pass with major corrections?!


As some of you know I posted to say that I had passed my viva a fortnight ago. Well, at least I thought I had. Was being congratulated by folk in my department and I felt a bit numb about it all knowing that I had corrections to do. After receiving the examiners' report about an hour ago and checking my University guidelines, I am more confused than ever. And utterly deflated. I have had a challenging PhD with lots of bumps in the road and the last 6 months of writing have been hell. I was delighted to submit and after positive comments from supervisors and examiner's, I'm now left wondering what is going on? I know what they said during the viva (which was positive), I know what I have to do, but where I am standing, it feels like such a waste of time. All the work and stress and lack of a life etc etc for an R&R! Even though I passed apparently? How can one pass with major corrections (even though they said they weren't really 'major', they have given me 12 months to revise)!!!

No wonder I can't feel pleased with my achievement. It hasn't been achieved yet at all. SOB!!:-(


Hi Blackbyrd,

I'm sorry I didn't see your post about passing your viva, belated congratulations!

It sounds like you need some clarification about what your actual result is - it might be worth going back to your supervisor/examiners. I don't really understand how you can pass a viva and get R&R - does it actually say R&R on your letter?

Please don't be displeased with your achievement - you've done so well to get to this stage. Be proud of yourself and tackle those corrections one by one, Dr Blackbyrd (up)


Certainly where I work, you can indeed pass with major corrections - it's quite a normal outcome. We have a strange system too where if the necessary corrections will take more than a month (even though you get 3 months for minor corrections), then they pretty much always give you the 12 months to make sure you have time to do them (if people have started new jobs etc it can be hard to find any time). It might be that there's really not that much to do and you don't have to take anything like 12 months to do them. Put the report away for a week if you can, do nothing but nice things and then have another look. I suspect it won't look as much work then. And yes you do need to make yourself do them however disinclined you feel, because you'd kick yourself if you didn't complete the PhD now.


I don't understand - is it major corrections (or revisions as they call them at my joint) or is it an R&R? The two are quite separate. Its if 'just' (she says - sorry) major corrections then you've still passed, if its a full R&R then you haven't until the second R and examination following it. Are they going to make you do another viva?

It is all very confusing, and doesn't help that depending on where you go its all so different. At ours theres the minor typo/presentation, minor editorial (2 months), editorial (4 months) or R&R (12 months) then of course the MPhil and Fail, so its different again to yours. You need to clarify exactly where you stand and what they want from you.

Hope it all becomes clear soon - honestly - at times we're like performing monkeys leaping through hoops!


Hi Blackbyrd,

I think you definitely need to get some clarification.

In my university there were a number of outcomes- one of which is major corrections, followed by revise and re-submit. Following my viva my examiners informed me they were giving me a revise and re-submit decision, rather than a major corrections decision, to give me enough time to complete the revisions. This was due to me starting a new job and re-locating. They said I would not have to do another viva- technically I passed the viva but still had a bit of work to do. I was so disappointed- surely it should have been up to me to decide if indeed I needed the 12 months to revise and re-submit. Needless to say I didn't need the full year and re-submitted 4 months after viva and have since been awarded my PhD subject to a few minor corrections.

My advice to you, if indeed it is a revise and re-submit, is to carry on doing what you would have had to do anyway (i.e. your major corrections). You can re-submit anytime within those 12 months. Providing you address all the points in your examiners report, there should be no issues. I know it feels like the worst thing ever, but concentrate on getting stuck into your corrections. You are almost there and you have made a great achievement to get this far!! If indeed you are not required to do another viva, I take this as a very positive sign indeed. however, institutions may differ in whether a second one is required.

Don't beat yoursef up too much:-)


======= Date Modified 27 Sep 2012 22:35:46 =======
Hi Blackbyrd,

I am in the same situation. I passed but with major corrections. If you are in the UK then there is nothing wrong in it. These days with the new rules if you have passed you either get minor corrections (3 months) or major (12 months). I know it is frustrating and extremely annoying but it is better than having another viva. If you get major correction the external and internal will check it again, however you will not have another viva.

Hang in there buddy.


Hello again,

Thank you for your responses. To clarify, the university where I am at has a number of different categories. The first two award the thesis either with no corrections or minor ones - particularly typographical changes. The second two outline that the thesis not be accepted in its current state but that the candidate be given the opportunity to make corrections - either minor corrections and re-submitted or major corrections and thus revised and re-submitted. I was given the latter but another viva was waived which the examiner's have discretion over. The frightening thing is is that the next stage is the thesis 'not being of sufficient merit' and would thus result in an Mphil. If I had not performed well in the viva this would have been the outcome. The confusion is that I was told I had 'passed' by the external (subject clearly to the changes needed) but 'officially' the categories the university work to makes it appear really bad! This contradiction has resulted in me feeling very uncertain and I have to be honest, I have lost a lot of confidence the last few weeks. Today, I actually feel like saying 'ok, this PhD has beaten me' and taking the Mphil and running far, far away...... I just can't bear the fact that supervisors thought it was good, the examiner's were convinced it was good after the viva but had major concerns before (read nearly a fail), that there is actually major work to do even though supervisors think not, but examiner's do and in the midst of all this is me, feeling like a total failure. Every chapter next re-done essentially. It is soul destroying....My point is is it just goes to show how vague and open to interpretation this PhD process is. Sigh!
I know some of you have suggested getting started with corrections but I'm too tired of it at the moment. Having to write papers from thesis is great but hard when I feel that it is not very good (e.g as it was so very nearly a fail!). Sorry for the gloominess of this post.:-(



The same happened to me and I thought I was all alone in this world...

I took about 3 months off (it took ages for the examiners to decide on my exact corrections and I got the report three months after the viva) and then I went back to the document. Initially I struggled to even OPEN the file. I started by writing down what needs doing. I panicked. Then I took it easy. I started with 1-2 hours a day and when I got used to the idea that this is it, it MUST be done, I added more working hours and now I am back to my normal pre-viva routine (8-9 hours a day). 'Simple pomodoro tracking' has really helped me become more productive.

But soon after I had my R&R I discovered that this result is not that unusual. At least a 25 percent of the current PhD students of my department have received an R&R.

And I read some positive experiences here after an r&r. It is possible to succeed. It all takes one thing: perseverance.

With respect to the confidence, I know the feeling... mine cracked like glass, but there are days I feel very confident and full of dreams for the future. Do not worry. Time will help you get your confidence back. One step a day, you will get there in the end.


======= Date Modified 03 Oct 2012 12:17:37 =======
Best of luck Blackbyrd and Marasp.

You're definitely not alone! (I'm also a R&R candidate so can really relate to experiences noted on this post!).

I resubmitted my thesis in August and expecting to hear back from my examiners later on this month (ie no second viva). I'm finding this wait after resubmission really very stressful :-( and not coping very well at all. Trying to keep busy and stay positive, but it definitely isn't easy.

The last few months leading up to resubmission were pure hell, although not as stressful as submission first time round as this time round I had really positive feedback from examiners. Marasp is right, sheer stubborn perseverance is most definitely required during the final months before submission. I ended up having to take 3/4 months of work to allow me to focus on it, which helped me finish it in time.

Oh and yes, I also couldn't bring myself to look at my submitted thesis, I was too ashamed of it! So basically started again with my intro and discussion chapters in order to comply with examiners requests (ie they just wanted me to shorten it to 100k and narrow down thesis topic which meant deleting half of my results chapters so basically involved rewriting most of it!).

Just hope I've done enough to get through. Thesis is very different from first submission (which is why I'm so nervous!), but I think is much better in terms of structure and content and I've tried to incorporate all of their major recommendations and almost all of their suggestions.

Some tips.......
- it could have been worse (ie MPhil or outright fail), so your work is worthy of a doctorate, but after some work
- the examiners are not out there to fail you
- ensure to meet with supervisors etc
- make doubly sure that you follow examiners report very very closely
- remember to focus on any positives from your first viva
- Take breaks
- Focus on the good bits of your thesis/work
- Try and stay positive (I'm guilty of very negative thinking so I struggled with this one!)
- Proof read
- Try and take time off from work to finish resubmitted thesis
- Deactivate any social networking sites. I deactivated facebook for almost 2 months prior to resubmission and it really helped me to focus. I get distracted by updates on babies, weddings, engagements, new relationships etc etc (partly as I'm very single, early 30s, no kids etc!), so didn't need to be reminded or distracted by thoughts of people my age going though significant milestones that I haven't been through myself (perhaps due to PhD!).

- Also remember, that examiners may need a few more months to re-examine your thesis, so be prepared for some more waiting after you've resubmitted.

Best of luck with both of your resubmissions.


======= Date Modified 04 Oct 2012 09:20:04 =======
Blackyard, I think that I was equally confused to you after I had my viva. I still remember that I met the head of the department in the lift straight after I left the room, and when she asked me how it went and I told her I got an R&R she congratulated me!? At that point I did not know whether I should laugh or cry. To make things worse, even though I told everyone about the r&r, people were leaving congratulation messages on my facebook wall, and some were even saying, 'congratulation doctor Marasp'... Doctor?????? I felt like the loser in a television game show, who is given a consolation prize. These are some of the memories I am trying to erase...


Marasp! I know exactly what you mean. We (me and supervisors) had meeting after I had stopped blubbing after viva. The blubbing incidentally happened in my internal examiner's room - oh dear! Was not glamourous but it was just the relief that it was over. I remember feeling relieved but gutted knowing there was STILL work to do. I'm still feeling a bit like this. Like you, I was also congratulated by quite a few departmental folk, some of whom thought it was a great achievement as it has been a rather bumpy PhD road! To some, I mentioned that I had 12 months to complete, then the reaction, was 'oh!, I see' hmmm. So, that got me thinking that it really wasn't that good after all. In addition, we had a party the week after viva with family (organised by my sister) called the PhinisheD party. My family, some of whom 'get the PhD' and others who don't, gave me cards and gifts and offered congratulations etc etc and I felt like a fraud. They were calling me Dr and it took superhuman strength not to run away and hide in a corner and cry! I kept saying, nearly Dr, not quite. Talk about feeling deflated. So, it's 3 weeks today since viva and I am still feeling a bit unsure/unsettled/pee'd off/ knackered/despondent and vaguely embarrassed about the whole thing.


Blackbyrd, it takes time. I could not even sleep for over a month after I had my viva. I only felt a bit better and ready to work back to work 2,5 months after the dramatic viva experience.

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======= Date Modified 06 Oct 2012 22:23:25 =======
" I just can't bear the fact that supervisors thought it was good, the examiner's were convinced it was good after the viva but had major concerns before (read nearly a fail), that there is actually major work to do even though supervisors think not, but examiner's do and in the midst of all this is me, feeling like a total failure. Every chapter next re-done essentially. It is soul destroying....My point is is it just goes to show how vague and open to interpretation this PhD process is. Sigh!"

Blackbyrd, it reads as though your supervisors (who know your work-second only to you) know that the concepts, ideas and research are sound . It sounds as though, your examiners (on reading your work only) didn't quite get all of it, but when examining you in the viva, your performance and explanations were good, so they realised also that it was sound and worthy of a PhD. But now they want you to rewrite bits of it so that when someone reads the thesis from scratch, they too also get it completely. Meaning that everything is there and is good (definitely not a fail or an MPhil) but that the writing doesn't always completely convey this to the 'lay' reader. You have been given some fantastic support and advice from other posters who have been there themselves, so this comment isn't meant to add further to any of that, just to offer a suggestion on your comment about why your supervisors and examiners have different views-and that those different views aren't so much on the merit of your last few years of work but are more to do with the 'writing and presentation' of some of the aspects of your ideas and work. Hope it seems a bit better as the days go on...


Hi Blackbyrd,

I hope it's not too late for me to comment on your post. Well, I have heard from seniors who have graduated in their Masters and PhD that during their VIVA, they also have PASSED WITH MAJOR REVISION. They, like you also thought that it's the end of the world. But actually, MAJOR REVISION is the MOST almost everyone who attended for a VIVA will get. Very very few candidates will PASS WITH MINOR REVISION. That's what I was told. Therefore, if it's not RE-SUBMISSION or RE-VIVA, you should not worry much about it. The examiners are being kind enough to give you time to revise your written report up to perfection. Never give up since you are close to graduating! Never mind the 12 months revision period that they gave you. I'm sure you can submit anytime once you are confident that you have corrected all the minor flaws (if there's any). It's better than having 1 week to submit and have to do printing and binding!! Good luck ;-)