Procedures & Guidelines for the Conduct of Viva Voce Examinations by Electronic Means
Procedure and Guidelines for the Conduct of Viva Voce Examinations by Electronic Means
The University believes that viva voce examinations (oral examinations) are an essential part of the examination process of candidates for research degrees. To this end, the Regulations of the University require such an examination to be held, and there is guidance available which is intended to lay the foundations for the viva voce examination itself.
The University expects that viva voce examinations will be held on a face-to-face basis, with all concerned present in the same room, at the same time. Notwithstanding this expectation, the University recognises that it may be necessary - under very exceptional conditions - for arrangements to be made for examinations to take place through electronic media. (The University will not give approval to the use of telephone links alone for the purposes of examinations.) Accordingly, the Academic Standards and Quality Committee is empowered to give approval to requests that electronic media may be used, in exceptional circumstances, as defined below:
- where conditions have arisen under which it would not be possible otherwise to proceed with the viva voce (e.g. where a student cannot return to the UK because of visa or other restrictions), or
- where agreed arrangements for a face to face viva voce have had to be terminated because of unexpected circumstances (e.g. severe weather; illness of one of the participants). Note: where such circumstances arise, the University would expect that, normally, the viva voce should be postponed, rather than be held through electronic means, but it is accepted that - occasionally - it will be necessary for electronic means to be used instead (e.g. where the student would suffer disproportionately as a result of postponement).
Cases in which electronic means might be needed for viva voce examinations should be forwarded to the Registry by the Convenor of the Examining Board concerned, for the consideration of the Academic Standards and Quality Committee. The Committee will consider each case placed before it on its individual merits, although it will also expect to see the following:
- written confirmation from the intended participants (including the candidate) that they have no objection to the examination being held, at an agreed time; through electronic means,
- a written statement from the candidate that he/she has waived any right to appeal against the outcome of the examination on the grounds of the use of the electronic medium or consequences arising from the use of such medium;
- that sufficient time has been allotted for the viva voce itself, and that necessary technical back-up will be available;
- that additional time (of approximately 10 minutes duration) has been made available before the start of the formal examination to enable the participants to familiarise themselves with the scope and limitations of the medium in use;
- that either the candidate or one or more members of the Examining Board will 'attend' the examination via one of the videonetwork studios maintained by the University.
Where such arrangements are given approval, it is suggested that, provided that the candidate is in agreement, the supervisor should be invited by the Chair of the Examining Board to be present in the same location as the candidate during the viva voce.