Policies and procedures

Policy No.
Teaching And Learning
Authoring Organisational Unit
Academic Council
Date Approved
07/11/2018 Revised 16/09/2020
Next Review Date

The University of Western Australia

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University Policy on: Examination of Higher Degree by Research Candidates


Overtype “Policy Name” with the name of the policy.  This must convey specifically, accurately and succinctly what the policy addresses eg Award of Honours, Study Leave.

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

This policy sets out the requirements and responsibilities for examination of Higher Degree by Research candidates and their theses and should be read in conjunction with the relevant course rules and Procedures.



This policy relates to Higher Degree by Research Courses whose examination is managed by the Graduate Research School.

This must be in Normal, Policy style.

Provide a brief summary of the reasons for the policy and issues it addresses.  This section is designed to stand alone.  The aim is to provide the reader with enough information to make a decision about whether or not this is the policy they are looking for.  It must not be longer than 200 words. 

Example 1

This policy defines the nature and purpose of study leave provisions for academic staff and sets out eligibility criteria and other conditions that apply.

Example 2

This policy seeks to rationalise the award of honours across the University by addressing such issues as: entry standards, course content and structure, supervision, assessment, examination, grades, classifications, benchmarking and the maintenance and provision of documentation relating to these matters.  It is based on resolutions of the Academic Board flowing from the 1999 report of the Honours Working Party.


Board means the Board of the Graduate Research School

Graduate Research Coordinator means the person delegated by the Head of School to act on their behalf on matters pertaining to Higher Degree by Research candidates

Candidate means a person enrolled for a higher degree by research

University means the University of Western Australia

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Policy statement:

1. The University is committed to ensuring that all Higher Degree by Research theses submitted for examination:

(a) Make an original contribution to knowledge in the subject with which they deal. In the case of a Doctor of Philosophy, the contribution must be substantial;

(b) Uphold the university’s principles of academic integrity;

(d) Are at the appropriate standard for the AQF level of the qualification; and

(c) That the quality of the English and general presentation are of a standard for publication


2. Appointment and independence of Examiners

2.1 The thesis must be examined by at least two external examiners who are experts in the field and independent of the university, supervisors and candidate.

2.2 Examiners are nominated by the supervisors, approved by the Graduate Research Coordinator and appointed by the Board.

2.3 Examination of Higher Degree by Research theses must occur free of bias, which may be introduced to the examination process via a range of prior or current personal, professional or legal relationships between the examiner and the student, the supervisor/s or other examiners. In addition, bias may occur when an examiner has a prior or current relationship with the University or an interest of more than an academic nature in the outcomes of the research.

2.4 Real or perceived conflicts of interest with examiners must be declared at the time of their nomination and will be assessed by the Board.

2.5 Any party concerned with the examination of a thesis who becomes aware of the potential for a real or perceived conflict of interest anywhere in the examination process has the responsibility to declare it to the Board responsible for the thesis examination. This remains the case notwithstanding that the conflict might not be their own.

2.6 When the Board responsible for examination of a thesis receives a declaration of real or perceived conflict of interest with respect to an examination it must consider the matter according to this policy and its own practice and either: (a) determine that a prima facie conflict of interest exists and exclude the relevant party from the examination process; or (b) determine that no prima facie conflict of interest exists and allow the party to continue to be involved in the examination process. In either case, the rationale for the determination must be recorded in the relevant minutes and on the student file.


3. Submission of the thesis

3.1 Theses must be submitted for examination to the Graduate Research School.

3.2 A thesis submitted for examination must be accompanied by certification from the supervisor(s) and Graduate Research Coordinator that the form and content of the thesis are suitable for examination.

3.3 The Board may, in exceptional circumstances, accept for examination a thesis without the certification of the supervisor and/or the head of school and may, after an examination is complete, notify the examiner(s) that the thesis was submitted without school support.

4. Classification of the thesis

4.1 The Board will consider all reports on a thesis submitted for examination along with any other examinable components and make a classification according to the rules of the course.

4.2 A candidate whose thesis is classified as Resubmit must resubmit the thesis for examination within one calendar year of the date of notification of classification as detailed in the Examination Procedures.

4.3 A thesis may be resubmitted only once during the examination process.


5. Additional provisions for the Doctor of Philosophy thesis examination

5.1 Candidates enrolling in Doctor of Philosophy from January 1 2018 are required to undertake a viva voce (Oral Defence) following receipt of written examination reports. See Procedures on: Examination of Higher Degree by Research Candidates Including Viva Voce.

5.2 Subject to 5.3, successful completion of the viva is required for award of the degree.

5.3 Candidates enrolled in a Doctor of Philosophy prior to 1 January 2018 are not required to undertake a viva voce but will be assessed by the Board on the basis of reports received from three examiners appointed in accordance with clause 2 above.

5.3.1 In cases where it has not been possible to obtain a report from one of the examiners referred to in 5.3 the Board may, at its discretion, elect to classify a thesis on the basis of two reports.

5.4 A candidate may undertake a viva only once for a single award.

5.4.1. Under exceptional circumstances a candidate may request the presence of a support person to accompany them to the Viva. The role of the support person is to be present but not to participate in the viva in any way unless approval has been granted otherwise.


6. A candidate wishing to appeal the outcome of an examination must submit a case in writing as detailed in the University policy on: review and appeal of academic decisions for courses managed by the Graduate Research School, or for students in courses for which the examination is not managed by the Graduate Research School, University policy on: review and appeal of academic decisions relating to students



See Schedule A




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Academic Secretary

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