Referral and resubmission

If the examiners recommend that your thesis is referred for resubmission, then you'll be required to revise the thesis which may include further research and then resubmit it for re-examination. 


A decision to “refer” a thesis indicates that, although the thesis is potentially of a standard to merit the award of the degree it does not, at this stage, satisfy the requirements for award and certain aspects are in need of improvement. If the examiners recommend referral for resubmission, you will need to revise your thesis before resubmitting it for examination.

Notes for guidance 

The examiners will write some notes for guidance which will be submitted to the graduate board’s examinations group with their report. These notes are to help you revise and resubmit your thesis but shouldn’t stifle your initiative. The approved examiners’ report and notes for guidance will be sent to you by Postgraduate Research & Operations after they have been approved by the examinations group. In some cases the examinations group may request clarification from the examiners to ensure that these are clear and unambiguous. Postgraduate Research & Operations will let you know after the meeting if this is the case.

Supervision during the referral period

You're entitled to up to six supervision meetings a year during your referral period, but the responsibility for initiating these meetings rests with you. The examiners don't take a supervisory role or provide guidance during the referral period. However, they may be asked to provide clarification of the notes for guidance. You should consult with your supervisor in the first instance who may, if appropriate, contact the internal examiner.


You will need to write a summary to show how you have responded to the examiners’ notes for guidance. Referred students will receive a letter explaining how to resubmit and how to pay the fees for resubmission. Your thesis must be resubmitted to Postgraduate Research & Operations. You must not send your resubmission directly to your examiners. Your resubmitted thesis will go through the same process as the first examination and both the internal and external examiners will examine it. Normally the same team of examiners will act for the resubmission, except in exceptional circumstances. 

In some cases there might be a second oral examination. A second referral is not possible, and you will either pass (possibly subject to the correction of editorial and presentational or minor deficiencies) or fail. If you have resubmitted for the degree of PhD, there is a possibility that the examiners may recommend the award of MPhil. The examiners may not recommend that the resubmission be failed or awarded an MPhil on a PhD resubmission without holding a second viva.

Please see our Guide to the thesis examination process and the Guidance document for referred candidates for more detailed information.