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Higher degrees

Policy Document

Higher Degrees Policy (PDF, 342 KB)


The University of St Andrews awards the degrees of Doctor of Letters (DLitt), Doctor of Science (DSc) and Doctor of Medicine (MD).

Higher degrees may be awarded in recognition of a corpus of work of a professorial standard attained over an extended period of no fewer than ten years, containing original and significant contributions to the advancement of knowledge and learning which has given the candidate international distinction in their particular academic field.


Graduates of the University of St Andrews are eligible for consideration as a candidate for a higher degree no fewer than ten years after the date of their doctorate or other recognised terminal degree.

Graduates of other universities who are presently members of staff at the University of St Andrews of no fewer than 4 years’ continuous tenure as staff are eligible for consideration as a candidate for a higher degree, provided it is no fewer than ten years after the date of their doctorate or other recognized terminal degree from any university.

Nomination Process

The Proctor’s Office will consider nominations from Schools for higher degree candidates on a biannual basis. Nominations should be submitted by the Head of School, who will consult with the senior members of the School before making the nomination.

Nominations will be accepted in June and December each year. Each nomination must include:

  • A statement of no more than 1000 words explaining how the proposed submission meets the award criteria.
  • A copy of the applicant’s CV, including a list of all publications.
  • A list, provided by the School, of at least four possible external examiners and two confirmed internal examiners.

Schools should determine first whether the potential external examiners would be willing to serve in principle, and then the Dean of the relevant Faculty will make the final selection. Schools wishing to nominate someone for a Higher Degree should complete the Higher Degrees School Nomination Form (PDF, 72 KB) and submit it to The Dean will review all higher degree nominations and invite candidates to apply as appropriate.

Form of Submission

Candidates will submit a composite thesis of no more than 120,000 words, or a portfolio of similar size, which may include papers, books or sample chapters therefrom, and other publications which are suitably representative of the candidate’s work. The submission must also contain a copy of the candidate’s CV, the statement explaining how the submission meets the award criteria (initially submitted during the nomination process) and a completed registration form. Candidates must submit four typescript copies of all material in secure but temporary binding.

Candidates should submit their portfolio within six months of formal invitation.


Examiners will be given 8 weeks to review the portfolio and submit their independent written reports to the Convenor. Such reports shall provide (i) a recommendation of whether the degree be awarded or not, and (ii) a brief summary of each Examiner’s rationale for arriving at their decision. An in-person Viva is not required for a Higher Degree. The Convenor of the Examining Committee will compile the examiners reports and produce a summary report. These will then be submitted to the Dean for final approval.


The fees for a Higher Degree are a £500 Registration Fee and a £600 Examination fee. The fees are payable upon registration (Higher Degree Registration Form (PDF, 83 KB)) and submission of the portfolio.

General enquiries

Emmy Feamster
Postgraduate Administrative Officer
Proctor’s Office
tel: +44(0)1334 462010