Examination Committee

The Examination Committee normally consists of:

All Supervisory Committee members are welcome to attend the defence, but a maximum of three may participate as members of the Examination Committee.

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)

Normally, only those individuals physically present in the examination room can be counted for quorum. 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.
  • Participate in the final oral examination whenever possible. If not possible, submit questions to be asked of the Candidate by the Research Supervisor.

Role of the University Examiners and Supervisory Committee Members

  • Represent her/his 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 her/his 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 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 her/his 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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