Preparing for a Doctoral Defence

Note: This process has been temporarily updated due to COVID-19. Please see the "Outlook for 2021" page for more information.

The following timeline is intended for doctoral candidates. Master's students should consult their department. Remember to review and follow FGS guidelines on formatting your thesis.

Six Months Prior to Defence

  • Begin preparing your thesis for presentation as a finished document.
  • Remind your supervisor and/or department head/chair of the need to recommend external examiners. 
  • It is very important for you to not personally contact potential external examiners at any point prior to your oral defence.
  • Begin discussing potential defence dates with your supervisor.

12 Weeks Prior to Defence

  • Finish preparing your thesis for presentation as a finished document.
  • Your department should deliver to FGS a Request to Arrange an Oral Defence Form, listing their choice external examiner along with the external examiner's CV.

6 Weeks Prior to Defence

  • Have a format check of your thesis done by FGS before your thesis goes out to the external examiner.
  • Complete all changes required by the format check.
  • Deliver to FGS the completed PhD Thesis Submission Form and PhD Examination Information Form. Email the pdf version of your thesis and CV to
  • Deliver copies of your thesis to your departmental graduate coordinator to be distributed to your internal examining committee members.
  • Send your abstract (max 350 words) by email to FGS at This must be sent in word format.
  • If your defence requires remote participation by a member of the examining committee, your department must email this request to

4 to 6 Weeks Prior to Defence

  • Prepare your summary presentation (20 minutes or less) for your oral examination.
  • Attend thesis defences of other PhD candidates to get some idea what to expect.
  • Confirm all members of examining committee will attend in person.

1 Week Prior to Defence

  • Familiarize yourself with the defence location.
  • If you have a remote participant, Senior Thesis clerk will contact you to arrange a test run in the defence room.

Day of Defence

  • Arrive early. Rooms are booked one half-hour before each defence. Senior Thesis Clerk will meet you there.
  • Familiarize yourself with room and A/V equipment.
  • If you have changed the room setup, return it to its original state (Note the furniture in the Lord Dalhousie Room and Room 3107 of the Mona Campbell Building cannot be moved).
  • If borrowing equipment from FGS, (i.e. telephone, projector, etc) return equipment to FGS after defence.

Following Your Defence