Thesis Defense

Procedure for an M.Sc. Thesis Defense:

The official rules are given by FGSR (see here). The procedure is usually as follows:

  • Obtain a copy of relevant forms for an M.Sc. thesis defense from the Department Secretary.
  • Select two more supervisory committee members from the department (occasionally one may be from another department).
  • Submit a copy of the thesis to each committee member for review. Committee members should be allowed two weeks to review the thesis.
  • Student should discuss suggested changes with the committee members and make appropriate changes. If any typos or formatting problems remain, the thesis is not ready to be submitted to FGSR.
  • When all the committee members agree that the thesis is ready to go to FGSR, the following documents should be submitted to the Department Secretary, who will make copies, and then forward the relevant forms to FGSR:
    • A signed white Acceptable for Defense Form from each committee member;
    • A yellow Thesis Submission Form, which must be signed by all committee members and the head of the department.
    • A separate form to recommend an external examiner candidate.
    • Two copies of the thesis, one for FGSR review and one to be held in the CS Office and later forwarded to the external examiner, if approved by FGSR. Some external examiners may be willing to accept an electronic copy of the thesis; by default paper is expected.
  • There must be NO contact between the external examiner and the student or the supervisor regarding the thesis before the defense. The only exception to this is that the supervisor may contact potential external examineers to determine their availability to function as an external examineer. Again, there must not be any discussion of the thesis itself during this process. It is never acceptable for the student to be in contact with the external examineer. When contact before the defense is necessary, it must be arranged through FGSR.
  • Occasionally, an individual from outside the university may be recommended as the external examiner. In this case, a CV of the recommended person must accompany the above memo in order to allow FGSR to evaluate his/her qualifications.
  • Once approved, the external examiner should be allowed at least two weeks to review the thesis before the defense. Once the external examiner submits a report to FGSR, permission to schedule the defense will be given by FGSR. The student or supervisor should work with the Department Secretary to schedule a time for the defense and ensure that a Notice of Oral Defense of Thesis is be posted in the department and copies of the notice are sent to all related parties.
  • On the scheduled day, the defense will take place.
    The thesis is an oral examination. The oral examination itself will begin with a brief (at most 15 minutes) description of the thesis research. Following this presentation, the committee members will ask questions. You will be asked to leave while the committee decides on the acceptability of your thesis. The committee will choose one of three possible descriptions of your thesis:
    • passes without revision;
    • passes with revision;
    • must be rewritten by (date)

    and will choose one of three possible description of your defense:

    • acceptable;
    • not acceptable and must be repeated;
    • fails

Procedure for a Ph.D. Thesis Defense:

The procedures for a Ph.D. defense are the same as those for an M.Sc. defense, with the following exceptions:

  • the composition of the Supervisory and Examination Committees are different than those for an M.Sc. program;
  • the external examiner should be allowed at least four weeks to review the thesis, instead of two weeks;
  • the student's presentation at a Ph.D. defense is at most 30 minutes, instead of at most 15 minutes as with an M.Sc. program.
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