Preparing for the Oral Defence

Candidates and supervisors must review the information available under Final Oral Defence to ensure they are aware of the structure and format of a Final Oral Defence at UBC. Attending the defence of a candidate in a field close to one's own is an excellent way for candidates to learn what to expect. Please see Upcoming Exams for a list of scheduled Doctoral Oral Defences.

Oral Defence Practice Sessions

If at all feasible, candidates are encouraged to book a practice session in the exam room. This provides the candidate with an opportunity to become familiar with the room, the audiovisual equipment, and to sort out any technological issues before the date of the Oral Defence.

If the Oral Defence is scheduled to take place at the Graduate Student Centre, candidates can schedule a practice session by emailing a few potential dates and times to the doctoral exams team. To give room booking priority to Candidates seeking to book Oral Defences, practice sessions can only be booked less than 4 weeks in advance.

Students planning to have a hybrid exam (in person with an examiner required for quorum attending remotely) should definitely book a practice in the exam space to be sure all of the technology is working. 

For virtual defences, candidates should be sure they are familiar with Zoom and do at least one practice session in the Zoom format. See UBC Zoom Student Guide and Zoom Video Conferencing for more information. 

Appointment of the Examination Chair

Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies will normally begin the task of finding a suitable examination chair after the Oral Defence date, time and location have been finalized. Information about the role of the examination chair and eligibility requirements can be found under Selecting the Examination Chair.

Once an examination chair has been confirmed, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies will notify the research supervisor, candidate and graduate program by email. Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies will provide the chair with an electronic (PDF) version of the dissertation. If the chair requests a paper copy of the dissertation then the research supervisor will be required to provide one.

Recording the Examination

Any candidate wishing to make a recording, either video or audio, must have the request approved by the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Please email your request to the doctoral exams team at least one week prior to the Final Oral Defence along with supporting evidence that all members of the examination committee have agreed to the recording. Only the presentation portion of the examination can be recorded; the question and answer and in camera sessions are never recorded. Recording of Virtual Defences in Zoom is not permitted.

Please note that the examination chair has the right to discontinue the recording if it is interfering with the proper conduct of the examination.

Virtual defences may have an audience; it is helpful if you indicate expected audience numbers for a virtual defence at the time you submit the booking request.

Examination Reminder Email

Approximately one week prior to the Final Oral Defence, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies will send an examination reminder email to all members of the examining committee and the graduate program. This email will include a copy of the external examiner’s report, Chair’s Report form template, and Doctoral Dissertation Approval form. The External Examiner's Report is confidential and its contents must not be discussed with the candidate prior to the Final Oral Defence.

The Examination Reminder email is not sent until the External Examiner's Report has been received by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and the Candidate's exam has been approved to proceed to Oral Defence. The Dean and Associate Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies reserve the right to postpone the Final Oral Defence if the external examiner's report has not been received three business days prior to the scheduled exam date.

Preparation of Examination Documents

Customized examination documents will be sent to the candidate and research supervisor(s) with the Chair Notification email.  For In-Person exams, supervisors are responsible for printing and bringing to the Defence the following documents:

  • One copy of the Exam Instructions,
  • The personalized Chair Report form,
  • The personalized Doctoral Dissertation Approval form.

The Candidate may make copies of an examination programme for the examining committee and audience members to bring those copies to the Defence. Examination programmes are not required, and they do not need to be checked by G+PS.

Optional Doctoral Examination Programme

Doctoral candidates are no longer required to include an Examination Programme in the Oral Defence.

The examination programme is a one-page, double-sided document intended to provide the examination committee and audience members with a little information about the candidate, the work s/he has done as a doctoral student at UBC, and the composition of the examining committee. Including an examination programme in the Oral Defence is no longer required by G+PS. However, candidates, research supervisors, or graduate programs are still welcome to create and distribute an programme should they wish to do so. For those seeking guidance, a template is available. You do not need to submit a draft to G+PS for approval.

Applying for Graduation

In order to graduate, doctoral candidates must submit a formal application for graduation. This application can be made at any point in the examination process and must be made before the published deadlines. Please see Graduation for more details.


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