Subject Area Boards
SABs have two functions:
To advise on the expertise and suitability of the nominations of examiners for research degree theses; and
To check for any potential conflicts of interest the supervisor may have with the nominees (e.g. collaborations, recent publications, joint grant funding); nominees are also required to state if they know the candidate in any capacity.
The responsibility and final decision on appointment of examiners lies with the Research Degrees Examination Board.
1. A full list of SABs will be published on the Examinations and Awards Office webpages. Each SAB should have at least four members, including a Chair and a Deputy Chair.
2. Examiner nominations are emailed to all members of the relevant SAB by the Examinations and Awards Office. SAB members should consult on whether the examiners meet the criteria in regulation A4 13.2 (click below). Once a decision has been agreed, this should be sent by the Chair to the Examinations and Awards Office by email. It is hoped that a SAB will respond within two weeks of receiving the nomination.
Criteria for examiners (regulation A4 13.2)
a) examiners shall be expert in the field of the thesis and able to make an independent assessment of the student;
b) at least one examiner shall have experience in the examination of research degrees in the UK and the examiners should have examined at least three research degrees of appropriate level between them;
c) examiners should not have had any significant research or other contact with the student, nor should they have had any role in the assessment or supervision of the student. There should be no personal link between the examiner and student;
d) reciprocal examining with a supervisor from another institution is not permitted. The repeated nomination of an examiner by a supervisor will not normally be permitted within a two year period;
e) former lay members of Council, students or employees of King’s College London shall not normally be appointed before a period of three academic years has elapsed;
f) at least one of the examiners shall be external to the University of London;
g) one examiner shall normally be from another College of the University except where, in the opinion of the Board, this is impracticable or inappropriate;
h) the candidate’s supervisor shall not be an examiner;
i) all the examiners shall be external to the College when the candidate is also a member of the academic staff of the College.
3. If the SAB advises approval of the nominations, the Examinations and Awards Office will forward the nominations to the Chair of the Research Degrees Examination Board for final approval. In some cases, the Chair of the Research Degrees Examination Board may refer an approval back to the SAB with a query, or reject a nomination on various grounds.
4. If the SAB raises concerns regarding an examiner, the Examinations and Awards Office will generally refer the nominations back to the supervisor with a request to address the problem, provide additional information or to nominate a replacement examiner.
5. If members of SABs wish to take external advice, or advice from another SAB, they are free to do so as long as it does not slow the process up unduly.
6. If the student’s supervisor is a member of the SAB, the supervisor should not be included in the approval of the nominations, and will not be included in the email from the Examinations and Awards Office.
7. SABs should refer all queries to the Examinations and Awards Office. SABs should not directly contact the examiners, supervisors or students.
Further details on suitability of examiners
8. If the examiners have insufficient experience in the examination of research degrees in the UK, an Independent Chair can be appointed (see Examinations and Awards Office webpages).
9. An internal examiner from within the College will be accepted only in exceptional circumstances. In particular, the use of an examiner from the same department is strongly discouraged and a very strong justification (usually in terms of specialist expertise) is required. It is important that research degrees at King’s are seen to be independently assessed and evaluated. An examiner who has resigned from the University of London is not eligible to act as an external examiner until 3 years after the date of departure.
10. Staff from Imperial College are now considered as external to the University of London.
11. The appointment of one overseas examiner is acceptable but in general one of the examiners should be UK based. Where expenses exceed the maximum permitted by the Examinations and Awards Office, these must be paid by the student’s department.
12. Appointment of recently retired or emeritus examiners is acceptable if they are still research active but one examiner should have a current appointment with a British university of good research standing.