Variations in vivas: quality and equality in British PhD assessments

Morley, Louise, Leonard, Diana and David, Miriam (2010) Variations in vivas: quality and equality in British PhD assessments. Studies in Higher Education, 27 (3). pp. 263-273. ISSN 0307-5079

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Abstract

This article asks whether doctoral assessment has escaped the regulation of quality assurance procedures. It also raises questions about the affective and micropolitical dimensions of an oral examination conducted in private. It explores how current concerns about quality assurance, standards, benchmarks and performance indicators in higher education apply to the assessment of doctoral/research degrees in Britain, and in particular to the viva voce examination. Successful PhD completion is a key performance indicator for universities and an important basis for the accreditation of their staff. Yet, its form of assessment has not yet been fully examined, despite the rise of new managerialism and a general preoccupation with calculable standards and outcomes. Equally, while the 'customer care' revolution may be entering the academy, with an emphasis on student entitlements, transparency of decision-making and information for 'consumers', there still seems to be considerable variation, and some mystification, in how doctoral assessment is conducted and experienced. The massification of doctoral studies, and the doubling in the number of institutions awarding their own doctorates post-1992, are both likely to increase product variety still further.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Subjects: L Education
Depositing User: Claire Prater
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2015 12:44
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2015 12:44
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/58003
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