Doctor of Philosophy
Departmental Preliminary Examinations
Students will be required to show competence in three of the following four areas:
Area I – metaphysics and epistemology
Area II – history of philosophy
Area III – philosophy of language and logic
Area IV – moral and political philosophy
The student chooses three areas. Competence in an area is shown by submitting a satisfactory essay or passing an examination. At least one area must be passed by either a sit-down or take-home examination. Exams are administered, and essays accepted, four times yearly. All three areas must be passed within 20 months of registration and, the student is not allowed to take an exam in a particular major area more than three times. Students who have not passed three areas within 20 months of registration will not normally receive further Departmental support.
Oral Candidacy Examination
After completion of required course work and preliminary examinations, the doctoral student must pass an oral candidacy examination prior to beginning the doctoral thesis. Before the examination, the student must submit a thesis proposal (approximately 20 pages) that will serve as the basis of discussion at the examination. The purpose of the examination is to ascertain whether the student’s academic preparation and ability is adequate to pursue profitable research on the issues proposed. Questions on the research proposal will be included in the oral candidacy examination.
Master of Arts (course-based)
The course-based Master of Arts has a research constituent. This constituent is to be satisfied by passing all components, written and oral, of the final Master's examination.
A final Master's examination of overall competency is required after completion of all course work, consisting of written and oral components. Effective July 1, 2009, the Department of Philosophy will be monitoring and overseeing this examination.
The following regulations apply:
i. Each student in the program will be examined by a Final Master’s Examination Committee appointed by the Department Head in consultation with the Graduate Director not later than three months prior to the Final Master’s Examination. The committee shall consist of four members including a neutral chair. The normal composition shall be the student’s supervisor and three other members of the academic staff.
ii. The written component will examine the competency of the student in two fields or areas of philosophy, one of which must be in the History of Philosophy or 20th Century/Contemporary Philosophy, while the second may be elected by the student. A guideline for suitable areas of philosophy on which a student may choose to be examined is given by the generic titles of graduate course offerings in philosophy. There should not be any significant overlap in the two chosen areas. Competency in an area will be tested by examining the student’s mastery of selected central problems, authors and/or positions in that area.
iii. Students should determine their examination areas in consultation with their supervisor and must declare their chosen examination areas not later than six months before the time of examination by reporting these to the Graduate Director. The following regulations apply:
(a) Not later than two weeks after the examination areas have been determined, the supervisor will draw up a bibliography for each of these areas. The bibliographies will be discussed with the student. A copy of the bibliographies, with the signatures of the supervisor and student, shall be submitted to the Graduate Director not later than five months prior to the written exam.
(b) Examination questions for the written and oral components of the Final Master’s Examination will be drawn from the bibliographies for each of the examination areas.
iv. Details of the written component:
(a) The supervisor shall distribute examination questions for the written component to all members of the examination committee for their approval, and the Graduate Director, at least a week in advance of the written exam.
(b) The written component will consist of two three-hour written examinations. The written examinations are to be completed within one week.
(c) Each examiner is required to submit a written assessment of the student’s written examination performance, to be submitted to the neutral chair of the examination committee prior to the examination.
(d) The written component of the examination must be judged to be either acceptable ('Pass') or unacceptable ('Fail').
(e) The committee will inform the student and Graduate Director within three weeks of the exam submission whether the student has passed. If the student has not passed the exam, the committee will provide the student and the Graduate Director with written comments of its decision. (The student may request a written assessment even in the case of a Pass.) If the committee does not make a decision within three weeks of the exam’s submission, then it is the responsibility of the Graduate Director to ensure that the exam is assessed in a timely manner.
(f) This is a closed exam.
v. The student shall not be permitted to proceed to the oral component if the student does not secure a 'Pass' on the written component.
vi. The oral examination will be held a minimum of two weeks and not later than three weeks following a decision on the written component. Questions for the oral examination will be based on the bibliographies for the areas selected for examination.
vii. Details of the oral component:
(a) The oral examination is a formal examination, not an informal discussion with the student.
(b) All examiners must be given an opportunity to question the student early in the examination, e.g. by rounds of questioning.
(c) The oral examination shall not exceed two hours. This does not include deliberation time of the committee.
(d) The oral component of the examination must be judged to be either acceptable ('Pass') or unacceptable ('Fail').
(e) This is a closed exam.
viii. The result of the Final Master's Examination shall be either 'Pass' or 'Fail'. To secure a 'Pass', the student must obtain a 'Pass' on both the written component and the oral component of the exam. In the event of a failure, the examining committee may recommend that the student be given an opportunity to take the failed component of the examination again between two and six months from the date of the first attempt. No more than two attempts will be permitted.
ix. Students may appeal the grade that they obtain on either the written component or the oral component of the Final Master’s Examination. In the event of an appeal, the student shall first address a letter of appeal to the Graduate Director. In the letter, the student must clearly and fully state the decision being appealed, the ground for appeal and the remedies being sought, along with any special circumstances that warrant an appeal of the reappraisal. The Graduate Director will then report his or her decision to the student. If the student is not satisfied with this decision, the student may file an appeal in accordance with the terms and conditions specified by the Teaching Faculty Appeals Committee.
The candidacy exam has a written component, the student’s research proposal. This proposal must be submitted to all members of the candidacy examining committee at least two weeks before the examination. The candidacy oral can include questions on the research proposal.
Thesis oral examinations are open.