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Graduate students, Department of Engineering


Before submitting

Word limit

The word limit is 65,000 words (including appendices, footnotes, tables and equations, but excluding the bibliography). It must not contain more than 150 figures. See Word limits and requirements of your Degree Committee. If you need to increase your word limit, you must apply for permission via your CamSIS self-service account. Requests for more than 72,000 words will not be considered under any circumstances.

Additional Materials

Additional materials* are defined as materials created by the candidate which are integral to the thesis and essential for examination, but cannot be easily included in the main body of the thesis. Examples may include 3D models, simulations, video or audio recordings, hi-resolution images, or computer programmes. Additional materials are defined as materials created by the candidate which are integral to the thesis and essential for examination, but cannot be easily included in the main body of the thesis. Examples may include 3D models, simulations, video or audio recordings, hi-resolution images, or computer programmes.

If you need to include additional materials, you need permission to do so BEFORE submitting your thesis for examination.

*Please note that additional materials cannot be used to circumvent the thesis maximum word limit

Format and presentation

Please see the information on the Cambridge Students website.

Your submission deadline

Your PhD thesis should be submitted before the last day of your fourth year of study. You can find your submission deadline on your CamSIS self-service account. The earliest date you can submit is the first day of your ninth term. We strongly advise students to aim to submit within ten terms, or by the end of their funding date, whichever is soonest. This will allow you some contingency time in case of unexpected delays.

Extensions can only be granted in limited circumstances (ie where you have experienced unforeseen delays); see Extending your submission date. Please ensure that you read and follow the guidance carefully if you need to apply for an extension. If you do not submit by your deadline, you will be removed from the register of graduate students, which will result in you losing access to resources. However, if this happens, you will still be able to submit your thesis at a later date.

Preparing to submit

Four weeks before you intend to submit your thesis, please complete the online Intention to Submit Form. After consulting with your supervisor, the GSO will arrange for your examiners to be appointed and your title approved. At this point the GSO will add you to the Moodle site so that you can submit your thesis when it is complete.

If you wish to notify examiners of any disability or request adjustments on account of such disability for your viva voce examination (either for your first year assessment or final examination), you can do this via your Degree Committee by completing and submitting the voluntary disclosure form.

Where and what to submit

You should submit an electronic pdf copy of your thesis via the Engineering Degree Committee thesis submission Moodle site. Please name the file "PhD_ Your CRSid.pdf" so that it is identifiable.

Providing examiners have been appointed, your thesis will be forwarded to the examiners within two days of receipt by the GSO. For details of where to submit your thesis and what paperwork to include, see Submitting your Thesis.

After submitting

The oral examination (viva)

We will email you when your thesis has been forwarded to your examiners. You should expect to wait at least 8 weeks for your oral examination. In most cases the viva will be between you and two examiners, usually one internal and one external.

After your oral examination, you may be asked to make some corrections to your thesis. If your examiners do not provide you with a list of corrections, please contact the GSO and we will arrange for a list to be sent to you.  When the corrections are complete, you should show them to your internal examiner (and/or your external examiner in some cases).

After the examination

Your examiners' reports will be considered at a meeting of the Engineering Degree Committee. Following this meeting, the Degree Committee will send their decision to the Student Registry. You will usually receive an email from the Student Registry within about a week of the Degree Committee meeting, informing you of the outcome, along with copies of your examiners' reports. In some cases, your examination paperwork will also need to be considered by the Postgraduate Committee (see 'Other outcomes' below).


No corrections needed, or corrections completed and approved before paperwork considered by Degree Committee

If you were not required to make any corrections, or you have already completed your corrections and they have been approved by your examiners before your paperwork is considered by the Degree Committee, then following the meeting you will receive an email from the Student Registry informing you to submit the hardbound and electronic copies of your thesis. In some cases where corrections have been completed, you may first receive notification that corrections are required, and then another email within a day or two to confirm that those have been completed and you can submit your hardbound and e-thesis.

Corrections required

Examiners can recommend that you need to complete some corrections to your thesis. These can be either minor, which you will be given three months to complete, or major, which you will be given six months to complete. These timings start from the date that your examination paperwork is approved by the Degree Committee, and you will receive an email from the Student Registry informing you of the relevant timeframes following that meeting.

You remain on the register of graduate students during this period (unless your corrections are approved sooner), however the working restrictions for graduate students do not apply during this time. You should still apply for leave to work away if you are completing your corrections away from Cambridge. After completing your corrections, you should send them to your internal examiner to approve, who will then confirm to the Degree Committee, via the GSO, when they have done so. Approval of corrections does not need to go through any further committee meetings. The GSO will notify the Student Registry, who will then send you an email about submitting the hardbound and electronic copies of your thesis.

Other outcomes

Although the most common outcome is that corrections are required before you can be awarded a PhD (or occasionally an outright pass), it is also possible that you may be asked to Revise and Resubmit your thesis for a new examination. Alternatively, you may be offered the award of a lower degree, or in rare cases, outright failure is a possible outcome. You can find the full list of potential outcomes in the Code of Practice. If the Degree Committee wishes to recommend one of these outcomes, your examination results will need to be considered at a meeting of the University's Postgraduate Committee before a decision is agreed and notified to you. If your examination results are to be considered at a Postgraduate Committee meeting, you will be informed by the Student Registry after the Degree Committee meeting, 

After degree approval

After your PhD, including any corrections required, has been approved by the Degree Committee, you will be notified that you need to submit the hardbound copy of your thesis, as well as an electronic copy. You can find information about this, as well as what to do if you need to restrict or embargo your thesis, on the Cambridge Students website.

You can then make arrangements to attend a congregation, or have your degree awarded in absentia.