Information for External Examiners

Information for External examiners of research degrees at Ulster including what to expect and a comprehensive guide on how to use PhD Manager.

We are delighted that you have agreed to act as an External Examiner for one of our PhD Researchers here at Ulster University.

This guidance will hopefully provide you with some useful information to make your experience as smooth as possible.

Viva panel

The panel for our viva voce examinations consists of an External Examiner (two if the PhD Researcher is a member of staff), an Internal Examiner and a Chairperson.

The PhD Researcher will usually invite one of their supervisors to the examination also. The supervisor’s role is simply for support and should have little input into the viva.

Viva arrangements

The supervisors will get in touch with you to arrange a time and schedule for the examination that suits the panel.

At present, a viva voce examination may take place either remotely, in-person or in a hybrid style where one or more member attends remotely and the remaining members are on campus.

Attending remotely

A co-ordinator, normally the Chair or a supervisor, will get in touch with you to confirm the date, time and suitable online platform (plus backup platform) for the viva.

You will be asked for email confirmation of your agreement to the arrangements plus contact details (including a telephone number in case it is needed).

The Chair will have considered the procedures on the day and how these can best be managed to ensure adequate time for the pre-meeting of examiners and discussion of the decision in the absence of the candidate.

Attending in person

If prevailing public health guidance permits, and with agreement of all panel members, the viva may be held in person. We always try to arrange a viva around the External Examiner’s travel schedule to facilitate same-day travel.


Viva schedule

Morning viva

  • 10:00 Preliminary meeting
  • 10:30 Viva start
  • 12:30 Lunch (where applicable)

Afternoon viva

  • 12:30 Lunch (where applicable)
  • 13:30 Preliminary meeting
  • 14:00 Viva start


PhD Manager

Ulster University uses PhD Manager as our administration for PhD researchers.  When you are appointed you will be sent a link to create your own PhD Manager account for the purposes of this examination. On PhD Manager you will be able to view the submitted material, submit your own preliminary report and confirm the outcome of the examination.  Here is a guide detailing these steps.

Get in touch by email if you have any questions.


Fees for examining

The fee for examining at PhD level at Ulster is £200 and £150 for an examination at MPhil level. This is paid through our Salaries and Wages Department so is subject to normal taxation etc. Our HR Department will require evidence of ‘Right-to-Work’ in the UK, usually by way of passport and/or visa. Please remember to bring these with you on the day of the examination. For those attending remotely, verification of documentation will be digitally confirmed on the day of the examination.

Examiners who are not from the UK or Ireland and/or do not have the 'Right-to-Work' in the UK can find out if they need a visa to work in the UK.


Travelling for a viva

Where a viva is to be held in person, we would ask that examiners make their own travel arrangements. We will reimburse your travel costs when we receive a claim form and a copy of relevant receipts (please make sure you retain the originals). The Doctoral College will pay up to a maximum of £300 for return flights (except by prior arrangement).  We can also pay for your travel to/from the airport/hotel where required. Travel should be undertaken by public transport if possible, taxi fare will only be reimbursed where public transport was not available within the schedule.

Our Public Transport system is Translink and you can plan your journey through their Journey Planner. Please keep all tickets/receipts. You might also find useful information on getting to each of our campuses on our Global webpages.


How did we do?

After the examination, we would welcome your feedback on the whole process to see how we can make it better. We’d be grateful if you could complete a very short survey.

It should be useful for all parties involved in the examination process for PhD Researchers.

Regulations for research degrees

Guidance include:

Legacy System

PhD Manager is a new system for administering our examinations and some panels formed prior to PhD Manager may still use the previous system of forms for the examination.  If this is the case, the preliminary forms for External Examiners can be found on: