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Degree Committee and Graduate Education


Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

During the current University closure, students should submit their soft bound thesis online. The Faculty will provide access to the relevant site on receipt of the Appointment of Examiners (Part I) form and summary (see below).

During this period, vivas can be conducted by video conference. Guidance can be found here.

Information on hard bound thesis submission during the outbreak can be found here.

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.

Declaration of authorship and work done in collaboration

Under University Ordinances all students 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...’

(Chapter VII: Section 12, regulation 8)

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 and approval of title

The Degree Committee is responsible for the appointment of examiners for PhD, MSc and MPhil by thesis 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 student should submit the following to the Degree Committee:
    • Appointment of Examiners Application Form (Part I) - pdf editable form
    • Dissertation summary
  2. Upon receipt of the above application form from the student, the Degree Committee will contact the registered Principal Supervisor and ask him/her 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 his/her supervisor.

Note: Students may submit whenever they are ready and do not have to wait for their examiners to be formally appointed to do so.  However, a PhD 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. 

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 disabilty or chronic illness when arranging or conducting the oral examination should complete the 'Voluntary disclosure form' and submit it to the Degree Committee (  The Degree Committee will contact the Disability Resource Centre who will advise on what additional requirements should be made.  Students may wish to consult the Disabilty Resource Centre directly.  Please note that it may take up to three weeks for the Disabilty 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 arrangments (e.g. for rest breaks, access arrangments).

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 final dissertation for examination must be submitted to the Student Registry at 4 Mill Lane, following procedures set-out by the University:

Once the dissertation has been submitted to the Registry it will be forwarded to the Degree Committee. It may take several days for the dissertation to be processed and to arrive with the Degree Committee. Once the dissertation has been received, the Degree Committee will distribute it to the Examiners with further guidance and instructions. Occasionally examiners may request an electronic copy of the dissertation either directly from the student, or via the supervisor. If this is the case, electronic copy must be identical in every way to the final hardcopy submitted to the Registry for examination.

Further information on:

Examination and corrections

The examination is undertaken in two parts:

  • 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 will make a joint report and recommendation.

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. 

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 make a recommendation to the Board of Graduate Studies for consideration at their next meeting. The Board of Graduate Studies will confirm the outcome of the examination directly to the candidate.

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

Viva voce examinations held by video conference

In exceptional circumstances consent may be given for an oral examination to be held by video conference. There are strict conditions under which such an oral must be held. If you have good reason to request an oral examination by video conference please contact the Degree Committee ( for further advice. Note that inconvenince or cost of travel to Cambridge to undertake the oral examination in person are not reasonable grounds for such a request.

Further information:

Submission of the final approved dissertation

All students must submit a final hard bound copy of the approved dissertation 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: