Students who are preparing to defend their thesis should carefully review all of the information on this page, including links and expandable content, and plan their thesis defence and submission accordingly.
Information specific to the PhD thesis defence
PhD supervisors and students should carefully review the PhD thesis examination regulations.
At least four months ahead of the intended PhD defence date, PhD supervisors must contact the potential External Examiner and complete the Science Nomination of External Examiner and Confirmation of Arm's Length Status form.
Prior to completing the nomination, supervisors should review the 'External Examiner' section of the PhD thesis examination regulations to ensure the appropriateness of the intended examiner, and to adequately inform the them about their role as defined in the regulations.
The completed form should be sent along with the External Examiner's CV to the Administrative Coordinator for Graduate Studies and Research (Grad Coordinator) for further processing.
Approval of the external examiner must be received from the Faculty of Science graduate office, prior to scheduling the PhD thesis defence.
Thesis examinations without public disclosure
Prior to scheduling the defence, students wishing to have their thesis examined without public disclosure or wishing to restrict the circulation of their thesis for the protection of intellectual property should review the following information (including linked information) on the Graduate Studies Academic Calendar:
Appointment of thesis examining committee and impartial chair
The thesis examination committee for MSc normally consists of the advisory committee members plus an impartial chair, following the Minimum requirements for the Master's degree.
The regulations for PhD thesis examination committees are more complex and are managed by the GSPA; refer to the PhD Thesis Examination Regulations for details.
For both MSc and PhD defences, an Impartial Chair will be appointed by the Associate Dean of Science for Graduate Studies – this role involves keeping time during the oral defence presentation, coordinating questions, recording examiner’s grades and comments on the thesis defence report, and communicating the overall grade to the student.
The Faculty Dissertation Coordinator will arrange the Impartial Chair after the appointment of MSc or PhD thesis examination committee form is received and approved by the Associate Dean of Science for Graduate Studies. The Grad Coordinator will prepare and process this appointment form once the completed Pharmacy thesis defence request form has been received (assuming all other prerequisites have been met). See "Scheduling the thesis defence" (below) for more information.
In the case where a committee member is not able to participate in person, remote participation may be considered and should follow the regulations on participation through electronic media set by Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs.
Scheduling and submitting the thesis for defence
Prior to scheduling the thesis defence, students and supervisors should review the Faculty of Science Thesis defence & submission information, and note due dates and blackout dates.
As soon as it has been determined that the student is ready to submit and defend their thesis, and at least 5-6 weeks ahead of the planned MSc thesis defence date, or 8-9 weeks ahead of the planned PhD defence date, the student should:
- With guidance from the supervisor, coordinate a defence date with your committee*
- Complete and submit the Pharmacy Thesis defence request form to the department graduate coordinator, no later than four weeks (MSc) or seven weeks (PhD) prior to the planned defence date (five weeks or eight weeks for a closed MSc or PhD defence). The information provided on this form is required by the graduate coordinator, to prepare the examination committee appointment paperwork**
- Submit thesis for defence to the Science Dissertation Coordinator. To avoid having the thesis defence rescheduled, MSc students must submit their thesis to the Science Dissertation Coordinator at least 15 business days ahead of the defence; PhD students must submit their thesis no later than 30 business days ahead of the defence***Earlier submission is preferred. Refer to the Faculty of Science Thesis defence & submission information for important details on submitting your thesis
- At least two weeks ahead of the defence date, create an IT ticket for day-of tech support, and to book a training/practice session in the same room where the defence will take place
Defending at the end of a term
From the university's perspective, a student continues to be a student until the final thesis is accepted, uploaded and approved in UWSpace, and their degree completion is confirmed by the department and the Faculty in Quest.
Students who plan to defend their thesis toward the end of a term should:
- note the blackout dates listed on the Faculty of Science thesis defence and submission information page
- be aware that further changes to the thesis may be required prior to it being finally approved and accepted in UWSpace; additional time should be factored in for any such edits
- complete a change of enrolment status form to register as a part-time student for the term following your defence
- only after the thesis has been submitted for examination
- only if you anticipate that you will not complete revisions before the 100% tuition refund deadline of the term following your defence
- to lower tuition costs should there be unexpected revisions that delay the submission and approval process, requiring registration in an additional term
- apply to gradaute in Quest, as soon as you have submitted your thesis for examination*
- once the final thesis is accepted in UWSpace, the graduate coordinator will confirm degree completion in Quest
Thesis defence examination
The thesis defence is a public event that consists of a 25-30 minute oral presentation followed by a question period. The question period involves a first round of questions from the examination committee, which lasts 10-15 minutes per committee member, followed by a second round of questions in the same format but usually lasting only 5-10 minutes each. Questions may be taken from the audience, and student responses to "public" questions may be considered in the assessment of the student. For more detailed information on the process, see the PhD thesis examination regulations procedural guidelines.
Thesis examination report
The examination chair will record the examining committee's decision on the thesis examination report. The decision of the thesis examining committee is based both on the thesis and on the candidate's ability to defend it. Decisions for both MSc and PhD examinations will follow the decision procedure posted on the PhD thesis examination regulations page.
Thesis revisions and final submission
A thesis is not formally passed until all corrections have been made by the student and approved by the supervisor and/or thesis advisory committee, as required. Once a student has made all revisions, as noted on page 2 of the examination report, to the satisfaction of their supervisor(s) and – in the case of category B and C – committee members, they can upload the final thesis to UW Space.
Acceptance of the final thesis submission is the final university degree requirement. For more information, see Thesis submission on the GSPA website.
When the final submission is approved, the student will receive a confirmation email. Subsequently, the student should apply to graduate in Quest (i.e. if they have not done so in advance).
Thesis printing and binding
Supervisors may request that students submit a bound copy to them but it is no longer a requirement that students submit a bound copy to the department.
Students who choose to obtain bound copies for their supervisor, department, or for personal use, may do so through W Print at the University of Waterloo. Theses approved by the GSPA will be indexed by the university library and Library and Archives Canada and will be accessible electronically via UWSpace.