The thesis is a major requirement of most programs and must be expressed in a satisfactory literary form consistent with the discipline concerned and display a scholarly approach to the subject and a thorough knowledge of it.
The thesis must be defended in an oral thesis examination. Parts of the thesis may be prepared in a form suitable for separate publication, but overall it must comprise a coherent account of a unified research project rather than a collection of loosely connected studies. Publication or acceptance for publication of research results prior to presentation of the thesis in no way supersedes the University's judgment of the work at a thesis defense. A critical review of previous work related to the subject and a concluding summation of the contribution made in the thesis to scholarship in the chosen field must be included in the thesis.
The master's thesis should demonstrate that the candidate is capable of original and independent work; that of a doctoral student must be original and be of such value as to merit publication.
Further guidance on the specific requirements of the Department with respect to the thesis may be obtained from the student's supervisor. Many departments require their students to submit a thesis proposal for approval before the student begins work on it. A student engaged in research for a thesis must register it as a course, Master's Thesis 899 or Doctoral Thesis 999.
All graduate students working on a thesis must register for each term until they have completed the requirements for their degree program. Please note that requirements are considered complete when one electronic copy of the thesis, in PDF format revised as recommended by the Thesis Examining Committee and finally approved by the supervisor/committee, is submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, via the online "E-thesis" submission process.
Exceptions to submission of an electronic copy of the thesis will be made by the School of Graduate Studies on a case-by-case basis. If it is decided that no electronic copy can be submitted, at least one paper copy revised as recommended by the Thesis Examining Committee and finally approved by the supervisor/committee must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies in fulfillment of degree requirements.
At the time of submission for completion of degree requirements the student may also submit up to two unbound paper copies of the thesis. The paper copy or copies will be bound by the School of Graduate Studies. The bound copy or copies will be returned to the student and to the thesis supervisor.
The thesis must conform to one of the two formats described in the information sheets, General Forms of Theses, which may be obtained from the website of the School of Graduate Studies, http://www.queensu.ca/sgs.
Membership of all Thesis Examining Committees
Normally, with the exception of the “external” examiner on a doctoral candidate’s thesis examining committee (see below), thesis examining committees shall comprise Queen’s University faculty who are members of the School of Graduate Studies. The online calendar of the School of Graduate Studies contains the most up to date listing of faculty members of the School. The appointment of thesis examining committee members who are NOT members of the School must be approved in advance by the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies.
Visitors at the oral thesis examination
At the oral thesis examination, other members of the academic staff may attend but may question the candidate only at the discretion of the Chair. Only the members of the committee may be present during the preliminary and post-examination sessions. Visitors outside of the Examining Committee may attend the thesis examination with the permission of the candidate, the Head/Director of Department/School and the Chair of the Examining Committee.
Outcome categories of the oral thesis examination
At the thesis examination the examining committee will reach one of the three decisions listed below and record it on the “Thesis Examination Results Form”:
i Passed A thesis is passed if it is acceptable in its present form or pending minor revisions. A thesis may be passed if no substantive changes are required. Changes in the form of corrections to include typographical or grammatical errors, minor modifications to the thesis, editorial revisions or the like, may be recommended with a thesis classified as passed. The Chair should indicate clearly whether or not some changes are required before final acceptance of the thesis by the School of Graduate Studies. A list of the required revisions must be provided by the Chair to the student and the supervisor and the completion of the revisions must be certified to the School of Graduate Studies by the thesis supervisor or other designated person.
ii Referred A thesis is referred if it is not acceptable in its present form, but could be acceptable pending major revisions. A thesis will be referred if it requires substantive changes such as rewriting a chapter, reinterpretation of data, corrections to calculations or additional research in order to attain acceptable standards of coherence and integrity in argument and presentation. The Chair, in consultation with the committee, may decide to reconvene the examining committee and hold another oral exam.
The examining committee may also use the referred category if it determines that the oral examination itself, either separate from or in conjunction with the written thesis, is unsatisfactory. In such cases, a second oral examination must be held, and the committee must then return a decision of either “pass” or “failed”.
In all cases of referral, the nature of the revisions and/or additional work, and/or the holding of a second oral examination, must be specified in writing by the Chair to avoid dispute or ambiguity. When outlining the revisions and/or additional work required, the Chair must be as specific as possible. These comments will be passed on to the candidate by the School of Graduate Studies as conditions to be met for the thesis to be passed.
Any outlined revisions must be certified by the Chair or delegate as having been completed satisfactorily. Usually, this certification is delegated to at least two members of the Committee. In all cases of referral, the examining committee remains in being until it has agreed that the thesis is either passed or failed.
NOTES ON THE "REFERRED" CATEGORY
1 If the committee returns two or more votes for referral it may hold another examination after the candidate has carried out further research and/or rewritten the thesis, but normally not more than one year later.
2 Candidates have up to twelve months to complete revisions to their thesis but should be encouraged to do so as soon as possible. In cases where the thesis has to be re-submitted to the examining committee, and/or a second oral examination has to be held, this has to be done no later than twelve months from the date of the first oral examination.
3 A thesis that has been defended by oral examination can be submitted once more only in revised form. A candidate whose thesis does not satisfy the examining committee on the second submission will be failed (see Withdrawal on Academic Grounds).
iii Failed A thesis is failed if it is unacceptable to the discipline even with substantive revisions. If the committee returns two or more votes showing failure, the committee will advise that the student be required to withdraw on academic grounds. The student will be notified of the result immediately by the Chair of the committee and the decision confirmed in writing by the School of Graduate Studies.
Completion of degree requirements after the oral thesis examination
The School of Graduate Studies will notify the candidate of the successful completion of the degree requirements only after submission to the School by the candidate, of one electronic copy of the thesis, in PDF format, revised as recommended by the Thesis Examining Committee and finally approved by the supervisor/committee. Submission of the electronic copy is done via the "E-thesis" process. Exceptions to submission of an electronic copy of the thesis will be made by the School of Graduate Studies on a case-by-case basis. If it is decided that no electronic copy can be submitted, at least one paper copy revised as recommended by the Thesis Examining Committee and finally approved by the supervisor/committee must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies in fulfillment of degree requirements. Tuition fees will be charged up to and including the month of receipt of the final approved copy of the thesis.
Archiving/Binding of Theses
Archival copy of thesis: The electronic copy of the final approved thesis copy submitted to the School will ultimately become the archival copy, to be placed in the archives of Theses Canada, National Library of Canada, and Queen’s University archives. All format and pagination requirements must be met before the School of Graduate Studies accept the thesis in fulfillment of degree requirements.
Paper copies of thesis: At the time of submission for completion of degree requirements, the student may also submit up to two unbound paper copies of the thesis. The paper copy or copies will be bound by the School of Graduate Studies. The bound copy or copies will be returned to the student and to the thesis supervisor. Paper copies submitted for binding must be presented in order of pagination in separate envelopes.
Circulation of Theses
Any graduate student registering in a degree program at Queen's University involving research is advised that as a condition of being awarded the degree the recipient will be required to grant a license of partial copyright to the University and to the National Library of Canada for any thesis submitted as part of the degree program. As soon as the thesis has been accepted in fulfillment of degree requirements by the School of Graduate Studies, the thesis is also automatically placed in Queen's University digital repository, QSpace (unless a restriction has been requested; see below). QSpace is the Queen's University Research and Learning Repository. Materials deposited in Qspace are instantly and permanently accessible worldwide through the Internet.
1 This makes the thesis available for further research only. Publication for commercial purposes remains the sole right of the author.
2 If the thesis is restricted, this is to be stated with the abstract when submitted. The terms and conditions of the university's licence agreements are available online as part of the "E-thesis" submission process. The student's signature is collected online. The university's licence agreement form, and all other required forms, are also available from the website of the School of Graduate Studies. Students who wish to obtain legal advice concerning their subsequent rights are advised to do so prior to signing the agreements. Signing of the licence agreements is normally done after the content of the thesis has been delineated and the importance of copyright and/or patents is fully understood.
Restriction of Thesis
If, at the time of submitting the thesis for completion of degree requirements, the student elects to protect any rights to immediate commercial publication, or to obtain a patent which may arise from the research, or as a result of any contract made with a third party, an application must be made in writing to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies requesting that the thesis be withheld from binding, microfilming or deposit in any library:
i for an initial period of six months (no reason or explanation required).
ii for additional periods of six months, with written explanation of why the restriction is required. The total period of restriction will not exceed two years. The student must submit any request for extension of the restriction one month prior to the termination of the previous period. The student and/or supervisor may be required to appear before the Dean of the Graduate School to justify the extension of the restriction. The extension will be ruled on by the Dean, who may seek the advice of informed experts such as the Advisory Research Committee or PARTEQ within the six-month period. Subsequent requests for extension must follow the same procedure.
1 Titles of restricted theses may be released upon request.
2 It is recognized that the student has the right to withhold the thesis by deferring the thesis examination.
Absence of Examiners
In the event that a faculty member of an Examination Committee cannot attend the Oral Thesis Examination in person owing to illness or other unexpected absence, one of the following alternate arrangements should be made by the Department Head/Program Director, or the Graduate Coordinator, or other delegated departmental faculty member:
- Determine if another faculty member can serve on the committee and attend the oral thesis examination at the scheduled meeting time (in the case of the Chair, any internal departmental member, or the internal-external).
- Determine if the examiner who cannot attend in person could participate in the oral thesis examination via teleconference or videoconference or other interactive process (e.g. SkypeTM). If so, these arrangements must be made by the Department or Program.
- If the above two alternative modes of participation are not possible by the examiner, a comprehensive report including questions for the candidate and an indication of which outcome category the examiner would place the thesis in must be provided by that examiner to the Chairperson. The Chairperson will ask another member of the committee to read the report and pose the questions at the oral examination on the missing examiner’s behalf.
For a Master’s oral thesis examination, one of these appropriate steps can almost always be implemented entirely by the department. There may be cases where additional constraints may require the approval of the School of Graduate Studies (SGS), such as, if it is proposed that a faculty member who is not also a member of the SGS serve on the committee so that the examination may proceed as scheduled. For a Doctoral oral thesis examination, any changes to the committee structure or timing of the exam must be approved by the SGS.
In the case where none of these alternatives work, or if more than one member of the examination committee is cannot attend due to illness or other unexpected absenceor if the student cannot attend due to illness or other unexpected absence, the oral thesis examination must be rescheduled. The examination must be rescheduled without delay and must be held as soon as possible.