Exams External Examiners - Postgraduate Research

The system of Postgraduate Research (PGR) examinations across the Higher Education sector relies on colleagues agreeing to act as examiners and independent chairs.

External Examiners play an important role. They ensure that the thesis and the knowledge of the candidate are comparable to those of candidates being examined for the same degree at other universities. It's essential that the staff appointed should have the necessary expertise to fulfil this role.

We hope you find the information below helpful. 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.

FAQs

Departments should aim to submit a nomination of an Examination Committee no less than two weeks before a student submits their thesis for examination.

The Examining Committee normally comprises at least two active researchers. That is an Internal Examiner who is not part of the supervisory team. And an External Examiner. Or two External Examiners in the case of a Doctorate by Publication. There is also a Convenor, who is not part of the supervisory team.

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

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. They are asked to consider and formally approve the nomination.

Departments will be 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. They will be provided with comments and notification of action required.

Once the Committee is endorsed by the Vice Dean, the External Examiner will be formally invited. They will be asked to confirm acceptance by email.

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

Once an Examination Committee has been submitted, students can upload a copy of their thesis for examination. This can be done using the Postgraduate Research Examination system via Sharepoint.

Upon submission of the thesis, the Student’s Supervisor will be advised. They are required to state approval or otherwise.

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

The Examiners may request a soft-bound copy. If this happens, the student will be notified as early as possible.

If a Viva is required, the Convener will liaise with the Internal and External Examiner and student to identify a suitable date for viva.

Reading and examination typically take around a period of six weeks from the date of the examiners’ receiving the thesis.

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. They are also responsible for 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 Student Experience, together with the External Examiners’ report.

At the completion of the Viva, the Convener must inform the candidate and the Responsible Person of the outcome. They must also include the recommendations of the Examining Committee.

The Convenor must record the outcome of the Viva via the Postgraduate Research Examination system. They must also upload a copy of the Examiners’ report form, written reports, and notes of the viva.

The Internal Examiner must have knowledge and understanding of the topic to enable them 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 be familiar with their research project.

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

The Examiners scrutinise the candidate’s dissertation or thesis. They must submit an individual written critique to the Convenor before 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 Doctoral and Masters orals, the Convenor of the Examining Committee may 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 Student Experience website.

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

The Examiners’ Report will either make an agreed recommendation. Or they will record details of any disagreement along with a proposal for resolution.

The Report should provide a clear justification for the Examining Committee’s decision. 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. They must also submit 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 Student Experience. This will be countersigned. This is to certify that all the instructional elements of the course have been completed. They will inform the candidate and the Responsible Person of the outcome. And they will put forward recommendations of the Examining Committee. Student Experience will forward any award recommendation to the Faculty Board of Study and Senate for ratification.

Student Experience will provide 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.

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.

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.