External Examiners - Postgraduate Research

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The system of PGR examinations across the HE sector relies on the dedication and generosity of colleagues across the sector in agreeing to act as examiners and independent chairs. External Examiners play an important role in ensuring that the thesis and the knowledge displayed by the candidate is comparable to those of candidates being examined for the same degree at other universities and it is therefore essential that staff appointed should have the necessary expertise to fulfil this role.

We hope you find the information below helpful and we would ask you to pay particular attention to the section on Right to Work in the UK/Eligibility checks.

 

All Nomination of Examination Committees for Higher Degree awards must be processed via the PGR Examination Process Sharepoint System

 

IMPORTANT: Right to Work in the UK/Eligibility checks

Right to Work in the UK

The University is obliged to verify the “right to work” of any person appointed to undertake work here, as set out in the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006. This includes external examiners of all nationalities, irrespective of the nature or length of the employment or the fact that the individual may already be employed by another Higher Education Institution.

The department/school who nominates the External Examiner is responsible for ensuring that all necessary checks have been carried out before an individual undertakes work for the University (please refer to Establishing the Right to Work in the UK: Guidance for Undertaken Duty Claims)

ELIGIBILITY CHECKS - UK/EEA NATIONALS AND NON-EEA NATIONALS CURRENTLY EMPLOYED IN THE UK OR THE EEA

 The following checks should be carried out when employing:

 -       A UK national

 -       An EEA national

 -       A non-EEA national currently employed in the UK or EEA (for example someone working in another HEI within the UK), in which case a copy of their passport and their visa should be taken.

 When undertaking an eligibility to work check for an external examiner, the host department should:

-       Check that the presented documentation is original, genuine in appearance and on the list of accepted documents. Refer to Guidance from the Home Office.

-       Check the document(s) in the presence of the holder.

-       Ensure that a full copy of the document(s) is taken (for passports this includes: any page featuring personal details, pages with endorsements and expiry dates).

-       For audit purposes it’s important that the individual verifying the documentation certifies the following “I (insert name) certify that this is a true copy of the original document”. They should then print their name, position, signature, contact details and date on each page.

-       Retain copies of the document(s) and store them securely until an Undertaken Duties form (fee claim form) has been completed. Both should be uploaded to the Supplementary Payments System.  Once this has been done successfully, paper copies should be retained only for as long as strictly necessary, then destroyed as confidential waste, in accordance with Data Protection legislation.  

NON EEA NATIONALS NOT CURRENTLY WORKING IN THE UK OR THE EEA    

If the external examiner attending the viva is a Non EEA National not currently working in the UK or the EEA the activity is classed as a Permitted Paid Engagement undertaken by a Business Visitor from out with the EEA. Although the aforementioned “Right to Work in the UK” checks are not required for these individuals, departments are strongly advised to obtain a copy of the appointment letter and any other documentation that may be relevant to the process of engaging the individual, such as a copy of the individual’s passport.

ACTIVITY OUTWITH THE UK OR OFF CAMPUS

In the case of research awards where an oral examination is not mandatory and the external examiner is not required to attend the University, the following rules apply:

-       If the activity (examination of the thesis) is undertaken out with the UK by a non UK national the individual is exempt from HMRC regulations and the activity is classed as a Permitted Paid Engagement.

-       If the activity (examination of the thesis) is undertaken off campus but within the UK, by a UK or EEA national, then the same Right to Work in the UK checks must be carried out by the host department. If the external examiner is unable to attend the University to enable the checks to be carried out in person, their original documentation must be submitted by Royal Mail Special Delivery, after which verification of the individual’s identity and their documentation needs to be carried out by the host department via a live, clear video call (e.g. Skype or Facetime). The cost of Royal Mail Special Delivery is recoverable by submitting an expense claim along with the original receipt. See information on Fees & Expenses below.          

Please be aware that the University will be unable to pay the examination fee if eligibility documentation is not provided.    

Fees & Expenses

Fees

The University fees for PGR examining are as follows:

-          Masters (MSc/MRes/MPhil) - £90.00

-          Doctorates (PhD/DBS/EdD) - £120.00

-          Higher Doctorates (DSc) - £200.00.

To claim the fee an Undertaken Duties form should be completed and we would recommend that this is done on the day of the viva. 

 

Expenses

The University will pay reasonable travel, accommodation and subsistence expenses incurred in the performance of examination duties.  A fully completed claim form should be returned to the host department along with original receipts for all expenses claimed (preferably on the day of the viva). Please note that credit card slips are not acceptable as receipts and it may not be possible to pay expenses which are not accompanied by appropriate supporting evidence. It is advisable that you retain a photocopy of the claim form and any receipts.

 

Remember to quote the name and registration number (if known) of the student to whom the claim relates, the name of the department/department contact and the date of the viva.    

 

Travel

We will reimburse the cost of standard class, advanced purchase train tickets for travel to/from your home or place of work to the University. First class train travel will not normally be covered. Transfer costs (i.e. mileage and taxis) and parking costs will also be reimbursed. Air travel within the UK is discouraged unless the overall cost is cheaper. If travelling from outside the UK, air travel should be agreed in advance with the host department before making a reservation.

 

Accommodation

Accommodation should normally be booked by the host department and the University will pay the cost directly to the hotel. Alternatively, examiners may book their own accommodation (up to a maximum of £75 per night) and claim the cost back via an expenses claim form. There are a number of  conveniently located hotels close to the University and we have negotiated preferential bed and breakfast rates. Accommodation costing in advance of £75 should be agreed in advance with the host department before making a reservation. The University will pay for the number of nights required to conduct the viva (normally one and a maximum of two). Additional costs such as mini bar items, newspapers, pay per view TV and telephone calls will not be reimbursed.

 

Subsistence

The cost of meals will be reimbursed up to a maximum of £15 for lunch and £25 for dinner, including drinks, when supported by receipts or included in the hotel bill. The cost of alcohol (for dinner only) will be refunded when taken with a meal. Alcohol will not be reimbursed when taken during working hours i.e. during lunch. Gratuities will not be refunded unless included on an itemised bill as a service charge.

 

Note: The University reserves the right to decline payment, in part or in full, of any expense item which is considered to be unreasonable or excessive.

 

Payment

All fees and expenses will be paid directly into your bank account. If your claim is received and processed prior to the payroll cut-off date, which is normally no later than the 4th of the month, then your claim will be paid at the end of the same month. If you miss the cut-off date then payment will be made at the end of the following month.

Postgraduate Research

External Examiners - Postgraduate Research

External Examiner Report

Following approval of a nominated Examination Committee, the Committee will be notified and the External Examiner asked to formally accept the role.

The Student Business team will then arrange for the candidate’s dissertation or thesis to be sent to the Examiners electronically.  Should either Examiner require a physical soft-bound copy the student will be notified and asked to submit accordingly.

It is expected that a period of approximately 6 weeks will normally be adequate for reading and examining a dissertation/thesis, including the oral examination of the candidate. It is understood however that this timeline may not always be suitable.  In such cases the External Examiner is asked to liaise with the Examination Committee Convener to agree a suitable timeline. 

The appropriate degree examination report form will be provided to the Examination Committee with the thesis for examination for completion, and must be signed by all members of the Examining Committee. If a viva is required, then all signatures can be obtained at the time of the Viva and the outcome of the Viva recorded by the Convener via the PGR Examination Process Sharepoint System and a copy of the signed report uploaded. If no viva is required, the External Examiner should sign their section of the form and return it to the Convenor for completion and processing via the PGR Examination Process Sharepoint System

Nomination Process

The process for nominating PGR Higher Degree Examination Committees is managed via the PGR Examination Process Sharepoint System: 

 User Guides to the Sharepoint process: ‘Nominating an Examination Committee’

11.3.3 The individual nominating the Examination Committee must clearly confirm that all required appointments to the Examining Committee are in place and tick the box on the appropriate form to endorse this. If the nomination form is incomplete in any way it should not be submitted. Student Business issues a report to Quality Assurance Committee on a regular basis with details of the PGR examining committees. QAC endorses the recommended appointments of external examiners.

11.4 The External Examiner

11.4.1 The External Examiner will in many cases be a senior academic in an institution of at least equivalent reputation to the University of Strathclyde in the subject area in question. He or she will normally be expected to have a proven publication record in the field of study.

Nomination of Examination Committees are processed via the PGR Examination Process Sharepoint system:     https://moss.strath.ac.uk/inst/resexam/SitePages/Home.aspx

11.8 Recommendations of the Examining Committee

11.8.8 The Convenor will record the outcome and upload a copy of the completed and fully signed Examiners’ Report to the PGR Examination Process (Sharepoint System), certifying that all the instructional elements of the course have been successfully completed, and inform the candidate and the Responsible Person of the outcome and recommendations of the Examining Committee. SEES will forward any award recommendation to the Faculty Board of Study and Senate for ratification.

How and when should a department nominate an examination committee for postgraduate research candidate?

How and when should a department nominate an examination committee for postgraduate research candidate?

Departments should aim to submit a nomination of an Examination Committee no less than 2 weeks prior to a student submitting their thesis for examination.

The Examining Committee normally comprises at least two active researchers – an Internal Examiner who is not part of the supervisory team and an External Examiner (two External Examiners in the case of a Doctorate by Publication) – and a Convenor, who is not part of the supervisory team

The Supervisor should identify and propose members of the Examination Committee to the Head of Department/School or nominated Departmental Postgraduate Research Administrator for Departmental approval.

How are nominated committees formally approved?

Once approved by the Head of Department/School or nominated person, the nomination should be submitted via the Postgraduate Research Examination system via Sharepoint.

The Vice Dean will be notified upon submission of a nomination and asked to consider and formally approve the nomination. Departments will be automatically notified of approval or otherwise of an Examination Committee nomination. Should an Examination Committee be rejected by the Vice Dean the Department will be automatically notified and provided with comments and notification of action required.

Once the Committee is endorsed by the Vice Dean the External Examiner will be formally invited and asked to confirm acceptance by e.mail.

Both Internal and External Examiners will be sent a copy of the thesis in electronic format in the first instance. Examiners may request to receive a physical soft-bound copy of the thesis in addition or in preference to the electronic version.

When and how should a student submit their thesis for examination?

Once an Examination Committee has been submitted students are able to upload a copy of their thesis for examination via the Postgraduate Research Examination system via Sharepoint.

Upon submission of the thesis, the Student’s Supervisor will be advised and required to indicate approval or otherwise.

Once submission approved by Supervisor and accepted by the External Examiner, the thesis will be sent to both Internal and External Examiners.

Should either of the Examiners have requested a soft-bound copy the student will be notified as early as possible.

Who is responsible for arranging a viva?

Should a Viva be required, it is the responsibility of the Convener to liaise with the Internal and External Examiner and student to identify a suitable date for viva. It is expected that a period of around six-weeks, from date of examiners’ receiving thesis, be required for reading and examination.

What is the role of the convener?

The Convenor will be a member of staff of the University who is not the Supervisor or Second Supervisor.

The Convenor will not also be one of the Examiners.

The Convenor is responsible for convening the committee, ensuring the receipt of preliminary reports from the Examiners, and for resolving any disagreements which may arise.

The Convenor is responsible for taking notes of the viva that clearly evidences the process, indicating:

- A basic record of the topics discussed;

- The time allocated to each topic area of the examination;

- The timing of any breaks taken.

It is not intended that this be a verbatim record of the viva. The Convenor is responsible for returning this record to SEES together with the External Examiners’ report.

At the completion of the viva the Convener is required to inform the candidate and the Responsible Person such as the Departmental Postgraduate Research Administrator, of the outcome and recommendations of the Examining Committee.

The Convenor is responsible for recording the outcome of the Viva via the Postgraduate Research Examination system and to upload a copy of the Examiners’ report form, written reports and notes of the viva.

 

Who can act as an internal examiner?

The Internal Examiner is expected to have sufficient knowledge and understanding of the topic to enable him or her to judge the quality of the thesis and to play a full part in the examination.

The Internal Examiner should not have had any significant contact of a supervisory nature with the candidate or his or her research project.

Are there any restrictions on who can act as an external examiner?

An External Examiner should not normally:

  •  be an honorary member of the University of Strathclyde;
  •  have been a member or honorary member of the staff of the University of Strathclyde in the three years prior to the assessment or whilst the student/doctoral candidate has been carrying out research at the University if this is more than three years;
  •  have had any significant contact of a supervisory nature with the student/doctoral candidate or his or her research project; or
  •  be appointed in one Faculty more than five times in three years.
What is the role of an examining committee?

The Examiners scrutinise the candidate’s dissertation or thesis and are required to submit an individual written critique to the Convenor prior to a meeting of the Examining Committee.

The Examining Committee normally conducts an oral examination for Doctoral candidates.

For Masters candidates, the Committee may at its own discretion:

  • conduct an oral examination;
  • meet to confirm the outcome without conducting an oral; or
  • complete the assessment by correspondence.

For both Doctoral and Masters orals, the Convenor of the Examining Committee may, after consultation with the candidate, invite the Supervisors to attend the oral examination and dissertation of the examiners in a non- voting capacity.

The Examiners prepare and sign a joint report which includes a summary Pro Forma. Sample Examiner Report forms are available to view on the SEES website.

An electronic version of the form is sent to the External Examiner by SEES together with the thesis and other relevant information.

The Examiners’ Report will either make an agreed recommendation or record particulars of any disagreement along with a proposal for resolution. The Report should provide clear justification for the Examining Committee’s decision and Examiners should be aware that this is likely to be made available to the candidate.

In the event of small differences of judgement within the Examining Committee, External Examiners’ views will normally prevail.

The Convenor must report more significant disagreements to the Faculty Board of Study together with a proposal for resolution. The Convenor may in such circumstances seek approval from the Board of Study for the appointment of a second External Examiner.

The Convenor will return the Examiners’ Report to SEES, countersigned to certify that all the instructional elements of the course have been successfully completed, and inform the candidate and the Responsible Person of the outcome and recommendations of the Examining Committee. SEES will forward any award recommendation to the Faculty Board of Study and Senate for ratification.

SEES will provide a written confirmation to the candidate subject to ratification by the Board of Study and Senate.

For a candidate who is required to resubmit, the Convenor or Internal Examiner will communicate to him or her what further work is required

How is a student notified of outcome after examination?

At the completion of the viva the Convener is required to inform the candidate and the Responsible Person such as the Departmental Postgraduate Research Administrator, of the outcome and recommendations of the Examining Committee.

Once the Convener has recorded the outcome of the examination via the Postgraduate Research Examination system and uploaded the necessary documentation, Student Business will notify the student of the outcome and provide them with access to the Examiners’ reports.

How are the decisions following examination processed?

The Vice Dean will be notified of award/decisions requiring formal approval once the outcome of the examination has been recorded via the Postgraduate Research Examination system.

With the exception of decision of ‘degree be awarded subject to minor amendments’, all decisions require formal approval by Vice-Dean.