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Examination and Completion

Award recommendations for the Doctorate are made by the examination committee, comprising the examiners together with a neutral convenor, a senior academic with supervision and examination experience, appointed by the Graduate Research School. Examiners each write an independent report on the thesis; once these have been returned they are circulated confidentially amongst the examination committee, and it is only at this point that the examiners know each other's identities. Equally the candidate is only aware of the examiners' identities once the oral examination has been organised. The candidate and supervisor will also receive a copy of the examiners’ reports 5-10 working days prior to the oral examination. The candidate's oral examination (also called a viva voce), is facilitated by the convenor. During the oral, the candidate usually defends the thesis in front of two examiners, generally the NZ and internal examiners. The third examiner, usually the overseas examiner, does not normally participate in the oral directly. However, if the examination panel feel it is important that they are present this can be arranged. Supervisors act in a supportive but not participatory role during the oral examination. They should assist the student post-exam in accordance with the outcome of the oral which can be a pass, emendations, re-examination or fail. The most common outcome is emendations, and in this case a clear list of required emendations must be drawn up by the convenor in consultation with the examiners, along with a timeframe for completing them and a nominated examiner to oversee that they have been completed.

Examination in the creative arts have some specific reporting requirements, detailed in the Guidelines for Examiners of Doctoral Thesis involving Creative Works. The examination process varies according to the form the creative component embodies. The examiners write a thesis assessment report examining both the exegesis, and exhibition/installation/performance, and finally attend an oral examination.

Doctoral Candidates

You should:

  • Prepare for the oral examination as necessary. You can request your academic unit to organise a mock exam. More information about the oral examination process can be found in the forms/guidelines
  • Note the potential outcomes of examination
  • Understand the information relating to the examiners' reports
  • Discuss the reports with your supervisors
  • Attend the oral examination in person
  • Complete any required emendations in the time frame given
  • Submit one digital copy of the amended thesis, a citation and apply to graduate through the student portal


You should:

  • Understand the information relating to the examiners' reports
  • Note the potential outcomes of examination
  • Prepare the student well for oral examination, outlining to them what to expect and giving them guidance and support in relation to the examiners' reports
  • Attend the oral examination (we recommend up to two supervisors attend)
  • Support the candidate through the emendations process where applicable
  • Find more information about the oral examination process (forms/guidelines)


You should:

  • Note Massey's Examination Conflict of Interest Guidelines and feel free to peruse the wider content of this web site for general orientation
  • Follow the reporting guidance issued and return reports within the six week deadline
  • Become familiar with the examination outcomes that can be recommended
  • Be available to attend the oral examination in person or via video conferencing
  • Approach the Graduate Research School with any concerns/questions


You should:

  • Observe and execute the convenor role diligently, and take advice from the Graduate Research School as necessary
  • Approach the Graduate Research School with any concerns/questions
  • Ensure due confidentiality in the treatment of examiners' reports
  • Set the tone for a productive and collegial doctoral oral examination
  • Be the point of liaison for examiners and supervisors/candidates following the oral examination ensuring all communication is through them and not directly between candidates or supervisors and examiners
  • Ensure the Graduate Research School is provided with the Convenor’s report following the exam, ensuring confidentiality with this document at all times

Doctoral Research Committee (DRC) or Graduate  Research School Administration (GRS)

The Doctoral Research Committee considers the recommendations from examination committees on a regular basis at its monthly meetings. Where the recommendation is a pass, the Doctoral Research Committee will approve the award of the Doctorate subject to receipt of one amended digital copy of the thesis by the Graduate Research School for the public record, at which point the doctoral programme is 'completed'. Thereafter, graduation may proceed. Candidates whose research is assessed by the examiners as being of an exceptionally high standard may be considered for inclusion on the Dean's List. Any appeal against an examination outcome must be made within three months of formal notification of the examination result by the Graduate Research School.