Part 7: Thesis Examination and Assessment

Preparing for the Master’s Thesis oral defence

Before the Master’s Thesis oral defence, the Management Graduate Programs Office ensures that:

  • Seating, audio-visual equipment, and other necessary equipment are appropriate in the room where the Master’s Thesis oral defence is being held.
  • The Thesis Examination Committee understands how the Master’s Thesis oral defence will be run.
  • The School of Graduate Studies and the Thesis Examination Committee are aware of the date, time, and place of the Master’s Thesis oral defence and the public presentation.

Conducting the Master’s Thesis oral defence

Both the public presentation and the defence are open to other students and faculty and to members of the community, unless a request from the External Examiner and/or for a closed defence for extraordinary circumstances is approved by the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. The defence is two hours in duration. The procedure for conducting the Master’s Thesis oral defence as follows:

a)   Introduction

The Thesis Examination Committee Chair:

  • Welcomes all in attendance.
  • States that this Master’s 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 Science (Management).
  • Introduces the student.
  • Asks the Thesis Examination Committee members to introduce themselves, in this order: the External Examinerthe faculty members of the Supervisory Committee, and the Supervisor.
  • States that all members of the Thesis Examination Committee have read the Master’s Thesis, and have submitted an assessment report on the Master’s Thesis.
  • States that the student will present, in a Master’s Thesis presentation, the essence of the Master’s Thesis.

b)   Master’s Thesis presentation

In a maximum of 30 minutes, the student summarizes the major objectives, content, results, and conclusions of the thesis. A short question period will follow the Master’s Thesis presentation for the public to ask questions related to the presentation.

c)   Oral defence: Questioning

NOTE:      The audience is not permitted to ask questions during the formal oral defence.

The Chair invites the Thesis Examination Committee to pose their questions. Before the questioning begins, the Chair outlines the procedure:

  • Each examiner will pose his or her questions, as desired.
  • Comments and discussion not directly related to the questions must be saved for the post-defence meeting of the examiners.
  • The Chair invites questions from:
    1. The External Examiner
    2. The Internal Examiners
    3. The supervisor(s)
  • The Chair does not normally ask questions;
  • After one (1) initial round of questions, the examiners may ask additional questions in a second round, and so on.

d)   Making a decision       

After questioning has finished, the Chair excuses the student, asking him or her to leave and the audience the room so that the Thesis Examination Committee can meet in private. When the student has left both the oral and written components of the Master’s Thesis oral defence are assessed:

The Chair outlines the two (2) options for the Oral Defence component of the Master’s Thesis oral defence for a decision:

  1. Pass: The student’s performance in the oral defence was successful
  2. Fail: The Thesis Examination Committee defers a decision because the student’s performance in the oral defence was unsatisfactory. The student will be required to go through the Master’s Thesis oral defence process a second time.

The Chair asks an examiner to make a motion that the decision for the Oral Examination be: Pass or Fail.

The Chair asks for a vote on the 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 (1) dissenting vote, provided this is not the vote of the External Examiner, or supervisor(s).

The Chair outlines the five (5) options for the Master’s Thesis component for a decision:                              

  1. Pass: The Master’s Thesis is passed as submitted (i.e., no changes needed)
  2. Pass with Minor Revisions: The Master’s Thesis is passed on the condition that the student makes revisions (e.g., editorial changes, addition of citations, formatting) to the satisfaction of the supervisor, or another as authorized by the Thesis Examination Committee.
  3. Pass with Major Revisions: The Master’s Thesis requires substantial revisions (e.g., collection of more data, running additional tests, supplementary analysis) and 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.
  4. Defer: The Thesis Examination Committee defers a decision until the student makes substantial changes to the Master’s Thesis. The student may be required to go through the Thesis oral defence process a second time.
  5. Fail: The Master’s Thesis is failed and the student may re-take the Master’s Thesis oral defence one (1) time.

Using the Assessment of Readiness to Defend forms as a guide, the Chair asks a committee member to make a motion that the decision for the written Master’s Thesis component be: Pass, Pass with Minor Revisions, Pass with Major Revisions, Defer, or Fail.

The Chair asks for a vote on the 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 (1) dissenting vote, provided this is not the vote of the External Examiner, supervisor(s).

The Thesis Examination Committee is required to reach a majority decision. If the vote results in a tie, the Chair calls for further discussion and holds a second vote, and so on until a decision is reached.

In the event that a failed Master’s Thesis oral defence represents the second attempt to defend the Master’s Thesis, the student must withdraw from the program, and the Thesis Examination Committee must provide a written justification for the decision to fail the Master’s Thesis oral defence to the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies.

When the decision has been made, the Thesis Examination Committee then discusses the nature of any required revisions to the Master’s 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 of the School of Graduate Studies is final.

e)   Informing the student

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

  • Invites the student back into the room.
  • Informs the student of the committee’s decision.
  • If necessary, explains the required Master’s Thesis revisions to the student, and the plan for the student to complete them.
  • Reminds the student that a PDF copy of the Master’s Thesis must be submitted vie the e-thesis system after the completed revisions have been reviewed and approved by the supervisor(s).
  • If the student passes, congratulates the student, and thanks the Thesis Examination Committee members.
  • Adjourns the Master’s Thesis oral defence.