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Information for thesis examiners

Thesis examinars play a vital role in providing feedback and assessing the outcome of higher degree by research thesis submissions.

Guidelines for examiners

The Thesis and Examination of Higher Degrees by Research Guidelines for Examiners 2020 (pdf, 102KB) assist examiners when asked to examine a higher degree by research (HDR) thesis and to reach a recommendation regarding the outcome of the degree. Please refer to the guidelines for more information.

Conflict of interest

All examiners of HDR theses at the University of Sydney are subject to the University’s HDR Conflict of Interest Guidelines (pdf, 109KB). Before accepting a nomination, prospective examiners are expected to review the Thesis and Examination of Higher Degrees by Research Policy 2015 (Clause 15, 7-9) and the Conflict of Interest Guidelines (pdf, 109KB), and to assess any potential conflict of interest which may affect their ability to fairly examine a candidate’s thesis submission.

Discipline-specific information

Theses including creative writing or memoir

Doctoral theses in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences may not be composed of a dissertation only. There is the option for students to submit a thesis containing either a piece of creative writing (for example, a novel, short stories, poetry, a graphic novel, etc), or a memoir.

An examiner's thesis assessment should include both an assessment of the dissertation section and of the other piece of writing.  These assessments should be incorporated into the report.

Sydney College of the Arts

For submissions from Sydney College of the Arts students, examiners assess both a written component as well as an exhibition, which is assessed at an oral examination. Examiners are initially sent the written component only and are expected to return a preliminary report on the written component in advance of the exhibition.

The convenor of the oral examination will contact examiners to schedule the time for the exhibition and the oral examination.

After seeing the exhibition, if an examiner changes their assessment of the submission, they are able to discuss this with the other examiner and the convenor when preparing the outcome from the oral examination.

Theses with a creative component

The Sydney Conservatorium of Music has several degrees where students supply more than a written thesis.

  • A Doctor of Musical Arts submission comprises a substantial final creative work presentation/portfolio and a dissertation of 25,000-35,000 words.
  • A Master of Music (Composition) submission comprises a final composition portfolio and a dissertation of 10,000-15,000 words.
  • A Master of Music (Performance) submission comprises a final creative work presentation/portfolio and a dissertation of 10,000-20,000 words.

All components of the submission for these degrees should be an original contribution to the field concerned.

Creative work at the Conservatorium is broadly defined and could manifest as a recital, lecture recital, performance recording, portfolio of scores, or a range of other artefacts not listed here. As the nature of creative work varies from candidature to candidature, examiners should be led in their assessments by how the nature and scope of the creative work is outlined in the dissertation and/or critical notes (if a candidate has chosen to include critical notes as part of their submission).

It is expected that students will include suitable recordings of their major creative work as part of their submissions.

Candidates presenting a composition portfolio are expected to include recordings of their compositions.

Examiners are expected to provide their final recommendation and comments on the thesis examination form, including assessment of both the creative work and written components of the submission. 

External examiner use of RECS

Examiners who will examine a thesis in the Research Education Candidature System (RECS), and who haven't used the system before, will receive a notification to their nominated email address to set up a login and password. This will be sent after the examiner's appointment is approved.

Examiners can download the Examiners – Examination Quick Reference Guide (pdf, 2.8Mb) for further information on navigating RECS and the examination tasks. Once logged into RECS, this step-by-step guide can also be accessed on the left-hand menu, by going to Guides > Thesis Examinations (September 2022) > Examiners – Examination Quick Reference Guide.

Once a thesis is ready to view in RECS, examiners will receive an email notification. 

Honorarium Payment 

Following the conclusion of their role in the examination, examiners will be able to claim an honorarium as payment for their work. The honorarium form will be available to examiners on the RECS system and an email is sent to examiners when it is ready for them to complete. Honorarium payments for thesis examinations at the University of Sydney are not subject to taxation and are paid at the Universities Australia honorarium payment which can be viewed on the Universities Australia website.

Higher Degree by Research Administration Centre

  • HDRAC is closed for in-person enquiries

    Level 5, Jane Foss Russell Building, Darlington Campus

Last updated: 03 June 2024

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