Comprehensives


All IDPhD students at Dalhousie are required to take and pass one to three comprehensive examinations (written and oral). The exact number of these exams is determined by your supervising committee, and subject to FGS regulations. The nature and format of the exams is determined by you and your supervisory committee, within the first year of your programme.

The examinations are intended to establish that the student has sufficient understanding of the background literature that underpins the research such that a thesis of appropriately high scholarship is likely.

The exams would normally be completed by the end of the second year of full-time study, or at the beginning of the third year at the latest, and only after completion of all required class work and prior to your thesis proposal.

The range of possibilities for the nature and scope of comprehensive exams for IDPhD students is very broad. The process, however, would normally include the following sequence:

  • Student, supervisor, and committee agree on topics to be covered and depth of coverage.
  • Formats are set.
  • Marking criteria are set.
  • Schedules for individual comprehensives are set.
  • Oral component - if required - is taken.
  • Committee determines outcome and provides student with feedback in timely fashion.

It is the responsibility of the supervisor to notify IDPhD concerning the results of the comprehensives via the comprehensive completion form [PDF 112KB]. Upon completion of each exam your supervisor should fill out the form, duly signed by all members of the examining committee, and submit it to IDPhD.

Failure to pass a comprehensive will result in academic dismissal. However, on the recommendation of the commitee and IDPhD administration, a student may be readmitted and permitted to repeat the examination (once) within twelve months of readmission. You will receive a PASS on your academic transcript only after all comprehensives have been completed successfully.