13. Defence

13.1. Permission to Submit the Thesis for Defence

When a majority of the Advisory Committee agrees the thesis is ready for Defence, the academic unit will so advise the CGSR in writing.

Under exceptional circumstances a student may request in writing that the CGSR Dean arrange for an examination of the thesis without the agreement of the Advisory Committee. The rules for such an examination are determined by the Dean in consultation with the academic unit and the student.

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13.2. Appointment of the External Examiner

All external examiners shall have an "arm's-length" relationship with the student, the supervisor and members of the advisory committee. In all cases, conflict of interest shall be avoided in naming external examiners. It is inappropriate to name as external examiners persons who may have a close personal or scholarly relationship or shared financial interests with the student, the supervisor or any member of the advisory committee.

The Dean of the CGSR retains the authority to reject a recommended external examiner based upon a real or perceived conflict of interest which has not been anticipated in the existing criteria.  Further, the Dean may also allow exceptions to any of the criteria in section 13.2.1 or 13.2.2, based on an appeal by the Graduate Chair, Department Head or Executive Director of the unit recommending the external examiner.

While the authority to approve and name the external examiner rests with the Dean of the CGSR, this authority may be afforded to other individuals or units.

Following examination of the thesis and candidate, the External Examiner shall provide the Dean with a written report.

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13.2.1. Criteria for Selection of the External Examiner for PH. D. Theses

  1. The external examiner must not be a current faculty member or employee of the U of S.  Former faculty members or employees of the U of S may serve as an external examiner if their employment with the U of S was terminated at least six (6) years prior to the proposed Defence date.
  2. The external examiner must not have graduated from or have been a student in the academic unit within the previous six (6) years.
  3. The external examiner must not have collaborated with either the student or the other members of the examining committee as demonstrated by shared research grants, joint authorship of academic or professional publications or other joint scholarly activities.  The external examiner must not have collaborated with either the supervisor or the graduate student within the previous six (6) years or with any other member of the advisory committee in the previous three (3) years.
  4. The external examiner must not hold a joint appointment in the same department or unit as the supervisor or student.
  5. An individual may serve as an external examiner for multiple students supervised by different supervisors within the same academic unit without restriction, but s/he may not serve as an external examiner for more than one student supervised by the same supervisor within a 12-month period.
  6. A former student of the supervisor may serve as the external examiner if all other criteria are satisfied and the external examiner completed his/her degree under the supervisor’s direction at least six (6) years previously.
  7. A supervisor’s former colleague (members of the same academic unit) may serve as the external examiner if the external examiner and supervisor have not been in the same academic unit for at least six (6) years prior to the thesis Defence. 
  8. The external examiner must not have close professional or business ties with the student, the supervisor or any member of the advisory committee.
  9. Where the student's thesis contains chapters or sections which have been published or submitted for publication, the proposed external examiner will be asked to disqualify herself/himself if s/he has previously dealt with that material as a reviewer or editor.
  10. The external examiner may not be currently teaching or supervising other graduate students who are family members of either the student or the thesis supervisor.
  11. The external examiner must not be currently enrolled as a graduate student at the U of S.
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13.2.2. Criteria for Selection of the External Examiner for Master's Theses

  1. The external examiner must be from outside the home department or unit(s) of both the graduate student and supervisor.
  2. The external examiner of a Master’s thesis is normally a member of the CGSR of the U of S. While it is acceptable to have an external examiner from outside the CGSR, this requires approval by the Dean of the CGSR.
  3. The external examiner must not have graduated from or have been a student in the academic unit within the previous six (6) years.
  4. The external examiner must not have collaborated with either the supervisor or the graduate student, as demonstrated by shared research grants, joint authorship of academic or professional publications or other joint scholarly activities, within the previous three (3) years.
  5. The external examiner must not hold a joint appointment in the same department or unit as the supervisor.
  6. An individual may serve as an external examiner for multiple students supervised by different supervisors within the same academic unit without restriction, but s/he may not serve as an external examiner for more than one student supervised by the same supervisor within a 12-month period.
  7. A former student of the supervisor may serve as the external examiner if all other criteria are satisfied and the external examiner completed his/her degree under the supervisor’s direction at least six (6) years previously.
  8. A supervisor’s former colleague (members of the same academic unit) may serve as the external examiner if the external examiner and supervisor have not been in the same academic unit for at least six (6) years prior to the thesis Defence. 
  9. The external examiner must not have close professional or business ties with the student, the supervisor or any member of the advisory committee.
  10. Where the student's thesis contains chapters or sections which have been published or submitted for publication, the proposed external examiner will be asked to disqualify her/him if s/he has previously dealt with that material as a reviewer or editor.
  11. The external examiner may not be currently teaching or supervising other graduate students who are family members of either the student or the thesis supervisor.
  12. The external examiner must not be currently enrolled as a graduate student at the U of S.
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13.2.3. Adjunct Professors, Professional Affiliates and Associate Members as External Examiners

Adjunct Professors, Professional Affiliates and Associate Members shall not serve as External Examiners in those academic units with which they are associated.  They may serve as External Examiners in other academic units, subject to the normal approval process.

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13.3. Scheduling the Oral Examination

The thesis Defence will be scheduled only after the academic unit has advised the CGSR the thesis is ready for Defence and has recommended at least one (for Master’s) or three (for Ph.D.) person(s) to serve as External Examiner.

The academic unit shall ensure the student file contains all necessary documentation and that the academic requirements for the degree have been met.

The student   shall ensure all requirements of the Program of Studies have been completed, registration is current, outstanding fees are paid, and University deadlines are respected in view of any particular convocation.

Students with a disability that could interfere with his/her ability to respond to questioning at an oral defence shall inform his/her supervisor at the time of scheduling the defence to allow appropriate accommodation to be made.

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13.3.1. For Master's Defences

The CGSR must be notified a minimum of three weeks prior to the desired oral defence date.  Upon receipt of the notification, a convocation check will be completed by the CGSR to verify that all program requirements have been met, including current registration

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13.3.2. For PH. D. Defences

The curriculum vitae of the first choice of External Examiner and a rationale for the choice shall be submitted to the CGSR along with notification that the student is ready for defence.

The CGSR must be notified a minimum of four weeks prior to the desired oral defence date.

At least seven days prior to their defence, students must provide a Dissertation Summary (not bound with the thesis) to the CGSR. This Summary will be published in the UMI Dissertations Abstracts International.

All arrangements for the Ph.D. thesis examination (time, date, location) are made by the academic unit. The CGSR Programs Officer forwards the thesis and any necessary documentation to the External Examiner. The contribution of the CGSR to the expenses (travel, lodging, and meals) of the External Examiner is a maximum of CDN$1000.

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13.4. Oral Examination of the Thesis

The Examining Committee, with the exception of the Ph.D. External Examiner, shall be appointed by the academic unit(s) in consultation with the CGSR Dean. For Master’s Defences, the examination is chaired by the Head of the academic unit, or designate (usually Graduate Chair). For Ph.D. Defences, the examination is chaired by the CGSR Dean or the Dean’s Designate. The Research Supervisor may not under any circumstances serve as the Chair of the Oral Examination.

The student shall make a brief (10-20 minute) presentation followed by questions from the Examining Committee, beginning with the External Examiner. Examination questions are limited to work done by the candidate for the thesis, to knowledge of matters directly related to it, and to peripheral knowledge of the subject matter.

At the conclusion of the examination, the candidate shall withdraw while the Examining Committee decides by majority vote whether the thesis as submitted and the candidate's oral defence meet the requirements for the degree.  The decision will be one of the recommendations outlined in section 13.4 of the Procedures and Guidelines.

The Committee's decision shall be reported to the Dean, CGSR Where the Examining Committee’s decision is not unanimous, and the majority view shall prevail provided the External Examiner shares the majority view. If those voting in favor of the majority opinion do not include the External Examiner, the examination shall be adjourned and the person chairing the examination shall so inform the Dean, CGSR. The Dean then shall investigate the circumstances and decide upon an appropriate course of action.

Recommendations 3 and 4 are only available to students taking the oral exam for the first time.

Students receiving Recommendation 5 will be automatically required to discontinue from their graduate program.  This decision can be appealed to the Graduate Student Affairs Committee of the CGSR.

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