Masters Thesis/Research Portfolio Examiner Appointment Procedures


University staff members involved in the appointment of examiners of masters theses and research portfolios (of 90 points or more).


To outline the procedures that apply to the appointment of masters thesis and research portfolio examiners.


1. Examiners are nominated by the masters thesis/research portfolio supervisor and appointed by the Academic Head.

2. Nominations for the two examiner roles are to be made with a view to an examination process that is rigorous, fair, impartial and timely.

3. Candidates must not be involved in the nomination of examiners and must not be advised of the identity of the nominees or of the appointed examiners at any stage of the examination process.

4. Any breach of clause 3 may result in the replacement of the relevant nominee(s)/examiner(s).

5. Examiners are normally to be academics associated with an institution of appropriate standing and with substantial recent research experience.

Note: For some degrees, the appointment of recognised professional practitioners may be appropriate.

6. All examiners are to:

  • be expert in the topic and/or methodology of the thesis/research portfolio and be sufficiently experienced to evaluate whether or not the thesis/research portfolio fulfils the requirements for the degree
  • normally hold a degree at least at masters level. For some degrees, the examiner may have equivalent research expertise but not hold a degree at the same level. In such cases the examiner’s experience in research degree supervision and examination will be taken into consideration
  • normally be research active. For some masters degrees the examiner may be active in an appropriate profession but not directly in research.

7. At least one examiner must be from outside the University of Auckland.

8. Examiners must not:

  • have been involved in the supervision of the candidate as a main supervisor, joint supervisor, or co-supervisor for the degree being examined, or in providing advice to the candidate beyond a minor consultative role on some aspect of the candidate’s research for that degree
  • be currently enrolled in a degree in the same subject and at the same level as that being examined
  • have any current or previous familial or personal relationship with either the candidate or members of their supervisory team.

9. Examiners must not normally have, or have had, a business or employment relationship with the candidate or members of their supervisory team.

Note: Staff membership of the same Academic unit is not considered a business or employment relationship for this purpose.

10. External examiners must not:

  • currently hold any appointment, paid or honorary, at the University of Auckland or have held such an appointment during the candidate’s enrolment in the degree under examination (other than thesis examination)
  • be, or have been, involved in any research collaboration with the candidate.

11. External examiners must not normally:

  • have been employed by the institution at which the candidate completed their qualifying degree, in the same or a related discipline and at the time when the candidate was studying for their qualification
  • be, or have been, involved in any substantial research collaboration with any of the candidate’s supervisory team within the last 3 years
  • be a graduate of the University of Auckland in the same or a related discipline unless the examiner’s degree studies at the University were completed prior to the candidate’s enrolment in the masters degree

Note: Where there is clearly no conflict of interest, the Academic Head may determine, under clause 16, that a normal exclusion under clause 9 and/or clause 11 does not apply.

12. Conflict of interest pertains to actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest, and the capacity for the performance of examiner duties to be biased, or reasonably perceived to be biased, by any other interest or experience.

13. Prior to nominating any persons, the supervisor must check with nominees:

  • as to the nominees’ suitability to examine the thesis subject matter
  • as to the nominees’ capacity to complete an examination report within 6 weeks of receipt of the thesis
  • for any conflict of interest with the candidate or member of the supervision team

14. All known information relevant to assessment of conflict of interest must be declared by the supervisor at the time examiners are nominated.

See the Postgraduate Examiner Conflict of Interest Guidelines.

15. The supervisor must provide a statement to the Academic Head as to nominees’ suitability to serve as examiners in the respective case.

16. The Academic Head will assess all nominations with a view to the integrity of the examination and the protection of all persons involved in the nomination, appointment and examination processes.

17. The Academic Head may decline any nomination where they are not satisfied as to the appropriateness and/or defensibility of an appointment to an examiner role.


The following definitions apply to this document:

Academic unit may refer to a faculty, school, department or Large Scale Research Institute.

Academic Head refers to the head of the relevant academic unit or their nominee for the purposes of research masters examinations.

Candidates are students enrolled in a masters degree which includes a thesis/research portfolio component.

External examiner is an examiner outside the University i.e. not a staff member, honorary or otherwise.

Staff member refers to an individual employed by the University on a full or part time basis

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.

Key relevant documents

Document management and control

Owner: Pro Vice-Chancellor - Education
Content manager: Manager Academic Quality Office
Approved by: Council
Date approved: November 2020
Review date: November 2025