Higher Doctorate Examination Procedures


Staff members involved in the examination of higher doctorates at the University

Note - A person wishing to become a candidate for a higher doctorate should refer to the Higher Doctorate Application Procedures.


This document outlines the procedures for the examination of higher doctorates. It is to be read alongside the relevant regulations for the Degree for which the candidate is being examined – see University Calendar.


The University offers higher doctorates in Engineering (DEng), Laws (LLD), Literature (LittD), and Science (DSc). These are the highest academic awards offered by the University and are awarded to graduates or close affiliates of the University of Auckland who have published original work that has, over an extensive period of time, given them authoritative standing and international eminence in their respective field.

The higher doctorate is thus to be seen as recognition of real distinction in one of these areas of study. It is awarded rarely and only after rigorous examination of a substantial and significant corpus of material by examiners of authoritative standing and international eminence in the field of the submitted work and who are themselves active in research.


  • Consideration of applications
  • Appointment of external examiners
  • Examination
  • Examination result


Consideration of applications

1. As soon as possible after an Application to be Examined for a Higher Doctorate (DOC10) has been lodged with the Dean of Graduate Studies and has been determined to meet initial requirements, the application is to be forwarded to the relevant faculty for further consideration

2. The faculty must appoint an examination committee as follows:

  • the committee must comprise three senior academics who have a general understanding of the applicant’s field of research
  • two of these must be academic members of the University
  • one of these two members must be nominated to chair the examination committee
  • one of these two members may be appointed from outside the candidate’s faculty
  • the third member of the examination committee may be external to the University

Note: Consideration should be given to including someone with a higher doctorate on the examination committee

3. The examination committee must investigate the information provided, including the quality and nature of the submission for examination, and seek input from the dean of the faculty

4. The examination committee must make a recommendation to the Dean of Graduate Studies within one month as to whether the faculty will or will not allow the applicant to be admitted to candidature for the higher doctorate

Note: If the application is accepted, the examination committee may offer the candidate advice as to which documentation or publications/works should be included or excluded from the final submission

Appointment of external examiners

5. Upon payment of fees and receipt of the candidate’s written notification of intention to proceed, the Dean of Graduate Studies is to request that the faculty nominate three external examiners

6. The nominations of external examiners must be made within 3 months of the request

Note: The School of Graduate Studies, rather than the faculty, approaches appropriate nominees regarding their willingness to be appointed as examiners. The process to appoint examiners can take many months, owing to the volume of material examiners are committing to examine and the availability of suitable examiners

7. The examiners must be of authoritative standing and international eminence in the field of the submitted work and must be active in research

8. At least one examiner must be resident outside New Zealand

9. Examiners must not have engaged in substantial collaboration with the candidate

10. Any involvement with the candidate by the examiner which could constitute a conflict of interest must be declared at the outset – see Postgraduate Examiner Conflict of Interest Guidelines

11. The appointment of all examiners must be approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies


12. The degree must be awarded solely on consideration of the submitted works upon which the candidate’s claim to the degree is based

13. In order to qualify for the degree, the submitted works must provide sufficient evidence that the candidate has made an original contribution of special excellence to their discipline such that they are considered to have authoritative standing and international eminence in their field

14. Examiners must report to the Dean of Graduate Studies on the submission within 3 months of receipt and recommend whether the candidate should or should not be awarded the degree  

Examination result

15. The reports of all examiners are to be forwarded to the examination committee for consideration of whether or not to admit the candidate to the degree

16. If the examiners’ recommendations differ, the examination committee may invite the examiners to consult and provide a written report or reports on the outcome of their consultation

17. If, after such consultation, the differences remain unresolved, the examination committee may recommend to the Dean of Graduate Studies that a further independent external examiner be appointed to report on areas of conflict

18. The examination committee must recommend an outcome based on the examiners’ reports to the Dean of Graduate Studies

19. The Dean of Graduate Studies is to determine the result of the examination and notify the candidate of the decision


The following definitions apply to this document:

Faculty means the faculty dean or delegate

Higher doctorates include the Doctor of Engineering (DEng), Doctor of Laws (LLD), Doctor of Literature (LittD) and Doctor of Science (DSc)

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

Include the following:

Document management and control

Owner: Dean of Graduate Studies
Content manager: School of Graduate Studies
Approved by: Board of Graduate Studies, Senate and Council
Date approved: 19 September 2022
Review date: 19 September 2027