PhD Thesis Proposal Defence Guidelines

The main purpose of the thesis proposal defence is to enable the Ph.D. student make a position statement with respect to the thesis problem, outline a hypothesis and present a timeline for completion of the thesis.

Guidelines for the Ph.D. Thesis Proposal Defence

1. A doctoral supervisory committee is formed by the supervisor in consultation with the student. The committee consists of the thesis supervisor and at least two other members of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Experts in the area outside the university may also be selected as additional members. In addition an external member to the supervisory committee should be appointed using the same procedure as per the 'external' on a research aptitude defense. (Guidelines from FGS attached).

2. Student submits Thesis Proposal Report to the supervisory committee at least 15 days prior to the Defence.

Suggested Outline for Report (maximum 50 pages in length, thesis format)

  • Title/Area
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Problem/Objective of Research
  • Previous work - comprehensive and critical appraisal of literature
  • Proposal of new model/technique/idea/approach
  • Suitability of the approach for a Ph.D. level thesis
  • Hypothesis and anticipated results
  • Milestones and timelines for completion
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography

4. At the defence, candidate makes a 30 minute presentation of the thesis proposal. The presentation will focus on the gist of the problem, previous approaches, new proposal, an argument for why this is suitable for a Ph.D. thesis and timelines for completion. This will be followed by an Q&A session.

5. The supervisory committee gives feedback and an appraisal. On first attempt, the student is given a Pass/Reexamination recommendation only. On second attempt, a recommendation of Pass/ Fail is given. The reexamination must be completed within three months of the examining committee's recommendation.

Guidelines from FGS attachedĀ 

(from theĀ Graduate Calendar)

8.4 Supervisory Committees

All departments maintain supervisory committees for graduate students in thesis programmes, and many maintain them for graduate research projects as well. Supervisory Committees are selected by the supervisor in consultation with the student, and should complement the expertise available to
the student in completing their research programme. The selection of all Supervisory Committees is approved by the Faculty. It is in the selection of Supervisory Committees that the greatest involvement of Adjunct members of the faculty occurs.

Supervisory Committees should meet at least twice a year during the thesis research period and more often in the writing stages of a student's programme. Normally the agreement of all committee members is required before a department brings forward a thesis for examination.

9.4.1 Doctoral Supervisory Committees

All doctoral candidates must have a formally constituted Supervisory Committee, consisting of the Thesis Supervisor and at least two other members of the Faculty of Graduate Studies who are knowledgeable in the field of research. Membership of all doctoral Supervisory Committees must be approved formally by the Faculty.