Nearing completion

Thesis examination

Criteria for Thesis Assessment

The thesis will be assessed, amongst other things, according to the following criteria:

  • The clarity with which the research question/problem is stated and the scope of the study defined.
  • The appropriateness of the theoretical or conceptual framework to the investigation.
  • The appropriateness of the methodology to the research question/ problem.
  • The precision and consistency with which key terminology is used.
  • The depth of critical assessment of the relevant literature.
  • The capacity to demonstrate a link between the literature review and the research question/problem.
  • The degree of skill in constructing arguments and sustaining a position throughout the thesis.
  • The level of competency in considering possible objections to the position advanced in the thesis.
  • The degree of proficiency in using rigorous argument.
  • The careful and accurate presentation of the scholarly apparatus.
  • The originality (for doctorates) and the level of contribution made to the understanding of the subject.
  • A clear statement of the conclusions reached.
  • Justification of the conclusions reached in terms of the arguments presented.
  • An ability to relate the conclusions of the study to the wider field.
  • The suitability of a substantial amount of the material for publication.

Examination Process

Examiners should be suggested by the supervisor after discussion with the candidate but the candidate is not informed who is approached or appointed. When the examiners’ reports are received, the names of the examiners will be made available to the candidate unless an examiner requests otherwise. At the request of a candidate the College will agree that a certain person will not be appointed as an examiner if there is a reasonable expectation that the person would have a conflict of interest.

The thesis is submitted to the Research Director and the supervisor conveys suggestions for examiners to the Research Director, who undertakes preliminary enquiries. The examiners are appointed by the Research Committee at its first meeting following receipt of the thesis. It would be unusual for the Committee to depart completely from the supervisor’s suggestions.

Once the examiners have agreed to examine the thesis, they are normally expected to return their report within two months of having received the thesis.

For a DMin, PhD or ThD thesis three expert examiners are appointed, all external to the College, at least two of international standing. For an MPhil thesis two expert examiners are appointed, both external to the College.

Five categories of response are available:

  1. that the award be granted
  2. that minor amendments be made to the thesis to the satisfaction of the Research Committee
  3. that major amendments be made to the thesis to the satisfaction of the Research Committee
  4. that a significantly revised thesis be re-submitted for examination
  5. that the award not be granted.

The examiners’ reports are addressed to the Research Director and received by the Research Committee. In the case of unanimous agreement on category (1), the Committee will normally resolve to recommend award of the degree outright and send the reports to both the candidate and the supervisor for their information. In all other cases, the reports will be sent together by the Research Director to the supervisor, who is invited to write a response addressed to the Committee concerned. In light of both the examiners’ reports and the supervisor’s response, the Committee determines what instructions are to be given to the candidate and the date for amendments to be completed in the case of (b) or (c) or for re-submission in the case of (d). The Research Director then advises the candidate and the supervisor accordingly. Where amendments under (b) or (c) are required, these should be made in consultation with supervisor. When they have been completed satisfactorily, the supervisor will inform the Research Director, and the Research Director will inform the Committee. When revision under (4) is invited, the supervisor will continue in the normal supervisory role until resubmission and re-examination.

In light of the examiners’ reports and completion of any other required work, the Research Committee recommends accordingly to the Academic Board, which then sends its own recommendation on to Council for confirmation, and the candidate is invited to graduate.

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