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Degree Committee for the Faculty of Physics & Chemistry


All PhD, MSc and MPhil by thesis candidates must have an oral (viva voce) examination.

The Internal Examiner arranges the oral by contacting the candidate and the External to arrange a mutually convenient time and place. The oral should take place, if possible, within two months of submission of the thesis. The candidate has the choice of viva format; the default option viva is in-person viva in Cambridge but candidates may choose viva by video conference if that is their preference. Examiners will be sent information about viva by video-conference when appointed. 

Some examiners like candidates to give a structured presentation (poster or powerpoint) at the start of the viva. This is by no means essential. If you would like the candidate to give a presentation please notify them of the requirements at least two weeks before the scheduled viva date. 

If the candidate has advised us of a disability that they feel might affect the conduct of the oral, we will let you know of any necessary additional requirements or adjustments.


Your pre-viva independent reports

  • these must be written by each examiner, without consultation with the other, BEFORE the oral;
  • they should be sufficiently detailed to allow the Degree Committee to come to a decision about the quality of the work and to give the candidate written feedback;
  • in particular, if you believe the thesis will need to be revised (i.e. fails at the first attempt), your report will need to give details of why the degree should not be awarded and provide remedial advice;
  • at least one A4 page would normally be expected, but not more than 2-3 pages;
  • each report must be accompanied by the appropriate coversheet (PhD1, MSc1 or MPhil1), on which you indicate your pre-oral recommendation;
  • the report and coversheet should be submitted electronically to the Degree Committee Office.


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Office closures

The Degree Committee for the Faculty of Physics & Chemistry will be closed from 5pm on Thursday 28 March 2024 and will reopen again on Tuesday 2 April 2024.
Research degree theses should still be submitted by your submission deadline even if that falls over the holiday period.