Guidelines for nomination of examiners: MMed

Advice for supervisors

Once a student has notified the School Postgrad Office of their Intention to Submit, the Office will ask the supervisor to submit nominations for examiners. Supervisors should consider the following in choosing examiners.

The following are the criteria which are applied by the School in selecting examiners for the MMed thesis. Please do not nominate examiners who clearly do not fit the criteria, as this will inevitably lead to a request for further nominations.


Strictly speaking, examiners should be more highly qualified than the candidate whose thesis they are marking, which means that they should have a PhD. The School recognises however that this is impractical for the MMed examination. It therefore compromises on this as follows:

  • PhD                            Ideal
  • MMedSc, MPH etc     Preferably (since they tend to have had a deeper research experience than is the case with MMed)
  • MMed                         Minimum necessary

CMSA Fellowships     Insufficient, since this is a clinical and not a research qualification. Where the CV indicates a strong research record, however, the School may allow this to compensate.


The School works on the principle that examiners should have sufficient experience in and insight into research and research publication that they are equipped to judge the candidate’s research appropriately. (This is completely analogous to addressing clinical competence: CMSA does not appoint examiners who have no experience in clinical practice beyond having obtained the Fellowship themselves!) Therefore:

  • The absolute, though not guaranteed, minimum requirement is 3 published papers.
  •  This may not however be sufficient, as the School will also take into account factors such as when these were published, topic, journal, position in the author list and the experience of potential co-examiners.
  • The more publications there are the more confidence the School will have in the examiner. Five and more is usually acceptable.


Nominees who have supervised their own students to successful completion of a research degree are more likely to have the attributes we are looking for. This is therefore a recommendation. The School may however allow a good publication record to compensate for supervision experience.


  • The final criterion is that the nominee should have knowledge and experience relevant to the field of study. Since MMed examiners are usually clinicians, and therefore have received a broad-based training, and MMed topics are typically neither narrow nor deep in focus, it is usually possible for some latitude here. Examiners do not have to be specialised in the same discipline as the candidate. For example, an anaesthesia-trained intensivist or an experienced general surgeon is likely to have sufficient insight into a neurosurgery registrar’s MMed study on head injury to be able to assess it competently. The School exercises discretion based on the topic of the thesis, the record of the nominated examiner, and the potential to appoint a pair of examiners with complementary skills.


1.    Number of nominations

Please remember that we require:

  • 3 nominations if all are external (non-UKZN)
  • 4 nominations if any are internal. At least 2 of the 4 must be external.

2.    Potential conflict of interest

Please avoid this. If in doubt, please declare potential conflicts of interest. The following are not allowed or are actively discouraged:

  • Nominating examiners who have any personal or close working relationship with the candidate or supervisor. In the case of internal examiners, these should not be from the same department as the candidate with the possible exception of the largest departments. In such a case, the nomination should be accompanied by a statement describing the extent to which the student and nominated examiner have worked together.
  • Nominating examiners who have had active or other research collaborations with the supervisor within the past 3 years.
  • Using the same examiners repeatedly (since this itself may build up a relationship and a sense of obligation on the part of the examiner which compromises objectivity.)

3.    Form of employment

  • There are people holding academic appointments at SA medical schools who have little or no research experience, and may have neither a Master’s degree nor a publication record: they may have been appointed for their clinical and teaching expertise. They are therefore not appointable as examiners.
  • It is uncommon for colleagues in private practice to be adequately qualified for appointment as examiner, given that publication and supervision are unusual in that environment, unless they are late recruits to private practice.

Please consider these colleagues carefully, before nominating them.

4.    Format of the nominated examiners’ CVs

The most relevant aspects of the CV for appointment as examiner are highest degree, publication record, supervision record and academic positions held. The School will appreciate receiving brief CVs which highlight these issues in particular.




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