Examination process

Guidelines for research students

Thesis Examining Panel

Approximately three months before the anticipated date of completion, as determined by you and your supervisor, the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee, on the recommendation of your Head of Enrolling Area, will appoint your Thesis Examining Panel (Rule 10: Degree of Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 12). Panel members will be nominated by your supervisor in consultation with the Head of Enrolling Area.

The responsibilities of the examiners are detailed in Rule 10: Degree of Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Sections 13(a)&(b). All examiners may request that their names be kept confidential.

  • Doctoral Thesis Examining Panel – The Thesis Examining Panel shall comprise the Chairperson of the Thesis Committee (ex officio) acting as Chairperson and two examiners both of whom shall be external to the University. No person who has at any time been a member of a candidate’s Interim Thesis Committee or Thesis Committee shall be eligible for appointment as an examiner.
    Rule 10: Degree of Doctor by Research, Sections 12(a)(i)&(ii)
  • Master places – The Thesis Examining Panel shall comprise the Chairperson of the Thesis Committee (ex officio) acting as Chairperson and two examiners, at least one of whom shall be external to the University. An internal examiner shall be external to the enrolling area in which the candidate is enrolled. No person who has at any time been a member of a candidate’s Interim Thesis Committee or Thesis Committee shall be eligible for appointment as an examiner.
    Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 12(a).

Examination process

The examiners review the thesis in terms of your understanding of the field of study, your ability to conceive, plan and conduct a program of research, the originality of your work and the significance of the contribution you have made to that field (Rule 10: Degree of Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 13(a)). Generally, a thesis should also be excellent in its standard of presentation, English expression, grammar etc., and contain a substantial amount of material that you (and usually your supervisor) have published or is suitable for publication in a refereed journal. The examiners are also required to assess the thesis in relation to your stated thesis objectives. Examiners then submit an independent written report on your thesis to the Thesis Examinations Officer, which includes a recommended outcome, in accordance with Rule 10: Degree of Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 13(b).

The examiners’ reports are then forwarded to the Chairperson of the Thesis Committee, who assesses the reports to determine whether they are in substantial agreement. This determination must take into account the content and context of the reports (i.e. qualitative assessment of the reports) as well as the overall classification (i.e. quantitative assessment of the reports). The Chairperson will either find that there is (1) substantial agreement among the examiners, or, in the event of (2) no clear weight of opinion, will recommend the appointment of an Adjudicator.

(1) Substantial agreement

If the Chairperson finds there is a clear weight of opinion, they will recommend one of the following outcomes to the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee.

No amendments

If the examiners have pointed out minor typographical errors, these must be corrected.

Minor amendments

If minor textual and/or structural amendments are required, you will be advised in writing by the Chairperson of the specific requirements. You should complete these in as short a time as possible to the satisfaction of the Chairperson.

Substantive amendments

If revision of specific sections of the thesis is required, you will be advised in writing by the Chairperson of the specific requirements. These must be done to the satisfaction of the Chairperson.

Revise and resubmit

If one or more of the examiners require your thesis to be submitted in a revised form (i.e. requiring further research, rewriting, reorganisation, and/or reconceptualisation), you will be advised in writing by the Chairperson of the specific requirements. The examiner may specify this category for a thesis which requires major, substantive amendment and submission for re-examination by the original examiner. The maximum time allowed to undertake the revision is twelve months, but it is in your interest to complete this in as short a time as possible. Your enrolment retains “thesis under examination” status until your thesis is either passed or failed.

Once the revision has been completed, you should provide the Chairperson with a copy of the revised version, together with a statement outlining the revisions you have made. Where there is a disagreement with some of the examiner’s recommendations, and not all the revisions have been carried out, you must also provide a statement to that effect and have it supported by your supervisor. A completed Copyright and Release of Thesis for Examination form signed by you, your Supervisor and Chairperson must accompany the re-submission.

The revised thesis, copyright and release form and statement should be forwarded to the Thesis Examinations Officer for re-submission to the original examiner(s).

Fail

If your thesis is recommended as a fail by the examiners, all but one copy (which will be retained by the University Graduate Studies Committee for record purposes) will be returned to you. You are entitled to appeal against this decision as provided by Rule 10: Degree of Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 17(e)-(j).

(2) No clear weight of opinion

Where the recommendations of the examiners do not allow determination of a result based on a clear weight of opinion, the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee will recommend the appointment of an Adjudicator to the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research Training (Rule 10: Degree of Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 13(i)). The Adjudicator should be a person external to the University with substantial knowledge and expertise. Their role is to adjudicate between the examiners’ reports on the basis of the thesis presented.

The time frame for the examination process varies and is largely regulated by the length of time it takes the examiners to submit their reports, however, you would normally expect to be advised of the examiners’ responses within four months of the date of submission.

Oral examination

An examiner or the Chairperson of the Thesis Committee may recommend to the University Graduate Studies Committee that you undergo an oral examination to clarify aspects of the thesis you have submitted. This recommendation can only be made following an initial examination of the thesis and is not permitted after a thesis has been re-submitted for examination (Rule 10: Degree of Doctor by Research and Rule 11: Degree of Master by Research, Section 14(b)).

If the University Graduate Studies Committee accepts a recommendation for an oral examination, they will then appoint a Convenor who is a senior member of the University’s academic staff from an enrolling area other than that in which you undertook your research. The Convenor will then determine the location and format of the oral examination in consultation with you, the Chairperson of the Thesis Committee and the examiner(s).

The oral examination should involve a brief presentation by the candidate followed by a series of questions without notice from the examiners and the Chairperson of the Thesis Committee. It should take no longer than two hours. The Oral Examination Committee then meets in situ to discuss the results of the oral examination and the subsequent classification of the thesis. The Thesis Committee Chair will then report the result of the thesis examination to the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee, who make a recommendation to the University Graduate Studies Committee.

Recommendation of the Thesis Committee Chairperson

After being satisfied that the examination process is complete, the Chairperson of the Thesis Committee will make the appropriate recommendation to the University Graduate Studies Committee, through the Faculty Graduate Studies Committee. If amendments to the thesis were requested, you must provide a statement documenting your response to the examiners’ reports, which will be attached to the recommendation.

Final distribution of thesis

Once the Chairperson of the Thesis Committee has approved your amendments, please arrange delivery of two, loose-leaf copies of the final version of your thesis to the Guild Bookshop for permanent binding. One copy is for your Supervisor and one for yourself and this applies to both masters and doctoral students.

With your final copies, you will also need to submit a completed Thesis Permanent Binding Instructions sheet and you can use this document to order any additional personal copies you might require above the mandatory two copies.

In addition, you are also required to submit a digital copy of the final version in accordance with the Guidelines for the Submission of Digital Theses of Higher Degree by Research Students [.pdf – 157 kB].

Digital thesis submission

Once your thesis has been passed, you are required to submit a digital copy of the final version in a format approved by the University Graduate Studies Committee.

This electronic version will be held in Curtin’s institutional repository espace, which will allow worldwide access to your work.

For detailed information on how to submit your thesis in a digital format, visit the submission page on the Curtin University Library website.

Conferral of award and graduation

When the University Graduate Studies Committee has classified your thesis as Passed, your name will be placed on the graduation list for Conferral of the Award by the Council of the University. The Chairperson of the University Graduate Studies Committee will advise you of this and therefore you do not have to complete an Application to Graduate. The Graduations Officer will write to you in due course with the option of attending the appropriate ceremony or receiving the Award by mail.