SGS Examination procedures

Because I always need to look this up in the middle of the graduate studies handbook, the procedures for defence…

The forms

All forms can be emailed to

The defence


The Chair:

  • Welcomes all in attendance;
  • States that this Thesis Oral Defence is a senior academic event in the School of Graduate Studies and is a formal examination before awarding the degree of Master of Arts;
  • Introduces the student;
  • Asks the Thesis Examination Committee members to introduce themselves in this order: the External Examiner (if applicable), the Faculty Members of the Supervisory Committee, and the Supervisor
  • States that all members of the Thesis Examination Committee have read the thesis and submitted an assessment report on the thesis;
  • States that the student will present, in a thesis presentation, the essence of their thesis.

Thesis Presentation

In a maximum of 20 minutes, the student summarizes the thesis’ major objectives, content, results, and conclusions.

Oral Defence – Questioning

The Chair invites the Examiners to pose their questions. Before the questioning begins, the Chair states the procedures for questioning, which are (Note: the public audience are observers and are not a part of the examination):

  • Each Examiner will pose their questions, as desired;
  • Comments and discussion not directly related to the questions must be saved for the post-defence meeting of the examiners;
  • The order of questioning is:
    • External examiner, if applicable;
    • The members of the Supervisory Committee;
    • Supervisor;
  • The Chair does not normally ask questions;
  • After one initial round of questions, the Examiners may ask additional questions in a second round, and so on.

Making a Decision

After questioning has finished, the Chair excuses the student, asking him or her and the audience to leave the room so that the Thesis Examination Committee can meet in private. Both the oral and written components are assessed. When the student has

  • The Chair outlines the two options for the Oral component for a decision –
    • Pass
    • Fail (retake at a later date; students may retake one time)
  • The Chair outlines the five options for the Thesis component for a decision –
    • Pass as submitted (i.e., no changes needed)
    • Pass With Minor Revisions – The thesis is passed on the condition that the student makes revisions, to the satisfaction of the Supervisor, or another as authorized by the Thesis Examination Committee.
    • Pass With Major Revisions – The thesis requires substantial revisions that must be
      completed to the satisfaction of the entire Supervisory Committee.
    • Defer – The Thesis Examination Committee defers a decision until the student makes major changes to the thesis. The student may be required to go through the Thesis Oral Defence process a second time.
    • Fail – The thesis is failed and the student must withdraw from the University of Lethbridge.
  • The Chair asks a Committee Member to make a motion that the decision be the Oral component is Pass/Fail. For the written thesis, using the Thesis Assessment Report decisions as a guide, the Chair asks a Committee Member to make a second motion that the decision be Pass, Pass With Revisions, Defer, or Fail.
  • The Chair asks for a vote on each motion. Discussion occurs on a decision, and the Chair endeavours to facilitate consensus but does not vote. Ideally the vote is unanimous, but the motion may pass with one dissenting vote, provided this is not the vote of the External Examiner, Co-Supervisor, or Supervisor. In the event that a failed thesis defence represents the second attempt to defend the thesis, the student must withdraw from the program, and the Thesis Examination Committee must provide a written justification for the decision to fail the thesis defence. When the decision has been made, the Thesis Examination Committee then discusses, if applicable, whether the student must retake the oral component and the nature of the required revisions to the thesis and how the student will complete them. Students have the right to appeal the decision to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. The decision of the Dean is final.

Informing the Student

After the Thesis Examination Committee has made their decision and finished their discussion, the Chair:

  • Invites the student back into the room;
  • Informs the student of the committee’s decision;
  • If necessary, tells the student of the thesis revisions required and the plan for the student to complete them;
  • Reminds the student that a PDF copy of the thesis must be submitted after the completed revisions have been reviewed and approved by the Supervisor(s) (or Supervisory Committee members if required);
  • If the student passes, congratulates the student, and thanks the Thesis Examination Committee members;
  • If the student passes, ensures the Thesis Examination Committee signs the Approval/Signature form (a sample is provided in the appendices);
  • Adjourns the Thesis Oral Defence.

Post Examination Procedure

  • Immediately following the Thesis Oral Defence, the Thesis Examination Chair completes the Thesis Examination Report form and submits this form plus the original Examiners’ Assessment of Readiness to Defend forms to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies.
  • The student completes any required thesis revisions and informs the Supervisor that the revised thesis is ready for his/her review.
  • When the Supervisor (or in some situations, members of the Supervisory Committee) is satisfied with the revisions made to the thesis, he/she completes and signs the Recommendation of the Award of the Degree form (this form has two signature blocks, one for the Supervisor and one for the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies).
  • The Supervisor submits the completed signed copy of the Recommendation of the Award of the Degree form to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies for final approval.
  • When the School of Graduate Studies receives the signed copy of the recommendation of the Award of the Degree form from the Supervisor and up-to-date C.V. from the student, an account in the e-thesis system will be created and an account notification email will be sent to the student.
  • The student may then access his/her e-thesis account and submit his/her PDF copy of the thesis. Instructions for submitting a PDF copy of the thesis via the e-thesis system are available at
  • The Dean of the School of Graduate Studies completes a brief review of the PDF copy of the thesis, and if there are no further revisions required, signs the Recommendation of the Award of the Degree form. If there are revisions required, then the student will receive email notification via the e-thesis system. The student notifies the School
    of Graduate Studies after completing the revisions. The student will receive an email confirming decanal approval of the submitted PDF copy of the thesis. The student may proceed with thesis binding, if desired.

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