I'm a PhD candidate at a UK university.

I believe that normally a candidate's supervisor would be the person to invite someone to be an external examiner for the thesis.

In my particular case, however, my first choice of examiner is someone with whom I have corresponded for several years, although not directly about the contents of my thesis. I am wondering whether, in this situation, it would be odd if I did not either ask them unofficially directly myself, or at least given them a heads up that my supervisor might contact them about this?

What would be your preference/expectation in this situation?

1 Answer 1


Generally, though not specific to UK, it is probably better if the invitation, and even the initial request come from your supervisor. You can recommend the person to the supervisor and explain what you do here.

After the first request you will be able to discuss it with that person, but you don't really need to make initial contact yourself since "normally" the invitation comes from the supervisor.

I've been in just this situation for a candidate in EU and another in UK and it worked out fine. In the UK case I knew both the candidate and her supervisor. But in both the invitation came through the supervisor based on suggestions to them from the candidate.

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    I won't write an answer because I may be out of date. But I think in the UK it would be distinctly out of order for the student to take the initiative. I see the following advice to students in the University I know best: "Liaise with your supervisor regarding the selection of your proposed examiners. It is usual for supervisors to informally invite the proposed examiners before the submission of this form." and later in the advice .... Sep 13, 2022 at 8:43
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    ..."While your supervisor may contact your suggested examiners informally to see if they would be prepared to act if invited, the choice of examiners belongs to the [university committee] and they must be invited formally on behalf of the [university committee]." Sep 13, 2022 at 8:43

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