Examination process

Examiner Guidelines

At Monash the requirements for Doctoral and Research Masters degrees are set out in the Monash handbook for research degrees. All matters pertaining to research degrees are the responsibility of the Graduate Research Committee under the general direction of the University's Academic Board.

To aide your examination, we have set out a summary of the relevant aspects below.

The submitted thesis

  1. It is expected that
    1. Doctoral theses do not exceed 80,000 words. (100,000 words for students enrolled prior to 1 January 2015.)
    2. Master theses do not exceed 35,000 words. (50,000 words for students enrolled prior to 1 January 2015.)
  2. Students are required to submit a pdf version and two thermal bound thesis copies.
  3. Monash permits doctoral students to submit a thesis including published works. The thesis may consist either wholly or including papers that have been published, are in press or submitted for publication. Theses in this format should still demonstrate a sustained theme, and should include clear statements on the student’s contribution to any co-authored work.
  4. The examination of the thesis is undertaken by two independent and external examiners.
  5. It is the practice at Monash to release the names of examiners who have agreed to act to the student.
  6. The thesis is forwarded to an examiner in confidence.  An examiner is under an obligation to maintain confidentiality and in no circumstance should the thesis or any part of the examination process be discussed with a third party without the prior approval of the Monash University Graduate Education.
  7. Neither the student nor the supervisor is allowed to contact examiners directly during the examination process.

Examiner’s assessment

The examiner is required to provide a written report (in English unless previously arranged) on specific aspects of the thesis and an overall recommendation.

To satisfy the requirements of the degree, the thesis must be a significant contribution to knowledge and understanding of the field concerned

An examiner may request that the University obtains from the student clarification of specific points in the thesis. Such requests should be made only through the Monash University Graduate Education.

Overall recommendations:

Pass (MPhil degrees require an overall grade where appropriate)

  • Straight, the student be awarded the degree without further amendments or examination
  • Minor amendments, the award of degree is subject to insertion of minor amendments noted in the enclosed list of amendments to the satisfaction of Monash.(eg: typos, grammatical errors or referencing)
  • Major revisions, the award of degree is subject to insertion of amendments noted in the enclosed list. The amendments should be certified by the examiner or Monash academic delegate

Revise and re-examination will require the student to re-enrol for a period of up to 12 months. The revised thesis will be considered a new thesis. Revisions could range from extensive reformatting to conducting further research, analysis and clarification or re-analysis of results.

Fail should only be made when the examiner has determined that the student should not be awarded the degree and not be permitted to resubmit for re-examination.

Oral examinations are not normally a part of the Monash examination process.

The University makes awards on an annual basis for the best doctoral and research master’s thesis. Examiners are encouraged to make special mention of a thesis they believe is of exceptional quality.


Thesis merit

Thesis merit is supplementary to the formal assessment of doctoral degrees and provides Monash with a metric on the quality of theses produced across the university. The merit descriptions are based on the agreement between Go8 Deans of Graduate Research, Australia to enable appropriate bench marking.

Receipt of examiner(s) reports

Unedited copies of the examiners’ reports are forwarded to the student in due course.

In the event the two examiners disagree substantially in their assessment of the thesis, the relevant faculty is required to convene an examination advisory panel to determine a course of action. Most commonly the panel will recommend either:

  1. The thesis be revised and resubmitted to the original dissenting examiner(s) or
  2. An adjudicator be appointed to review the two examiners’ reports, the student’s response to the reports and the thesis. The names of the examiners are not revealed to the adjudicator.

Speciality degrees

Below is a summary of the additional requirements for speciality research degrees as many have their own unique requirements for examiners to follow.

Degree

Additional requirements

PhD: Creative Writing

In the context of the PhD (Creative Writing), “thesis” refers to creative work and accompanying critical component.

The PhD (Creative Writing) is undertaken by 100% research. Students produce a thesis during enrolment and under academic supervision.

The creative work should be constituted by a novel or a group of short stories or work of creative nonfiction, a play or a group of plays or a sequence of poems (book length, approximately 100 pages), or a portfolio of works of various genres. The creative component should be professionally presented.

The accompanying critical component can take the form of an exegesis or other work of scholarly research, or be a combination of both:

  1. a scholarly exegesis which comments   directly on the creative work (for example, from the perspective of a   particular theory; or with a focus on style, composition, genre, or the   influence of literary or non-literary contexts);
  2. an independent but complementary work of   scholarly research on a topic relevant to the creative work.

The creative work and the critical component must each be no less than 35,000 words. The combined word total of the two components must not normally exceed 100,000 words or be less than 75,000 words.

PhD (Music Composition)

The degree study program consists of research only leading to a   substantial folio of original music compositions. A minimum of 50% of the music compositions in a folio must have been performed in public concerts, which must be evidenced by the concert program notes. The folio of music compositions must also include the concert program notes and a critical commentary on the compositions. The normal duration of the original music in the portfolio is between 50 – 80 minutes and the critical commentary is 20,000 – 25,000 words in length.

Examiners should note that the critical commentary should not be assessed as a separate research paper. It functions as a contextualisation of the research undertaken in the form of composition. In other words, the composition folio constitutes the research outcome and the critical commentary is intended to comment on that research. Please return the composition portfolio when you submit your report.

Examiner’s assessment

  1. The Committee wishes to receive clear   advice on specific aspects of the work and, to this end, the examiner is   asked to place a tick by each statement as deemed appropriate in the report   form. If an examiner reports negatively on any aspects referred to in Section   1 of the form then comments should be made in the written section.
  2. The composition folio should demonstrate   that the candidate has acquired a good knowledge of music technology and an   understanding of music technology as a compositional tool.
  3. The critical commentary should demonstrate   that the candidate has developed a research-based argument that provides a   conceptual basis for the submitted compositions.

PhD (Music Performance)

The PhD (Music Performance) is undertaken by 100% research and results in two assessable components:

  • a performance project and
  • a thematically related written exegesis.

The written dissertation will normally be between 25,000 to 30,000 words in length and should demonstrate that the candidate has developed the capacity to research and address contextual, methodological and/or theoretical issues related to the themes or problem explored in the performance project. It should demonstrate that the candidate has acquired the ability to research and contribute to performance studies.

The performance project

  1. Should embody evidence of the candidate’s research into music performance and more specifically whether the quality of   the research and outcome are reached.
  2. Will normally be up to 120 minutes in   length and examined as a live presentation in the School of   Music-Conservatorium or other pre-arranged venue.
  3. May include a performance programme outlining the research features of the project

Examiner’s assessment

In the case of a recommendation - Revision and  re-submission, if a revised performance project is required and the original examiner is prepared to act as examiner for the revised work, they will be initially notified of the re-performance dates by the supervisor.

PhD Theatre Performance

The PhD (Theatre Performance) is undertaken by 100% research and results in two assessable components, a performance project and a thematically related written dissertation.

The written dissertation will normally be between 30,000 to 35,000 words in length and demonstrate that the candidate has developed the capacity to research and address contextual, methodological and/or theoretical issues related to the themes or problem explored in the performance project. It should demonstrate that the candidate has acquired the ability to research and contribute to performance studies

The performance project

  1. Should embody evidence of the candidate’s   research into the social, historical and/or performance contexts of the   project as well as the theoretical issues germane to the project. It should   demonstrate that the candidate has developed the capacity to manipulate the   aesthetic elements of the chosen practice genre in order to make an advanced   work of theatre performance
  2. Will be in one of the following practice   genres: directing, theatre making and writing for performance, where the   outcome is a directed performance, a created performance work or a written   performance text. When the creative project is a performance text, the   examination can be based on either a performance of the text or the written   text itself. Where the primary examination of the creative project is on the   written text, examiners will be invited to a rehearsed reading.
  3. Will normally be 60-90 minutes in duration   and examined as a live presentation in a public venue or an equivalent   performance text.
  4. May include a performance programme outlining   the research features of the project

The examination process

  1. Examiners attend the live presentation of   the performance project, if relevant, but must not consult with each other   before, during or after the performance.
  2. Examiners are asked to write a report on   the performance immediately after the presentation and hold this report on   file until the accompanying written dissertation and, if relevant,   performance text is received by post.
  3. The written dissertation will be submitted   within three months of the performance presentation. The bound written   dissertation will be sent to the examiners together with a DVD or video   recording of the performance project or written performance text.
  4. Examiners must complete the pro forma   report form and write a detailed report on the written dissertation and the   performance project.
  5. Once the examination is complete, the   examiner should return the DVD/video, written dissertation and, if relevant,   the written performance text together with their report.

PhD Visual Arts

The PhD in Visual Arts is built on the idea that the research is in the visual outcomes; the art, design or architectural project is the research.

The exegesis is to contextualise the research, articulate its methods and approach, place it in an historic, theoretical, social or political context which contributes to the understanding of the research outcome; it is not an independent research project but a supporting discussion of the research.

The research outcomes in the exhibition would be expected to demonstrate:

  1. That methods and techniques appropriate to the subject matter are applied effectively in shaping the research outcomes
  2. That the outcomes of the research project are original
  3. The creative outcomes of the research are presented in an appropriate and professional way
  4. The creative outcomes demonstrate a high standard of visual achievement in regard to their quality

The exegesis would be expected to demonstrate:

  1. A professional level of understanding and   familiarity with contemporary work in the area
  2. A comprehensive investigation of the   theoretical background of the research, establishing a context for its   discussion
  3. Clear research questions/ objectives which   have informed the creative outcomes and been responded to through the   exegesis
  4. A substantive interface with the creative   outcomes of the research process and methodology
  5. A standard of contextualisation which will   provide a reference for future researchers

The creative outcomes and the exegesis in combination are expected to provide a substantive cultural contribution to the art, design or architectural form

DPsych

The DPsych is a thesis of no more than 70,000 words.

While the standard of argument required in a DPsych thesis is of equal depth to a traditional PhD thesis, the DPsych thesis is shorter and therefore the scope of the DPsych research project and discussion is necessarily more limited.

As with the PhD, DPsych candidates are required to create knowledge in an academically rigorous way with appropriate transparency in the framing and procedures of the work conducted, well-grounded argumentation and critical reflection.

The degree is awarded following the successful completion of the three components of the DPsych program:

  1. coursework units,
  2. practica and
  3. the thesis.

Examiners are asked to note that the award of this degree is based on the dissertation plus two other assessable components – the practica and coursework.

SJD

The SJD is a professional doctorate that enables candidates to combine advanced coursework with independent research aimed at enhancing the contribution of law to society.

Final assessment of a candidate’s SJD program comprises two components:

  1. A coursework component, comprising   coursework subjects and a compulsory seminar, in which the candidate must   achieve a minimum average level of distinction (70%), representing 25% of the   total assessment for the degree.
  2. A thesis of 50,000 – 55,000 words, representing   75% of the total assessment for the degree.

The thesis provides the main opportunity for candidates to plan and carry out independent research resulting in a thesis that provides a significant contribution to knowledge, or to understanding of the subject with which it deals. The research need not be as extensive as for a PhD thesis.

Higher Doctorate

The work submitted for a higher doctorate must have been published not less than one year prior to its submission to Monash University for examination.

Work submitted for a higher doctorate degree may include conjointly authored work provided the conjoint work is clearly indicated and satisfactory evidence is produce to show the applicant was responsible for the major portion of the work. The submission should otherwise contain the original work of the candidate.

The submitted work must include:

  1. summary of the development of the work   (approx 1000 words);
  2. statement of the candidate’s view of the   extent to which the work contributes to the advancement of knowledge;
  3. where appropriate, statements in relation   to any art of the work that is conjointly authored or previously submitted   for a degree

To qualify for the award of degree the work submitted must:

  1. make an original , substantial and distinguished   contribution to knowledge in the field concerned; and
  2. give the candidate authoritative standing   in that field and the right to general recognition of this standing by   scholars in the field.

Examination of the work

The examination of the work is undertaken by three independent examiners, at least two of whom are from outside the university.

Masters by research and Coursework

The expected length of a thesis submitted for Research Master’s by Research and Coursework is 20,000-25,000 words.

The award of the Research Master’s by Research and Coursework degree depends on the results for both coursework and thesis components. A thesis examiner is required only to judge the merit of the thesis.

Examiner’s assessment. The Committee wishes to receive:

  1. Clear advice on specific aspects of the thesis,
  2. an overall result in the report form and;
  3. an overall grade where appropriate.

Masters of Engineering Science (Research)

It is expected that MEngSc(Res) theses generally do not exceed 50,000 words.

MA (Creative Writing)

In the context of the Master of Arts (Creative writing), “thesis” refers to one or more creative works and an accompanying critical component.

The MA (Creative Writing) is undertaken by 100% research. Students produce a creative work and; accompanying critical component during enrolment.

  1. The creative work   should be no more than 25,000 words and constituted by a novel or a group of   short stories or work of creative non-fiction, a play or a group of plays or   a sequence of poems, or a portfolio of works of various genres. The creative   component should be professionally presented.
  2. The accompanying   critical component can take the form of an exegesis or other work of   scholarly research, or be a combination of both:
    1. a scholarly   exegesis which comments directly on the creative work (for example, from the   perspective of a particular theory; or with a focus on style, composition,   genre, or the influence of literary or non-literary contexts);
    2. an independent but   complementary work of scholarly research on a topic relevant to the creative   work. The critical commentary should be no more than 15,000 words.

Grading descriptors see: http://www.monash.edu/graduate-research/faqs-and-resources/masters/chapter-seven/7-9