Thesis defence & submission information

Instructions for arranging your thesis defence

  1. In collaboration with your supervisor & graduate coordinator set your thesis defence date.
  2. Your department coordinator will arrange to have the Appointment of MSc or PhD Thesis Examination Committee Form completed when the supervisor and student are ready to appoint the Thesis Examination Committee and the date, time & location of the defence have been arranged.
  3. This form is to be received by the Faculty of Science Graduate Dissertation Coordinator at least 3 weeks prior for MSc or 6 weeks prior for PhD to the defence date.
  4. Once this form has been received by the Faculty of Science Graduate Dissertation Coordinator a chairperson will be arranged either by Science (MSC) or GSO (PhD).
  5. Thesis Submission by the Student
    1. MSc students are required to submit an electronic version of their thesis to the Faculty of Science Graduate Dissertation Coordinator by noon at least 15 business days prior to the chosen defence date.  Earlier submission is preferred.  Submissions received later than this will require the defence to be rescheduled.  The soft copy can be emailed to science.dissertations@uwaterloo.ca. The Dissertation Coordinator will distribute a soft (electronic) copy of the thesis to all members of the examining committee once the thesis has been formally deposited in the Faculty of Science Graduate Office.  
    2. PhD students are required to submit a soft copy of their thesis to the Faculty of Science Graduate Dissertation Coordinator by noon at least 30 business days prior to the chosen defence date.  Earlier submission is preferred.  Submissions received later than 6 weeks prior to the arranged defence date will require the defence to be rescheduled.  The soft copy can be emailed to science.dissertations@uwaterloo.ca.  The Dissertation Coordinator will distribute a soft (electronic) copy of the thesis to all members of the examining committee.  
  6. The defence is not formally set until the Appointment of MSc or PhD Thesis Examination Committee Form is received and the student has submitted their thesis to the Faculty of Science.

Blackout dates and holidays

There is a blackout period for defences in the Fall, Winter and Spring terms. There will be no MSc or PhD thesis defences during this period unless special arrangements have been made in advance with the Science Dissertations Coordinator. UW Space final uploads are acceptable. Please contact science.dissertations@uwaterloo.ca to determine your thesis submission deadline if your display period overlaps a blackout period or university holiday.

The blackout period is necessary and is supported by the Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs as a result of limited faculty member availability to attend and to chair examinations during this time period.

In exceptional cases where committee members and/or external examiners are available only during the blackout period and the examination is required to be completed by the end of the term, the supervisor must contact the Faculty of Science Dissertation Coordinator. All requests to hold an examination during the blackout period must be approved by the Associate Dean of Science Graduate Studies before they can be scheduled.

Blackout dates and holidays:

  • Winter 2020: Monday, April 27 – Friday, May 1
  • Spring 2020: Monday, August 17 – Friday, September 4
  • Fall 2020: Wednesday, December 16 - Wednesday, January 6, 2021
  • 2020 Holidays: January 1, February 17, April 10, May 18, July 1, August 3, September 7, October 12, December 24 - December 31

Regular university business days during the blackout periods count toward the display period, holidays do not.

Thesis Examination Without Public Disclosure (Closed Defence)

At times, graduate students may wish to protect their research results, particularly when they contain material of commercial or marketable value, or when restricted by a publication agreement. It is expected that in the vast majority of these cases that protection of the intellectual property will be obtained in a timely manner, well before the preparation and examination of the student’s thesis (for example in the form of filing a patent application). In those rare cases where such protection is not obtained in advance, it may be necessary to restrict the disclosure of thesis results from the public arena. In cases where private companies or other supporting organizations are involved in the research through a research contract or agreement, this request may be required by the terms of that agreement. In these cases:

  1. The graduate student and supervisor(s) must begin the process to restrict disclosure of the thesis results as early as possible to ensure timely completion of the thesis examination. Normally, this recommendation to restrict disclosure will be forthcoming from the supervisor and, where appropriate, the Advisory Committee, to the Faculty Associate Dean, Graduate Studies.
  2. Any request for a closed thesis examination must be forthcoming, at the latest, one week prior to the submission of the thesis to the Faculty Associate Dean, Graduate Studies by emailing the Thesis Dissertation Coordinator, science.dissertations@uwaterloo.ca. The request should include an explanation about the rationale for the request, such as protecting intellectual property and/or patents pending.  This ensures that committee members are aware of the requirements for non-disclosure before examination of the thesis.
  3. Examining Committee members, including the external examiner, will be asked by the University of Waterloo to sign a Confidential information thesis non-disclosure agreement form (Graduate Studies forms website) regarding the contents of the thesis before examining the thesis. Potential committee members have the right to refuse to sign the agreement; however this will result in the requirement to resign from the committee. Any member who refuses to sign the agreement will not be permitted to view the thesis and/or attend the defence.
  4. All parties should recognize that the time required to secure this agreement from all Examining Committee members may result in a longer period between submission and defence of the thesis, unless this consent is obtained in advance of the thesis submission.
  5. The thesis will be displayed but with the requirement that a Confidential Information Thesis Non-Disclosure Agreement Form (Graduate Studies forms website) be signed by anyone wishing to review the thesis.
  6. The examination, including any oral presentation associated with the examination, will be open only to members of the University community who agree to sign a non-disclosure agreement under these terms. All audience members are required to sign an NDA in order to attend the oral presentation and following discussion. The Thesis Dissertation Coordinator will prepare and manage these agreements.
  7. The requirements for non-disclosure will expire once the thesis is published in UWSpace. In most cases, student will request a one year restriction on the circulation of the thesis in UWSpace. Any extension to that time period must be approved by the Associate Vice-President, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs.

Failure to follow these guidelines in their entirety will result in the normal practice of public disclosure and circulation of the thesis.

Useful Sites & Resources: