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NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering. BRIEFING ON THE THESIS EXAMINATION PROCESS. What we expect of an NGS PhD graduate Has carried out excellent research Has demonstrated i nterest in interdisplinary issues Takes an analytical approach to problems

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NUS Graduate Schoolfor Integrative Sciences and Engineering




What we expect of an NGS PhD graduate

  • Has carried out excellent research
  • Has demonstrated interest in interdisplinary issues
  • Takes an analytical approach to problems
  • Has deepened his/her knowledge
  • Shows knowledge and curiosity about major issues in related

subject areas

  • Adheres to the highest ethical standards in research
  • Serves as a role model for future generations
how does the examination assess it
Review of relevant literature

Clear and coherent data

Significant results

Critical discussion and ability to present clearly your and others’ data

Ability to defend results upon cross – examination

How does the examination assess it?
Submission of Thesis Exam

Format of Thesis Exam

General Guidelines on Format of Thesis

Process of Thesis Exam

Criteria of External and Internal Examiners

Nomination of Examiners

Examination format

Outcome of examination


submission of thesis for examination
Submission of Thesis for Examination
  • Deadline of submission- By the max. period of candidature 2. Extension of candidature-Application submitted through supervisor- Preferably 3 months before expiry of candidature- For AGS students, approval has to be given by both NGS and A*STARNB : For AGS students, No guarantee that A*STAR will extend funding, but very important to alert them early.
submission of thesis for examination cont d
Submission of Thesis for Examination (cont’d)
  • Fees payable

4. Thesis Exam Fees- For PhD students, it costs S$535. For AGS StudentsA*STAR will reimburse fees related to thesis examination. Please consult A*GA for details.For NGSS StudentsNGS does NOT reimburse the Thesis Exam Fees. It is borne by the students

format of thesis examination
Format of Thesis Examination

Final Thesis



Consists a detailed introduction/literature review, description and critical analysis of the student’s research work in conventional, bound form.

Consists an introduction,conclusionand published (or accepted) papers (plus some extra details of methods)

  • papers are in Tier 1 journals (defined by NUS)
  • student undertook most (75%) or all of the research described in the papers

The 3 C’s – Clear, Coherent, Critical

general guidelines on format of thesis
General Guidelines on Format of Thesis

1. General InformationAny work carried out BEFORE your enrolment in NGS cannot be used for submission in a thesis examination.2. Thesis TitleNot differ from the original approved titleIf there is significant difference, must apply for a change of title at least ONE month before thesis is submitted(Form can be downloaded from NGS website)

general guidelines on format of thesis cont d1
General Guidelines on Format of Thesis (cont’d)

4. Summary PageMust contain a summary page of NOT more than 500 words written in the English Language. This must be bound in with the thesis.5. Title Page / Thesis Cover and SpineRefer to the sample layout shown in Annex A of the Handouts 6. LanguageCheck for Correct Spelling and use of English. This is ESSENTIAL!NGS recommends UK spelling. USA spelling is also okay but be consistent

process of thesis examination
Process of Thesis Examination
  • Student, to decide with supervisor, on the route of thesis examination. A is the usual route
  • Supervisor to nominate thesis examiners at least 2 months before thesis is expected to be submitted for examination

- Nominate 5 examiners, either (3 internal and 2 external

examiners) OR (2 internal and 3 external examiners)

  • Student to submit thesis for examination
  • Student to undergo an Oral Defence (Examination) in Singapore.

Nomination of Examiners (cont’d)

  • NGS would review and approve the names of the appropriate examiners.
  • Thesis Examination who reads and assess the students’ thesis could comprise either 2 internal and 1 external examiners OR 1 internal and 2 external examiners.

Criteria of External Examiners

External examiners should be proposed to NGS by the Thesis Advisory Committee and must meet the following criteria for approval:

1. Internationally-recognized scientists in the field as identified by the usual criteria (research output, citations, etc) who have at least attained at least the level of Associate Professor or the equivalent.

2. From leading universities or research institutions.

3. Not from NUS nor from the institution in which the candidate is performing all or a substantial part of his / her research work, if different from NUS

4. Not related (in any way) to the candidate or the supervisor

5. Not a member of the TAC.

6. Not an adjunct staff of the Department/RI from which the candidate originates.

Do NOT communicate with examiners (either internal or external) directly.

If you wish to say something to them, please go through the NGS office.


Criteria of Internal Examiners

1. Internationally-recognized scientist in the field identified by the usual criteria

(research output, citations, etc) and at least Associate Professor level or


2. Not related (in any way) to the candidate or the supervisor

3. May be a member of the Thesis Advisory Committee (except for the supervisor

& chair of TAC), although if the TAC member has been highly involved in the

supervision of the thesis, this should be avoided.

The internal examiner is NOT acting as a representative of the institution or candidate but as an unbiased independent examiner

with local knowledge.

format of thesis examination1
Format of Thesis Examination
  • Thesis will be read by 3 examiners

- Examiners are given a maximum of 7 weeks to complete the examination of the thesis and to submit an evaluationreport (and will be reminded periodically)

  • After all examiners’ reports are received,

- If there are NO/MINOR amendments, oral examination will be

scheduled in as soon as possible (aim  6 weeks)

- If MAJOR revision is recommended, candidate MAY be asked to

revise and resubmit the thesis for further examination before the

oral examination is scheduled

format of thesis examination2
Format of Thesis Examination
  • Oral Examination comprises the following

- Open Seminar, of approximate 40mins (together with examiners) (NEW!)

- Question & Answer Session, of approximate 15 - 20 mins

- Closed-Door Examination (with examiners only)

  • At the Oral Examination, the candidate should

- Give a brief overview of the thesis

- Discuss key findings and new contributions made to the field

- Justify the methodology and theoretical framework used; and

- Analyze the implications of study for future research or applications

- Possess critical ability and presentation skills

format of thesis examination3
Format of Thesis Examination


  • The Oral Panel will be chaired by the students’ Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC), along with the internal examiners, who will form the examination panel.
  • In some cases, NGS will nominate additional NGS supervisors to particpate in the examination.
  • External examiner(s) may also be present but this is not mandatory
  • All students undergoing their Oral Examination have to physically present themselves for the session. This is also applicable to students who accept and start on their overseas employment will have to make arrangement to return to Singapore for the examination.
format of thesis examination4
Format of Thesis Examination

Possible Results of the Examination

(a) awarded PhD without further examination

(b) awarded PhD subject to minor revision to thesis

(c) awarded PhD subject to amendments of a more substantive nature

(d) not awarded PhD but be permitted to resubmit thesis in a revised form after a

further period of study and research

(e) not awarded PhD

For Decisions b, c and d, the examiners should decide how the revised thesis will be managed and will construct a report, to be communicated to the candidate.

For decision e, they will construct a report emphasizing the finality of the decision and the reasons for it. We anticipate that in most cases, the examiners’ reports can be given directly to the candidate, but in some editing may be required.

outcome of thesis examination
Outcome of Thesis Examination

You will be considered for award of the PhD degree

- If minor/major revisions are incorporated in the thesis to the satisfaction of the supervisor(s) and the Oral Panel Members; and

- After the uploaded electronic thesis has been verified by NGS

  • Award will be made at a degree-awarding ceremony
  • Letter to state that you have met all the award criteria will be available immediately
frequently asked questions
Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. For the Optional Route of Thesis Examination, what is the recommended number of published papers?

A1. A minimum of 3 published papers would be advisable, unless the paper is in an absolutely top-listed journal such as Nature, Science, Cell or PNAS. However, there isn’t a maximum number. Papers should normally be first-authored by the student.

Q2. Is Co-first authorship considered a first-authorship?

A2. Yes.

frequently asked questions cont d
Frequently Asked Questions (cont’d)

Q3. Where can I obtain a list of Tier 1 journals?

A3. Please seek advice from your supervisor as he/she will have access to the relevant information.

Q4. If I am submitting my thesis through the typical route,

is a publication required?

A4(i) No, although we would normally expect students to have published work in good journals, conferences proceedings, etc.

Is the position of authorship important?

A4(ii) Yes. It must indicate that the student did 75% of the work. The thesis should focus on your own work.

frequently asked questions cont d1
Frequently Asked Questions (cont’d)

Q5. On choice of external examiners, if I am attached to an RI, does that

mean my choice of external examiners must NOT be someone from my RI?

A5. Yes. The external examiner should not come from the same RI / Department as the student.

Please refer to the detailed FAQ attached in the handouts.