The Final Oral Examination

The purpose of the School of Graduate Studies Final Oral Examination is to determine if the candidate’s research is original, and has accomplished the breadth and depth of the findings of research in his or her area required for the granting of a PhD Degree.  The examination consists of both the written thesis and the oral defence.

Students must successfully complete the Departmental Oral Examination before proceeding to the SGS Final Oral Examination.

Booking a Final Oral Examination

When the student, the supervisor, and the PhD Supervisory Committee agree that the thesis is ready to go forward for the Final Oral Examination, the supervisor nominates an external appraiser to assess the thesis.  When the supervisor, student, external appraiser and other members of the examining committee agree on a date and time for the Final Oral Exam, the supervisor requests that the Office of Student Services arrange for the exam with the School of Graduate Studies.  This request must be made at least 8 weeks prior to the proposed exam date.

The External Appraiser

The external appraiser must be a recognized expert in the subject of the thesis at his or her University.  The School of Graduate Studies must approve of the supervisor’s nomination.  The external appraiser must have an arm’s-length relation with the PhD candidate and the supervisor.  The external appraiser, once approved, must receive a copy of the thesis as soon as possible.  The external appraiser reads the thesis, evaluates it, and provides a one to two page appraisal to the Office of Student Services for dissemination to the student and examining committee at least two weeks before the date of the Final Oral Examination.

Composition of the Final Oral Examination Committee

The Final Oral Examination committee is comprised of four to six voting members.  The committee must include one to three members of the candidate’s PhD Supervisory Committee, one to three members who have not been closely associated with the supervision of the thesis, the external appraiser, and a non-voting committee chair appointed by the School of Graduate Studies.

The committee may also include up to two non-voting members.  The School of Graduate Studies must approve the composition of the Final Oral Examination Committee.

The Conduct of the Final Oral Examination

The Committee Chair is the representative of the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and is responsible to guarantee that the candidate is given reasonable opportunity to defend the thesis, to ensure that the candidate alone defends the thesis and not the supervisor or other members of the committee, and to protect the candidate from harassment.

Before the candidate enters the room, the Chair of the committee confirms that a quorum of four voting members is presented and discusses in detail the procedures of the examination.  If there is no quorum, the Chair may decide to either delay the exam or postpone the exam to another date.

The Chair invites the candidate to orally summarize his or her research and conclusions in a 20-minute presentation.

The chair invites each member of the committee to ask questions of the candidate.

After the examination, the Chair invites voting members to vote “yes” or “no” on the question of whether or not the thesis and its defence are acceptible.  More than one negative vote or abstention will cause the examination to be adjourned.

Those committee members who find the thesis acceptable must also indicate whether the thesis is acceptable “as is” or if it requires minor corrections or minor modifications.  Minor corrections involve typographical errors, errors in punctuation, or problems in style and must be corrected within one month.  Minor modifications involve small clarifications or the qualification of research findings and must be completed within three months.

If minor corrections or minor modifications are required by any of the voting members, the supervisor must certify that the thesis has been corrected or modified accordingly before the thesis can be submitted and the candidate recommended for convocation.