Regulations Concerning Theses

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Regulations Concerning Theses

Thesis Regulations

Thesis Regulations

A thesis is a scholarly work requiring discussion of methodology, conclusions, and significance of the research beyond what might be expected for manuscripts for publication. A thesis must be written in English or French, except for those submitted by students in language units. The University requires that all theses conform to the specifications for master’s theses or doctoral theses. Unless the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies has given her/his consent in advance, departures from these norms will render a thesis unacceptable to fulfill the requirements for the degree.

Thesis Submission (Initial and Final E-thesis Submission)

Thesis Submission (Initial and Final E-thesis Submission)

Theses may be submitted at any time during the year. However, for each of the three annual dates for conferring degrees/convocation, there are deadlines for initial submission (when the thesis is sent out to examiners for evaluation) and for the final e-thesis submission: April 15, August 15, and December 15. Please note that some units enforce earlier submission deadlines than those listed by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, so it is important that students verify these dates with their unit.

A thesis is a public document and once the final e-thesis has been submitted for the degree, it exists in the public domain.

Thesis Examiners

Thesis Examiners

For a master’s thesis, the examiner must be a scholar of established reputation and competence in the field of the thesis research. The examiner may be from inside or outside the University. Units may nominate a member from within the unit, as long as there is no conflict of interest with the student.

The doctoral external examiner must be a scholar of established reputation and competence in the field of the thesis research. They must be from outside the University and normally must hold a doctorate or equivalent. The external examiner must be at arm’s length from the candidate and have no other conflict of interest.

The doctoral internal examiner is expected to be knowledgeable in the area and topic of the thesis, though not necessarily to the same extent as the external examiner. The internal examiner also serves to ensure that McGill norms are observed with respect to quality of the thesis. Normally, the internal examiner is a McGill faculty member (but not the supervisor) affiliated with the unit in which the thesis originates, but they may also be nominated from other units at McGill.

Conflict of Interest

Conflict of Interest

A nominated examiner must be without conflict of interest to evaluate the thesis. A conflict of interest can be perceived to prejudice the examiner’s evaluation of the thesis. The supervisor and student must acknowledge that there will be no further contact with the examiners after they have been initially contacted. Any contact with examiners by the supervisor or student after the nomination process constitutes a conflict of interest and the examination process will be cancelled.

Thesis Examination Failures

Thesis Examination Failures

If one or both of the examiners decided that the thesis does not meet the requirements for the degree (i.e., an outcome of not passed was designated on the examination report), a master’s student will not graduate and a doctoral student will not proceed to the oral defence. The student has the option to revise and resubmit a failed thesis. Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies must be notified within six (6) weeks if the student decides to revise and resubmit. If the student does not contact Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies requesting to revise and resubmit the thesis within the designated six-week time period or, once approved to revise the thesis, does not resubmit the revised thesis by the one-year deadline, the thesis will be deemed to have failed and the student will be withdrawn from the University. If the revised thesis is subsequently failed again, the student will be withdrawn from the University.

If a thesis has not been passed and the student feels that this judgment is based on bias, error, or serious misrepresentation on the part of the examiner, the student may submit a written request for a new examiner for the thesis to the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, documenting the bias, error, or serious misrepresentation. This request must be made within six (6) weeks of the notification that the thesis has not passed, and may be accompanied by a letter of support from the supervisor and/or unit.

Doctoral Oral Defence

Doctoral Oral Defence

The objectives of the oral defence are to ensure that: 1) the thesis meets the academic standards necessary for the Ph.D. degree; and 2) the PhD candidate can effectively present and defend the dissertation at a level of knowledge and understanding that is commensurate with that of the Ph.D. degree. The unit is responsible for confirming the defence date and notifying Graduate and Postdoctoral studies at least four (4) weeks prior to the defence date.

The oral defence committee consists of five or seven members, including the Chair, supervisor(s), the internal thesis examiner, other member of the unit, and the external member (external to the unit). The defence committee is designed to ensure that a majority of members have not been closely involved with the thesis research and to have an odd number of members to avoid a tie in case of a vote. The Pro-Dean is a non-voting committee member appointed by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies to facilitate the examination.

Oral Defence Outcomes

Oral Defence Outcomes

There are five possible outcomes of an oral defence. Decisions A and B qualify as a pass. Decisions C, D, and E qualify as a fail.

PASS

  • Decision A: If the committee feels that the thesis and the responses to questions raised in the defence meet appropriate academic standards for the granting of the Ph.D. degree, the student will be judged to have passed the defence.
  • Decision B: If the committee determines that minor revisions (i.e., stylistic or editorial changes that should be able to be completed in no more than three weeks) are necessary for the thesis to fulfill the academic standards necessary for partial fulfillment of the degree, the Pro‐Dean must delegate one member of the committee, usually the supervisor, to ensure that the student carries out the required changes within the stated time‐frame.

FAIL

If the committee determines that the thesis or oral defence does not meet appropriate academic standards for the Ph.D. degree and would require, for example, major revisions to the text and/or additional study, it must then decide between the following three options:

  • Decision C: The student is allowed to resubmit a revised version of the thesis within six (6) months to the oral defence committee who will then evaluate the revised thesis without another oral defence.
  • Decision D: The student is allowed to conduct another defence within six (6) months without the submission of a revised thesis.
  • Decision E: The student is allowed to resubmit a revised version of the thesis within six (6) months to the oral defence committee, who will then evaluate the revised thesis and conduct another oral defence.
Note: If the revised thesis and/or oral defence is subsequently failed again, the student will be withdrawn from the University.
Programs, Courses and University Regulations—2016-2017 (last updated Jul. 15, 2016) (disclaimer)
Programs, Courses and University Regulations—2016-2017 (last updated Jul. 15, 2016) (disclaimer)