Selecting the Examination Chair

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The chair is appointed by the Dean as a representative of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Securing chairs for doctoral examinations can be challenging. Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies will only be able to proceed with recruiting an examination chair if the Oral Defence booking is finalized by the Doctoral Exams office at least 4 weeks in advance.

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 Report Form.

Appointment of the Examination Chair

Normally, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies will confirm an appropriate faculty member to serve as chair of the Final Doctoral Examination. The task of finding a suitable chair is undertaken after the Oral Defence has been scheduled.

Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies will send an electronic copy of the dissertation to the chair. The research supervisor is required to deliver a hardcopy of the dissertation to the chair, if requested.

Eligibility Requirements for Examination Chair

The Chair must:

  • hold an appointment as Full, Associate or Emeritus Professor at UBC.
  • not be affiliated with the candidate's graduate program and share no departmental affiliation(s) with the research Ssupervisor(s).
  • be at arm's length from both the candidate and research supervisor(s).

Note: the chair does not need to have specialized knowledge of the material being examined.

Arm's Length Requirements for Examination Chair

The chair must not be closely associated with the candidate (now or in the past) as a:

  • colleague,
  • supervisor,
  • member of the supervisory committee,
  • collaborator,
  • co-author,
  • employer, or the like.

Nor should the chair be associated with the research supervisor(s) as a:

  • former student,
  • supervisor, or
  • current research collaborator.

The Chair’s Report

The examination chair is expected to submit a detailed and searching report to Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies following the examination. A personalized Chair Report form template is provided to the chair in advance of the Oral Defence and is to be filled out and submitted to Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies by the examination chair within one week of the Oral Defence. The report template includes space for the chair to comment on the examination proceedings. The chair's report to the Dean should summarize the examiners' comments and should include any remarks that the chair may wish to add that may help the Dean in reaching a decision on whether to nominate the candidate to Senate for the degree. Comments on how well the candidate responded to the questions from the external examiner are particularly useful. The report should include the distribution of votes. If appropriate, recommendations may be made for additional evaluation procedures. The chair should feel free to make personal observations.

The completed report will be circulated to the examining committee members, the candidate’s graduate program, and the candidate’s Faculty Associate Dean by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. The Chair’s Report is considered a confidential correspondence between the examining committee and the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and is not shared with the candidate.

Interested in Chairing a Doctoral Examination?

If you are a UBC Faculty member who would like to contribute your time and wisdom to UBC’s Doctoral Examinations by chairing an Oral Defence, please see the list of Defences in need of a chair under Chair an Exam.


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