Thesis requirements

The thesis includes original research conducted by the candidate under the guidance of the advisory committee that advances theory and knowledge in sustainability management. The thesis should demonstrate the student’s ability to conduct original research under the guidance of the advisory committee. A successful thesis in the program demonstrates knowledge of existing research within the area of inquiry, the development of a sound research question that addresses current issues of academic research, the ability to apply appropriate methods, and the skill to write research and/or policy. The results of research should be original and contribute to the existing body of theory and knowledge.

Thesis proposal

Normally, students will complete and have approved a doctoral thesis proposal by the end of the term following the qualifying examination. The proposal will involve a written proposal, an oral presentation and an oral examination. A proposal will include the following:

  • a statement of the principal research question(s) and a justification of the question or questions
  • an outline of the principal theoretical orientations that frame the research questions
  • a detailed outline of the research methods and steps to be taken to obtain answers to the research question(s)
  • an assessment of the likely contribution to knowledge of the doctoral research
  • a timetable for completion of the research

Format and timing of the submission of the written thesis proposal will be determined with the advisory committee. Normally, the written thesis research proposal will be no more than 10,000 words, exclusive of bibliography.

Thesis proposal examination

The proposal will be assessed at an oral examination beginning with a 30-minute (max.) presentation by the student. Any member of the university may attend.

The written proposal and oral presentation will be evaluated by the PhD advisory committee with the supervisor acting as a voting chair. Other procedures consistent with PhD thesis exam regulations will be followed.  The candidate and audience will be asked to leave and the committee will deliberate in a closed session.

In order to accept a thesis proposal, the advisory committee must be satisfied that the proposal includes all of the required elements, is methodologically and theoretically sound, will result in an original contribution, and is appropriate with regard to supervisory capacity.

Normally, within one week after the oral examination, the student will make any final changes to the proposal that arise from the feedback of the advisory committee and provide a copy of the final proposal, as accepted by the advisory committee to the Associate Director, Graduate Studies.

Format of the final thesis

Doctoral theses can take various forms. The traditional thesis is a sole-authored document with various chapters. The thesis may also consist of a collection of papers that are published or submitted for publication. The expected maximum is 70,000 words, exclusive of bibliography and appendices.

For a thesis that is not a sole-authored document, the University requirements are that the student has made the major contribution to the work, to the satisfaction of the examination committee. The student will include a statement of contributions in the thesis.

For the PhD in Sustainability Management, a thesis composed of multiple papers should normally contain three articles, at least two of which are normally first-authored by the student. Papers must be published or are of publishable quality. If an article is co-authored the role of each author must be stated with regards to the nature and extent of contribution to the work. There must be a common theme among articles, and the thesis must provide adequate background and methodological description. A separate introduction and conclusion section is required in the thesis. Acceptance of a manuscript by a journal is separate from and does not constitute acceptance or approval by the advisory committee.

The University gives requirements for preparation of the thesis.

SEED has provided School-level requirements for theses in Sustainability Management.

Thesis examination

When the thesis is ready for examination, after review by the advisory committee and with revisions by the student, the advisory committee and the student will complete a form regarding thesis completion. A student will then submit the thesis and the oral examination is scheduled.

PhD thesis exam regulations are defined by the University.

The Associate Dean, Graduate Studies publishes notices of PhD thesis defences in the Faculty of Environment

Academic integrity

The University considers academic integrity to be an integral part of all scholarship. Violations of academic integrity are handled under University Policy 71.