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Oral exam guidelines

Once you've finished writing your thesis or dissertation and it’s been approved by your supervisory committee, it’s time for your oral examination.

Your supervisory committee, an external examiner and an examination chair will attend your examination.

Oral exam guidelines

Before the oral exam takes place, each supervisory committee member must read the thesis/dissertation and agree that it is examinable.

The student and the committee will decide on a date for the oral exam. This date must allow enough time to submit the request for oral examination form to the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies.

The office needs 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 this requirement, 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.

The academic unit is responsible for booking a suitable room for the examination.

Master's and doctoral oral examination can be held either face to face or by video conference. Face-to-face oral examinations need a dedicated meeting space included within your unit’s COVID-19 safe work plan. A videoconference link must also be provided for participants who are unable to attend in person.

Contact the graduate secretary in your home unit for more information on arranging exams.

The Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies will prepare the announcements for both master's and PhD oral exams.

Request for oral examination forms

To organise an oral exam, each member of the supervisory committee must fill in and sign the request for oral examination form. 

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 confirming 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. No further revisions of the thesis/dissertation are allowed before the oral defense.

Master's students

Once all the members of your supervisory committee have signed your request for oral examination form, you must sign and submit the completed form to the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies. Along with the form, you must also submit a PDF of your thesis. Graduate Studies will provide a copy of your thesis to the external examiner and the examination chair.

Once the date of the oral exam has been confirmed, no further communication regarding the student or the thesis should take place between the external examiner and the supervisor, committee members or student before the oral defense.

Graduate Studies does not cover any expenses incurred for sending the thesis/dissertation to out-of-town external examiners or committee members.

PhD students

Once all the members of your supervisory committee have signed your request for oral examination form, you must sign and submit the completed form to the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies. Along with the form, you must also submit:

  • a PDF of your dissertation
  • an updated CV from the external examiner
  • a copy of the Confirmation of Arm's Length Status Form
    • if you have two co-supervisors, you must submit two Confirmation of Arm's Length Status Forms (one form per supervisor)

Once the external examiner has been selected, no further communication regarding the student or the dissertation should take place between the external examiner and the supervisor, committee members or student before the oral defense. Graduate Studies will provide the external examiner and examination chair with a copy of your dissertation.

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. 

Expenses associated with oral exams

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.

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