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Thesis submission for examination

Before submitting

Intention to submit and plagiarism check

The candidate and supervisor(s) should normally agree as to when sufficient work has been done to enable the final write up and subsequent submission of the thesis.

Doctoral research candidates should submit a final draft of their thesis to check for unintentional plagiarism, using Turnitin, which is available on the Blackboard website ‘GRS_PHD Graduate Research Support for Doctoral Candidates’, under ‘Turnitin’. Candidates should be aware that the search engines for Turnitin may not capture all journals that have been used, so could miss detecting passages of text that may be copied. Candidates should carefully check any text that is highlighted as a possible match and ensure proper attribution is used. Prior to submission, candidates should show their Turnitin report to their supervisor.

To begin the examination process, candidates are requested to advise their supervisors of the intention to submit their thesis at least two months prior to submission. This will prompt the supervisors to nominate examiners and give the candidate time to submit an application for a Postgraduate Publishing Bursary, if applicable.

Approval and instruction to submit

If the thesis involves sensitive intellectual property, prior to submission, the supervisor needs to send confidentiality agreements to the convener and each examiner (internal and externals), and have these signed documents submitted to by the time the thesis is submitted for examination.

About one week (and not less than 2 days) before submission candidates must email for approval to submit.

Student Administration (doctoral) will check that the candidate meets the following requirements to submit:

  • Currently enrolled (candidates on deferral cannot submit)
  • Minimum enrolment of 3 equivalent full time years (if less than this permission must be sought from the Graduate Research Committee)
  • Not a debtor
  • Current visa and passport holder (if international candidate)

Candidates will then be emailed approval and instructions on how to submit:

Digital thesis submission for examination

In a departure from our current Examination and Assessment Regulations (which we are in the process of updating), we are now allowing digital submission of theses.
View the Examination and Assessment Regulations

Candidates need to submit:

Note that Academic Units may be asked to produce one or more soft-bound copies for the examiners.

The signed declaration attests that the work was done by the candidate personally (or that the thesis contains co-authored work), that the material has not previously been accepted in whole, or in part, for any other degree or diploma, and that the thesis has been checked for plagiarism.

COVID-19 impacts on thesis – If COVID-19 has significantly impacted the nature of your research, this form can be used to provide guidance to examiners about the nature of the disruption.

Submission of the thesis is acknowledged by return email from the Student Administration (doctoral). PhD enrolment formally ceases on processing of submission, but candidates retain access to resources until completion of the examination process and the digital submission of their final thesis to Our Archive.

Celebration of thesis submission

Submitting your thesis for examination is a significant achievement, and one which we celebrate at the University of Otago. The Graduate Research School has a long-standing tradition of gifting doctoral candidates a chocolate fish when they submit their thesis for examination.

  • For candidates in Dunedin – call by the Graduate Research School at 103 St David St (by the St David St footbridge) to collect your chocolate fish. Then go the Clocktower reception to collect a mallet that you then use to ring the bell located between the Quad lecture theatres and the Clocktower. The latter celebration was introduced as part of the University’s 150th celebrations
  • For candidates in the Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences – contact the Manager, Academic Programmes, in the Dean’s Department to make an appointment to collect your chocolate fish
  • For candidates in the Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences – contact the Postgraduate Liaison Officer in the Postgraduate Office to make an appointment to collect your chocolate fish
  • For candidates submitting off-campus or overseas, email to request your fish is mailed to you

After submission

Candidates should be aware that email contact after submission is to their candidate email address. They will need to forward their emails if they wish them to go to a different email address.
Student Administration (doctoral) ( handle all enquiries regarding the progress of examination after submission.

Visit The Examination Process page for more details on the structure of the examination process.