Completing your research

As you approach your final year of study, you can apply for writing-up status. Your final year is normally year four if you are studying full-time and year six if you are studying part-time. During the writing-up status stage, your fees for that year of study will be reduced.

If you wish to apply for writing-up status, you should have:

  • Completed your data collection and data analysis
  • Provided your supervisory team with a full first draft of your thesis

Every student's project is different and some will not need writing-up status.

To apply for writing-up status, you will need to submit a request to the university's Research Degrees Sub-Committee (see below).

As you approach your final year of study, your supervisory team should consider submitting your examination arrangements to The Graduate School.

The writing-up status is for one year only and you will be charged a set fee.

At the end of your programme of study you will have written an extensive thesis. It will then need to be submitted for examination.

Once you have submitted your thesis, you will be invited to defend your doctorate at a 'viva voce' (Latin for "by live voice") - an oral examination. Your viva voce is a chance for you to:

  • Demonstrate that your thesis is your own work
  • Defend what you have written
  • Show your understanding of the originality of the work and where it fits within the wider research field
  • Respond to examiners' questions and provide any clarification requested
  • Establish whether your work is of a sufficiently high standard for the level of your award

Your supervisors will put together an examination team based on the subject of your research and they will make a formal application to the Research Degrees Sub-Committee (see below) to approve the team. The examination team will consist of:

  • One external examiner - this will normally be an academic member of staff from another institution or a professional who has expertise in your area of work
  • University staff members who are also students will require two external examiners
  • One internal examiner - a member of academic staff at the university who is not one of your supervisors
  • An independent chair - the independent chair is not an examiner and will not take part in the examination process. Their role is to make sure that the examination abides by our university guidelines and that you are not under any undue pressure

Your supervisory team should let you know who is in the examination team so you can familiarise yourself with their work, but you must not have any contact with them.

The Graduate School is responsible for arranging your viva voce examination and we will co- ordinate this with all parties.

It can take up to three months to confirm a date. If you know of any dates that you will be unavailable, you should make sure The Graduate School is aware of them when you submit your thesis.

The viva voce examination will be held at either Headingley Campus or City Campus. When you receive your room confirmation, we recommend you make sure you know where it is and familiarise yourself with the surroundings.

On the day, the examination team will meet beforehand to discuss the nature and type of questions they will ask you. While all examinations are different, the key to the viva voce is to establish whether your work is at the standard expected for the level of award and that your thesis demonstrates an original contribution to knowledge in its field of study.

As our academic schools have no regulatory control over research studies, the Research Degrees Sub-Committee (RDSC) is the only committee able to make decisions around your studies. It is chaired by Professor Ruth Robbins, Director of Research in the School of Cultural Studies & Humanities, and is made up of academics from across the university.

To apply for writing-up status, you will need to submit a request to the university's RDSC. The form should be sent to

The RDSC will also approve the team selected for your examination process. They will discuss the overall experience of team members to ensure they have the appropriate subject expertise. To ensure a robust and fair examination, team members must be independent from you as supervisors.

Only when the RDSC approves the team can arrangements be made for the examination. Please note, the committee's decision is final.

If the Graduate School received your thesis before the end of February, your examination arrangements are in place and your fees are paid to date, we will work to ensure you can attend graduation in July, subject to the outcome of your viva voce examination.

For any amendments and resubmissions (without viva voce) received before the middle of April, we will try to make sure examiners provide feedback in time for you to attend graduation in July. If you resubmit after mid-April, it may not be possible for you to graduate at that summer's graduation.

If you submit your thesis later than 1 May, your viva voce may be scheduled for the following September, as we do not normally schedule vivas between 1 July and 31 August.