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. 

Some information is set out below but please see our Guidance document for referred PGRs for more detailed information about the referral and resubmission process.


A decision to “refer” a thesis is normally interpreted as signifying that, although the thesis is potentially of a standard to merit the award of the degree concerned it does not, at this stage, satisfy the requirements for award and certain sections and/or aspects of the thesis are in need of alteration and improvement and a re-examination of the work will be required. 

If the examiners recommend referral for resubmission, you will be required to revise the thesis, which may entail further research or any other activity required by the examiners, and then resubmit this to the University for re-examination. You may be required to attend a second viva.

Notes for guidance 

Alongside the report on the examination, the examiners are required to prepare Notes for Guidance which outlines the changes which are required. The Notes for Guidance will set out what needs to be done in order for the thesis to reach the standards required for the award of the degree and will specify the sections or aspects of the thesis which are in need of improvement and information about what work is required to enable you to revise the thesis for resubmission to meet the standard required for award. 

You will not receive your notes for guidance directly from your examiners after your viva. The notes for guidance must be submitted with the examiners’ report to Postgraduate Research and Operations (PGRO) for scrutiny by the Graduate Board’s Examinations Group. The examiners’ report and their notes for guidance will be issued to you by PGR & Operations after approval by the Examinations Group with a letter describing how to resubmit for re-examination.

PGRO aim to send you your approved report and notes for guidance within a period of 2-3 weeks from receipt of the report and notes for guidance. This will either be uploaded to GRAD and a notification sent to your University email address (if you used the GRAD examination entry form process) or sent to your University email account (if you followed the paper-based examination entry form process).  If for any reason it will not be possible to meet this timescale you will be kept informed. 

Supervision during the referral period

In order to keep the resubmission on course before the maximum time limit, it is expected that supervisory contact and support will continue during the referral period.  Supervisors are asked to provide up to 6 supervision meetings a year during the referral period. Whilst the responsibility for initiating these supervisions rests with the PGR, the timing and frequency should be agreed between the PGR and the Supervisors.

Whilst the precise nature, pattern and timing of supervisions will vary depending on the stage of the resubmission, and the extent and nature of the work required for resubmission, recommended best practice is that meetings will be held at regular intervals during the referral period (until resubmission) and include at least:

  • An early meeting (or equivalent), normally within one month of receipt of the examiners’ report and notes for guidance; and
  • A meeting (or equivalent) around the mid-point of the referral period (e.g. around 9 to 12 month point for doctoral PGRs) if the thesis has not been resubmitted.

Supervisions should continue to be recorded in GRAD and may take place in a variety of forms (for example in face to face meetings when the PGR is in the UK or by other means such as video conferencing, telephone, Skype or email where appropriate).

For PGRs in the referral period the University appreciates that supervision may take the form of reading and commenting on draft chapters of the thesis prior to resubmission.  PGRs must ensure that they provide their supervisor(s) with re-drafts of work for comment within a reasonable timescale. PGRs should take the advice of their Supervisor whether or not to resubmit their work for examination. PGRs are strongly recommended not to resubmit against their Supervisor’s advice. However, PGRs are solely responsible for the decision to resubmit their work for resubmission.


A minimum of three months before the thesis is resubmitted for examination you must enter for re-examination by completing the Examination Entry Process  Normally the same team of examiners will act for the resubmission except in exceptional circumstances.  Please see our Guidance document for referred PGRs for more detailed information about the resubmission examination entry process.

The referral period begins from the date the Report and Notes for Guidance are issued following approval by the Examinations Group and the deadline will be included in the letter from PGR & Operations which is sent with your report and notes for guidance. This is the maximum time limit for resubmission and you may resubmit at any point in the referral period, once the amendments have been made and your thesis is ready for resubmission. The thesis must be resubmitted for examination to PGR&O in soft bound format . Your resubmission must not be sent directly to your examiners.

You must submit, alongside your resubmitted thesis, a summary of how your revised thesis has responded to changes listed by your examiners in the Notes for Guidance. This will assist the examiners when considering your resubmitted thesis. Sufficient detail, with examples, should be included to clearly show how and where you have responded to the examiners’ concerns.  Please see our Guidance document for referred PGRs for more detailed information about the resubmission process.

The resubmitted thesis is subject to the same process as the first examination, with both the Internal and External Examiners required to examine the resubmitted thesis. The Examiners may hold a second viva if they deem it appropriate. Your examiners will confirm whether or not a second viva is needed after they have considered your resubmitted thesis.

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.