Examination Committee

The examination committee normally consists of:

A maximum of three supervisory committee members (including supervisors and co-supervisors) may participate as members of the examination committee. Additional supervisory committee members are welcome to attend the Oral Defence as members of the audience.

Quorum for Final Oral Defence

A quorum is the minimum attendance required. For the Final Doctoral Oral Defence, the quorum consists of:

  • the examination chair
  • two approved university examiners
  • two members of the candidate's supervisory committee (usually the research supervisor and one other committee member)

For in person exams, examiners required for quorum should be physically present. The external examiner is welcome to attend either in person or remotely. The third examining committee member may attend remotely.

Examining committee members required for quorum may be able to attend remotely. If you have a plan for a Hybrid Exam, please discuss it with the Doctoral Exams Team well in advance, so that we can be sure there is appropriate tech available and that the exam will run smoothly.

If an examination committee member is planning to attend the Oral Defence remotely, please see Remote Attendance on the Final Oral Defence page. The Final Oral Defence procedures are outlined in the Exam Instructions.

Roles and Responsibilities of the Examining Committee Members

Role of the External Examiner

  • Assess whether the dissertation meets the criteria for a successful dissertation, as outlined in the Instructions for the External Examiner's Report and with reference to the expectations regarding the scope and structure of a doctoral dissertation at UBC.
  • Provide a review of the strengths and weaknesses of the dissertation and recommend revisions (as appropriate).
  • Make a recommendation to the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies on whether the candidate should proceed to Final Oral Defence.
  • Provide questions to be asked at the Final Oral Defence. If the external examiner is not able to attend, these questions will be asked by the research supervisor.
  • Participate in the final oral examination whenever possible. 

Role of the University Examiners and Supervisory Committee Members

  • Represent their academic discipline.
  • Scrutinize the dissertation in preparation for the Oral Defence.
  • Formulate an independent opinion of the work.
  • Question the candidate at the defence about the contents of the dissertation and their relevant knowledge.
  • Participate in the in camera discussion and provide an opinion on the recommendation to the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Special Responsibility of the Research Supervisor

  • At the Final Oral Defence, be prepared to put to the Candidate any questions raised in the external examiner's report (if the external examiner is not participating).

Special Responsibilities of the University Examiners

  • Represent the broad academic standards of UBC.
  • Maintain an arm’s-length relationship with the candidate throughout the examination process.
  • Avoid discussing the candidate's research with either the candidate or any member of the supervisory committee until the Oral Defence begins.
  • Evaluate whether the candidate's work and presentation meet their expectations for UBC's standards of excellence.

Role of the Examination Chair

  • Represent the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the Final Oral Defence.
  • Ensure that the exam proceeds according to UBC policies (as outlined in the Exam Instructions).
  • Ensure that any questions raised by the external examiner are addressed by the candidate during the question period.
  • Moderate the in camera discussion of the examining committee and convey the outcome to the candidate.
  • Submit a report on the Final Doctoral Examination to the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies using the Chair's Report Form template.


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