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.

Doctoral Examination Programme

The Doctoral 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. The completed Programme must be submitted to Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at least 4 weeks before the date of the scheduled exam. Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies will fill in the details of the Examination Chair and External Examiner. It is the responsibility of the Candidate to ensure all other necessary information is complete and accurate.

The Programme must be submitted electronically as an MS Word file to the Doctoral Exams team. Please use the template provided. PLEASE NOTE: G+PS only reviews the front cover of the programme (right-hand-side of the second page). The candidate is responsible for proofing and formatting the other sections of the programme. 

The completed Examination Programme is a public document. An electronic version of the Programme will be circulated to the Candidate’s Graduate Program and Examination Committee members in advance of the exam and printed copies will be provided in the examination room. Care should be taken to check the contents and spelling. If the Candidate plans to patent or license an invention or discovery arising from the thesis research, the Programme should be carefully vetted to ensure information relevant to protection of IP rights is not revealed. Preparation of this document is the Candidate's responsibility, but it must be approved by the Candidate's Research Supervisor before it is submitted to Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

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 in room 200 or 203 then 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 be booked a maximum of 4 weeks in advance.

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.

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

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, the Examination Programme, 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 is not received three business days prior to the scheduled exam date.

Preparation of Examination Documents

If the Defence is taking place at the Graduate Student Centre in room 200 or 203 then Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies will provide printed copies of the following documents in the exam room:

If the Candidate wishes to make copies of the Examination Programme available to audience members then s/he is asked to bring those copies to the Defence.

If the Defence is taking place outside of the Graduate Student Centre then the Research Supervisor or Graduate Program will be responsible for providing printed copies of all documents listed above. Electronic copies of these documents will provided by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies in the weeks prior to the scheduled exam.

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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