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Degree Committee and Graduate Education

 

The information in this section outlines procedures and arrangements specific to the Faculty of Mathematics and should be read in conjunction with the University’s regulations and guidance as explained below.  The Faculty Degree Committee is responsible for overseeing PhD and MSc examinations, and administration is undertaken by the Faculty Postgraduate Office.


Examination overview

The examination is undertaken in two parts:

  • Following submission by the candidate, the written thesis is scrutinized by the two examiners. The examiners are required to make an independent report and recommendation on the work submitted for examination.
  • Following their independent report the examiners are required to hold an oral examination with the candidate. After the oral examination the examiners are required to make a joint report and recommendation.

After the oral examination, the independent and joint recommendations and reports are submitted to the Degree Committee for consideration at the next available meeting. The Degree Committee will evaluate the reports and recommendations put before it and determine whether or not the degree should be awarded.  The Degree Committee decision is sent to the Student Registry who will confirm the outcome directly to the candidate, and inform you of the next steps as appropriate. This can take approximately 5 working days (longer in busy periods) from the date of the Degree Committee meeting.

Possible outcomes are:

  • Unconditional approval
  • Conditional approval subject to minor or major corrections, and/or (Doctoral students only) subject to submission of an electronic and hard bound copy for the library.
  • Revision and resubmission of the work for a fresh examination
  • Doctoral students only:  Revision and resubmission of the work for a fresh examination or acceptance of the MSc/MLitt without further examination (but possibly subject to corrections)
  • Doctoral students only:  Not to be allowed to revise the thesis, but offered the MSc/MLitt without further revision or examination (but possibly subject to corrections)
  • Outright failure

Declaration of authorship and work done in collaboration

Under University Ordinances all candidates for the Ph.D. or M.Sc. are required to:

‘… state, generally in a preface and specifically in notes or in a bibliography, the sources from which their information is derived, the extent to which they have availed themselves of the work of others, and the portions of the dissertation which are claimed as original. They shall also be required to declare that the thesis submitted is not substantially the same as any that they may have submitted for a degree or diploma or similar qualification....’

(Chapter VII: Degrees, Diplomas, and Other Qualifications / Doctor of Philosphy, Maste of Science... / Regulation 9)

It is accepted that in carrying out research a certain amount of collaboration is inevitable. In every case, the candidate must indicate clearly which portions of the dissertation, if any, describe work done in collaboration. This may be achieved through acknowledgements, references and in the text. A student wishing to include work completed in collaboration with others (including the supervisor) must provide a statement in the preface to the dissertation setting out which portions of the dissertation were completed in collaboration. Collaborators should be named and an indication of the extent of their contribution provided. This is particularly important where the degree of collaboration is other than minimal and/or joint publications are included or will result from the collaboration. Ultimately the examiners must be in no doubt about which aspects of the work submitted for examination have been undertaken in collaboration and which are the candidates own work.

See also:


Appointment of examiners, approval of title and planned submission date

The Degree Committee is responsible for the appointment of examiners for Ph.D. and M.Sc. examinations, and for approval of the final title of the dissertation. Both are confirmed as part of the same process which is as follows:

  1. Two months in advance of the intended submission date the candidate should submit the following to degree-committee@maths.cam.ac.uk:
    • Appointment of Examiners Application Form (Part I) - pdf editable form
    • Dissertation summary
  2. Upon receipt of the above application form from the candidate, the Degree Committee will contact the registered Principal Supervisor and ask them to complete the following form recommending two examiners:
  3. The Degree Committee will consider the recommended examiners in light of the information provided either at a physical meeting or at a meeting by circulation (see meeting dates).
  4. Once the appointments have been confirmed, this will be communicated to both the student and their supervisor.

Note:

  • You are encouraged to start discussing the format of the oral examination with your supervisor, including whether you have a preference for this to be held in-person or on-line when you submit this form.  This is so you can make an informed decision.
  • As part of this process you are asked to provide your planned submission date.  This can change if it really needs to (let us know if it does), but the date you provide will be used as a guideline to set the timetable for your oral examination, and may influence who we appoint as your examiners.
  • Students may submit whenever they are ready and do not have to wait for their examiners to be formally appointed to do so.  However, the thesis will not be sent to the examiners until formal appointment has been confirmed by the Committee.  The two month lead-in time allows the necessary steps to be taken prior to submission of the thesis avoiding potential delay to the examinations process. 
  • If you are to commence employment this may be conditional upon your having submitted/been awarded your PhD, which in turn may impact your preferred viva timing.  If you are on a visa, there may also be timing factors to consider.  Discuss your situation with your supervisor so that this can be considered when examiners are nominated, and it can be ascertained if the timetable is achievable. You will also need to factor in Degree Committee meeting dates. If you need a letter confirming where you are in the exam process, for example as an interim document for your employer, please contact degree-committee@maths.cam.ac.uk

Please also see:


Voluntary disclosure of additional requirements of relevance to the oral examination

A student who wishes the examiners to be aware of any disability or chronic illness when arranging or conducting the oral examination should complete the 'Voluntary disclosure form' and submit it to degree-committee@maths.cam.ac.uk.  The Degree Committee will review any Student Support Documentation already in place, and if appropriate contact the Disability Resource Centre for advice on what additional requirements should be made.  Students may wish to consult the Disability Resource Centre directly.  Please note that it may take up to three weeks for the Disability Resource Centre to communicate recommendations on any given case, and longer for the Degree Committee to determine whether the recommendations are reasonable.  Students are advised to take action at an early stage. 

Note that examiners do not take into account any disability or chronic illness when judging the merit of the dissertation itself.  The dissertation will stand on its own merits as a piece of written work.  The purpose of the voluntary disclosure is therefore only to allow reasonable adjustments to be made to the oral examination arrangements (e.g. for rest breaks or access arrangements).


Submission for examination

In preparation for submission students are advised to consult the Student Registry website. In particular the section Preparing to submit which includes information on the dissertation summary, word limits and format requirements for the dissertation.

The dissertation for examination must be submitted online following procedures set-out by the University:

Submission is via a dedicated Moodle site. Candidates will be given access to to the site, and instructions upon receipt of the Appointment of Examiners (Part I) form and dissertation summary.

Once the dissertation has been received, it will be sent electronically to the examiners with further guidance and instructions. Hard copy is only provided in exceptional circumstances, with examiners expected to print their own copy if required. Examiners should not request a hard copy of the dissertation either directly from the candidate, or via the supervisor. If hard copy is supplied it must be identical in every way to the final version submitted on Moodle.

Further information on:

Research Impact Statement

In recognition that COVID19/ the situation in Ukraine may have impacted on their research, candidates are invited to submit a Research Impact Statement with their thesis. Guidance can be found here. If you would like to do this, please make sure it is signed by your supervisor and submit with your thesis on Moodle. 


Oral Examination

Arranging the oral is the responsibility of the Internal Examiner. The University’s guidelines say that the oral should take place within 6-8 weeks of submission, but candidates are advised that it may take longer. If you do not hear from your Examiners within six weeks of submitting your dissertation please contact the Degree Committee. 

The oral examination of the candidate can currently be held online or in person, depending on the student's preference. Guidance for conducting vivas online

For further details of the examinations procedure and possible outcomes see:


Submission of the final approved thesis

All PhD students must submit a final hard bound copy of the approved thesis to the Student Registry for deposit in the University Library, as well as depositing an electronic copy to University of Cambridge’s digital repository. These are both formal requirements for the PhD and MSc degrees and students will not be formally approved for the degree until the final copies have been received by the Student Registry: