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The MPhil/PhD examination process

You can find a brief overview of the MPhil and PhD examination process on this page, which highlights the different stages of the process and the responsibilities of supervisors and examiners

Nomination of examiners

Information about nomination of MPhil/PhD examiners is available on the Birkbeck Graduate Research School (BGRS) web pages.

Sending out the thesis

Theses will only be sent out by the BGRS once both examiners have indicated their availability to act. Please note that examiners are only allowed to accept hard copy theses from the BGRS. In some cases the examiner may prefer to receive the thesis in digital format.

The student and/or supervisor are welcome to send digital copies of the thesis to an examiner, but this does not exempt the student from having to submit two hard copies as well. Likewise, the hard copies will usually always be sent on to the examiner, regardless of whether they have also received a digital copy.

Each examiner is required to write a preliminary report on the thesis, before the viva voce examination.

The oral examination

Birkbeck regulations outline the conduct of the examination and the possible outcomes. With the student’s permission, the supervisor is allowed to attend, but they do not partake in the examination.

The examination is usually arranged by the candidate’s supervisor, supported by departmental administrative staff. The BGRS does not have an active involvement in the practical arrangement of viva voce examinations.

Examiner reports

Any required forms and paperwork will be sent to examiners. After the examination, both examiners are required to produce a joint report that reflects their decision on the outcome of the examination.

In addition, the examiners are asked to complete an ‘MPhil/PhD examination form’ which is sent, together with the thesis, to the internal examiner and which the examiners must use to confirm the outcome of the viva. This report form, together with the joint and preliminary reports, should be sent no later than 14 working days after the date of the viva to the BGRS.

Minor corrections

If the candidate is passed conditionally, with minor corrections to be made to the thesis, one of the examiners, or the supervisor, is nominated to review the revised thesis and confirm that the required corrections are made. The examination form should specify who is required to check the minor corrections.

The student can resubmit the thesis directly to the examiner or supervisor. Once the nominee has established that the required corrections are completed, they should send a Completion of Minor Amendments form to the BGRS.

Major corrections/resubmission

If the examiners decide that the thesis requires major revisions, the candidate is given 12 months (MPhil) or 18 months (PhD) to resubmit the thesis in revised form. Examiners can exercise their discretion to decide whether a student will be submitted to a further oral examination, or not. The resubmission will have to go through the Registry in the same way as the initial submission.

Examiners will normally be contacted by the BGRS when the student has re-submitted their thesis, and the thesis will be dispatched with the regular forms. Examiners are again expected to submit preliminary reports, a joint report, and the completed ‘MPhil/PhD examination (1EX) form’, to the BGRS.

Fee payments and expenses

Birkbeck College pays examiners £150 for a PhD examination and £100 for an MPhil examination. In addition, it reimburses expenses up to £250. All expenses claims should have original receipts attached to them.

In order to be able to process fee and expenses payments, examiners should submit a completed BACS form with their bank details.

Further information

Please contact the BGRS if you require any further information.