Finishing your thesis/dissertation

How to navigate the final steps to submit your thesis for examination and prepare for your oral examination.

These resources will help you navigate the final steps of your thesis or dissertation. There is information here about submitting your thesis or dissertation for examination.  After examination, you will deposit your thesis or dissertation into Research@Lincoln and, if appropriate, research data into Data@Lincoln.

Oral examination

 What is the oral examination?

An oral exam is required before a PhD is awarded. While nerve wracking, this is where you can demonstrate your understanding of your research area to experts in the field. The examiners will question you orally to clarify any areas that are unclear in the thesis and explore any aspects not developed in the thesis and the research area generally in greater depth. This is not to make you uncomfortable or defensive, but rather this is one of the few times you will have the opportunity to discuss your research area with experts who are interested and have read your work. Challenging questions may be asked, but the examiners will be interested and encouraging, and perhaps offer helpful suggestions for where to take your research next.

Who will be present?

At the oral exam there will be the Examination Convenor, the New Zealand external examiner and sometimes the international examiner, and your Primary Supervisor and other members of your supervision team. You may also bring a support person, however, they cannot contribute to the process. Examiners may be present in person or by video conference.

What is the role of the Convenor?

The Examination Convenor is an independent member of the academic staff who is there to oversee the process, make sure it is fair and impartial and follows regulations. They oversee the exam and prepare the consolidated report of the examiners. While the Examination Convenor is not an examiner, they are able to express an opinion on you or on the exam in the examination report. The Examination Convenor will provide you with Section B of the examiners’ reports, containing comments about your thesis and the research you undertook, at least five working days prior to the oral exam. They ensure that all arrangements have been made before the exam. It is a good idea to meet with them a few days before so they can explain the process, answer questions or address any technical concerns you may have. Meeting them prior will help you feel more comfortable on the day as well.

You may wish to do some practice runs with your supervisor/s before the exam to help you feel more comfortable and confident that you will be able to answer a wide range of questions no matter how tricky.

What is the process?

You are often asked to begin your oral exam with a short presentation (approximately 10 minutes) giving an overview of your research, your motivations, research process, and your contributions to the research field. You can accompany this with slides if you wish. For some this is a good opportunity to feel more relaxed as you are beginning with something prepared and which you have a good deal of knowledge about. This can ease you into the process and calm your nerves. The examiners will then ask questions and the discussion will begin. The questions may be about your methodology and findings, how your work connects to that of others in your field and they may discuss directions for further research. Although you will be nervous this can be a very positive experience.

Further information

The Lincoln University House Rules has further details about the Oral Examination.


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