Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

All Ph.D. students of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry have to complete a Comprehensive Examination within the first 24 months from the start of their Ph.D. studies. The Comprehensive Exam comprises a written component and an oral component and will test

(a) the Ph.D. candidate’s general knowledge of chemistry and biochemistry and (b) depth of knowledge in the subdiscipline of his/her research, e.g., protein biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry, and (c) skills to express his/her thoughts in a logical fashion orally and in writing. For Ph.D. candidates whose program of studies has a major focus beyond the traditional boundaries of chemistry or biochemistry, the expected/tested knowledge may be extended to other fields, such as physics or biology, and the expected background knowledge in chemistry and biochemistry may be reduced.

The Comprehensive Examination Committee is composed of the members of the Ph.D. Supervisory Committee, plus a Chair. The Chair is a faculty member of the University of Lethbridge from a discipline related to the student’s research. The Chair is recommended by the Supervisory Committee and appointed by the Doctoral Program Committee. At least four weeks prior to the Comprehensive Examination, the Supervisor recommends, in writing, the membership of the Comprehensive Examination Committee to the Doctoral Program Committee. The dates for the written and oral component of the comprehensive examination are set by the Comprehensive Examination Committee.

(i)         The Comprehensive Examination Committee will identify four general areas of chemistry or biochemistry that are not directly part of the doctoral research. Each committee member should suggest at least one area to the Examination Committee. The student will be provided with these four areas and will be given three weeks to prepare for the written and oral exams.

 

Examination Component:

Description:

Written Component

  • Normally, three weeks after receiving the list of four areas, the student has to write the written component of the Comprehensive Examination.
  • The questions for the written component will be set based on knowledge from these four general areas of chemistry or biochemistry by the Comprehensive Examination Committee.
  • The student will receive the questions for the written component and will be given 3 hours time to complete his/her written answers. 

Oral Component

  • Normally, within one week after the written component, the student will be examined orally on his/her written answers as well as more generally on the four areas of chemistry or biochemistry selected for the examination.
  • The student may also be examined on any general background in chemistry or biochemistry.
  • The oral component of the examination is closed to the public. Upon permission of the Examination Committee, faculty members of the University of Lethbridge can attend the oral component, but are not allowed to ask questions or participate in discussions.
  • The maximum time of the oral component is two hours.
 

The grading of the Comprehensive Examination is pass/fail. Directly after the oral component, the student and any attending faculty members that are not members of the Examination Committee will be asked to leave the examination room. In a closed session, the Comprehensive Examination Committee will then award a grade for the entire Comprehensive Examination (oral and written components). In case no unanimous decision about grading is reached by the Comprehensive Examination Committee, the majority of committee members will decide the grade. In case of a tie, the chair of the Comprehensive Examination Committee has the deciding vote. After the closed session, the student will be asked into the examination room and will be informed of his/her grade. Students may take the Comprehensive Exam up to two times. If a student is unsuccessful the second time, then the student must withdraw from the Ph.D. Program. 

The student has the right to appeal the grade of the Comprehensive Examination. The process of such an appeal is the same as that for an appeal of thesis examination decision which is outlined in the PhD Program Policies & Procedures.