Thesis outcomes and corrections

There will usually be a bit more work to do after the viva. Each institution will have its own regulations about viva outcomes and how to inform the candidate of them. Find out before you go into your viva so that you know what to expect. In the UK they typically they fall into one of the following categories:

  • Outright pass. Your work needs no corrections
  • Minor corrections. Your examiners have a few minor suggestions that they would like you to incorporate
  • Major corrections or resubmission. The thesis needs further work to be of doctoral standard. This might include more research, rewriting sections or including new literature
  • Suggestion that you resubmit for, or are awarded, a lower degree (MPhil or MSc). Research is of good quality but too narrow for a doctorate
  • Outright fail. Usually used only in cases of plagiarism or where the examiners judge that the candidate will never be able to complete a doctorate.

Most candidates fall within the minor or major corrections categories. This means that you will have some corrections to complete. However, regardless of the number of corrections that you have to do most people who reach the viva stage do  go on to get their doctorate relatively quickly.

Thesis corrections

After your viva you are likely to have some corrections to complete before you are awarded your doctorate. The extent can range from a few spelling mistakes to rewriting or adding complete chapters. You may be given a deadline by your examiners or your institution but regardless of this, it is best to aim to complete your corrections as soon as possible to use the momentum acquired during thesis writing.

In order to be sure that your corrections make the right changes:

  • take notes during the viva and write them up immediately after
  • meet with your main supervisor to discuss the changes that you need to make
  • analyse the examiners' report carefully to make sure that you have dealt with all of the issues that they raise
  • proofread your work again.

Thesis resubmission

Your examiners, or often just the internal examiner, will check that all corrections have been incorporated, and then you can resubmit your thesis. Your institution will have regulations on the format of the final submitted thesis copy of your thesis, which will usually be deposited in the institutional library. It has become more common for institutions to request the submission of an electronic copy for ease of cataloguing and searching.