Site Navigation
Welcome
Important Notice and Disclaimer
Faculty of Graduate Studies General Information
Graduate Students' Association (GSA)
Academic Schedule
Faculty of Graduate Studies Degrees Information
Admissions
Awards and Financial Assistance for Graduate Students
Tuition and General Fees
Academic Regulations
D.1 Registration
D.2 Transfer Credit
D.3 Student Status
D.4 Program Transfers
D.5 Withdrawals
D.6 Time Limits
D.7 Leave of Absence
E. Combined Degrees
F. Interdisciplinary Degrees
G. Internships
H. Academic Standing
I. Language
J. Supervision
K. Candidacy
L. Theses
M. Thesis Examinations
N. Graduation
O. Appeals
P. Statement of Intellectual Honesty
Q. Statement on Principles of Conduct
R. Student Misconduct
S. Integrity in Scholarly Activity
T. Sexual Harassment
U. Statement of Support for Persons with Life Threatening Communicable Illnesses
V. Vacation
Program Descriptions
Interdisciplinary Specializations
Courses of Instruction
Student and Campus Services
About the University of Calgary
Graduate Studies Calendar 2017-2018 Academic Regulations M. Thesis Examinations
M. Thesis Examinations
M.1 Purpose

The purpose of the thesis oral examination is not only to defend independently the thesis, but also to serve as confirmation of the student’s knowledge of the research topic within the context of their field of study.

In order to safeguard and promote the quality of the graduate education, all students in thesis-based graduate programs must defend their theses in an oral examination before the degree may be granted. The Dean of Graduate Studies may waive this requirement in exceptional circumstances.

M.2 Scheduling

M.2.1
It is the responsibility of the supervisor to schedule the thesis oral examination, to recommend all examining committee members to the Graduate Program Director for approval, and to conform to the timelines set out in Thesis and Thesis Examination Administrative Processes (see grad.ucalgary.ca/current/managing-my-program/examinations). Under no circumstances are students permitted to make arrangements for an examination.

M.2.2
The examination committee, which is approved by the Faculty of Graduate Studies, is convened to make a recommendation of the final outcome of the examination to the Dean of Graduate Studies.

M.2.3
No changes in the composition of examination committees may be introduced without prior approval from the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

M.2.4
With the exception of 2.6, the doctoral examination cannot be scheduled until all members of the supervisory committee have reviewed the student’s research, including a relevant written sample of the material related to the thesis, or the draft thesis document, as required by the graduate program, and have provided written consent that the examination can be scheduled. The supervisor’s signature on the Notice of Examination Form acknowledges that the entire thesis meets the minimum standard (see L.1 Quality of Thesis). An indication that the thesis is ready to defend does not commit a member of the supervisory committee to voting “pass” on the thesis at the final oral examination.

M.2.5
With the exception of 2.6, the master’s examination cannot be scheduled until the supervisor has reviewed the student’s research and the entire draft of the thesis document, as required by the graduate program. When supervisory committees are required, both the supervisor and the committee members must review the student’s research, including a relevant written sample of the material related to the thesis, or the draft thesis document, as required by the graduate program. The supervisor’s signature on the Notice of Examination Form acknowledges that the entire thesis meets the minimum standard (see L.1 Quality of Thesis). An indication that the thesis is ready to defend does not commit a member of the supervisory committee to voting “pass” on the thesis at the final oral examination.

M.2.6
A student who has successfully completed all Faculty of Graduate Studies and program requirements has the right to submit and defend a thesis even if doing so may be contrary to the advice of the supervisor and supervisory committee (where applicable).

M.3 Composition of the Examination Committee

The composition of the committee must be recommended by the Graduate Program Director and approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies.

M.3.1 Neutral Chair (Doctoral, Master's)

The oral thesis examination is chaired by a neutral member of the academic staff appointed by the Graduate Program Director.

The Neutral Chair is not a member of the examination committee and may not vote or question the student. The Neutral Chair’s responsibility is to ensure that the examination is conducted in a fair and orderly fashion.

M.3.2 Non-Academic Staff Members (Doctoral, Master’s)

The Faculty of Graduate Studies may approve qualified persons who are not academic staff members of the University of Calgary to serve on thesis oral examination committees.

M.3.3 Doctoral Oral Thesis Examination Committee

The examination committee will consist of:

  1. the supervisory committee,
  2. an internal examiner: a member of the University of Calgary academic staff whom programs may require to be external to the program,
  3. an external examiner: external to the University,
  4. other members (at the discretion of the Graduate Program Director, subject to the approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies).

A post-doctoral associate whose supervisor is on the supervisory committee is not eligible to serve as an additional member of the examination committee.

M.3.4 Internal and External Examiners

Both the internal and external examiners normally must:

  1. have well-established research reputation
  2. have expertise in the area of the student’s research
  3. have experience in evaluating theses at the graduate level
  4. have experience in supervising to completion at the graduate level
  5. not be a close personal friend of the supervisor
  6. not have collaborated with supervisor in past five years
  7. not be closely related to, or have worked with the candidate

In addition, the external examiner normally

  1. must not have been a supervisor in the candidate’s graduate program in the past three years
  2. must not have served as external examiner in candidate’s program in the past two years.
M.3.5 Master’s Oral Thesis Examination Committee

The examination committee should consist of:

  1. the supervisor
  2. supervisory committee, where applicable,
  3. an additional member of the University of Calgary academic staff,
  4. an internal examiner: a member of the University of Calgary academic staff whom programs may require to be external to the program, or an external member who fits the criteria outlined in M.3.4 Internal and External Examiners.

If there is a formal Supervisory Committee, only one additional Internal Examiner or external examiner is required.

If there is a co-supervisor, but not a formal supervisory committee, an additional member of the University of Calgary academic staff and an internal examiner or external examiner are required.

M.4 Conflict of Interest

The examination committee must be seen as impartial and conflicts of interests must be avoided and disclosed. See Graduate Studies Conflict of Interest Policy at grad.ucalgary.ca/current/policies-forms/conflict-interest.

M.5 Rescheduling of Thesis Examinations

The Faculty of Graduate Studies must be informed of minor changes in the scheduling of the examinations (e.g., for illness or weather). Programs are allowed to postpone the examination by up to two weeks after the scheduled date.

Postponements of more than two weeks from the original date can be considered in exceptional circumstances and will require approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies.

M.6 Cancellation of Thesis Examinations

A scheduled examination may be cancelled under exceptional circumstances with the approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies.

M.7 Format of the Oral Thesis Examination

All examinations must be conducted according to the procedures described in Thesis and Thesis Examination Administrative Processes.

The Oral Examination

1) The examination begins when the thesis is distributed to the examiners, at least three weeks prior to the date of the oral examination. The thesis may not be discussed amongst the examination members (with the exception of the Supervisor and/or Co-Supervisor) or the student. The student may not submit revisions while the examination is in progress.

2) The oral examination is normally open to the public but only members of the examination committee may question the student.

3) The oral examination questioning will not normally exceed two hours.

4) The thesis oral examination may be preceded by a separate public seminar, which will not include any questioning by members of the examination committee. If no public seminar preceded the examination the student may be offered an opportunity to give a brief (15 minute) presentation summarizing the thesis in addition to the two-hour examination time.

5) Before the oral examination begins, all members of the examination committee must submit their written and signed examination reports to the Neutral Chair. Written reports are confidential and will not be communicated to the student or other members of the examination committee before the examination committee’s recommendation has been finalized by completing the final examination form.

6) Examiners, either in person or via teleconference, must be present during the entire questioning process (see Examination Guidelines at grad.ucalgary.ca/current/managing-my-program/examinations).

7) All examiners must be given the opportunity to question the student and the questions must be relevant to the thesis document.

8) Prior to the oral examination, if an examiner suspects that academic misconduct has occurred in the thesis, they must contact the Dean of Graduate Studies immediately. The examination will then be suspended until such time as the Dean (or designate) is able to determine whether academic misconduct has occurred and what penalties will be applied. Depending on the determination, the examination may proceed as scheduled, be rescheduled, or be cancelled.

9) Any procedural irregularities must be reported to the Dean of the Graduate Studies within 5 working days of the examination date, regardless of the outcome of the examination.

M.8 Recommendations at the Conclusion of an Examination

Post-examination procedures must be conducted according to the Thesis and Thesis Examination Administrative Processes.

Recommendation to the Dean of Graduate Studies must be unanimous. If it is not unanimous, the Dean of Graduate Studies will decide the outcome of the thesis and the oral examination.

The examination committee must recommend the outcome of the examination by indicating one of the following in each component:

M.8.1 Thesis

a) Unanimous pass with no or minor revisions involves stylistic changes and/or minor additions or clarifications; these must be correctable within one month from the date of the examination. The supervisor will inform the student of the necessary corrections. The supervisor will withhold their signature until satisfied with the revisions, if required.

b) Unanimous pass with major revisions normally requires more than changes in style and will typically involve clarification of textual materials, the qualification of research findings, conclusions, or limited additions to the text. Major revisions normally must be completed and submitted to Faculty of Graduate Studies within six months from the date of examination. One or more examiners may withhold their signature until satisfied with the revisions.

c) Unanimous fail. Student to be permitted one re-take. No decision made on the oral examination.

d) Failure to reach unanimous decision.

M.8.2 Oral Examination

a) Unanimous pass.

b) Unanimous fail. If a unanimous fail was reached on the oral examination and the thesis was a pass, the oral component must be re-taken within six months from the date of examination.

c) Failure to reach unanimous decision.

In the case of a failed thesis, whether by committee or Dean’s decision, one re-take will be allowed and a new defence will be required. In view of the magnitude of the revisions required, the re-take oral examination must be held no sooner than six months and no later than twelve months from the date of the first examination.

The composition of the examination committee normally will remain the same. Upon the recommendation of the Graduate Program Director and approval of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, an examiner may be replaced.