Guidelines for PhD thesis defence

Note: When selecting a date for your defense, please be aware of the possible impacts graduating can have on any funding you receive from the University and external funders (i.e., OGS, Tri-council) as well as study permits. Please consult with the appropriate resources prior to selecting a date (e.g., supervisor, graduate advisor, GSPA, your award holder's guide for your OGS or tri-council award)".

In preparation for the PhD Thesis Defence, two additional members need to be added to the student’s PhD Thesis Committee: an internal/external examiner, and an external examiner. 

The internal/external examiner is a UW faculty member from outside the Department of Psychology. Faculty members in Psychology at Renison and St. Jerome’s are also ineligible. The student’s research supervisor will make initial contact with the prospective internal/external to ascertain whether he or she would be willing to serve in this capacity.

The external examiner is a faculty member from another university who holds a doctorate and has particular expertise in the topic of the thesis. To ensure fairness and impartiality, the external examiner must be at arm's length from the candidate, the supervisor(s), and the thesis research, and must not be in a potential conflict of interest with regards to the outcome of the thesis examination. Please see the GSPA guidelines on selecting an appropriate external examiner. The student’s supervisor will make initial contact to determine the examiner’s willingness and availability. If the external is indeed willing and available, the supervisor will inform the Administrative Coordinator, Graduate Studies, who will then prepare for a formal invitation to be sent by the Associate Dean’s Office.

The candidate should never attempt to make any contact with the external examiner.

The supervisor should supply the Psychology Administrative Coordinator, Graduate Studies with the following information a minimum of eight weeks before the dissertation defence date:

  • The candidate’s name
  • The title of the thesis
  • Preferred defence date(s)
  • The names of the committee members, including the internal/external and the external examiners.
  • A copy of the dissertation abstract

For the internal/external examiner, include the department, e-mail address, a line or two regarding suitability, and a statement concerning any professional or personal connection between the student, the supervisor, and the internal/external examiner.

For the external examiner, the following information must be included: address, phone number, email address, academic rank, a statement concerning any professional or personal connection between the student, the supervisor, and the external examiner, and a cv. Provide a brief rationale as to why the external examiner is a suitable candidate (4-6 lines is sufficient). 

Students must submit a digital copy of their dissertation to the Psychology Administrative Coordinator, Graduate Studies a minimum of eight weeks prior to the date of the defence. (For thesis-formatting information, please see the Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs Thesis webpage.) The UW policy is to provide a digital copy of the candidate's thesis to all committee members. If the external examiner requests a hard copy, the department must supply one.

Each year, there are 2 Faculty of Arts blackout periods during which a defence cannot be scheduled. These blackout periods occur during the last full week of August and during the university holiday closure at the end of December/beginning of January. Students cannot count a blackout period in their 8-week notice minimum/thesis display period. For example, if you are giving notice in July for a defence which you plan to schedule in September, you will have to add another week toward your September defence date to make up for the blackout week at the end of August.

For 2022, the blackout periods will be:

  • Monday, August 22 to Friday, August 26, 2022 inclusive.
  • Friday, December 23, 2022 to January 2, 2023 inclusive.