Doctoral Oral Examination Procedures


Application


All participants in the doctoral oral examination

Purpose


To outline the roles and responsibilities of the participants in the doctoral oral examination. This document is to be read in conjunction with the University’s statute for the degree under which the candidate is registered

Content


Procedures and Responsibilities:

  • Examination Committee
  • School of Graduate Studies
  • Candidate
  • Oral examination panel
    • Independent chair
    • HoD nominee
    • Oral examiner

Procedures and Responsibilities


Examination Committee

1.    If the Examination Committee recommends to the Board of Graduate Studies that the candidate is to proceed to oral examination, then it must also recommend:

  • which of the examiners will be the oral examiner
  • whether the oral examination will take place in person, or may be conducted by video conference

2.    In making their recommendations the Examination Committee must take the following into consideration:

  • the nature and quality of the written reports
  • the ability for the oral examination to be organised in a timely manner

Note: The availability of examiners may differ, especially if it is recommended that the oral examination will take place in person

 

School of Graduate Studies

3.    The School of Graduate Studies is to notify candidates once the Board of Graduate Studies has accepted the Examination Committee’s recommendation that the candidate is to proceed to oral examination

4.    The School of Graduate Studies is to send Part 2 of the examiners’ reports to candidates examined under the 2011 or 2016 PhD Statute no fewer than five working days before the oral examination

Note: Candidates being examined under earlier PhD Statutes are not permitted to receive any written reports before their oral examination

5.    The School of Graduate Studies is to organise the oral examination and appoint an independent chair

6.    The School of Graduate Studies is to formally advise the candidate of the outcome of the examination

 

Candidate

7.    Candidates must prepare for the examination by thoroughly re-familiarising themselves with their theses and by reflecting on the issues raised in the examiners’ reports

Note: The oral examination is likely to commence with an invitation to the candidate to summarise the main points of the thesis

8.    The candidate is to identify the core component of the thesis, its methodology, and its outcome

9.    The candidate is to establish the originality of their work by briefly outlining previous scholarship

10. The presentation is to be no more than 20 minutes long

11. With the candidate’s agreement, the main or co-supervisor, or one of the joint supervisors, may attend the oral examination

12. Candidates are not allowed to have support people or whanau in the room during the oral examination. They may wait nearby

13. The candidate is to make any minor corrections or revisions to the satisfaction of the party nominated on the doctoral oral examination report

14. The candidate must not enter into a debate with the nominated party as to which corrections or revisions they will make

15. Corrections and revisions must be limited to the oral examination panel’s requirements

 

Oral examination panel

16. The oral examination panel must comprise an independent chair, an oral examiner and the HoD nominee of the Examination Committee

 

Independent chair

17. The independent chair (chair) is to be sent the examiners’ reports once it has been confirmed that they will be chairing a particular oral examination

18. If the chair wishes to see a copy of the thesis prior to the examination, they may request a pdf copy from the School of Graduate Studies

19. Twenty to thirty minutes before the oral examination, the chair is to meet with the HoD nominee and oral examiner to discuss the examiners’ reports and process for the oral examination, including the roles of the panel members, the allocation of questions, and the options as to the outcome

20. One of the supervisors may be invited by the chair to attend this meeting to ensure s/he is fully briefed

Note: The supervisor is not an examiner and may only participate in the oral examination to the extent requested by the chair

21. The chair is to check that the room is properly set up to ensure the comfort of the candidate

22. At the commencement of the examination, the chair is to introduce the panel members and explain their roles

23. The chair is to explain to the candidate the order in which the examiner will initially ask questions, although it is expected that once discussion is underway this will flow naturally and in no particular order

24. The oral examination usually lasts between one and two hours – the chair must ensure that breaks are taken after no more than two hours

25. The chair may stop the candidate’s presentation at any time if it exceeds 20 minutes

26. If the examination is taking place by video conference and there are serious problems with the electronic link, the chair may have to call a halt to proceedings. If appropriate, and if the candidate agrees, it may be possible to continue with a teleconference. If the link cannot be re-established and a teleconference is either not appropriate or agreeable to the candidate, the oral examination is to be reconvened at a later date. The chair is to inform the School of Graduate Studies if this is the case

27. When the oral examiner and HoD nominee are satisfied that the issues in the written reports and any other matters of concern and interest have been adequately covered, they are to signal their readiness for closure to the chair

Note: The candidate may also be offered the opportunity to ask questions of the oral examiner

28. At the close, the chair is to indicate that the examination has finished and the candidate is to be asked to leave the room. The panel is to then discuss the examination. The chair may invite the supervisor to be present for this discussion

29. The candidate may be invited back into the room and advised of the panel’s recommendation. If so, the chair must make clear to the candidate that the result is provisional and the final outcome shall be determined by the Board of Graduate Studies

At the conclusion of the oral:

30. If the recommendation requires that the candidate make minor corrections, revise part or parts of the thesis, or revise and resubmit, the chair is to either:

  • advise the candidate and the supervisor about the nature of these corrections and/or revisions or
  • explain how the candidate will be advised about these corrections and/or revisions at a later date

31. The chair is to draft a report and recommendation – see Doctoral Oral Examination Report template

32. The doctoral oral examination report is to be endorsed by the HoD nominee and oral examiner, on the same day if possible, and sent to the School of Graduate Studies  

 

Oral examiner

33. The oral examiner is to take the academic lead in the oral examination, asking questions of the candidate on the subject of the thesis and on relevant matters in the field or fields to which the subject belongs

34. The oral examiner is to discuss with the candidate issues raised in the examiners’ reports and ask questions of the candidate on behalf of the other examiner(s)

35. At the conclusion of the oral, the oral examiner is to:

  • endorse the chair’s report and recommendation, ensuring that the report notes the substantive reasons for the recommendation
  • in cases of revisions to the satisfaction of the oral examiner, check the revisions made by the candidate within one month of receiving the revised thesis, and inform the School of Graduate Studies as to whether the revisions are satisfactory
  • if the revisions are not satisfactory, provide the School of Graduate Studies with a list of outstanding issues that need attention
  • in cases of revise and resubmit, examine the revised thesis as a whole

Note - if a further oral examination is required, it is preferable if the original oral examiner is able to attend the second oral examination

 

HoD nominee

36. The role of the HoD nominee is to provide disciplinary and department-specific representation across the examination process

37. At least five working days before the oral examination, the Head of Department (HoD) or the HoD nominee (who will be present at the examination) is to advise the candidate as to what the format of the oral examination will be, and whether or not some kind of presentation is expected

Note - The HoD or his/her nominee and the supervisor are able to give guidance as to what is usual in the candidate’s discipline

38. The HoD nominee is to contribute to the doctoral examination process in the following ways:

Before the oral:

  • contribute to the decision making of the Examination Committee
  • read enough of the thesis to know its main purpose and findings (but not as an examiner)
  • read the examiners’ reports thoroughly
  • read with care portions of the thesis that are subject to specific comments in the examiners’ reports
  • bring contextual information forward from the Examination Committee to guide the chair in the process of the oral examination

During the oral:

  • assist by ensuring that all the examiners’ comments and questions get addressed
  • may ask general questions from the field e.g. discuss with the candidate the subject of the thesis and relevant matters in the field or fields to which the subject belongs

At the conclusion of the oral:

  • endorse the chair’s report and recommendation, usually on the grounds of a valid process rather than for substantive reasons (the latter being the purview of the oral examiner)
  • in the event of minor corrections, ensure that the candidate is provided with a copy of the required minor corrections. It is expected that the candidate will be provided with a written report detailing the minor corrections required within 5 working days of the oral examination
  • in the event of revisions, ensure that the candidate is provided with a copy of the required revisions. It is expected that the candidate will be provided with a written report detailing the revisions required within 5 working days of the oral examination
  • in the event of a revise and resubmit outcome, ensure the Examination Committee understands the requirements that the candidate must meet and that a meeting is held with the candidate within two weeks of the oral examination

Definitions


The following definitions apply to this document:

Academic unit may refer to a faculty, school, department or institute

Examination Committee is the committee formed for the purpose of considering the examiners’ reports of the doctoral thesis. It comprises the Head of Department, an Associate Dean (Postgraduate), and the HoD Nominee

Head of Department (HoD) refers to the head of the academic unit in which the candidate is registered

HoD nominee is a member of the Examination Committee nominated by the Head of Department on the basis that they have knowledge of the general field of the thesis, but not necessarily of the thesis topic, and will normally be a staff member of the University

Independent chair (chair) is the person appointed by the Board of Graduate Studies to act as an independent chair of a doctoral oral examination. The chair must be a member of the academic staff of the University, but will not be a member of a faculty in which the candidate is registered

Minor corrections refer to minor problems in the thesis such as inconsistency in terminology, referencing problems, or typographical errors

Oral examiner refers to the doctoral thesis examiner appointed by the Examination Committee to attend the doctoral candidate’s oral examination, either in person or by video conference

Revise and resubmit means that the thesis is not yet of PhD standard and requires either further research, rewriting of specific sections, reconceptualisation and/or reorganisation in order to reach the required PhD standard

Revisions are more substantive changes required to the thesis including re-analysis of data, rewriting of chapters, corrections of significant lapses in logic or coherence

University means the University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries
 

Document management and control


Owner: Dean of Graduate Studies

Content manager: School of Graduate Studies

Date approved: July 2015    

Review date: July 2018