Appointment of examiners
Three external scholars are nominated to examine all graduate research theses (one is held in reserve) on the recommendation of the supervisor and the School Graduate Research Coordinator (SGRC). Both the examiners of a Master's thesis may be based in Australia, but for a doctoral thesis at least one examiner should be based overseas. Prior to the recommendations going to your SGRC, you will be offered the opportunity to comment on possible examiners to identify any who may not be suitable. Your comments will be taken into account but are not binding. The identity of examiners is confidential although identities may be revealed to you at a later stage, for example, when you receive an examiner's report.
After successful submission your thesis will be sent to two examiners who will normally access your thesis through the Library Repository. The third examiner is held in reserve and only contacted if required, for example if one of the examiners cannot continue with the examination, or if the first two examiners return substantially different reports.
The entire examination process usually takes approximately four to six months, but can sometimes take longer, particularly if the examination occurs during a holiday period. The Graduate Research School regularly reviews the situation of every submitted thesis and seeks to expedite the examination process as much as possible. While your thesis is under examination the process is strictly confidential and the GRS will not be able to provide information on the status of your examination to you or your supervisor.
Examiners' reports and results
Each examiner of a doctoral or Master's thesis provides an independent report and does not consult other examiners. During the examination process, there should not be any direct contact between an examiner and supervisor or candidate about the thesis.
Examiners are required to examine the thesis with respect to the topic as defined by you, the candidate, and within the research paradigm and/or methodological approach taken by you.
Examiners are required to provide a full justification of their recommendation. Each examiner recommends one of the following classifications:
- (a) the thesis should be classified as passed and the candidate awarded the degree without amendment or further examination
- (b) the thesis should be classified as passed and the candidate awarded the degree subject to the minor amendments specified in the examiners’ reports and the correction of any typographical errors being made and documented to the satisfaction of the principal supervisor and the SGRC or Head of School.
- (c) the thesis should be classified as passed and the candidate awarded the degree subject to the major amendments recommended in the examiners’ reports and the correction of any typographical errors being made and documented to the satisfaction of the principal supervisor and the SGRC or Head of School.
- (d) the thesis should be classified as deferred and the candidate given up to twelve months to revise and resubmit the thesis for examination
- (e) the candidate should not be awarded the degree.
Note: In a small number of cases a doctoral thesis will be of high quality but not meet the contribution to knowledge requirement of a PhD. In such circumstances an Advisory Panel may make a recommendation to the BGR that the candidate be awarded a Master's degree rather than a PhD.
Decisions based on examiners' recommendations
Your SGRC receives all of the examiners' reports and makes a recommendation to the Board of Graduate Research (BGR) on the basis of those reports.
- Where both examiners have made the same recommendation of either (a), (b), or (c), the SGRC will normally adopt that recommendation.
- Where both examiners have selected one of (a), (b) or (c) above, but have selected different options, the SGRC will recommend award of the degree with appropriate corrections and amendments.
- Where both examiners have selected one of (d), (e) or (f) above (whether the same or different options have been selected) the SGRC will convene an Advisory Panel.
- Where one of the examiners has selected one of (a), (b) or (c), and the other has selected one of (d), or (e) above, the Reserve Examiner will be asked to examine the thesis. If that Reserve Examiner recommends (a), (b) or (c), the SGRC will recommend one of the options (a), (b) or (c). If that examiner recommends (d), or (e) the SGRC will convene an Advisory Panel.
When the BGR has concluded its consideration of the examiners' reports and you have made any amendments required by the examiners to the satisfaction of your supervisor, School Graduate Research Coordinator and the BGR, the BGR shall recommend that the candidate:
- be admitted to the degree;
- not be admitted to the degree;
- be invited to resubmit a revised thesis according to the guidelines provided by the BGR within a maximum period of 12 months or
- in the case of a PhD, not be admitted to the doctoral degree but be admitted to the degree of Master's (in limited cases, see note above).
When the BGR has arrived at a decision, copies of the reports are sent to the candidate, supervisor, Graduate Research Coordinator (GRC), and SGRC.
The degree can be awarded when the recommendation has been approved by Academic Board.
Candidates may appeal the outcome of an examination where there is evidence of a breach of regulation, policy or procedure that has had a meaningful impact on the outcome of the examination. A candidate seeking to appeal the outcome of an examination must advise the Manager, Graduate Research School of their intention to appeal within 10 working days of being notified of the outcome of their examination.
Candidates may also access the University Student Complaints mechanisms or contact the University Ombudsman in such circumstances.
Where your thesis is classified as DEFERRED, you will be invited to revise and resubmit the thesis for re-examination. To enable preparation of the resubmitted thesis, candidature will be extended for a period not exceeding 12 months and you will be required to re-enrol for the duration. Note that if you are an international student you will be required to pay tuition fees during this period, and may need to renew your student visa under these circumstances.
The complete thesis (both revised and unrevised portions of the resubmitted thesis) will be examined during the re-examination. The Advisory Panel will prepare appropriate guidelines based on the examiners' reports, to guide you during the revision of your thesis. Unless permission has been granted by the Chair of the BGR, the identity of examiners will not be revealed to you. The examiners are asked to approve the guidelines as suitable bases for revision prior to you being advised of the guidelines and receiving the anonymous reports of the examiners. A resubmitted thesis is evaluated on the same academic criteria as a thesis submitted for the first time, normally by the original examiners.