Modern Languages and Cultural Studies

Exam Chair Procedures

MA Defense
PhD Candidacy
PhD Defense

Procedures for MA Oral Defense - Day of Exam

The student delivers the thesis to all examiners at least four weeks ahead of the exam. The Graduate Advisor provides the Chair with a Thesis Approval form, to be brought to the exam.

Exam Procedures for Chair

[Candidate out of room]

1. Asks examiners for their preliminary opinions on the thesis
2. Summarizes the student's record and mentions any problems that could affect the exam
3. Reviews the procedures
4. Requests examiners to specify the general areas in which they plan to ask their major questions so that they can be logically ordered.

[Candidate returns]

5. Makes introductions, summarizes procedures for student
6. Asks some ice-breaking questions or gives the candidate a short period to summarize the thesis
7. Orchestrates the exam question period in a logical order. External examiners are given courtesy of the first question, and the supervisor comes last. Normal aim is two rounds of questions. Interruptions to be politely prevented.

[Candidate out of room]

8. Chair takes vote from all examiners:

  • Pass (this includes minor revisions such as typos)
  • Pass with revisions
  • Examination adjourned (this should especially be used if there are problems with videoconferencing connections)
  • Failed

In the case of a pass, all members of the exam committee sign. 

In the case of a pass subject to revisions, all members sign except the supervisor, who will sign once revisions are complete. The chair of the examining committee must provide in writing, within five working days of the examination, to the Dean, FGSR, the graduate coordinator and the student:

  • the reasons for this outcome
  • the details of the required revisions
  • the approval mechanism for meeting the requirement for revisions (eg. approval of the examining committee chair or supervisor, or approval of the entire examining committee, or select members of the committee)
  • the supervision and assistance the student can expect to receive from committee members.

The student must make the revisions within six months of the date of the examination. Once the revisions are approved, the Thesis Approval Form is submitted to FGSR.

In the case of an adjournment or a fail, please contact the Graduate Advisor immediately.

[Candidate returns]

9. Explains committee decision, thanks everyone, closes room, and ensures Thesis Approval form is delivered to Graduate Advisor.

Procedures for PhD Candidacy - Day of Exam

The questioning will be focused on the proposal, as distributed by the student. (Comprehensive Exams are all passed prior to the proposal defense. Click here for the Comprehensive Exam information.)

Exam Procedures for Chair

[Candidate out of room]

1. Requests preliminary comments and arranges questioning.

[Candidate returns]

2. Summarizes procedures.
3. Orchestrates questioning in agreed order.
4. Candidate given opportunity to summarize the proposal and submit to questions. Some areas may be given more time than others based on areas of weakness. Ensure the exam time does not go over three hours.

[Candidate out of room]

5. Examiners vote. Does the candidate have adequate knowledge of the discipline and the subject matter relevant to the thesis? Does the candidate have the ability to pursue and complete research at an advanced level?

  • Adjourned
  • Pass
  • Conditional Pass
  • Fail and repeat the candidacy
  • Fail with a recommendation to terminate the doctoral program or for a change of category to a master's program

In the event of a conditional pass or fail, the chair must be familiar with the regulations described here, as set by FGSR. These detailed procedures explain the work necessary following a conditional pass or fail vote.

[Candidate returns]

6. Explains committee decision, thanks everyone and closes room. Ensures Graduate Advisor is notified of the result for the completion of appropriate paperwork.

Procedures for PhD Oral Defense- Day of Exam

The student delivers the thesis to all examiners at least four weeks ahead of the exam (except the external examiner). The Graduate Advisor provides the Chair with a Thesis Approval form, to be brought to the exam, as well as a copy of the External Examiners report (one for the Chair, and copies for the student and supervisor to be delivered after the exam). The chair must ensure the student writes the correct and full title of the dissertation on the Thesis Approval form.

Exam Procedures for Chair

[Candidate out of room]

1. Asks examiners for their preliminary opinions on the thesis
2. Summarizes the student's record and mentions any problems that could affect the exam
3. Reviews the procedures
4. Requests examiners to specify the general areas in which they plan to ask their major questions so that they can be logically ordered.

[Candidate returns]

5. Makes introductions, summarizes procedures for student
6. Asks some ice-breaking questions or gives the candidate a short period to summarize the thesis
7. Orchestrates the exam question period in a logical order. External examiners are given courtesy of the first question, and the supervisor comes last. Normal aim is two rounds of questions. Interruptions to be politely prevented. The Chair will read the external examiner's report and ask the questions contained within it. The examining committee will determine the suitability of the answers.

[Candidate out of room]

8. Chair takes vote from all examiners. Is the candidate's knowledge of the field sufficient for the awarding of a PhD?

  • Pass (this includes minor revisions such as typos)
  • Pass with revisions
  • Examination adjourned (this should especially be used if there are problems with videoconferencing connections)
  • Failed

In the case of a pass, all members of the exam committee sign. In the case of a conditional pass, all members sign except the supervisor, who will sign once revisions are complete.

In the case of a pass subject to revisions, all members sign except the supervisor, who will sign once revisions are complete. The chair of the examining committee must provide in writing, within five working days of the examination, to the Dean, FGSR, the graduate coordinator and the student:

  • the reasons for this outcome
  • the details of the required revisions
  • the approval mechanism for meeting the requirement for revisions (eg. approval of the examining committee chair or supervisor, or approval of the entire examining committee, or select members of the committee)
  • the supervision and assistance the student can expect to receive from committee members.

The student must make the revisions within six months of the date of the examination. Once the revisions are approved, the Thesis Approval Form is submitted to FGSR.

In the case of an adjournment or a fail, please contact the Graduate Advisor immediately.

[Candidate returns]

9. Explains committee decision, thanks everyone, closes room, and ensures Thesis Approval form is delivered to Graduate Advisor.