MSc and PhD oral examination

The following gives you a general idea of tasks involved in scheduling the oral examination.

Now that you are thinking ahead to the actual defense of your thesis/dissertation, please note that there are certain procedures, paperwork and deadlines to comply with. Once you’ve reached this point, you must notify the  (GPA) of your intention to defend your thesis/dissertation. Please see below for detailed steps of the procedure. Please contact the GPA if you have any questions or concerns. 

Read the Faculty of Graduate Studies Thesis and disseration guidelines carefully!

Step 1. Supervisory committee permission

You are required to organize a meeting with your supervisory committee as they must agree that you are ready to write your thesis/dissertation. Following the meeting, all members of your committee must sign off on the Supervisory committee’s student progress report form which documents that you are ready to begin writing your thesis/dissertation.


Step 2. Establish your examination committee with your supervisor(s)

Your exam committee will include a Chair (appointed by FGS), your supervisory committee members, plus an external examiner who has had no prior involvement with your supervision.

Your supervisor must find an appropriate external examiner; students should not recruit their external examiner.  Once an examiner has been identified, your supervisor will confirm his/her availability to attend the oral examination on the specified date and time. 

If your exam is for your PhD, your supervisor will submit, to the Graduate Program Assistant (GPA), the Nomination of external examiner and confirmation of arm’s length status form. Your supervisor will provide the examiner’s name, address, telephone/fax numbers and email address to the GPA. If your oral exam is for your MSc, the Nomination of External Examiner and Confirmation of Arm’s Length Status documents are not required.


Step 3. Establish a date and time for your oral exam

You and your committee will determine a date and time for your oral exam that is convenient for everyone. The exam date must be far enough in advance to ensure that Faculty of Graduate Studies timelines can be met.

The pre-established timelines that you should be aware of when choosing your oral exam date include:

  1. MSc/PhD – the minimum 10 business days that your examination committee has to review your thesis/dissertation in order to determine if it is examinable prior to submission of the Request for Oral Exam form;
  2. MSc - the mandatory 20 day waiting period, following the submission of the Request for oral exam form, before you can complete your oral exam; and
  3. PhD – the mandatory 30 day waiting period following submission of the Request for oral exam form, before you can complete your oral exam

Once a date has been established for your exam, the graduate program assistant (GPA) will work with you to identify specific deadlines.

Step 4. Apply to graduate

Convocation occurs twice a year – June and November. In order to convocate at either ceremony, you must have your thesis/dissertation completed and archived by the posted degree submission deadlines of April 30, August 31 and December 31. Please note important deadlines on the Faculty of Graduate Studies webpage. Submit your application to graduate via MyPage. You must apply to graduate before the Graduate Admissions and Records Office can proceed with setting up your oral exam.

Step 5. Submit your thesis/dissertation

Submit your thesis/dissertation – Upload a PDF of your thesis/dissertation to the GS 599/699 course shell on – this must be completed before your Request for oral examination (ROE) form is submitted. Once your thesis/dissertation is uploaded no further changes can be made to the document. Two copies of the uploaded version of your thesis/dissertation must be sent to the in both a Word and PDF format.  

Your examination committee (with the exception of your external examiner) will be provided with the following:

  1. your thesis/dissertation;
  2. the date by which they must review the thesis/dissertation (minimum 10 business days) to determine that it is examinable. If you are completing a PhD, FGS will distribute your dissertation to the external examiner; and,
  3. notification that they will be approached by the student for their signature on the Request for oral examination (ROE) form if they deem it is examinable.

Step 6. Submit the Request for oral exam (ROE) form

After each member of the exam committee has reviewed the thesis/dissertation and agree it is examinable, it is your responsibility to have each member sign the ROE form; the GPA will complete the form and email it to you prior to the end of the review period.  Signatures can be acquired in any order, excluding your supervisors’, who must sign first and the Graduate Advisor who must sign last. The external examiner is not required to sign the ROE. You are responsible for ensuring that all signatures are gathered and that the ROE is submitted to the Graduate Program Administrator at a minimum of 20 days prior to your exam date for an MSc and 30 days prior for a PhD.

In addition to the ROE, the GPA submits the following forms (as applicable):

  1. Dissertation withholding form
  2. Human ethics approval or waiver form (provided by your supervisor).

Following submission of the ROE you will receive an email from Graduate Admissions & Records Office prompting you to register for UVicSpace, the online repository where the defended version of your thesis/dissertation will be uploaded. Please follow the instructions and register for UVicSpace. Below are links to additional resources which will answer many of your questions.

How to submit your thesis/dissertation

Thesis and dissertation guide

Ethical issues and copyright

Step 7. Departmental talk (PhD students only)

It is strongly encouraged that prior to your oral exam that you provide a departmental seminar. This seminar will help you to prepare for your oral exam. The GPA will work with you to book space to hold your seminar.

Step 8. Oral examination day

The GPA will prepare the Thesis/Dissertation approval form. This form requires original signatures from all of your committee members. If one of your members is attending virtually the Chair may sign on their behalf. Once this form is signed it must be returned to the GPA who will submit it to FGS.

All supervisory committee members are normally expected to be present for their student’s oral examination. If a faculty member is unable to attend, review the information provided in the calendar

At the defense you will give a 10 - 20 minute presentation followed by questions. The external examiner has the first opportunity to ask questions, followed by the committee members, and finally the supervisor. There will likely be a second round of questions, including those posed by the exam Chair and/or audience members. Following the question period, the student and audience will be asked to leave the room so the committee can evaluate the thesis/dissertation and render a decision.

Step 9. After the oral exam

The Exam Chair will:

  1. inform the student of the outcome of their exam;
  2. identify actions and timelines associated with the outcome, as applicable; and
  3. identify next steps including the review/approval process for any required revisions/edits that must be made to your thesis/dissertation.

The final version of your thesis/dissertation must be uploaded by 3:00 pm the last day of the term in which you wish to complete in – there are no exceptions. Once you have received confirmation that your thesis/dissertation has been archived, notify the GPA who will then submit the Thesis/Dissertation approval form and the Letter of recommendation to the Graduate Admissions & Records Office.

Step 10. The final details

Two copies of your thesis/dissertation will be bound at no cost to you; one copy for you and one for the Division of Medical Sciences.

Binding is typically completed once or twice a year so there may be a delay between the time you graduate and when your thesis/dissertation is bound. Please provide to the GPA an email and mailing address that will be current up to six months, post graduation.

Contact graduate photos to arrange an appointment to have your graduation portrait taken. The DMSC contributes funds towards your portrait and the photo is included on the wall of fame outside of the GPA office.