12.3 Appeals Procedure Senior Doctorates

1. Candidates for the degree of DLitt, DSc, DSc Econ or LLD, may appeal under this procedure against the decision of an Internal Committee not to recommend the award of the degree in respect of which the candidate submitted their works.

2. The University is only prepared to consider appeals which are based on one or both of the following grounds:

  • Defects or irregularities in the conduct of the assessment procedure, including an interview if held, which are of such a nature as to cause reasonable doubt whether the Internal Committee would have reached the same decision had they not occurred
  • Evidence of prejudice or of bias or of inadequate assessment on the part of one or more of the members of the Internal Committee or referees.

Appeals which question the academic judgement of the Internal Committee or referees shall not be admissible.

3. Any appeal shall be sent, in full, in writing to the Pro Vice-Chancellor (ref: Appeals) and must reach their not later than two months after the despatch to the candidate of the notification of their result. Simple notice of appeal given in writing by a candidate within the above deadline shall not be deemed to constitute an appeal proper and shall not be accepted. Receipt of an application for appeal shall be acknowledged normally within three working days, and the appellant shall be provided with a written progress report within 25 working days.

4. If the Vice-Chancellor, or their nominee* decides, after examining the candidate's submission and any other written evidence, which they may require that there is a case to be considered, they shall refer it to an Appeal Board consisting of three persons drawn from a Standing Panel as follows:

  • 3 lay members appointed by Council
  • 4 representatives of each Faculty.

The Appeal Board shall be chaired by a lay member and its academic members will be drawn from Faculties and/or departments unconnected with the appeal under consideration.

5. If the Vice-Chancellor, or their nominee*, decides that there is no case to be considered, this shall have the effect of disallowing the appeal. his shall normally be within three months of receipt of the application for appeal.

6. Where a case is referred to an Appeal Board for hearing, the Board shall identify the grounds of the appeal and shall base its decision on the evidence of the appellant's submission, a report from the Chair of the Original Examining Board, and any further evidence which it considers relevant.

7. An appellant shall be offered a personal hearing by the Appeal Board, and shall be informed of the time and date of such a hearing. The appellant may be accompanied, but not represented, by a member of the academic, welfare or advisory staff of the University.

8. The Chair shall, at an Appeal Board meeting, have discretion to declare inadmissible any matter introduced by the appellant, or by any individual accompanying the appellant, if they deems it not directly related to the contents of the appeal previously lodged in writing within the stipulated deadline.

9. The Appeal Board shall be empowered to take either of the following decisions:

  • That the appeal be rejected and no further action be taken
  • That the appeal be upheld.

10. If an appeal is upheld, the Appeal Board may also adopt one of the following courses of action:

  • To recommend to the Internal Committee that, for the reasons stated, the Committee should reconsider its decision
  • To recommend that a new Internal Committee should reconsider the decision of the previous Committee.

11. When a re-assessment is undertaken as a result of either paragraphs 10.1 or 10.2 above, the Appeal board may also specify that two new referees should be appointed. The new referees will not be provided with any information about the previous assessment other than that they are conducting a re-assessment of the candidate's submission on appeal.

12. The decision of the Appeal Board shall be final.

13. The decision of the Appeal Board (and of any re-assessment if applicable) shall be notified by the Pro Vice-Chancellor or their nominee as soon as possible to the appellant.

14. In the case of 10 or 11 above, the Pro Vice-Chancellor or their nominee shall arrange for the decision and recommendations of the Appeal Board to be implemented. An Internal Committee's decision on whether any change should be made to any previous decision shall be reported back to the Appeal Board and shall be final. On receipt of this decision, the Pro Vice-Chancellor or their nominee may, in exceptional cases only, refer the case to the Chair of the Appeal Board for review of the procedures followed. If it transpires that a serious procedural irregularity has occurred, the case may be referred back to the Internal Committee for reconsideration.

15. If, as a consequence of a successful appeal, a candidate is regarded as having qualified for a degree, the Pro Vice-Chancellor shall arrange admission to the degree.

16. The Appeal Board may make recommendations for consideration by the Academic Affairs Committee or the Senate as appropriate on any matter arising from the consideration of appeals.

17. Under the Higher Education Act 2004 the University subscribes to the independent scheme for the review of student complaints. Once all internal procedures have been exhausted a candidate may submit a complaint to the OIA (Office of the Independent Adjudicator), providing the complaint is eligible under its rules.


Should a candidate decide to make a complaint to the OIA, their OIA Complaint Form must be received by the OIA within three months of the date of the Completion of Procedures letter.

The OIA’s leaflet, An Introduction to the OIA for Students can be downloaded here and a link to the OIA Complaint Form is available on page 11.  Alternatively, the OIA can be contacted as follows:

Telephone – 0118 959 9813

E-mail – enquiries@oiahe.org.uk

Post – OIAHE, Second Floor, Abbey Wharf, 57-75 Kings Road, Reading, RG1 3AB.

Guidance on submitting a complaint to the OIA and the OIA Complaint Form can also be found on the OIA’s website.  The candidate may also wish to seek advice from the Students’ Union about taking their complaint to the OIA.

The OIA will normally only review issues that have been dealt with through the University’s internal procedures.

*An Officer of the University may be nominated by the Vice-Chancellor to act on their behalf.


Chapter reviewed: September 2020