Candidates for research degrees will undertake a form of examination following the completion of their first year. The form of the examination will differ between departments and faculties but many candidates will undertake what is referred to as a registration exercise; an exercise by which the department or faculty can formally enrol the candidate for a research degree. Candidates usually have to produce a short thesis or report which will be examined by two examiners and examined orally.
On some PhD programmes the registration exercise will comprise the undertaking of an MPhil degree course or a Certificate of Postgraduate Study. Some candidates may be enrolled for the registration exercise.
The examination will have three possible outcomes:
- the candidate passes and is formally registered for a research degree
- the candidate is required to undertake a further registration exercise because they were not able to demonstrate that they were ready to be formally registered for the degree for which they are a candidate
- the candidate fails the registration exercise.
The registration exercise is useful in that it formally highlights a candidate's strengths and areas which require their further development.