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Anatomy of a defence

  1. Defend your thesis orally
  2. You are questioned by the examination committee
  3. Chair recognizes questions from the audience at their discretion
  4. Chair adjourns the examination    

  • The examination normally should not exceed two hours. 
  • The decision of the Examining Committee is based both on the thesis and your ability to defend it. 
  • Your Chair will be responsible that the report on the examination and the signature pages are complete before the committee adjourns.
  • Questions on a thesis by members of the University, other than those on the Examining Committee, must be submitted in writing to the Thesis Office no later than seven days prior to the date of the thesis defence..

Zoom defences

All defences have been moved to the Zoom teleconferencing platform. Zoom defences are set up by the Supervisor and IITS. 

  • The School of Graduate Studies’ policy is that no outside participants be admitted to Zoom defences. This is as a security measure to ensure that no disruptions, unintentional or otherwise, occur during the defence.
  • If the defending party and supervisor both agree to having certain external participants attend however, they may do so at their own discretion, although it is our recommendation that the link not be widely distributed.

Click here for answers to frequent defence-related questions.

Upcoming defences

The Thesis Office announces the upcoming defence on the Events Calendar


Contractual and/or legal obligations may necessitate that all participants to a thesis defence sign an undertaking of confidentiality.

Your supervisor shall fully inform you of any and all contractual obligation(s), as they may pertain to you, which may affect the public defence and/or publication of your thesis.

Post defence

The relevant Graduate Studies Committee renders a decision on whether you have fulfilled the requirements of the doctoral degree based on the Examining Committee Report and its own records of your progress in your assigned program of study.

The Examining Committee can render one of four decisions, subject to a vote of majority.  Members of the examining committee may not abstain from voting. The thesis can be:

  1. Accepted as submitted which may include editorial or formatting corrections;
  2. Accepted with minor modifications defined as corrections which can be made immediately and to the satisfaction of the supervisor;
  3. Accepted with major modifications: the Examining Committee Report shall include a precise description of the modifications along with a date for their completion of no more than six months.
  4. Rejected: such a thesis may be re-submitted only once, in revised form, six months or more from the date of the Examining Committee report. Formal re-submission of a thesis follows the same procedure as an initial submission.
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