Examination overview

What examiners look for

Examiners evaluate your work for understanding of the relevant literature, the methods and techniques used, the results and conclusions obtained. The full criteria used are included in the Graduate Research Training Policy.


Examination process

The exam process, from submitting your thesis to being notified of your result, will usually take a minimum of four months. You will receive a result only when the Chair of Examiners has received and considered all reports. See below for a flow chart of the exam process.

Step 1

Thesis submitted

Step 2

Examiners assess and provide a report of their recommendations

Step 3

Reports sent to Chair of Examiners for consideration

Step 4

Thesis may need amendment (and/or resubmission)

Step 5

50-word citation submitted to be approved

Step 6

Final copies of thesis to be submitted to Chair of Examiners

Step 7

If passed, submit a bound and electronic copy to the Library

Step 8

Final examination outcome advised

Step 9

Identities of your examiners may be revealed

Once all requirements have been fulfilled, you will receive a letter stating that you have successfully completed your degree. If the examiners have agreed, their identities will be released, and if you are a Masters by Research student, you will be informed of your final percentage mark. Information about graduation will accompany the completion letter. Final transcripts will be sent to you approximately one month from your completion date. The University will also issue an Australian Higher Education Graduation Statement (AHEGS) after your degree is conferred at a graduation ceremony.

The rules governing examination are contained in the Graduate Research Training Policy.


Examination of jointly awarded PhD

Your examination will be carried out in a manner that meets the requirements of both universities. These requirements should be stated in the agreement governing your program and you should consult with your supervisors for more detail.

Some jointly awarded degree programs require an oral examination as well as examination of the thesis. You should only be required to make one oral defence of the thesis which is recognised by both institutions. Unless otherwise stated in your agreement, the oral examination should be conducted as described in the University of Melbourne Graduate Research Training Policy.


Examination criteria and marking

The examination criteria and processes are described in detail in the Graduate Research Training Policy.

All theses are graded as:

  • Pass
  • Pass with minor amendments
  • Pass with revision
  • Revise and resubmit
  • Fail

Masters theses also receive a numerical mark and a letter grade according to the Grading Scale for Masters Degrees (Research). A mark of 65% is required to pass.

The tables in the Graduate Research Training Policy describe how examiners reports work.


Responding to examiners

Upon receiving the examiners' recommendations you are required to consider their feedback and discuss them with your supervisor and Chair of Examiners.

If you have been asked to resubmit your thesis for a second examination, you will be invited to write a response to the examiners' reports, which they will receive along with the revised thesis.

For theses requiring minor changes or revision, written responses to the examiners are not required.


Changes to the thesis

The majority of theses require some amendment before the degree is awarded. You will be informed of the changes required and supplied with copies of the examiners' reports, which will be edited for confidentiality. Note that you're only allowed to make changes to your thesis based on the recommendations of your examiners – no additional changes are permitted.

The corrections to your thesis should be incorporated in the body of the text. If you need more time to finish the corrections, you can apply for an extension by completing an Application for an Extension to Submit Revisions.

  • Minor amendments are required if the examiners recommend that you be awarded your degree subject to making specified minor corrections and/or additions to the Chair of Examiner's satisfaction. You are usually given one month to complete minor amendments.
  • Revisions entail revising sections of your thesis to the satisfaction of the examiners. In some cases, the examiners may delegate this task to the Chair of Examiners. You are usually given two months to complete revisions. Examiners are asked to make their final decision on revisions within three weeks of receipt.
  • Resubmission occurs when your result is deferred. Doctoral students are given 12 months to revise and resubmit the thesis; Masters students are given six months. If you need to undertake a major revision, you may need to re-enrol for the period, and as such will be liable for any associated fees. Your revision should address and respond to any concerns raised by the examiners, as well as make other changes in order to improve the thesis. Your revised thesis will be re-examined in its entirety. This is your final opportunity to ensure your thesis meets the requirements of your degree.

For more information, view the Graduate Research Training Policy.


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