Oral exam guidelines

At the point that each supervisory committee member has read the thesis/dissertation and agreed that it is examinable:

  • The student and the committee will decide on a date for the oral exam that is convenient for everyone. This date must be far enough in advance to allow time to submit the appropriate Request for Oral Examination Form to the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies a minimum of 20 working days (for Master's) or a minimum of 30 working days (for PhD) before the examination. If there are extenuating circumstances that may result in not being able to meet the requirement, prior written permission will be required from the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies.
  • The supervisor or a committee member must recommend an appropriate External Examiner to the Dean. They must also confirm the examiner's availability to attend the oral examination on the specified date and time.
  • Booking a suitable room for the examination is the responsibility of the academic unit.

Request for Oral Examination forms

  • The appropriate Request for Oral Examination Form (Master's or PhD) must be completed and signed by each member of the supervisory committee. Committee members who are away may sign electronically or send an email stating they agree the thesis/dissertation is examinable and that they are available on the specified date and time. The form must include the name, address, telephone number and email address for the proposed External Examiner.
  • By signing the Request for Oral Examination form, the supervisor and committee members are attesting that they have read the thesis/dissertation and have determined that it is ready for examination. The approved copy of the thesis/dissertation is submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and will serve as the defense copy, thus no further revisions of the thesis/dissertation are allowed prior to the oral defense.

PhD students

Sign and submit the completed request for oral examination form together with pdf file of your dissertation, an updated CV from the External Examiner for approval by the Dean and a copy of the Confirmation of Arm's Length Status Form.  Two Arm's Length Status Forms (one form per supervisor) must be submitted if you have two co-supervisors.  Once the External Examiner has been selected, no further communication regarding the student or the dissertation should occur between the External Examiner and the supervisor, committee members, or student prior to the oral defense.  Graduate Studies will provide the External Examiner and examination chair with a copy of your dissertation.

Please note:  Supervisor(s) may obtain pre-approval of the External Examiner from the Dean of Graduate Studies by submitting the Confirmation of Arm's Length Status Form well in advance of the request for oral examination form.  Pre-approval is strongly recommended in every case where the supervisor(s) are unsure of the External Examiner's arm's length status.

Master's students

Sign and submit the completed request for oral examination form to the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies together with a pdf of your thesis.  Graduate Studies will provide a copy of the thesis to the external examiner and the examination chair.  Once the date of the examination has been confirmed, no further communication regarding the student or the thesis should occur between the External Examiner and the supervisor, committee members, or student prior to the oral defense.

Graduate Studies does not cover any expenses incurred for sending thesis/dissertations to out-of-town External Examiners or committee members.

Expenses associated with oral examinations

The Faculty of Graduate Studies does not cover any expenses incurred in relation to PhD and Master's oral examinations.  Normally the committee members and External Examiner are located on campus and no travel or postage expenses are necessary.

The couriering/mailing of any additional forms or copies of the dissertation/thesis to the External Examiner or committee members will not be covered by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Examination announcement

The Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies will prepare the announcements for both Master's and PhD oral examinations utilizing the information provided on the Request for Oral Examination form and supporting documentation.

Guidelines for virtual oral examinations

Guidelines for external examiners and chairs