Examination process

The School of Graduate Research (SGR) Examinations Office will inform you when your submission has been made available to the examiners.

The following sections outline the criteria examiners receive in order to make their recommendation, what recommendations are available to them, and the standard timeframes of an examination.

During the examination process:

  • the candidate and supervisor/s must avoid any communication with the examiners except where an oral presentation is involved.
  • all contact between the examiners and the University is managed by the SGR Examinations Office from when the examiners are approved to the release of the examination result. This excludes any administrative arrangements needed for examiners to attend a presentation or exhibition of the candidate’s research.

For detailed information refer to clauses (58) to (70) of the HDR Submission and Examination Procedure.

Examiners will assess the submission according to the RMIT examination criteria.

The SGR Examinations Office provides examiners with a copy of the relevant RMIT advice. These documents outline the criteria a PhD or Masters submission is marked against, and the recommendations available to the examiners.

Masters by Research candidates who commenced their enrolment from January 2016 will receive a grade for their submission.

Grades are useful to Masters by Research candidates if they apply to a PhD program, especially if they aim to be competitive for a scholarship. Candidates will receive a grade within the following range:

  • High Distinction (80-100%)
  • Distinction (70-79%)
  • Credit (60-69%)
  • Pass (50-59%)
  • Fail (<50%)

Grades are recommended by the examiners. The individual grade awarded by each examiner will not be disclosed to the candidate. The candidate receives a final grade, derived from a final assessment of the grade in adherence with the Masters by Research grading policy process.

Examiners individually and independently:

  • assess all components of the submission for examination;
  • prepare a brief assessment report for your guidance; and
  • make one of the following recommendations to the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Training and Development, SGR.
Recommenation Description
R1 - Passed The candidate should be awarded the degree with no requirements for amendments other than corrections of an editorial nature. Amendments are to be made within four weeks of classification and certified by an RMIT academic delegate.
R2 - Passed subject to minor amendments The candidate should be awarded the degree subject to minor amendments. Recommended amendments may include re-writing of small sections of text. Amendments are to be made within six weeks of classification and certified by an RMIT academic delegate.
R3 - Passed subject to major amendments The candidate should be awarded the degree subject to major amendments. Recommended amendments may involve substantial re-writing of parts of the thesis. Amendments are to be made within six months of classification and certified by an RMIT academic delegate.
R4 - Revise and resubmit The candidate should not yet be awarded the degree. Substantial revisions and a re-examination (by two approved external examiners) are required before a pass can be considered. Resubmission for reexamination to take place within 12 months of initial classification.
R5 - Failed The research does not meet the criteria for the degree as specified by the University and a significant amount of additional research work and/or major substantive revision will not raise it to an acceptable standard.

Upon receipt of both examiners reports they are considered by the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Training and Development, SGR as per the HDR Submission and Examination Procedure and Schedules One to Three (PDF) of the procedure.

The examinations team is not able to provide any information about the content or recommendations of the reports until an examination classification has been made by the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Training and Development.

After your submission has been examined and classified, you will receive an examination outcome notification email from the SGR Examinations Office, which will include:

  • the examination outcome
  • information on preparing to lodge your final archival submission via Enrolment Online, or what is required of you in the event of a re-examination
  • a due date to either lodge your archival submission, or to resubmit for re-examination.

You will then be able to obtain a copy of your examiners reports from your senior supervisor (or School research administrator/Head of School/HDR Coordinator).

The examination classification can include a request from examiner(s) for amendments to be made to the thesis or dissertation. The classification schedule and timeline for these amendments is shown below.

Classification Timeline for any amendments
C1 - Passed

Amendments are to be undertaken within 4 weeks of the notification being sent to the candidate. The Senior/Joint senior supervisor/s and Dean/Head of School or their delegate is required to approve the amendments and final archival.

A list of the amendments/points of defence is lodged with the final version of the thesis or dissertation via Enrolment Online.

C2 - Passed subject to minor amendments

Amendments are to be undertaken within 6 weeks of the notification being sent to the candidate. The Senior/Joint senior supervisor/s and Dean/Head of School or their delegate is required to approve the amendments and final archival.

A list of the amendments/points of defence is lodged with the final version of the thesis or dissertation via Enrolment Online.

C3 - Passed subject to major amendments

Amendments are to be undertaken within 6 months of the notification being sent to the candidate. The Senior/Joint senior supervisor/s and Dean/Head of School or their delegate is required to approve the amendments and final archival.

A response to examiners is lodged with the revised thesis/project in Equella, and is sent out for a re-examination on a pass/fail basis.

C4 - Revise and resubmit

The revisions are to be undertaken within 12 months from the notification being sent to the candidate. The Senior/Joint senior supervisor/s and Dean/Head of School or their delegate is required to approve the revised submission and response to examiners. 

The revised submission and the list of amendments/ response to examiners document is to be submitted via Enrolment Online.

This will then be sent out for a re-examination on a pass/fail basis by two external examiners.

C5 - Failed

No amendments allowed. The candidate will not be awarded the degree for which they were enrolled.

For further detail on examination outcomes, refer to clauses (99) to (103) of the HDR Submission and Examination Procedure.

The following schedule outlines the steps the majority of candidates experience when they receive an outcome of C1 Passed or C2 Passed subject to minor amendments or C3 Passed subject to major amendments.

  1. The candidate submits for examination via the Candidate Centre;
  2. The SGR Examinations Office disseminates the submission to examiners;
  3. The examiners complete a written report and make a recommendation;
  4. Upon the receipt of both reports, they are sent to the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Training and Development, SGR for classification;
  5. The candidate is notified by the SGR Examinations Office of the examination outcome;
  6. The candidate makes any necessary changes and lodges their archival thesis or dissertation via the Candidate Centre;
  7. The Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Training and Development, SGR reviews the candidate’s record for the purpose of completion of program;
  8. The candidate is notified by the SGR Examinations Office of course completion.

In general, it takes approximately three months from the date your examination commences to the date you receive an examination classification, but delays can occur for various reasons:

  • An examination cannot commence if your Recommended Panel of Examiners (RPOE) have not been approved. Your RPOE form should be completed by your senior supervisor at least two months in advance of your intended submission date and submitted to the SGR Examinations Office. An examination cannot commence until approved examiners are appointed.
  • Examiners may take longer than requested to submit their report for a range of professional or personal reasons. In these instances the SGR Examinations Office will make regular contact with the examiner to uphold a revised timeframe. You will be contacted as soon as your examiner reports have been received and an examination outcome has been determined.

Where the initial examiners recommendations diverge, for example one examiner recommends R2 - Passed subject to minor amendments and the other examiner recommends R4 – Revise and Resubmit, one of the following processes will be followed depending on when you submitted for examination.

  • College HDR Advisory Committees (CHEACs) (submissions received before 1 January 2022)
  • Adjudication if requested at CHEAC (submissions received before 1 January 2022)
  • Third examiner (submissions received from 1 January 2022).

College HDR Advisory Committees (CHEACs) meet when there is a divergence of opinion between the examiners' recommendations (refer to Schedule One (PDF)).

The role of the CHEAC is to advise on an examination outcome, based on the examiners’ recommendations, which will safeguard academic standards and fairness.

Members of the CHEAC will include a Chair and a member of RMIT academic staff not directly involved in the candidature. Your supervisory panel will be invited to attend the meeting in the form of an advisory role. Any supervisors who attend the meeting are expected to contribute to the discussion, but are not members of the committee and cannot be involved in the determination of the classification recommendation. If any supervisors are unable to attend the meeting they may provide their contribution to the committee in writing, at least one supervisory representative should be present.

The Chair is normally the College HDR Director; the independent academic is a senior RMIT academic who has knowledge of the discipline and experience in HDR examinations.

When examiner reports are referred to a CHEAC the examination is not considered as complete. For this reason, candidates are not able to view the reports or know what the recommendations are. Candidates will be informed a CHEAC was held and what the examination outcome is after the CHEAC outcome has been finalised.

If the CHEAC considers that an external review of the examination is required to reconcile the examiners’ reports, the Committee may recommend the appointment of an adjudicator (refer to Schedule Two (PDF)).

An adjudicator is not an additional examiner, but a discipline expert nominated to evaluate the soundness of the initial two examiners’ recommendations. Adjudicators assess whether the examiners have:

  • appropriately assessed the substance of the candidate’s submission;
  • erred in their judgement of the submission;
  • reviewed the work at a level appropriate to the degree; and
  • made their recommendation in accordance with the RMIT examiner guidelines.

The classification outcomes available to the adjudicator are limited by the recommendations given by the original two examiners (refer to Schedule Three (PDF)).

You are required to complete an academic response to the negative aspects of the examiners’ reports. The adjudicator will receive your document as part of the package provided to them to complete their adjudication. It is in your best interests to complete your response and email it to the SGR Examinations Office within a quick turnaround; we recommended eight weeks.

The senior supervisor is responsible for nominating and appropriate adjudicator, they will be subject to the same COI guidelines and checks as external examiners.

In assessing the examination, the adjudicator completes a report detailing the strengths and weaknesses of the examiners’ reports. This adjudicator report will be used by the Associate Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Training and Development, SGR to provide the candidate with a classification.

Where there are diverging recommendations between the first two examiners the SGR Examinations team will send your submission to a third examiner for their recommendation.

You will not be notified of this until you receive your outcome.

Your senior supervisor is responsible for nominating a third examiner.

The third examiner will receive the exact same documents as the initial two examiners and will not be informed that they are a third examiner or what the previous the examiners have recommended.

Your final classification will be derived from the aligning two reports. For example, if the following recommendations are received: Examiner 1 = R2 Passed subject to minor amendments, Examiner 2 = R4 Revise and Resubmit and Examiner 3 = R3 Passed subject to major amendments, the ADVC, RT&D will then review the reports and classify either a C2 Passed subject to minor amendments or C3 Passed subject to major amendments.

PhD Examination Process

So Flight PhD has finally landed, and you’ve submitted for examination. But before you can make your way to the Arrivals gate and complete your program, there are a few things you need to know about the examination process.

Key contact

Email: sgr.examinations@rmit.edu.au

Need help? 

Submit an enquiry to the School of Graduate Research

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RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.