Step 4 - Thesis defence

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 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.


Zoom defences

During the COVID-19 campus closure, 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


Confidentiality

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

The thesis can be:

  1. Accepted as submitted
  2. Accepted with minor modifications
  3. Accepted with major modifications
  4. Rejected

The thesis will also be ranked as one of the following:

  1. Outstanding
  2. Excellent
  3. Very Good
  4. Satisfactory
  5. Unsatisfactory

Following evaluation of the thesis:

  • When an Examining Committee composed of two faculty members renders a split decision, the Graduate Program Director (or Departmental Chair when appropriate) will adjudicate.
  • Once the Examining Committee has arrived at a final decision, it is the responsibility of the Graduate Program to forward to the Thesis Office, generally within three weeks from the initial submission of the thesis, a completed Master’s Examination Committee Report that reflects the final decision of the Examining Committee.
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