Research student exams

Detailed information on graduate research degree stages and all progression forms is available via the Graduate on-course guidance page of the Oxford Students website. Further details on the submission of work, and access to the relevant forms are available on the Research degree stages page of the Oxford Students website. Information for graduate student supervisors and examiners is available here and also on the Research exams page of the Oxford Students website.

Appointment of examiners

Once the Submissions and Research Degrees Team receive an ”Appointment of Examiners form” (GSO.3), that has been approved by all the required parties, formal invitations will be issued to examiners. Examiner copies of a student's thesis cannot be despatched until this invitation has been formally accepted and the examiners addresses confirmed to the Submissions and Research Degrees Team.

Examiner copies of thesis

From Michaelmas term 2019 onwards

Research students will be required to submit a digital copy of their thesis via RTDS for their exam instead of 2 soft-bound copies.

Once the student has uploaded their thesis to RTDS, and both examiners have accepted the formal invitation to act, the examiners will receive an email confirming their appointment (including the relevant exam forms and guidance notes) and a second email from the RTDS application which contains a secure weblink to the thesis.

Summary of the agreed changes to Rules and regulations

  • From Michaelmas term 2019 onwards, candidates will be required to submit the official copy of their thesis for exam digitally via RTDS.  The typewritten part(s) of any thesis must be saved in pdf format. 
  • Examiners may still request a hard copy of the thesis - when an examiner is granted access to the digital copy of the thesis in RTDS and visits the application, they will be able to then request a printed copy of the thesis by completing and submitting an online form. 
  • The minimum time between both examiners receiving the official copy of the thesis via RTDS and a viva date remains at 4 weeks (as referred to under ‘the oral exam or viva’ section of the Research exams web page).
  • Candidates who have already submitted the hard copies of their thesis for exam but are still awaiting their viva or the outcome of their exam, or are part way through the exam process (ie have been given major corrections or have been referenced back) by the start of Michaelmas term 2019 will continue to be examined under the old regulations.

For more information about RTDS please read the Quick Reference Guide (QRG) below:

Extenuating circumstances and viva adjustments

Should a student suffer from a disability that may affect their thesis, this needs to be considered at the time that the student is writing their thesis. There are a number of measures that can be put in place to support disabled students whilst writing their thesis that can be discussed with DAS and department / college disability advisors. These could include extensions of time for milestones, assistive technology, use of proof reader etc.

By the time the student submits their thesis no further consideration of the disability for the written work is appropriate, as the student will have been given sufficient support so that that their thesis can be examined under the same academic criteria as those theses submitted by students without a disability.

However, if a student wishes to make the examiners aware of any illness, disability, or personal circumstance which may affect their performance in the viva, they can make an application for Adjustments to Assessment Arrangements using form GSO.19 (the form and related guidance can be found on the Graduate Forms webpage).

The viva exam and outcome

It is the responsibility of the internal examiner to arrange the viva date with their co-examiner and the student before advertising the viva and confirming the date to the Submissions and Research Degrees Team.

The internal examiners are sent a GSO.9 form (viva notice form), minor corrections notice, and a report form with the hard copy of the thesis. Depending on the stage of the exam, both examiners are also sent a GSO.10 form (claim form). Duplicate copies of these forms can be requested from the Submissions and Research Degrees Team, and under no circumstances should forms issued for another student be used or modified.

Report forms should be returned to the relevant Graduate Studies Assistant (GSA), details of which are on the last page of the document.

Once the relevant Board has ratified the result, their GSA will notify the Submissions and Research Degrees Team of the outcome, who will in turn formally notify the candidate and log the result on the Student System.




Please visit the Graduation and leaving Oxford section of the Oxford Students website for more information regarding obtaining proof of a degree and graduation ceremonies.


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