Quality Manual

Viva voce examinations

This page sets out the procedures surrounding viva voce examinations, including advice on timings, location, format and attendance. It content is relevant to staff and students across all of the UK, China and Malaysia campuses.

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Please be aware that during academic year 2019/20, the University introduced exceptional regulations in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. These were campus specific and meant to be read in conjunction with all pre-existing content.

From the beginning of academic year 2021/22, the active application of the exceptional regulations affecting this page has now ceased.

Any outcomes from the application of these regulations during academic years 2019/20 and 2020/21 will, however, continue to be honoured and used in all decisions regarding those affected.

Further details can be found in the "Exceptional regulations applied in response to Covid-19" section below.

Please be aware that due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, some of the content on this page has also been amended as part of the University's mitigation efforts. Where this applies, it will be clearly indicated within each section below.

1. Timing of viva voce examination

The Head of School has overall responsibility for ensuring that viva voce examinations normally take place within 3 months of the submission of the thesis to Student Services (Central Administration Office at the University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM) or Graduate School at University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC)), and that the appropriate Office is informed of the dates of viva voce examinations.

2. Location for viva voce examination

The viva voce examination (if required, as will be the case for doctoral degrees) will normally take place at the University.

However, the Head of School may give permission in appropriate circumstances for the viva voce examination to be held in another location or through online means provided agreement of the Examiners and the student is obtained and the proposed location/format is one that is deemed by them all to be suitable for the purpose. 

These decisions will be indicated on the Nomination of Examiners form, which will alert Registry and Academic Affairs to the proposed arrangements. 


3. Format

If circumstances demand it, a viva voce examination may be organised in another form (e.g. by a video conference/other online platform). 

Before agreeing such an arrangement the School must check that appropriate facilities for an online viva voce are available to all participants, and shall ensure they have written confirmation that the student and the Examiners have agreed to the proposal. Hybrid viva conditions with only the candidate located remotely are not permitted. If a hybrid viva is unavoidable, if and where possible, the candidate should be co-located with either the internal examiner or Independent Chair.

If an online viva voce format is agreed by all parties, this cannot be subsequently be used as grounds for an appeal. Recording of the viva is not permitted, and no evidence based on unauthorised recordings of the viva will be permissible in any appeal process. 


4. Appointment of the Chair

If Schools wish to do so, an independent, non-examining chair may be appointed to preside over the viva proceedings in order to ensure consistency between different vivas and to provide an additional viewpoint if the conduct of the viva should become the subject of a student appeal.

Where the appointment of an independent chair is not feasible, Schools should find alternative ways of assuring fairness and consistency which are acceptable to the student.

Where vivas are being conducted by online methods where all parties are at different locations, an independent non-examining chair must be appointed. Other circumstances when an Independent Chair must be appointed are detailed in additional guidance.

When appointed or required for an online viva, the Independent Chair will chair the viva and be present throughout but not take an active role in the examination or decision making. 


5. Attendance at proceedings

Supervisors may not normally attend the viva voce examination. If concerns on process or PGR support or performance are raised, and Independent Chair should attend to ensure fairness and consistency of examination process. 

The Head of School has a right to attend as an observer at the viva voce examination of any research student in their School, unless they are the student's Supervisor when a deputy should be appointed to attend in their place (see paragraph 13 of the Role and Appointment of Examiners for the right to attend as a supervisor). For more information, please consult the following:

Role and Appointment of Examiners

Before the viva voce examination takes place the Head of School should first inform the Examiners, the student and the Supervisor that they intend to attend. The Examiners may request that the Head of School attend a viva voce examination.

If the viva voce is held online, the candidate may request that they have a supporter/observer present with them either for the entire viva, and/or for the communication of the decision. This individual must not contribute in any way to the viva, and must be introduced to all participants on camera at the start. 


6. Purpose of viva

The viva will include questions and discussions that determine whether the candidate has achieved the required doctoral outcomes.

For more information about the UNQF, please consult the following:

University of Nottingham Qualifications Framework

This will normally include questions and discussion designed to: ascertain that the thesis embodies the candidate’s own research; clarify aspects of the research presented in the thesis to ensure understanding; test the candidate’s general comprehension of the field of study within which the subject of the thesis falls; test the candidate’s acquaintance with the general literature of the subject, knowledge of the relation of the work to the wider field of which it is a part, and determine the respects in which the work advances, modifies, or otherwise affects this wider field of scholarship.


7. Completion of Joint Report Form

Following the viva voce examination the Examiners will complete and sign the joint report form and shall come to agreement on the recommendation on the award (or not) of the degree.

The option not to award any degree following the first examination is one which should only be chosen in extreme circumstances.


Exceptional regulations applied in response to Covid-19   Flag of United Kingdom   Flag of China   Flag of Malaysia

Please be aware that the following Exceptional Regulations were developed and applied during academic years 2019/20 and 2020/21 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. These records are campus specific and should be read in conjunction with all other content on this page.

For more information about the Exceptional Regulations as a whole, please consult the following:

Exceptional Regulations: Covid-19 - 2019/20 - 2020/21


If you have any problems or queries relating to this page, please contact:

UNUK students Flag of United Kingdom 

Student Services

UNNC students Flag of China

Graduate School - PGR GS-PGR@nottingham.edu.cn Email

This content was last modified on 12 January 2024

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