Selecting University Examiners

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Two university examiners approved by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies must be present at the Final Oral Defence in order to meet the requirements for quorum

Role of the University Examiners

  • Assess the quality and significance of the dissertation.
  • Evaluate the performance of the candidate at the Final Oral Defence.
  • Contribute to the recommendation to the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies on the conferral of the degree.

Eligibility Requirements for University Examiners

  • Both university examiners should have expertise in a field closely related to the dissertation research.
  • Both university examiners should hold an appointment as a full, associate, or emeritus professor and be a member of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (UBC-V) or Supervisory Member of the College of Graduate Studies (UBC-O).
  • At least one of the two university examiners must not be affiliated with the graduate program of the candidate or the department(s) of the research supervisor(s).

Please contact the Doctoral Exams team to discuss the nomination of any other nominee who does not clearly meet the above eligibility criteria, but who has experience with the supervision and/or examination of doctoral students,  prior to submitting the Approval of University Examiners for Doctoral Dissertation form.

Arm's Length Requirements for University Examiners

  • University examiners must not be (or have been) members of the supervisory committee, or have been connected with the formal planning or examination of the dissertation research.
  • They should not have any real or perceived personal, professional, or financial conflict of interest with the candidate or research supervisor(s). Please refer to UBC Policy SC3 for more information.
  • They should not have been a previous trainee of the research supervisor.
  • Except in special circumstances (fully justified in writing) at least one must not have been a research collaborator and/or co-author with the supervisor(s) within the past 6 years, regardless of whether the collaborations relate to the candidate’s dissertation work.

Please consult with the Doctoral Exams team in advance if you are unsure whether a prospective university examiner satisfies the arm’s length requirements.

Confirming the University Examiners

The completed Approval of University Examiners for Doctoral Dissertation form must be received by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies a minimum of four weeks prior to the intended date of the Final Oral Defence. University examiners need to be in place before the defence can be booked. Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies reserves the right to postpone the examination if this form is not received on time.

The consent of the proposed university examiners to serve in this role and their availability to attend the Oral Defence must be confirmed by the research supervisor prior to the submission of the form. The candidate’s graduate program is responsible for recommending well-qualified, objective examiners who have agreed to serve in this role. A brief rationale of how the proposed examiners’ fields of expertise relate to the candidate’s area of research must be provided.

Once approved by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, each university examiner will receive a confirmation e-mail with either an attached copy of the dissertation or a link to download if it is a large file. This email will be copied to the candidate, research supervisor and graduate program staff.

Independence of Assessment

All examiners are expected to formulate an independent opinion of the work. University examiners must maintain an arm’s length relationship from the candidate and research supervisor(s) throughout the examination process. They must not discuss the candidate's research with either the candidate or any member of the supervisory committee until the Final Oral Defence begins.

Distributing the Dissertation

A PDF of the dissertation or a link to the file download (the same version sent to the external examiner) will be sent to the university examiners when their appointment is confirmed by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. In the event that a university examiner requests a paper copy, the research supervisor will be responsible for providing it.


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Next: Scheduling the Oral Defence