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Higher Research Degrees
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Written Examination

The examiner's report

Each examiner is required to:

  1. write an independent report on the thesis; and
  2. make a recommendation of assessment.

Both are sent directly to the School of Graduate Research and are submitted to the Postgraduate Research Committee for approval.

The examiner should write the report in confidence and may not confer with other examiners or with the supervisors. Neither the thesis nor any part of it should be given to any other persons for any purposes whatsoever before the examination process is complete.

If an examiner finds that he/she is not qualified to comment on aspects of the thesis which are considered to be significant to the argument or conclusion, they should notify the School of Graduate Research by email, without waiting to submit the final report on the thesis. This will assist the School of Graduate Research in obtaining an alternate examiner if necessary.

The report can vary from a few pages to a lengthy statement. The content and nature of the report will vary according to the nature of the thesis, conventions relevant to the appropriate disciplines, and to the concerns that the examiners may have about the content of the thesis.

Questions for the oral examination

Bearing in mind the purposes of the oral examination, the examiners are also requested to suggest either questions which should be put to the candidate before or at the oral examination, or topics which should be further explored with the candidate during the oral examination.

The questions, or topics, provided by the overseas examiner are put to the candidate by the New Zealand examiner, who takes part in the oral examination.

Candidates have the right to see the written reports of examiners, via their Chief Supervisor prior to the oral examination. It is therefore important that examiners accept this condition when they agree to act as examiners. The overseas examiner does have the right to remain anonymous to the candidate but this option is not available to the New Zealand examiner who takes part in the oral examination.

The recommendation

The examiners are asked, as part of their report, to make an initial recommendation of assessment for  the award of the degree. This recommendation may be subsequently modified in the light of the oral examination.
In their recommendation, examiners are asked to indicate the level of revisions necessary to allow the thesis to be accepted for award of the degree.

Examiners may choose from the following recommendations:

  1. Thesis should proceed to oral examination, does not require significant revisions
  2. Thesis should proceed to oral examination, revisions anticipated
  3. Thesis should not proceed to oral examination. Candidate should be asked to re-enrol and to undertake the major revisions indicated in my report and in due course to re-submit the thesis for re-examination
  4. Thesis should not proceed to oral examination and should not be accepted for the award of a doctoral degree
  5. Thesis is not accepted for the doctoral degree but is accepted as fulfilling the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy/Master of Education/Master of Laws (subject to amendments of a minor nature, principally the correction of typographical errors if appropriate)

Where the examination results in both examiners recommending option 3.'Thesis should not proceed to oral examination. Candidate should be asked to re-enrol and to undertake the major revisions indicated in my report and in due course to re-submit the thesis for re-examination', the candidate will be required to re-enrol and resume paying tuition fees and levies for a minimum of six months full-time equivalent enrolment, at which time they will re-submit their thesis for re-examination.

Divergent examination results

When the School of Graduate Research receives divergent reports from the two examiners, the Postgraduate Research Committee will appoint a third examiner based on the Chief Supervisors nomination.

In all higher research degree thesis examinations the external examiners' reports are directed in the first instance to the School of Graduate Research and are not disclosed to any third party until approved for action by the Postgraduate Research Committee.

Reports by Chief Supervisors

The Chief Supervisor is not an examiner but does provide a report. Following submission of the thesis the Chief Supervisor must submit a written report to the Postgraduate Research Committee confirming that:

  • the work presented in the thesis is that of the candidate and that any contribution from another person has been properly identified by the candidate
  • ethical approval was obtained for the research undertaken (if required)
  • any factors which may have influenced the work of the candidate, along with
  • any comments on the candidate's performance and the quality of the thesis.

This report is additional to the Soft Bound Submission form signed by the Chief Supervisor and Chair of Department/Head of School at the time of submission of the thesis.

Normally the Chief Supervisor will submit a report after consultation with, and endorsement by, any appointed co-supervisors. If necessary or preferred, a co-supervisor may submit an independent report.

The supervisory panel report(s) are sent to the examiners once the thesis has been approved to proceed to oral examination and will be taken into account by the examiners at the oral examination.

Thesis resubmission

A candidate is only entitled to one re-enrol, revise and resubmit period and one oral examination.  Where a thesis has been resubmitted, a further resubmission will not be permitted irrespective of the contents of the examiners' reports. An oral examination will only be held once, either following the initial recommendation of the examiners, or if recommended following the resubmission of a thesis.

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