Examination

Appointment of examiners

All graduate research theses / exegeses are initially sent to two examiners. Your principal supervisor will nominate three potential examiners using the Appointment of Examiner (AOE) form in the PRIME Researcher Portal. The third examiner will be a reserve should one of the nominated examiners decline to examine the thesis or a third report be required.

For a doctoral examination, at least one examiner must be based overseas (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 based in Australia 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 supervisor submits the AOE form, they will consult with you to ascertain whether there are any conflicts of interest or other barriers with any known potential examiners who may be nominated. Your supervisor will not be able to tell you who they are nominating as the identity of the examiners is confidential throughout the examination process until your examination outcome is finalised. Because of this confidentiality requirement, you will also not be able to see the AOE form in PRIME as it is hidden from the candidate view.

The three examiners nominated by your principal supervisor will be reviewed by your school’s Director of Graduate Research (DGR) and then sent on to the Chair of the Board of Graduate Research (or delegate) for final approval and to determine which examiner will be the reserve.

Once your examiners have been approved, we 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. After you submit your thesis, we update your enrolment status to ‘under examination’ and provide both examiners with a link to access your thesis electronically. We also post them a hard copy if they have requested one.

The entire examination process takes approximately four to six months, but can sometimes take longer, particularly if your examination is occurring during a holiday period. Both you and your supervisor cannot have any direct contact with an examiner about the thesis or examination during this period.

We regularly review the status of every examination and maintain regular contact with appointed examiners throughout the process. We will send you a confirmation email once your thesis has been despatched to your 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 in the Graduate Research Examinations for Candidates Guide [PDF 1.43MB]. (Accessing this document requires an institutional or staff login. Visit our institutional account page for instructions on how to activate 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 or further examination
  2. 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 Director of Graduate Research (DGR) or Head of School
  3. 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 DGR or Head of School
  4. the thesis should be classified as deferred and the candidate given up to twelve months to revise and resubmit the thesis for examination
  5. the candidate should not be awarded the degree.

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), or (c), the DGR will normally adopt that recommendation
  • Where both examiners have selected one of (a), (b) or (c) above, but have selected different options, the DGR 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 DGR 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, your reserve examiner will be asked to examine the thesis. If your reserve examiner recommends (a), (b) or (c), the DGR will recommend one of the options (a), (b) or (c). If that examiner recommends (d), or (e) the DGR will convene an Advisory Panel
  • In a small number of cases a doctoral thesis will be of high quality but not meet the contribution to knowledge requirement of a doctoral degree. In such circumstances, an Advisory Panel may make a recommendation to the Board of Graduate Research (BGR) that the candidate be awarded a Masters by research degree, rather than a doctoral degree.

When the BGR has arrived at a decision, we will notify you and your supervisors of the outcome and send you the examiners’ reports. Except where the outcome is revise and resubmit, we will also let you know the identity of your examiners. 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.

Your Advisory Panel will prepare appropriate guidelines based on the examiners' reports and develop a Revision Plan to assist you in revising your thesis. The Revision Plan is then forwarded to the Chair BGR and the examiners 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 examiner or examiners who recommended the thesis be deferred. If the original examiners are not able to examine, new examiner/s will need to be nominated and approved.

Appeals

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.

You may also access the University Student Complaints service or contact the University Ombudsman in such circumstances.