School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Stage 2 – Defense: Preparing for Your Oral Examination

The student being examined must be present in person at Queen's University for their oral thesis examination.

The defense is a public presentation and discussion of the findings of the research program are conducted before a committee of selected faculty. This event marks the first time that the candidate truly expounds on and defends the meaning and significance of his or her research and knowledge of the discipline to peers and colleagues alike. Normally, it is open to attendance by all members of the Queen's community.

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.

The designated person in the student’s home department (the candidate, the  supervisor, the graduate coordinator or graduate assistant)  will schedule the Oral Thesis Examination by filling out the Oral Thesis Examination Form (Ph.D.; Master's). This form outlines the composition of the Thesis Examining Committee and the other details of the thesis examination.

  • For doctoral students, the completed and signed form must reach the School of Graduate Studies no later than 25 working days before the tentative examination date.
  • Master’s students must contact the Graduate Assistant or Graduate Coordinator in the Department for this deadline.

In preparation for the oral thesis examination, the candidate must submit one copy of the thesis, to each member of the Thesis Examining Committee including the Chairperson.

Distribution of the thesis copies to the examining committee must follow the same deadlines as outlined above.

Doctoral students:  A PDF copy of the thesis must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies ( to be reviewed for formatting. The student will be notified of any required corrections. 

Oral Thesis Examination: Doctoral Students

Composition of the Thesis Examining Committee — Doctoral Programs:

  • Chairperson - (selection made by the Thesis Coordinator)
  • Head of the Department (or delegate)
  • Supervisor(s)
  • At least one other member of the Department
  • At least one faculty member from another Department
  • An external examiner from outside Queen's University

With the exception of the Chairperson for Doctoral Programs, it is the responsibility of the Department to select, verify eligibility, and invite all members of the Thesis Examining Committee.

Important: Final approval of the Thesis Examining Committee members lies with the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies.

Confidential Report Form: The Thesis Coordinator circulates the oral examination particulars and confidential report forms to each member of the Thesis Examining Committee by e-mail.

The reports must be submitted (in confidence), to the Thesis Coordinator for circulation to the Chairperson of the committee by the deadline date indicated. Each member of the Thesis Examining Committee must indicate whether the examination should be held, and if the candidate is permitted to defend the thesis.

Oral Thesis Examination Outcome Categories: At each oral thesis examination, the examining committee will reach one of the three outcome categories below:

  1. Passed
  2. Referred
  3. Failed

These outcome categories are outlined in full detail in the Graduate School Regulations.

Oral Thesis Examination Form - Ph.D (PDF, 187 KB)

Permission of Co-Authors

Copyright permission is required:

  • if your thesis contains someone else’s work; text, figures, maps, images, questionnaires, photos, etc.; AND/OR
  • if your thesis contains your own previously published materials (e.g. journal article) or material (e.g. a chapter, an article) that was co-written with another author.

You must obtain written permission to reproduce copyright material from the copyright owner (e.g. journal publisher and/or co-authors). Any copyrighted material including photos, pictures, charts, graphs, maps, etc. must receive full citation within your thesis, on the page of the thesis on which the material appears, or in a footnote or reference section.

For more information about copyright, go to: