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Christopher J. Rees and Kate E. Rowlands

This chapter is focused on the assessment processes surrounding PhD degrees in the United Kingdom. Its main aim is to explore how variations in these assessment processes create different types of uncertainties and concerns for all those involved. In this chapter, we review literature to identify key practices and concerns which, from various theoretical perspectives, have become associated with PhD assessments. As a central feature of the chapter, we also report a review of institutional assessment practices. The review highlights topical issues relating to, for example, the appointment of examiners, the role of PhD supervisors, and the conduct of oral examinations. We contend that the lack of standardisation surrounding PhD assessment processes creates inevitable uncertainties for academics and candidates. We conclude the chapter with a discussion about whether it is desirable to move towards more standardised inter-institutional PhD assessment processes, particularly in an era of commodification of the higher education sector within the UK.