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External examiners (research degrees) guidance

Examiners for research degrees are invited to use the information below to assist in the external examination process.

Examination process

Nomination of examiners

Sending out the thesis

  • Theses will only be sent out by the BGRS once both examiners have indicated their availability to act. Theses will be sent in a digital format, but examiners can have a hard copy delivered on request.
  • Theses should only be accepted from the Graduate Research School. If one is received from any other source, the BGRS should be informed.
  • Each examiner is required to write a preliminary report on the thesis, before the viva voce examination.

The oral examination

  • The viva may take place in person or through use of video conferencing.
  • Birkbeck regulations outline the conduct of the examination and the possible outcomes. With the student’s permission, the principal supervisor is allowed to attend the viva, but they do not partake in the examination.
  • The date and time of the examination is usually arranged by the candidate’s supervisor, supported by school administrative staff. Where the viva takes place remotely, the BGRS will set up the video conferencing meeting. 

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 the examiners must use to confirm the outcome of the viva. This report form, together with the joint and preliminary reports, should be sent to the BGRS no later than 14 working days after the date of the viva.

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 BGRS will forward the corrected thesis and any accompanying paperwork to the examiner(s).

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 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. When an examiner requests a hard copy of the thesis, the cost of printing and delivering this will form part of the expenses to be claimed.
  • In order to be able to process fee and expenses payments, examiners should submit a completed BACS form with their bank details. They should also provide information required to demonstrate eligibility to work in the UK as requested.

Further information