The PhD dissertation examination is the culmination of the candidate’s research program. A public defense gives the candidate the opportunity to explain the significance of his/her research and to receive feedback and scholarly criticism from members of the university.

Procedure for submitting the dissertation

After the supervisor has approved the final draft of the dissertation, the supervisor contacts the Graduate Officer to constitute a PhD thesis examining committee. The supervisor, with input of the candidate, and the Graduate Officer select and recommend to the Associate Dean (Graduate Studies) of the Faculty a PhD Dissertation Examining Committee.
 
The candidate deposits six (6) copies of the dissertation in the office of the Department’s Assistant for Graduate Studies; the Assistant for Graduate Studies then distributes these to the internal examiners and passes on three (copies) to the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies of the Faculty for display and further distribution. One copy of the dissertation must remain on in the office of the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies for 25 working days, not counting University holidays, black-out periods or weekends. The defence can take place only after the display requirement has been satisfied. (The blackout period is usually the last week of the current term. Contact the office of the Associate Dean, 
Graduate Studies for the exact dates). 

Dissertation examining committee

The Examining Committee consists of a minimum of five members: an external examiner, either the supervisor and three other members of the university, or the co-supervisors and two other members of the university. At least one of the non-supervising members must be from the home 
department, and at least one must be external to the home department (referred to as the internal/external). Normally, UW members of the Examining Committee will be drawn from the student's Advisory Committee.
 
The external examiner must be at arm's length from the candidate and supervisor (which means not a close friend, not a regular and current collaborator, not having been a visitor for some time, and not a former colleague.) Full disclosure of all past affiliation is required to assist in 
confirming an arm's-length relationship. Recommendations to the Faculty Associate Dean (Graduate Studies) concerning external examiners must be accompanied by a curriculum vitae and a conflict-of-interest statement. The Associate Dean is responsible for determining whether the external examiner proposed is at arm's length.