Appointment of examiners

All graduate research theses / exegeses are initially sent to two examiners. Once your principal supervisor has approved your Notice of Intent to Submit (NOI) form, they will receive an email prompting them to nominate three potential examiners using the Appointment of Examiner (AOE) form in the PRIME Researcher Portal. Supervisors can access detailed instructions on how to complete the AOE form in the Graduate Research Examinations for supervisors user guide on the PRIME Help and Support Unite Site. The third examiner will be a reserve should one of the nominated examiners decline to examine the thesis or a third report be required. There may be instances where a further examiner is required through the examination process due to a number of reasons and if so, the principal supervisor will be contacted with this request.

All examiners must normally hold an equivalent degree, or possess equivalent professional experience, to the degree they are examining and be internationally recognised experts in the research area of the thesis.

For a doctoral examination, at least two of the three nominated examiners must be resident outside of Australia (unless the examination includes the requirement to attend an exhibition, performance or other event in person) and all examiners must be external to La Trobe University. For a Masters by research examination, all examiners may be Australian residents and one may be a La Trobe staff member, as long as they don’t have a conflict of interest. You can find more information on the relevant rules and procedures in the Appointment of Examiners Procedure.

Before your principal supervisor submits the AOE form, they will discuss with you details of the potential examiners to be nominated and to provide an opportunity to ascertain whether there are any conflicts of interest or areas of concern. However, please note that there is no obligation here for supervisors to nominate any examiner you may recommend. You will also not be able to see the AOE form in PRIME.

The three examiners nominated by your principal supervisor will be reviewed by your school’s Director of Graduate Research (DGR) for approval and to determine which examiner will be the reserve. In some instances, the AOE may require approval by the Chair of the Board of Graduate Research. Once the examiners have been fully approved, the GRS will contact both you and your supervisors of the approved examiners. You will have 10 working days from this notification to raise any concerns regarding the approved examiners for review by the Chair of the Board of Graduate Research. If there are no concerns raised, the GRS will contact the two initial examiners to formally invite them to examiner your thesis and will notify the reserve examiner that they may be needed.

The examination process

The examination process begins once you upload your thesis to the University Repository and the examiners have been approved and accepts the invitation to examine (see the Submission of your Thesis page for details of these steps). Once you have submitted your thesis, we provide both examiners with a link to access your thesis electronically. If an examiner requests a hard copy of the thesis, we will ask you to provide a printed version which we will then post to the examiner.

The entire examination process takes approximately four to six months, but can sometimes take longer, due to other commitments of the examiner or if your examination is occurring during a holiday period. You, your supervisors or anyone else from the school cannot have any direct contact with an examiner about the thesis or examination during this period. Any contact is to come from the GRS.

We regularly review the status of every examination and maintain contact with appointed examiners throughout the process by way of reminders. We will send you a confirmation email once your thesis has been despatched to both the examiners and will provide you with updates throughout the process.

Please be aware that this process is confidential. We can only provide you and your supervisor with general information on the status of your examination. You can track the progress of your forms and see you overall examination status by accessing your Graduate Research Examination (GRE) record in the PRIME Researcher Portal . Further instructions on accessing your GRE record are available on the PRIME Help and Support Unite Site. (You will need to use your institutional or staff login to access PRIME and the help site. Visit our institutional account page for instructions on how to activate and use your institutional account.)

Examiners' reports and results

Each examiner will review your thesis and provide an independent report. Both examiners are required to assess the thesis with respect to the topic as defined by you, and within the research paradigm and/or your methodological approach.

Examiners are required to provide a full justification of their recommendation in a report. Each examiner recommends one of the following classifications:

  1. the thesis should be classified as passed and the candidate awarded the degree without amendment (other than the correction of typographical errors only) or further examination
  2. the thesis should be classified as passed and the candidate awarded the degree subject to amendments where the examiner recommends either:
      1. minor amendments (including the correction of any typographical and grammatical errors, formatting errors, the minor re-writing of sentences and/or paragraphs for clarity, and referencing errors) with up to four weeks to effect the recommendation; or
      2. major amendments (including minor amendments and substantial changes to the structure and/or content of chapters, tables or figures) with up to twelve weeks to effect the recommendation to the satisfaction of the principal supervisor and the Director of Graduate Research (DGR) or Dean of School
  3. the thesis should be classified as deferred and the candidate re-enrolled for up to twelve months (full-time equivalent) to revise and resubmit the thesis for examination per the Graduate Research Examinations Procedure – Revise and Resubmit.
  4. the candidate should not be awarded the degree (fail).

Decisions based on examiners' recommendations

After both the examiners have submitted their reports to your school’s DGR, your DGR will make a recommendation to the Board of Graduate Research (BGR) based on both reports:

  • Where both examiners have made the same recommendation of either (a), (b), (c), or (d) the DGR will normally adopt that recommendation.
  • Where both examiners have selected one of (a) or (b) above, but have selected different options, the DGR will normally recommend one of (a) or (b) and where amendments are required will stipulate the time permitted to make the amendments
  • Where one of the examiners has selected one of (a) or (b), and the other has selected one of (c), or (d) above, the approved reserve examiner will be asked to examine the thesis. If there is a majority decision, the DGR will normally recommend a final outcome that reflects that majority decision. If there are still divergent results of either (a)/(b), (c) and (d), the DGR may recommend an Examination Panel be formed to provide a joint recommendation.

When the BGR has arrived at a decision about the outcome of your examination, we will notify you and your supervisors of the outcome and send you the examiners’ reports. If you received a pass outcome, you move on to the completion requirements stage of your degree.

What happens if my thesis is classified as deferred?

Where your thesis is classified as deferred, you will be given the opportunity to re-enrol for up to 12 months (full-time equivalent) to revise your thesis and resubmit it for re-examination. You will need to enrol for this period and will continue to receive support from your supervisors during this period and will need to continue to comply with all usual conditions of candidature including a schedule of progress meetings to be held during the re-enrolment period.

Your Examination Panel will prepare a Revision Plan based on the independent examiners’ reports to assist you in revising your thesis. The Revision Plan is then forwarded to the Chair BGR for approval. Once the revision plan has been approved, we will forward it on to you and ask you to confirm in writing your acceptance of the plan and agreement to re-enrol to revise and resubmit your thesis.

When you are ready to re-submit your revised thesis, you follow the same steps as the first time to prepare and submit your thesis. Your revised thesis will be submitted for re-examination to the examiners who will independently review the examinable material, and then reconvene the Examination Panel to make a joint recommendation to the Chair of the Board of Graduate Research of either pass, pass with amendments, or fail. If the original examiners are not able to examine, new examiner/s will need to be nominated and approved.


You may appeal your outcome if there is evidence of a breach of regulation, policy or procedure that has had a meaningful impact on the outcome of your examination. If you are seeking to appeal your outcome, you must advise the GRS of your intention to appeal within 10 working days of being notified of the outcome of your examination.

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your appeal, you may also access the University Student Complaints service or contact the University Ombudsman in such circumstances.