- On this page
- The Procedure
- The Oral Examination (viva)
- Submitting the Hard-Bound University Library (UL) Dissertation
- Making Corrections to a Dissertation after Examination
- Revising and Resubmitting your Dissertation
- Reinstatement to the Register for Graduate Students
Submitted dissertations are sent from the Student Registry to the appropriate degree committee who will manage their examination. The degree committee will forward them to the two examiners they have appointed. The examiners will report on the dissertation independently and conduct an oral examination with the candidate.
The Board may exceptionally approve that an oral examination is undertaken by i) video conference or ii) written examination. Permission will only be granted under exceptional circumstances and not, for example, because it is inconvenient or expensive for the candidate to travel to Cambridge for the examination. Applications must be made to the Secretary of the Student Registry who will arrange for their consideration at a meeting of the Student Registry.
Candidates are urged to contact their degree committee to enquire about their oral examination if they have not received a date within eight weeks of submitting their dissertation.
The examination procedure can take several weeks and frequently much longer. If a candidate expects to leave the country after completing their course of research, they must submit their dissertation early enough for the examiners to have a reasonable time in which to read it and to hold an oral examination before they leave. If a candidate leaves the country before having the oral examination they will need to return to the UK.
The oral examination need not be in Cambridge (although it is normally expected to be in the UK) but should take place in the most mutually convenient location. It should be carried out between the two examiners, and the candidate. It may include an independent chair if the degree committee has deemed it appropriate. There are no rules for its duration, but as an approximate guide, it will normally occupy at least 90 minutes and is likely to conclude within about three hours.
The oral examination should allow:
- the candidate to defend their dissertation and clarify any matters raised by the examiners
- the examiners to probe the candidate's knowledge in the field
- the examiners to assure themselves that the work presented is the candidate's own and to clarify matters of any collaboration
- the examiners to come to a definite conclusion about the outcome of the examination.
The examiners are asked not to give any direct indication of the likely outcome of the examination; this is because the official result can be confirmed only by the Student Registry. However, the general progress of the oral should give candidates a fair indication of the outcome.
If candidates have submitted soft-bound dissertations in the first instance, they must submit a final hard-bound copy for the UL. They will need to:
- provide a further loose copy of the summary, identical to that included in the final version. The summary should include the dissertation title and the candidate's names
- sign a declaration that the work submitted is identical to that which was examined, except as required by the examiners by way of correction
- download the 'Hard-Bound Thesis Declaration' form (below)
- consider submitting their dissertation in electronic format to DSpace@Cambridge. There are currently two ways of doing this, either as part of the submission process for a new thesis, or, if the thesis has already been examined, it can be deposited retrospectively.
Unless candidates have been formally notified by the Board to submit the hard-bound dissertation to the Board directly, they will need to contact their degree committee to see where they should submit their dissertation. They will also need to contact their degree committee to see how many hard-bound copies need to be produced.
The following departments require an additional copy for their library:
- Chemical Engineering
- Earth Sciences
- History and Philosophy of Science
- Judge Business School
- Veterinary Medicine
Materials Science and Metallurgy no longer require an additional copy. NB this is a recent change 04.02.13 - if you have bound two copies, please hand one to the department librarian.
The Graduate Union provides advice on binding.
If the Board has confirmed that a candidate needs to make corrections to their dissertation as a condition of approval for their degree, they will need to note the following:
- corrections may be made either in ink (for minor corrections of spelling, words previously omitted and so on) or, in instances where a substantial piece of text is concerned, by firmly pasting the corrected text over the earlier version. Candidates may, if they prefer, submit a corrected and bound new version of the dissertation
- corrections should not be made in pencil. It is also not acceptable for a list of errata to be inserted in the original dissertation or for additional loose-leaf pages to be inserted
- if the corrections are of such nature that repagination is necessary, the list of corrections made (see below) should refer to the renumbered pages
- candidates are required to return the corrected dissertation and a list of the corrections they have made to the Graduate Examinations Manager at the Student Registry
- for the convenience of the examiners, the list of corrections should describe precisely how the earlier text has been amended, with page, paragraph and line references. The list should be in page order
- candidates are expected to make all corrections which are required by examiners. On occasion, the examiners may have suggested, rather than required changes or, may have asked that particular parts of the text be checked. In such cases, candidates should indicate, as part of the list of corrections made, the extent to which they have taken account of such suggestions
- candidates are requested to make the corrections as expeditiously as possible. Unconditional approval for the degree cannot be granted until the corrected dissertation has been approved by the examiners.
If candidates have been told directly by their examiners or degree committee (and not the Student Registry) that they need to undertake corrections, they will need to follow their instructions taking note of the above points.
Where the Board has confirmed that a candidate needs to revise and resubmit their dissertation for examination they will need to advise the Board in writing (email or letter) to confirm that this is what they wish to do.
The examination of a revised dissertation begins afresh, possibly with new examiners, and may include an oral or written examination on the revised dissertation.
On completion of the revised dissertation, candidates will have to submit two copies to the Student Registry along with all the appropriate submission paperwork.
If candidates are unable to meet their new submission date, they can apply to defer it.
If a candidate is unable to undertake corrections or revisions by the given deadline, their name may be removed from the register of graduate students.
When they have completed their work and wish to re-submit their dissertation for examination, they will need to apply to be reinstated to the register. The application needs to be forwarded with all accompanying documents to the appropriate degree committee for consideration. The degree committee will make a recommendation to the Board who will communicate its final decision to the candidate and all interested parties.