Your Graduate Program

Expectations

You are expected to be familiar with the rules of the University, but especially the  Graduate Supervision Policy, which includes rules for much more than just supervision. These are the formal rules, but there are some general expectations about the standard of your work and what it means to be a graduate student. The calendar has sections on:

 

In addition, the Chemistry Department has a statement of expectations:

Department Expectations Policy

Chemistry Department

Expectations for the timely completion of graduate degrees

Approved November 2016

Graduate degrees in Chemistry at UVic are thesis or dissertation based, which means that  research is the most important component of your degree. The unstructured nature of a research-based degree contrasts the more programmatic nature of course-based degrees. In this context, a key component of a successful postgraduate degree in chemistry is to be efficient and productive. We define “timely completion” as the desirable outcome of  completing MSc or PhD program requirements within 2 or 4 years respectively.

You will have other activities in your life including other academic commitments (coursework, candidacy), employment (teaching assistantships), and other extra-curricular/ personal activities. Timely degree completion requires your sustained focus on, and dedication to, your research; your other activities should not compromise your research effort.

Your thesis/dissertation describes the outputs of your research. It is the nature of research that success is hard to predict, and output is not usually a simple function of time applied. The application of a regularly-scheduled 40-hour week (i.e. a “job” approach) is therefore not typically a successful strategy. Success in undergraduate degree programs routinely requires studying, reading, writing, etc. during some evenings and weekends. Similarly, students in other post-graduate degree programs (e.g. medicine, law) put in long hours studying. In this context, your research activities should be considered as analogous (in terms of commitment) to studying – it’s the main effort in pursuit of a successful degree.

So, we encourage you to work hard: Assess your level of effort on the basis of what you have actually accomplished, not just on the time you have spent. Develop a sense of urgency in planning, executing, and completing tasks. Be motivated by, and invested in, your research. The effort you put into your research should be guided largely by your own dedication. Take intellectual ownership of your research. Take charge of your skill and knowledge development.

Postgraduate study is also the next step in your professional career. Your thesis/dissertation is a program requirement, but there are other outputs that will define your future success. In chemistry, research publications are authored jointly by the student and supervisor, reflecting time and intellectual input by both parties. The time you spend researching the literature, drafting the paper, creating figures, tables, and graphics, and editing develops valuable skills that will serve you throughout your career – no matter what direction that takes you. Giving presentations in meetings or at conferences (another common activity for graduate students) is another example of a transferable skill.

Approach your degree as a professional. Be reliable, punctual, organized. Make sure whatever you do is of high quality. Learn to manage your time effectively and efficiently. Develop a sense of how long any specific task will take you to execute  and plan accordingly. Research can be an inherently unstructured process, so do what you can to make it structured. To stay focused and motivated, it often helps to have organized activities to force you to manage your time and to do something every day. Develop skills to plan not just for the short term, but for the intermediate and longer terms (weeks-months).

Individual supervisors will communicate any specific expectations (beyond the general ones presented here) to you in writing at the outset of your program.

Ethics and Academic and Research Integrity

Equity and Human Rights

The University promotes a safe, respectful and supportive learning, working, and living environment. University policies prohibit discrimination, harassment, and sexualized violence. We understand that such behaviours can undermine student success. The Equity and Human Rights office (EQHR) is a resource for all Uvic community members, including students. EQHR provides education, information, assistance and advice in aid of building and supporting an inclusive and respectful campus. When issues and concerns arise, EQHR assists those involved through the range of support and resolution options available under the Sexualized Violence Prevention and Response policy and Discrimination and Harassment policy. EQHR staff are available by appointment—contact information and resources can be found at  uvic.ca/equity.

The Department of Chemistry expects everyone participating in university activities in the department to model respectful behaviour and abide by applicable university policies. For more information please contact  chemeqhr@uvic.ca or see the departmental secretary in person at Elliott 302, who will help you or direct you to the appropriate person.

Academic and Research Integrity

Students are responsible for adhering to the  Academic Integrity Policy for graduate students. This covers such things as plagiarism, cheating on exams and fabricating data. Plagiarism is misrepresenting the ideas or words of others as your own, and is considered a serious offense. Please make sure you understand what exactly is meant by this, since the standard may be different from what you are used to. There is helpful information on this on the University  website. Cases of plagiarism can be factors in withdrawing a student from their degree.

Your research is likely funded at least in part by one of Canada's federal funding agencies (NSERC, SSHRC or CIHR) and these agencies have a common policy on  Responsible Conduct of Research. This covers the obvious things such as falsifying data, but also covers such things as keeping complete and accurate records of your experiments so that they can be verified by others. Your messy lab book may be illegal! The policy mainly covers the procedures to follow if the rules are broken, because the agencies require the funded institutions to have specific internal policies, in this case UVic's  Policy on Scholarly Integrity.

 

Your Supervisor

 

You chose your supervisor as part of the application process. You supervisor is a mentor, who will guide you to successful completion of your degree. Most research groups in Chemistry have weekly research meetings in which you will present and discuss your research results with your supervisor and the other members of your research group. Some supervisors have separate regular meetings with their graduate studemt, and so you will be in regular contact with your supervisor. The Chemistry department has no rules on the frequency you meet your supervisor, but the  Graduate Supervision Policy(5.9d) requires that your supervisor meet with you at least twice per term.

Your supervisor may ask you to write reports, drafts or research papers or other text. The supervisor is expected to give you timely feedback on papers, theses and other written material. For papers, theses or dissertations, the  Graduate Supervision Policy (5.9f) specifies that this be normally with 20 business days.

 

Supervisory Committee

 

You supervisory committee oversees all aspects of your graduate program. Having members who are close to your area can be helpful in getting help with your research, perhaps on issues a little outside your supervisors expertise. The committee will be involved in all formal decisions involved in your program, including any problems that arise. You have the right to call a supervisory committee meeting to discuss any conflicts or supervisory issues that arise. If this is to discuss a conflict with your supervisor, see the Graduate Advisor, who can initiate a supervisory committee meeting, or can help you through other means. The  Graduate Supervision Policy has more to say about the role of the supervisory committee

Your supervisory committee needs to be established in the first term of your degree. Discuss the membership of your committee with your supervisor; you must be consulted in this decision.

MSc committees have at least two members.

  1. Your supervisor
  2. A co-supervisor or member. Usually this second person is from the Chemistry Department, though they may come from another UVic department.
  3. Optional third member (can be from Chemistry or another UVic department)

When it is time for your final defence, your examining committee will be your supervisory committee plus your examiner. At least one of the examining committee must be from a department or institution outside chemistry. If you have a member on your supervisory committee from outside Chemistry, then it is possible for your examiner to be from the Chemistry Department.

PhD committees have at least three members.

  1. Your supervisor
  2. Co-supervisor/member (a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry)
  3. Outside member (a faculty member from another department at UVic)
  4. Optional fourth member.

 

Courses

The Calendar gives the  chemistry course requirements for completing an MSc or PhD in Chemistry. Make sure that you have read them. Some additional information that may be helpful is given below:

  • At UVic a one-term lecture course with approximately three lectures per week is worth 1.5 units. A "module" worth 0.5 units contains about 1/3 this amount of work and three such modules can be substituted for a lecture course.
  • Discussion courses are 1.5 unit courses in which you discuss papers from the literature. These come in two versions  Chem 680 (for physical/analytical chemists) or  Chem 670 (for organic/inorganic chemists).
  • You also have to take  Chem 505. This is a pass/fail module that deals with professional topics such as searching the literature/ethics and plagiarism/paper writing, etc. This is called a module because it is a short course, but there is no credit associated with this course, and it cannot be used as one of the three modules that substitute for a lecture course.
  • Each term you will register in Chem 509 (seminar) and either Chem 599 (MSc research) or Chem 699 (PhD research), as well as any lecture, discussion or module courses that you are taking. The research courses are just formal recognition that you are doing research, and there are no additional requirements associated with them. For Chem 509, you are required to attend  departmental seminars once or sometimes twice a week. You get an INP (in-progress) grade at the end of the term. Later in your degree you will present a seminar to the department and will receive 1.0 units of credit for Chem 509. There is more information about this below.
  • Consult your supervisor about the choice of discussion and lecture courses. In general it is recommended that you complete your coursework as soon as possible, after which you can focus exclusively on your research. MSc students can complete all their coursework in one term, by taking one discussion course, one lecture course and Chem 505. On the other hand, there are limited lecture courses and modules offered in any given term so you might delay until a desired course is offered. For students concerned about their ability in English to complete the discussion courses, it is recommended that you sit in on the first available discussion course even if you do not take it for credit, and can take it for credit later. Consult your supervisor and the course instructor about this. Note that if you attend the course without registering, you cannot later decide you want credit for it.

Department Seminars, Your Seminar, and Graduate Student Research Days

Chem 509 course requirements

Graduate students must register for Chem 509 in both terms of every Winter Session during their degree program.

Enrolment in Chem 509 requires that students attend Chemistry Department Seminars as described in the syllabus each academic year (see below), and attend both Graduate Student Research Days (GSRDs) in November and February, and give a departmental seminar, normally in Term 4 or 5 of the MSc program or Term 10 or 11 of the PhD program.

A "COM" grade is assigned for Chem 509 when you submit your “Request for Oral Exam” upon completion of your thesis, as long as you have attended the requisite number of seminars for that term, and have given your departmental seminar. If you are submitting mid-term, consult with the instructor for the number of seminar attendances needed.

Guidelines for seminar attendance

Chemistry Department Seminars take place on Mondays and/or Thursdays, 11:30 am – 12:45 pm.

Bookmark the  seminar schedule and check it regularly, in case of changes.

Graduate students must attend 9 seminars in each term that Chemistry Department Seminars are scheduled. You are welcome to attend more! If you do not attend the requisite number of seminars, you must complete some extra seminar-related assignment, to be determined by the Chem 509 instructor.

Before leaving each seminar, initial the Chem 509 attendance sheet next to your name.  Note: by signing the sheet, you are officially stating that you have attended the entire seminar. This statement falls under the Academic Integrity regulations outlined in the UVic Graduate Calendar.

As part of your Chem 509 attendance each term, you may attend up to three seminars from outside the Chemistry Department Seminar series (e.g. CAMTEC, Biochemistry, Physics, ad hoc Chemistry seminars),  with permission from both the 509 instructor and your supervisor. To obtain permission, send an email request to the 509 instructor with a cc to your supervisor,  prior to the date of the extra-departmental seminar you wish to attend. (Permission will not be granted for ad hoc seminars in the Chemistry Department that occur on the same days as official Department seminars.) The email should include full details of the seminar, including a URL or email notification for the event. Requests to substitute seminars will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

For all seminars, you are expected to show respect for the speakers and for other attendees. Arrive on time - late arrivals are disruptive for the speaker and the audience.

Graduate Student Research Days (GSRDs)

Graduate students give their departmental seminars during two GSRDs. These one-day mini conferences happen during the November and February Reading Breaks. The exact format will vary depending on the number of students presenting, and will be communicated early each term.  All graduate students are required to attend these events. The GSRDs include poster sessions; every graduate student must give one poster or oral presentation at a GSRD during each academic year.

The Chem 509 instructor will schedule all presentations for the two GSRDs, in consultation with supervisors. In July, student speakers will be told in which GSRD they are scheduled to present. In September, poster presenters will be told in which GSRD they are scheduled to present.

Co-op and Internships

Co-op and internship opportunities, where you work in an industry, are possible in a Chemistry program, at the discretion of your supervisor. Acceptance of these may (or may not) change your overall funding picture or the timeline for completion of your degree, candidacy exams etc. Consult with your supervisor and the Graduate Advisor.

 

Evaluation

 

Each term, the student and supervisor will discuss the student's progress and the expectations for the coming term. The details for this are given below. The faculty of graduate students is soon to implement a system in which an annual report is forwarded to them.

Chemistry Department Graduate Student Research Progress Evaluation and Review

Approved by Faculty May 1, 2018

The Faculty of Graduate Studies  Graduate Supervision Policy outlines in general terms the guidance and feedback that supervisors should provide to graduate students. This Chemistry Department policy on formally reviewing and providing feedback to graduate students on their research progress is considered an implementation of the FGS policy.

Throughout the graduate degree, research progress evaluation will take two formal modes:

1. A formative assessment through an evaluation form completed by the supervisor at least once a term;
2. An annual meeting with the supervisory committee for the purpose of a formal review of student progress.

1. The evaluation form

It is the supervisor’s responsibility to ensure that evaluation forms are completed for all students at least once a term, for every term that a student is working under their supervision. The supervisor will also ensure that copies of each completed form will be distributed to the student, supervisor, the student’s supervisory committee members, and the graduate secretary. A copy of the completed form will be included in the student’s Department file.

The evaluation form has two parts:

  • (i) An outline of expectations;
  • (ii) Feedback from the supervisor on the student’s progress.

Both parts of the form should be completed within the first four weeks of the term, and again as necessary if new versions of the form are issued during the term.

Expectations: This part of the form provides an outline of work and goals for the term. This should be developed jointly by the student and supervisor; signatures from both are required. Signatures by student and supervisor on expectations imply agreement as to what expectations are for the term. Various formats may be used, e.g., itemized list vs. narrative. If student and supervisor cannot agree on expectations then a supervisory committee meeting should be held, at which the supervisory committee members should attempt to resolve the differences.

Feedback:The supervisor’s feedback should address the expectations for the previous term, general progress towards the degree, as well as other issues which have arisen over the course of the term can also be addressed. Feedback can be positive or negative but should be constructive in nature. The supervisor should meet with the student to discuss the evaluation.

The student signature on the evaluation part of the form acknowledges receipt of evaluation form.

If the supervisor feels that the student’s overall performance raises serious doubts about the ability of the student to continue their degree program, then the “unsatisfactory progress” box should be marked. This will trigger a formal supervisory committee meeting at which the student is given an opportunity to present his/her research progress, and the reasons for the unsatisfactory rating are discussed. Milestones and expectations for the following period should be written in consultation with the committee, addressing directly the issues that were unsatisfactory in the previous evaluation period. A date, no sooner than 8 weeks and no later than one term from the supervisory committee meeting triggered by the unsatisfactory rating should be set for the next formal evaluation of student progress.  Two consecutive “unsatisfactory" ratings would normally trigger a memo to the Graduate Advisor, detailing the issues surrounding the unsatisfactory performance. A pattern of unsatisfactory academic and/or research performance may also be deemed by the supervisory committee as sufficient to trigger a memo. The memo should also include a recommendation by the committee of whether or not the Graduate Advisor should make an application to the Dean of Graduate Studies to withdraw the student for ‘failure to meet academic standards.’

2. The annual meeting of the supervisory committee.

Once every year, typically during the month following the anniversary of the student's registration in graduate studies, but normally within 14 months from registration or the previous meeting, a supervisory committee meeting will be arranged by the graduate secretary. A standard agenda outlining the items below will also be included in the meeting invitation. The meeting should follow the format described in Section 5.11 of the Graduate Supervision Policy, and should include:

(a) an opportunity for the student to present their progress towards completion of their degree;

(b) an opportunity for the committee to discuss student progress with the student, and any associated concerns;

(c) an opportunity for the committee to discuss student progress in the absence of the student.

(d) for an MSc student, the first yearly meeting will also normally include a determination of whether the student will transfer to the PhD degree or will complete an MSc degree. 


As a general guide, the meeting should last about an hour. A student evaluation form will be created in agreement with the committee at each annual meeting, including expectations and milestones for the next term and feedback on student progress. An additional evaluation by the supervisor is not necessary for that term.

Transfer from MSc to PhD

Students who start out in an MSc degree and show sufficient promise for a PhD program may be able to transfer to a PhD degree. This is determined by their supervisory committee, normally at the first yearly meeting. In such a case, the coursework and research work already completed counts towards the PhD degree, and the student proceeds as though the start date of their PhD was their original MSc start date.

PhD Candidacy Exam

Introduction

The candidacy exam is to determine if you have the requisite intellectual and research skills to succeed in getting a PhD. As part of this, you write a research proposal for your PhD research, in which you establish that you have mastered the relevant literature, can place your work in the context of the field, and can defend its originality and viability. At the oral exam part, you will defend the proposal, and also answer questions that probe your expertise in relevant areas of knowledge that a PhD in your area would be expected to have. The Calendar gives the  official rules in Chemistry for the candidacy exam, including the format for the report. In particular, notice that two attempts are permitted, and that students who fail may be able to complete an MSc degree.

Proposal Advice

This section gives additional information/advice for the student and committee members.

The point of a proposal is to  explain what you want to do, why you want to do it, and how it is important in the field. A well-written proposal - and a successful candidacy report - should make it clear to other readers that the work is (i) worth doing and (ii) has a reasonable chance of success.

A proposal needs to provide a context for the work (background/literature survey), a (brief) presentation of recent progress and a plan for near-term work. A rough guideline for how to partition the proposal into these three major sections:

Introduction/background/literature ~ 25%
Recent progress ~ 25%
Proposed work ~ 50%

The main point here is that the proposal needs to constitute the majority of the prose. If proposed work is substantially less than half of the report, it will read less like a proposal and more like a review or report. The end of the introduction section should articulate clearly the long term objectives of the proposed work.

Here is a list of questions that your proposal should address (but don’t actually put these as section headings in the proposal):

  • What field(s) of research is the proposal pertinent to?
  • What is the state of the art in your field?
  • Why is the area important?
  • What are the long term goals of the research? (i.e. beyond the specific work you are proposing over the next few years. Think big here!)
  • What are the short term goals/plans and how do they relate to the long term goals?
  • Is your work original, innovative? How?
  • How does this research compare to what others in your field are doing? How is it distinctive, or more efficient, or more practical – what gives your work a competitive advantage over others?
  • Why should a funding agency support your work rather than your competitors?
  • What would success of the proposed work mean (implications/significance)?
  • How will the work be carried out? (techniques, experiments, analysis)
  • Why do you think the work has a good chance of success?
  • What are some possible pitfalls of the proposed work? How can these be addressed?
  • What is the sequence the experiments that will be done? A timeline may be helpful to organize the proposal so that the sequence is clear.

Exam Procedures

The exam can start when everyone is present. The student should arrive 10 minutes early to ensure the computer and projector (if required) are ready.

The exam chair begins by briefly explaining the exam process which is as follows:

(1) The student will give a 15 minute (maximum) presentation based on their written proposal.

(2) The committee will examine the student on both their written proposal/presentation and on the general topics which were given to the student (and the committee) four weeks prior to the exam. Two rounds of questions are permitted; normally the first round is longest - committee members can take up to 20 minutes each. The second round is normally somewhat shorter in duration; the total length of the exam is usually approximately 2 hours although this does not have to be enforced rigorously. Room bookings for the exam will be for 2.5 hours.

(3) Once the two rounds are complete, the student will be excused from the exam room but asked to remain close by (but out of earshot of discussion in the exam room). The chair will solicit the assessment of each committee member as to the quality of the report and the performance in the exam. Once a decision has been reached, the student is invited back into the room and the committee’s decision is communicated to the student by the chair. A follow up email to the student is also sent with any specific instructions (see below).

The assessment of the student’s performance should be based on (1) the quality of their written proposal and (2) their performance in the exam. If both are acceptable then the student has passed the exam.

If the exam performance is acceptable but there are deficiencies with the report that the committee feels should be addressed, the committee can require a resubmission of the report to the committee. As a general guideline, the level of deficiencies that would require a resubmission should be broadly analogous to the “major revisions” category for thesis submission; changes that would fall under “minor revisions” do not normally require a revised report to be submitted. The chair will solicit suggestions from the supervisory committee and send the student a memo outlining the deficiencies and provide guidance on how to fix them. The memo will include a deadline for resubmission of the proposal, normally within 4-6 weeks of the exam. The student should submit the revised report directly to all committee members and the exam chair. The department graduate secretary will schedule a half-hour meeting of the supervisory committee to take place 7-10 days after the revision deadline, at which the committee members will decide whether or not the revised proposal is acceptable. A passing grade will be administered once the committee members have all indicated to the exam chair that the revised proposal is acceptable. A revised report which substantially addresses the significant deficiencies but still has some outstanding “minor revisions” – level corrections is considered acceptable. A revised report which is deemed unacceptable constitutes a failed candidacy.

If the performance in the exam is not of acceptable quality, a repeat exam will be scheduled within one semester of the date of the first exam. With input from the supervisory committee, the exam chair will provide a memo to the student outlining (i) the reasons for the assessment and (ii) the format for the new exam (e.g. whether a new presentation is required) and the material that the student will be responsible for in the repeat exam. Unsatisfactory performance in the second exam constitutes failure of the candidacy.

The exam chair is not a member of the supervisory committee but is permitted to clarify questions or answers as they deem appropriate. Chairs should ensure that questioning is at an appropriate level and tone, and that there is broad consistency in the level of all examinations. All of the exam chairs are to meet once per term to discuss this issue.

In the event that the committee cannot come to consensus as to whether the student has passed/failed the exam, they will put it to a vote (the supervisor does NOT have a veto for or against). In the event of a 2-2 tie, the student’s supervisor’s vote is given lower weight than that of the other committee members (i.e. if supervisor +1 other committee member vote to pass and 2 others vote to fail, the result is fail; if supervisor + 1 vote against and 2 others vote to pass, the result is pass). The chair does not vote on the outcome of the exam.

The exam chair is responsible for reporting the outcome of the exam by email to the Department Chair for approval. The email should include the students name, ID number (this can be obtained from the Graduate Secretary) and the outcome of the exam. The Department Chair approves the outcome by forwarding the email to the department Graduate Secretary noting “approved” in the email. The Graduate Secretary then sends the approved email to the Graduate Admissions and Record Office (GARO) clerk, with copies to the student, the Graduate Advisor, and all members of the supervisory committee. The general form of the email should look like:

John Doe (V00123456) passed his candidacy exam on (date). His candidacy report was titled “XXXXXXXXXXX” 
John was questioned on his written report as well as the following general topics: 
1) AAA
2) BBB
3) CCC 

Note that the only information conveyed is whether the student passed or failed – GARO doesn’t need to know anything else.

Timeline

The following guide to the timeline for a degree summarizes the normal timeline for a student starting in September. In most cases the term and month numbers also apply for students starting in other terms. Not all the dates are fixed - for more information see the policies in this handbook and in the Calandar, which are the official versions that supercede those here if there is a discrepancy.

Degree Timeline
Year Term Month Activity
1 1 (Sep-Dec)   Establish supervisory committee
2 (Jan-Apr)   First poster presentation at GSRD (one per year required)
3 (May-Aug)    
2 4 (Sep-Dec) 13-14 (Sep-Oct)

Supervisory committee meeting with annual evaluation.

MSc : Determination of transfer to PhD.

15 (Nov) MSc : Give Chem 509 talk at GSRD (Nov or Feb)
5 (Jan-Apr) 18 (Feb)
  PhD : Recommended term for candidacy exam (direct or transferred students)
6 (May-Aug)  

MSc : Last term of guaranteed funding - target for thesis oral and submission

PhD (direct entry) : Last term for completing candidacy

3 7 (Sep-Dec) 25-26 (Sep-Oct) Supervisory committee meeting with annual evaluation.
8 (Jan-Apr) 29-30 (Jan-Feb) PhD (transferred from MSc) : Complete candidacy within 16 months of transfer
9 (May-Aug)    
4 10 (Sep-Dec) 37-38 (Sep-Oct) Supervisory committee meeting with annual evaluation.
39 (Nov) PhD : Give Chem 509 talk at GSRD (Nov or Feb)
11 (Jan-Apr) 42 (Feb)
12 (May-Aug)   PhD : Last term of guaranteed funding - target for dissertation oral and submission
5,6,7   each Sep or Oct Supervisory committee meeting with annual evaluation
5   60 (Aug) MSc : 5-year FGS maximum time for degree completion
7   84 (Aug) PhD : 7-year FGS maximum time for degree completion

 

Writing your Thesis or Dissertation

At UVic, the official term for your MSc thesis is  thesis, but your PhD "thesis" is officially called a  dissertation. For writing your thesis, writing groups, checklists, formatting guides, and samples see the Faculty of Graduate Studies  thesis and dissertation page. There is also a  Centre for Academic Communication that offers workshops and personalized help with writing.

In terms of formatting, see the  Thesis format checklist and sample pages. There are templates for  Word and  LaTeX. The department does not have any additional requirements beyond those of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Be careful with copyright issues. If you are going to use a literature figure, you will need permission from the copyright holder, usually the publisher. Some publishers have easy online applications that give you permission automatically, but for others there may be significant lead time. Even if you have permission, you will need to state the source in the figure caption, with something like "reproduced with permission". Some publisheres have very specific wording they want if you use their figures. In many cases, such as an energy level diagram that is fairly generic, it is easiest to redraw the figure yourself, making it look significantly different from the original. Even in this case, if the figure source is unique, you should state "adapted from ....".

Sometimes you may want a chapter of your thesis to be one of your papers that is already published. Consult the publisher to see if this is allowed; generally speaking it is. Again, there may be specific wording that the publisher requires. If you are putting in a chapter that is a paper to be submitted, you need to be more careful. Some publishers may consider your thesis to be "prior publication", meaning that you cannot publish the work with that publisher, and will have to find a different publisher for that chapter.

Planning to Defend

Congratulations, you're planning to defend! The process can be confusing and needs a long lead time. Consult with the Graduate Secretary, who can advise you on your particular timeline and who will submit the paperwork for you. Discuss it with your supervisor too, of course.

Generally speaking, you need to finish writing early in a term, in order to defend that term. Note that if you are planning to defend in the summer term, you may have difficulty getting your committee together for an August defense. In this case, if you defend by the 15th of September, and complete changes before the end of September, you may not have to pay fees for the whole of the fall term - see the Completion Postponement Fee Adjustment on the "Tuition Fees and Payments" section of the  tuition webpage.

Timing

Work backwards, looking at your particular term to get the exact deadlines you need to meet:

  • Defense date (two weeks before term ends to give yourself time to revise, submit, and get final documents in after defense)
  • Signed Request for Oral Examination (ROE)  PhD or  MSc form over to Grad Studies 30 business days (PhD) or 20 business days (MSc) before the defense date. FGS is very fussy about this timeline - don't count any statutory or university holidays (except midterm break).
  • Revisions: Getting your Supervisory Committee to review, give feedback, and say you're ready to defend will take about two weeks (before they sign the "ROE").  Ask your committee members how long they need to review.
  • This means you need to finish writing about  11 weeks (PhD) or  9 weeks (MSc) before the end of term.

Other steps and forms

  • Book the room: The Graduate Secretary can book a videoconferencing room if anyone is attending remotely. It's much better than worrying about Skype the day you defend. If you don't need video conferencing, then a regular room can be booked. 
  • Apply for Graduation - you have to apply to graduate.  It required a non-refundable fee and you can't change terms, so check the deadline and perhaps wait until your defense is a sure thing.
  • Thesis Withholding - in case you need a publication delay in order to get a patent or for some similar reason - discuss with your supervisor.
  • Thesis Approval - A completed hardcopy of this form must go with you to your defense for your committee to sign. 

Your Defense Exam

The guidelines for the exam and possible outcomes are  here.

The examination normally lasts from 1 ½ - 2 hours. It is an open exam and you may invite your friends and family. At least some of your fellow graduate students are likely to be there.

  • Candidate begins with a brief (10-20 minute) summary of work.
  • Examining committee asks two rounds of questions:
    • External Examiner begins each round,
    • Committee member(s) from outside the academic unit goes next, then
    • Committee member(s) from the academic unit, and
    • Supervisor goes last.
  • If there is sufficient time, the exam chair may call for questions from other members of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
  • If there is sufficient time, the exam chair may call for questions from the audience.

The most common outcome is  minor revisions. The word minor here refers to the seriousness of the revisions, and not the number. There may be very many revisions, but they are not considered serious enough to require further attention from the committee. Rather the supervisor is delegated to make sure that you make the changes, and will not sign off until you have made them.

Submitting your Final Thesis

After your successful defense, you will likely need to make some changes as dictated by your examining committee. After you have done that, you will need to make a .pdf copy of your thesis in the right format and then it is ready for final submission according the to the  FGS checklist. Your thesis will be uploaded to  UVicSpace, which is a website where anyone has access to your thesis; there is further information about the submission process  here.

The Chemistry Department will arrange for binding of a hardcopy book of your thesis or dissertation, with a copy for you, for the department, and for your supervisor.