Arranging a Final Viva Voce Examination

It is the responsibility of the supervisors, generally the Chair of the supervisory team, to arrange the examination panel for their researchers.  Ideally, the examination panel should be agreed before the researcher submits so that the thesis can be sent to the panel shortly after submission.

The Panel

When considering who to approach, please make sure each nominee meets the criterion for appointment which are on the last page of the RS12 (Examination Arrangements) Form. This should be arranged before the researcher submits.

In particular, with the External Examiner nominee please make sure:

  • They have examined before at PhD level, either as External or Internal Examiner
  • They have no joint publications with the supervisors within the past three years
  • They have the right to work in the UK and have either supplied you with a copy of their passport (ID page and cover page) and/or Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) card – front and back, OR they have confirmed they have the right to work in the UK.  In both cases they will have to bring their passport to the viva.

When the panel have agreed to the position, supervisors should submit the RS12 form, the External’s CV and passport copy to their Research Director for approval.  Once approved, this should then be forwarded to the Doctoral College for final approval of the panel.

The Viva Date and Venue

Once the thesis has been submitted and panel has been approved, supervisors should liaise with all members to arrange a date, location and schedule for the viva.  The viva should take place between 28 days and 3 months from when the researcher submitted.  The viva usually takes place on the researcher’s ‘home’ campus, however if it facilitates the External Examiner’s travel plans and enables them to travel over and back in the same day, we can accommodate any viva on the Jordanstown campus. This would be subject to approval by the researcher.

The schedule of the viva should be determined by the External’s travel plans to facilitate them being able to travel over and back on the same day.  The two usual schedules are as follows, but these can be tailored as required:

Afternoon viva

Lunch– 12.30pm

Preliminary meeting – 1.30pm
Viva Start (researcher attends) – 2pm

Morning viva

Preliminary Meeting – 10am

Viva Start (researcher attends) – 10.30am
Lunch  – 12.30pm

Once the date and schedule has been agreed supervisors should inform the Doctoral College who will then make the arrangements and communicate them to the panel.  Supervisors should also inform the Doctoral College at this point of any special requirements for the viva, for example, equipment needed, change in campus, or any reasonable adjustments for the researcher.

The Doctoral College will arrange lunch for the examination panel plus the supervisor in attendance at the viva.  Other supervisors may attend but costs will need to be charged to their School/Department.

External Examiner Expenses

The fee for an External Examiner is £200 (£150 for MPhil) which is taxable and paid through Salaries and Wages. Ulster will also pay their travel expenses, though there is a maximum of £300 for return flights.  If an External’s flight will cost more, approval must be given by the Doctoral College prior to booking.  Examiners should endeavour to arrange return flights on the same day, but if this is not possible, we can, exceptionally, arrange accommodation for one night.

Examiners must arrange their own travel and claim expenses back through the Claim Form which they will be sent upon appointment.