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Graduate Student Handbook: MSc Defense Preparation and Timeline

Master’s Students (MSc) – Preparing Your Draft Thesis and Preparing for Your Oral Defense

Congratulations on getting to this point in your program ! This means you have completed all other degree requirements, tutorials, etc. and have written your draft thesis for consideration t to proceed to oral defense. The following outlines the steps and timeline associated with those steps from starting the approval process to defend your thesis orally, to applying to convocate following a successful oral defense.

Draft Thesis Approval Submission and Timeline

Students are required to follow SGS Thesis Format requirements.

Theses from the Department of Psychology must also adhere to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) Thesis Format or another thesis format that is generally accepted in the relevant field of specialization

A student should count on having to have the thesis approved by the supervisor not less than six (6) or seven (7) weeks prior to the ‘desired’ defense date. It is the responsibility of the student to prepare the thesis early enough to allow the following:

  1. Submit your draft thesis to your supervisor for review and to provide any editing suggestions (allow two weeks for this step to occur).
  2. Following review by the supervisor and any editing requirements identified, your supervisory committee members will review the document (allow another two weeks for this step to occur). The internal/external examiner and thesis defense chair do NOT participate in this review.  Extra time may be needed if committee members are out of town or on vacation during this time period. If a committee member is away, that time cannot be counted as part of the above two (2) weeks for review so students are advised to confirm examiners’ possible away times to avoid delays.
  3. The student may then need to make required revisions identified by committee member(s) comments (this may require another two weeks to complete).
  4. Once the supervisor and thesis advisory committee have approved the draft thesis, the oral thesis examining committee members including the internal/external examiner may then be identified (excluding the chair).
  5. Students are required to submit their approved draft thesis to the PSYC Graduate Office for departmental processing thirteen (13) business days prior to their defense date. Allow 20 minutes to meet with PYSC Grad Program Administrator in HUM 227 to start preparation of the MSc Oral Defense Form.

Draft Thesis – Submission to Supervisor for Approval to Distribute to Examiners

The thesis is first given to your supervisor for review. Your supervisor must consider your thesis ready for consideration before it goes to the rest of the committee. It is part of the supervisor’s role to work with the student by making any major editorial recommendations on the first draft(s) of the thesis. Once the supervisor declares the thesis approved for distribution to the oral defense committee, the student and supervisor will identify the committee members (excluding the chair) and work together to set a date for the defense that suits all parties. 

Thesis Examining Committee Membership

  • Chairperson
  • Head of the Department (or their delegate)
  • Supervisor
  • at least one other faculty member in the Department
  • at least one faculty member from another Department

Committee Members Selection for Oral Defense

It is the responsibility of the supervisor to arrange for the internal examiner and an internal/external examiner and set a date for the thesis defense. Supervisors may also identify the head’s delegate. The supervisor may identify a chair or request that the PSYC Grad Program Administrator secure one. It is preferred that the chair be either from another PSYC program or be from another Queen’s unit.

Guidelines for Selecting Internal-External Examiners

It is the responsibility of the student’s supervisor to recommend to the Head a suitable external examiner. Appropriate internal-external examiners in the Department of Psychology meet the following criteria:

  • They are “at arm’s length” which means in this context that (1) they have no stake in the project; and (2) they are capable of independent judgment regarding the thesis.  Individuals who are or who have recently collaborated with the thesis supervisor are usually excluded from consideration.
  • They are a faculty member in another department at Queen’s University. In the exceptional case, where a suitable faculty member of another department within Queen’s University cannot be found, a member from another nearby institution may be recommended to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies for approval.
  • Their area of expertise is sufficiently related to the thesis topic to permit informed judgment beyond that of an intelligent lay person.
  • They have not seen the thesis prior to its submission for oral defense.

Draft Thesis – Submission to Committee Members for Approval to Go to Oral Defense

Upon approval from their supervisor that the thesis is ready for evaluation by the examining committee, the student may distribute their draft thesis to their oral defense internal member and head’s delegate member only (the thesis is not distributed to the internal/external examiner or the chair at this time). Committee members perform their evaluation and return their findings complete with comments within two (2) weeks of receipt of the supervisor-approved draft thesis.

Selection of Chair

Where the supervisor has recruited a chair, the supervisor will ensure that the date and time identified are acceptable to the chair. Where the supervisor requests that the Grad Prog Administrator secure a chair, the Administrator will add the chair’s name and ensure they are available to serve at the time indicated by the committee.

Starting the MSc Oral Defense Form

As soon as a student has an approved draft thesis they arrange a meeting with the PSYC Grad Program Administrator to start the administrative steps to prepare for their oral defense. The PSYC Grad Program Assistant and the student will enter the required information on the MSc Oral Defense Form including the date, time, location, committee members’ names/roles including the supervisor, head’s delegate, internal examiner and internal/external examiner. The student will obtain their supervisor’s signature on the form indicating approval to proceed to oral defense and return the signed form to the PSYC grad office for processing. The PYSC Grad Program Administrator will work on securing the chair; book HUM 228 (or alternate) for the defense; and ensure student has met all degree requirements in order to proceed to oral defense.

Permission to Defend Form Submission

All students must have completed and submitted their MSc Permission to Defend FORM FILLABLE (PDF, 46 KB) or PhD Permission to Defend FORM FILLABLE (PDF, 49 KB) to the PSYC Grad Program Administrator at: before proceeding to oral defense.

Finalizing the MSc Oral Defense Form

No less than thirteen (13) working days prior to the oral defense date the student will submit the completed MSc Permission to Defend FORM FILLABLE (PDF, 46 KB) and one printed copy of their approved draft thesis (printed on white paper, double-sided, not bound) for the chair; and provide a PDF version to the PSYC Graduate Program Administrator for final processing. The PSYC Grad Prog Administrator will secure the PSYC Coordinator of Graduate Studies’ signature on the MSc Oral Defense form indicating approval to proceed to oral defense.

Confirmation of Defense and Instructions to Committee Members

When the above steps have been completed, the PSYC Grad Program Administrator will confirm the oral defense via email confirmation to the student, examining committee members, and the SGS Thesis Coordinator. The email confirmation will also provide oral defense preparation next steps required for each of the student, chair, and examiners; and will note Thesis Report submission requirements and associated dates. 

Co-Authorship Form for Completion by Student

Where applicable, students complete the Co-Authorship Form, obtain signatures, and bring the completed form to the oral exam.

Oral Defense

The oral defense occurs on the date/time as indicated on the MSc Oral Defense Form (link to come). See SGS Format of Master’s Oral Defense for details on the process.

Remote Oral Defense Instructions

At this time all oral defenses occur remotely either via Zoom or Teams. The chair of your committee will advise which format is being used and will provide all committee members with the appropriate link to connect to the defense.  Chairs are advised to refer to How to Use Teams for Thesis Defenses (115 KB) to assist with setting up the oral defense.

Oral Thesis Examination Outcome Categories

At each oral thesis examination, the examining committee will reach one of the three outcome categories as stipulated by the School of Graduate Studies:

  1. Passed;
  2. Referred; or
  3. Failed

Evaluation of Thesis Form Submission

The Chair provides each examiner with a PSYC Evaluation of Thesis form, Examiners complete their form and submit it to the chair either at the end of the oral defense or via email shortly thereafter. Evaluation forms are retained in the PSYC Graduate Office for consideration for the annual competition.

Chair’s Responsibilities After the Defense

Following completion of the Result Form, the Chair returns all oral defense documentation to the PSYC Grad Program Administrator for final processing to SGS. 

Supervisor’s Approval for Submission of Final Approved Thesis to QSpace

Once the student has made any revisions required to their thesis as identified by the examining committee, they submit this final version to their supervisor for final approval. When the supervisor determines the final thesis meets the requirements as identified by the examining committee, that supervisor sends an email to: and copy the student indicating that: All edits required by the thesis examining committee at the oral examination have now been met and this thesis is APPROVED and eligible for loading to QSpace

Student’s Upload of Final Approved Thesis to QSpace

SGS will provide the student with instructions on how to load their final approved thesis to QSpace following receipt of the supervisor’s APPROVAL email as noted above.

UMI and Permission Forms Completion

These processes are performed by the student online as part of the upload to QSpace of the final approved thesis. 

SGS Confirmation of Permission to Convocate

SGS will provide the student with instructions will forward a letter of degree completion to the student and copy the department; provide information about any tuition refunds where applicable; provide information about how to apply to convocate, and any other completion details as required immediately following the permission to load final thesis to QSpace notification.



Angie Maltby
Graduate Program Administrator

Department of Psychology, 62 Arch Street
Queen's University
Kingston, ON K7L 3N6
Tel:613-533-2872 Fax: 613-533-2499