Submission to oral defence

Find out about the doctoral thesis examination process.

PhD examination process: an overview

The examination process is rigorous. It aims to ensure that candidates meet the highest standards of scholarship and that the degrees conferred by Victoria are of the highest quality.

Being under examination

Once you have submitted your thesis, your official status with the University is "under examination". This means your registration will cease and you will not be required to pay further tuition fees. However you will retain access to University facilities and resources until the examination process is complete.

The examiners

You will have three examiners: an examiner from Victoria, an examiner from another New Zealand university and an overseas examiner. You should not know prior to the oral who your examiners are. If you accidentally discover who they are, please do not discuss your thesis with them as this would nullify the examination process.

Examiners' recommendations after reading your thesis

The first stage of the examination process involves an independent review of your thesis by the examiners. Your thesis will be sent to the three examiners who will examine your thesis and submit a written report and make a recommendation to the Dean FGR which they are asked to return within two months. They are not permitted to consult, nor to communicate with either you or your supervisors.

Recommendations on the thesis

Each examiner is asked to make one of the following recommendations.

  • The thesis is of sufficiently high standard to meet the requirements of the PhD, although it may require minor editorial changes.
  • The thesis is not yet of a standard to meet the requirements of the PhD, and there are matters that must be addressed.
  • The thesis is substandard with respect to the requirements of the PhD.

Examiners' reports

Each examiner then sets out the grounds for their recommendation in a detailed report.

Examiners are asked to help the University gauge the quality of the thesis by commenting on such things as originality, critical insight and contribution to knowledge. They are also asked to provide guidance for revision and to indicate areas requiring exploration in the oral defence.

Reviewing examiners' reports

The Dean FGR is responsible for reviewing the examiners' reports and approving your move to the oral defence.

In cases where the examiners disagree fundamentally about the quality of the thesis, the Dean FGR may coordinate consultation between examiners.

Setting an oral date

We endeavour to arrange for the oral defence to take place approximately four months after your thesis has been accepted for examination. Setting a date for your oral can sometimes be difficult due to conflicting schedules of the examiners and your supervisors. Once a date has been scheduled, we will let you know.

We are required to give you five workings days notice of the oral, and to have the reports in order to prepare. Occasionally orals may be delayed if the examiners return their reports late, or if the outcome is unclear and the Dean FGR needs to consult further, but we will keep you informed if a significant delay is likely.

We will confirm the oral as soon as possible after the three examiners’ reports have been received and the Dean FGR has approved the move to an oral. If the Dean FGR does not approve the move to an oral he will write to you outlining alternative options.

The oral defence

If the examiners are satisfied that your thesis is of sufficient quality, you will undergo an oral examination. You will be expected to defend your thesis to an examination committee (normally consisting of your internal and New Zealand examiners): to elaborate on your arguments; to explain how your thesis is set in a wider disciplinary context; to discuss the implications of your work. The oral defence is an integral part of the examination process. The way you perform in the oral will have a bearing on the overall recommendation submitted to the Dean FGR.

More detailed information on the oral defence is available.

Date, time and place

You will be advised of the date, time and place for the oral and of other practical arrangements by the Doctoral Examinations Administrator.

You must make arrangements to attend your oral examination in Wellington.

International students may need apply to extend your visa to cover the examination process. For more information visit the renewing your visa page, or email the Visa Officer at Victoria International to discuss your situation.

Examiners' reports

You and your Victoria supervisor will be sent copies of the examiners' reports at least five working days before the oral.