notice of candidature, available from the Academic Quality and Records Office (AQRO).
d. Confirmation that the candidate has discharged all outstanding financial obligations and has satisfied the requirement that they have matriculated successfully.
e. An electronic copy of the thesis.
f. A signed statement indicating:
that the thesis, if successful, may be made available for inter-library loan or photocopying (subject to the law of copyright), and that the title and summary may be made available to outside organisations;
that the thesis, if successful, may be made so available after expiry of a bar.
Normally, the title and summary of the thesis shall be freely available.
7. A candidate is at liberty to publish the whole or part of the work produced during the candidate's period of registration at the University prior to its submission as a whole, or part of a thesis, provided that in the published work it is nowhere stated that it is in consideration for a higher degree. Such published work may later be incorporated in the thesis submitted to the University.
8. Any candidate who is following a scheme of study or research of the University may choose to submit a thesis or other work in either Welsh or English. A candidate who wishes to be assessed in a language (i.e. either Welsh or English) which is not the main language of tuition/assessment for the scheme concerned is required to notify the Centre for Welsh Language Services by the time-limit laid down by the University. The nominated officer should then liaise with the Chair of the Examining Board regarding:
i. such arrangements as may be required (e.g. provision of simultaneous translation facilities) for the viva voce examination;
ii. the necessary arrangements, which must be approved - at the request of the Chair of the Examining Board - by the examiner(s), for the translation and/or marking of work;
iii. the engagement of a suitable person or persons to act as advisory examiners or - at an approved fee - as translators.
9. On occasion it may be considered appropriate for a thesis to be submitted in a language other than Welsh or English for scholastic reasons. In such cases, permission to make such a submission may be given by the Head of the Graduate School where a reasoned case has been made for approval, normally in advance of the candidate’s registration for study. Appropriate arrangements for the supervision and examination of the thesis must be outlined by the department to confirm that the quality of the student’s learning experience and the standards of the award will not be compromised. Approval shall not be given to requests based upon the candidate’s lack of ability to produce a work for submission in either Welsh or English.
10. Candidates who are resubmitting a thesis which has failed previously to satisfy the Examiners are required to submit to two copies of their modified thesis together with those documents specified in paragraph 6 above. A resubmission fee will be payable towards the costs of the examination and must be submitted with the revised thesis. Details of current fees are available from the Academic Quality and Records Office.
11. Detailed instructions on the presentation of theses are to be found in Notes of Guidance issued to candidates who are about to submit their thesis.
12. f satisfied that a prima facie case exists for referring the thesis for detailed examination, the Chair of the Examining Board shall send both copies of the thesis to the Academic Quality and Records Office. One copy is forwarded to the internal examiner and the other copy is sent to the external examiner, together with the completed documents specified above. The thesis, in hard copy or electronic form, should not be sent by the department or candidate directly to the examiners. This applies equally to a re-submission.
13. A candidate may not amend, add to, or delete from the thesis after it has been submitted.
Constitution of Examining Board
14. All Examining Boards for student candidates shall consist of each of the following individuals:
An external examiner;
An internal examiner.
15. In the case of staff candidates, there shall be two external examiners. This regulation shall apply both to candidates who were members of staff during their registration period, and those who become staff members after completion of a student registration but prior to submission. This is to ensure that the examiners are, and will be perceived to be, objective and to avoid any difficulties which might be experienced by the candidate or examiner when they are work colleagues. Where candidates have become staff after a student registration, and where the nature or location of their employment is such that a proposed internal examiner would be demonstrably objective, the case may be made to the Head of the Graduate School that the examination should be conducted by one internal and one external examiner.
16. Examining Boards for candidates who are, or who become at the time of submission, members of staff at another institution or University shall be constituted as for student candidatures (i.e. normally with one external and one internal examiner.)
17. Heads of Department/Institute may nominate a senior member of their academic staff to act as Chair of an Examining Board. Where the Head of Department/Institute is also the supervisor of the candidate concerned, they must delegate this task. The Chair of the Board shall be independent in the examining process, and shall be responsible for the conduct of the examination. The Chair shall be:
• a Senior Lecturer or above;
• normally from the student’s department(s) but may be drawn from another department where no-one suitable can be identified, for example, because of conflicts of interest or the need for a Welsh speaker;
• experienced in supervising and examining PhD candidates;
• familiar with the regulations governing research degree vivas.
18. The external examiner(s) shall be appointed in accordance with the University’s Code of Practice for External Examiners of Research Degrees. They must be aware of the nature and purpose of the degree for which the candidate is being examined and must possess specialist knowledge and expertise in the subject of research. Other criteria for appointment are set out in the Code of Practice.
19. External examiners should not be appointed where they have had extensive contact with the candidate. Where they have had significant contact, details of the nature of the contact should be made known to the Head of the Graduate School for consideration during the appointment process. Further information is contained in the notes of guidance for examining boards and Intention to Submit form.
20. The internal examiner should normally:
• be a full-time member of staff from the student’s department(s) but may be drawn from a cognate department where appropriate or required. Part-time may also be appropriate if they are suitably experienced;
• hold a PhD;
• have experience of supervising at least one PhD student to successful completion.
21. If, in exceptional circumstances, it proves impossible to appoint an appropriate internal examiner from within the University, the Head of the Graduate School may approve the appointment of a second external examiner in lieu of an internal examiner, nominated by the department. All steps should have been taken to appoint an internal examiner before a second external examine is considered.
22. A candidate's supervisor shall not be appointed internal examiner, although they may be invited by the Chair of the Examining Board, with the prior consent of the candidate, to attend the oral examination in an advisory capacity.
23. The Chair of the Examining Board may invite other appropriate persons to act in an advisory capacity. They shall not have the right to vote as members of the Board, but may be invited to attend the oral examination.
24. The examiners should be sent one copy of the candidate's thesis and the forms and guidance necessary for the conduct of the examination. The Chair, and the examiners, will be asked to note that the University expects that, normally, the examination of the candidate should be completed within a period of twelve working weeks from the date of submission of the work by the candidate.
Unacceptable Academic Practice
25. One purpose of the oral examination is to determine that the thesis is the candidate’s own work. Where it is suspected that unfair practice may have occurred in a submitted thesis, it should be referred to the Academic Quality and Records Office. If this occurs prior to the oral examination, that examination may be postponed until the allegation of unfair practice is resolved. If, during the oral examination, the Examining Board suspects unfair practice, the result may be withheld pending an unfair practice investigation. Suspected unfair practice after a result has been issued or after the degree has been awarded should also be referred to the Academic Quality and Records Office. Results and awards may be rescinded if unfair practice is found to have occurred.
Conduct of Examination
26. The Examining Board is required to conduct an oral examination of candidates in all cases except where an examination of a re-submitted thesis is being conducted. Under this circumstance, this requirement may be waived at the discretion of the Examining Board where it has reached the view that the thesis clearly meets the standard to pass without amendments, or with only very minor corrections or amendments. In other, exceptional circumstances, a viva for a resubmission may be waived with the approval of the Examining Board and the Head of the Graduate School. The Chair shall advise the candidate of the arrangements which have been made for the oral examination.
27. The following individuals must be present at the oral examination:
1. The Chair;
2. The External Examiner(s);
3. The Internal Examiner(s).
28. The oral examination must normally be held in the University. However, Head of the Graduate School may, in exceptional circumstances, permit an oral examination to be held elsewhere. Such a practice, should not, however, be more costly than holding an oral at the University itself.
29. In exceptional circumstances, and with the approval of the Head of the Graduate School, an oral examination may be held by electronic means. Detailed guidance on the approval process and protocols for the conduct of the examination will be available from the Academic Quality and Records Office.
30. A student requiring special provision for their examination shall submit a written application, in the first instance, to the nominated officer in the University, normally the Institute Director of Postgraduate Studies, who shall consult the Academic Quality and Records Office. The application shall be supported by documentary evidence. The nominated officer, in consultation with AQRO, is permitted to disregard requests for special provision if not supported by appropriate documentary evidence.
31. If the nominated officer recommends that a student should receive special provision, they shall forward the application, supported by copies of documentary evidence, to AQRO as soon as possible. AQRO shall consult with Student Support before confirming the support which should be put in place.
32. A supervisor attending an oral examination may speak only when invited to do so by the Chair.
33. A candidate's supervisor(s) shall have the right to convey to the Chair of the Examining Board any concerns relevant to a candidate's research project, the resulting thesis or its examination which the supervisor(s) consider(s) the Board should take into account prior to reaching its decision. The supervisor(s) shall convey these concerns, in writing, both to the Chair and to the candidate as soon as practicable after the presentation of the thesis and in any event, early enough to allow the candidate sufficient time prior to the examination of the thesis (including any oral examination) to consider the points made and prepare a response.
34. It shall be the responsibility of the Chair of the Examining Board to ensure that the candidate is satisfied with the time allowed for consideration of and response to the points made by the supervisor(s), and to secure for the record a written statement by the candidate to this effect.
35. An Examining Board shall consider any written submission to the Chair by a candidate's supervisor(s) and any response by the candidate in accordance with the provisions immediately above.
36. The candidate may also bring to the attention of the Examining Board any special circumstances which might affect their performance during the oral examination or have impacted upon the thesis.
37. There shall be no recording of the viva.
38. After completion of the examination, the Chair will arrange for the completion of the interim result and report form which the student will be asked to sign; a copy shall be given to the student. The Chair must return the completed Report and Result form and the interim result form to the Academic Quality and Records Office. The Report and Result form will contain the external examiner’s report (including a report on the oral examination), the internal examiner’s report, a joint examiners’ report (if desired) and the Examining Board’s formal recommendation of result. The formal recommendation of result sheet must record the exact decision of the Examining Board and must be signed by the Chair, the external examiner(s) and the internal examiner(s), but not by any person attending in an advisory capacity.
39. In the event that the thesis must be re-examined or that corrections must be made, the Chair is responsible for arranging for the collation and provision of the feedback to the candidate and the supervisor at the time of the viva, or shortly thereafter.
40. On receipt of the completed Report and Result form, and, where appropriate, confirmation that all required corrections are complete, the Academic Quality and Records Office will inform candidates of the final result.
41. All copies of a failed thesis must be returned to the candidate once the process of examination (and the hearing of any subsequent appeal case) has been completed.
Recommendation for award
42. Examining Boards may recommend one of the following options:
In the case of candidates for the Degree of PhD
a. that the candidate be approved for the degree of PhD subject to completion of such minor corrections as may be required by the Examining Board. Corrections should be completed within a period of four working weeks from the date of the official notification to the candidate of the outcome of the examination. The Board may stipulate that the corrections shall be scrutinised by either/both examiner(s) prior to the award process being initiated.
b. that the candidate be approved for the degree of PhD subject to such corrections and amendments as may be required by the Examining Board. Corrections and amendments shall be completed within a period of up to six months from the date of the official notification to the candidate of the outcome of the examination. The Board may stipulate that the corrections shall be scrutinised by either/both examiner(s) prior to the award process being initiated.
c. * that the candidate be not approved for the degree of PhD but be allowed to modify the thesis and re-submit it for the degree of PhD on one further occasion, upon payment of a re-submission fee. A candidate may be allowed a single opportunity to re-submit the work. The re-submission should take place within a period not exceeding twelve months. The submission and examination process shall be the same as for the first submission.
d. that the candidate be not approved for the degree of PhD, but be approved instead for the degree of MPhil subject to completion of such minor corrections as may be required by the Examining Board. Corrections shall be completed within a period of four working weeks from the date of the official notification to the candidate of the outcome of the examination. The Board may stipulate that the corrections shall be scrutinised by either/both examiner(s) prior to the award process being initiated.
e. * that the candidate be not approved for the degree of PhD, but be allowed to modify the thesis and re-submit it for the degree of MPhil on payment of the examination fee. A candidate may be allowed a single opportunity to re-submit the work. The re-submission shall take place within a period not exceeding one year from the date of the official notification to the candidate of the outcome of the examination.
f. that the candidate be not approved for the award of a degree.
* These options are not available in the case of candidates who have re-submitted a thesis for examination.
In the case of candidates for the degree of MPhil
a. that the candidate be approved for the degree sought subject to completion of such minor corrections as may be required by the Examining Board. Corrections should be completed within a period of four working weeks from the date of official notification to the candidate of the outcome of the examination. The Examining Board may stipulate that the corrections made shall be scrutinised by either/both examiners(s) prior to the award process being initiated.
b. that the candidate be approved for the degree sought subject to such corrections and amendments as may be required by the Examining Board. Corrections/amendments shall be completed within a period of twelve working weeks from the date of the official notification to the candidate of the outcome of the examination.
c. * that the candidate be not approved for the degree sought but be allowed to modify the thesis and re-submit it on payment of a re-submission fee. A candidate may be allowed a single opportunity to re-submit the work. The re-submission shall take place within a period not exceeding one year from the date of the official notification to the candidate of the outcome of the examination.
d. that the candidate be not approved for the degree of MPhil.
* These options are not available in the case of candidates who have re-submitted a thesis for examination.
43. When a dispute arises between the external examiner and internal examiner(s) or the two external examiners, the usual Report and Result Form should be marked by the Examiners and Chair so as to indicate that the Board had been unable to agree upon a recommendation. In such a case the Head of the Graduate School shall resort to another external examiner who shall be asked to arbitrate. When selecting an Arbitrating External Examiner, the Head of the Graduate School shall take into account any written reports submitted by the members of the Examining Board and may also take into account – but need not be bound by – any nomination made by the original Board.
44. Upon appointment, an Arbitrating External Examiner shall be given a copy of the candidate’s work together with the reports of the original examiners and the ‘Report and Result Form’ and ‘Notes for Arbitrating External Examiners’. When considering the candidate’s work, an Arbitrating External Examiner may choose whether or not to refer to the reports of the original examiners (and if so, when they might do so). They may also choose to conduct a further oral examination and, if so, whether or not the original examiners may be invited to attend.
45. When the Arbitrating External Examiner has concluded the consideration of the work, the outcome should be communicated to the Chair of the Examining Board, in the first instance. The Chair shall arrange for the ‘Report and Result Form’ to be completed, signed and returned to the Academic Quality and Records Office.
46. Candidates who are not recommended by the Examining Board for the award of the degree in respect of which they submitted their thesis may appeal against the decision reached. They will be notified of the appeal procedure by the Academic Quality and Records Office.
Access to Theses
47. Two copies of every work approved by the examiners shall become the property of the University. The Chair must arrange for the deposit of one hard copy of a successful thesis in the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, and for the deposit of a second copy in the University Library. In addition to the permanent bound volumes deposited in libraries, candidates must provide an electronic copy of the final version of the thesis for deposit in the University’s Research Repository. Theses and theses metadata so deposited will be made available by the University to external repositories including the digital collection of the National Library of Wales and the British Library's UK database of theses.
48. The candidate will be expected to sign a declaration that the electronic copy as deposited in the electronic repository is identical in content to that deposited in the Library, and that the candidate has obtained the appropriate copyright permissions for the inclusion of any third party content within the thesis so that the work can legally be made available in an open access repository. Material accepted for the repository should conform to guidelines issued from time to time by Information Services.
49. A hard copy thesis submitted for a higher degree of the University shall normally be openly available and subject to no security or restriction of access. However, candidates may request either a bar on photocopying and/or access to the thesis for a specified period of up to five years, or that it is not made available in the University’s Research Repository. Any recommendation for a bar on access must be made to the University via the Research Degrees Committee or its Chair, by the Institute after consideration of an application by a candidate's supervisor, supported by the Director of Postgraduate Studies. It shall be the responsibility of the supervisor to make the application as soon as is reasonably practicable. Ideally this should be at the time of registration of the candidate's scheme of research. The recommendation must include a statement of the grounds on which the request is being made. Most requests of this nature are made on the grounds of the commercial sensitivity of the research, which may have been partially sponsored by a commercial or industrial organisation.
50. Following a successful examination, the Chair of the Examining Board must notify the University Librarian, the National Library and the Research Repository that the work is to be withheld from access for a specified period. The period approved shall be calculated from the date on which the candidate is formally notified by the University that they have qualified for a degree. When a thesis is subject to a bar on access, it will not be deposited in the University Research Repository or any other open access electronic repository until the expiry of that bar.
51. The Institute may approve a request by the student that the thesis should not be made available in the University Research Repository. This should be clearly stated in the declarations accompanying the thesis. This does not constitute a bar on access to the thesis.
Admission to Degree
52. Candidates who have qualified for higher degrees may be admitted to their degrees once the examination has been completed and the Examining Board’s recommendation for the award of the degree - on the Report and Result form - has been received by the Academic Quality and Records Office, along with confirmation that all necessary corrections have been completed to the satisfaction of the examiners.