Graduate Studies in Physics Handbook, University of Waterloo and University of Guelph
The purpose of this collaboration is to provide the best possible program in the best possible environment for graduate studies and research within the Physics Departments of the Universities of Guelph and Waterloo. The research areas in GSP are as indicated in the two university calendars. The Coordinating Committee of the program attends to the administration of the formal aspects of graduate training permitting the members of the group to use more of their time to do research and work with graduate students.
The following guidelines are provided for information and these may be altered at any time by a majority decision of the Faculty in the program. Changes in the guidelines may be initiated by a written request from any member of the program.
All prospective physics graduate students will apply to the Guelph-Waterloo Program at the address indicated on the GSP website for admission to GSP and a student will register in the program at the university at which the supervisor has a regular faculty or adjunct faculty appointment.
The graduate calendar of the university at which the student is registered should be consulted for additional details and the more general aspects of Graduate Studies.
All conditions and requirements for graduate studies must follow the regulations as laid down in the most recent issue of the appropriate University calendar. Students registered at Waterloo and specializing in biophysics and vision science will, in some cases, need to meet different requirements than those listed in this guide. At Guelph, graduate programs in biophysics are administered separately by an interdepartmental group. For further particulars, the student should consult the appropriate University calendar.
2.2.1 Applications for admission will be reviewed and processed by the Admissions Committee of the program and recommendations for admission will be sent to the appropriate University office.
Admission to a program of graduate studies in physics may be made in several categories. Acceptance as a Regular Graduate Student requires that the applicant possess a first or upper second class honours degree in physics or its equivalent.
Additional criteria for acceptance of an applicant to enter graduate studies will include:
- The nature and standing of the candidate's previous degree or qualifications. Applicants whose previous education cannot be readily assessed may be required to demonstrate their knowledge by other means, e.g. a Graduate Record Examination as administered by the Educational Testing Service, Box 899, Princeton, New Jersey 08541, U.S.A.
- Non-Canadian applicants whose first language is not English are required to submit evidence of proficiency in the English language or pass the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or some suitable alternative.
An applicant possessing a Master's degree in physics or an allied area comparable to that awarded by the University of Guelph or Waterloo will be eligible for consideration for admission to the program.
An advisor/supervisor must be available to direct the candidate's research program.
2.3.1 All aspects of the program of study leading to a graduate degree will be administered by the Coordinating Committee of the program.
2.3.2 The formal requirements for the MSc degree in physics will include the following:
- The minimum time requirement of the University must be satisfied.
- At least four one-term courses acceptable for graduate credit must be completed satisfactorily with at least a 70% average and no more than two courses, of the first four taken, can have grades of less than 70%. A minimum grade of 65% is required for a pass in each course. If a student does not meet these minimum grade requirements, or receives a failing grade in any course, he/she may be required to withdraw from the program. Normally, courses taken for credit will be those designated as Graduate Courses within the program. One of the four courses may be an upper level undergraduate course approved by the student's advisory/supervisory committee and the graduate officer/coordinator. For students enrolled at the University of Waterloo, the supervisor must submit a memo justifying why the undergraduate course is acceptable for graduate credit, and approval must be received from the Physics & Astronomy graduate officer and the Associate Dean of Science for Graduate
Studies prior to enrolment in the course. For all students one of the four courses must be selected from the core graduate courses, listed under GSP Policies and Procedures #9. For collaborative (OCGS designation) or otherwise interdisciplinary programs (joint degrees may be included in some cases) courses that are required for the other participating program may be used as extended core courses.
It is required that the student formally meet with his/her advisory/supervisory committee within the first six months of registration (within first four months in the case of a coursework MSc) and subsequently at least once every six months. While one meeting in a year must be a formal one (reported on the Advisory Committee Report), the other meeting may be held informally; in the latter case, apart from the student and the supervisor, the meeting must involve at least one other member of the Committee. An advisory committee meeting must be held if a student requests it and the Director of GSP approves.
An acceptable thesis on a research topic must be submitted. Detailed specifications of the format of the thesis are available from the appropriate graduate Office/coordinator. Acceptance of the thesis requires the approval of an Examining Committee following an oral defence of the thesis.
In some cases, a student may be permitted to do a coursework M.Sc. For this, seven one-term courses acceptable for graduate credit and a research paper equivalent to one course (see the graduate officer/coordinator for details) are required. The research paper will have to be approved by the candidate's advisory/supervisory Committee. Two of the courses may be upper level undergraduate courses approved by the student's advisory/supervisory committee and the graduate officer / coordinator. For students enrolled at the University of Waterloo, the supervisor must submit a memo justifying why the undergraduate course is acceptable for graduate credit, and approval must be received from the Physics & Astronomy graduate officer and the Associate Dean of Science for Graduate Studies prior to enrolment in the course.
2.3.3 The formal requirements for the PhD degree in physics will include the following:
- The minimum time requirement of the University must be satisfied.
- At least four one-term courses acceptable for graduate credit (eight, if proceeding directly without an MSc) must be completed satisfactorily with at least a 70% average and no more than two courses, of the first four taken, can have grades less than 70%. A minimum of 65% is required for a pass in each course. If a student does not meet these minimum grade requirements, or receives a failing grade in any course, he/she may be required to withdraw from the program. Course selection shall be such that three of the core courses including one of Physics 701/7010, Physics 704/7040 or Physics 706/7060 will have been taken in the PhD program. Biophysics students in the PhD program at Waterloo are required to take one core course which must be one of Physics 701/7010, Physics 704/7040, or Physics 706/7060. Current core course are listed under GSP Policies and Procedures #9. For collaborative (OCGS designation) or otherwise interdisciplinary programs (joint degrees may be included in some cases) courses that are required for the other participating program may be used as extended core courses. Graduate courses outside GSP may be taken for credit with the approval of the advisor/supervisor and graduate officer/coordinator. One of the required
courses may be an upper level undergraduate course outside the student's main field of study, approved by the student's advisory/supervisory committee and the graduate officer / coordinator. For students enrolled at the University of Waterloo, the supervisor must submit a memo justifying why the undergraduate course is acceptable for graduate credit, and approval must be received from the Physics & Astronomy graduate officer and the Associate Dean of Science for Graduate Studies prior to enrollment in the course. No undergraduate course in physics may be taken for credit.
In exceptional circumstances course requirements for students enrolled in the Physics PhD program at the University of Waterloo may be waived with the approval of the Guelph Waterloo Physics Institute director, Physics & Astronomy graduate officer, and Associate Dean of Science for Graduate Studies.
It is required that the student formally meet with his/her advisory/supervisory committee within the first six months of registration. Subsequently, the advisory/supervisory committee is expected to meet with the student at least twice per year. While one meeting in a year must be a formal one (reported on the Advisory Committee Report), the other meeting may be held informally. In the former case, the student is expected to provide a written report to the Committee and defend it orally. In the latter case, the meeting may simply take the form of a brief discussion of the student's academic progress but, apart from the student and the supervisor, it must involve at least one other member of the Committee. An Advisory Committee meeting must be held if a student requests it and the Director of GSP approves.
The student will be required to take a Qualifying Examination, normally during the first year of the program; in any case, it must be passed no later than the sixth semester in which they are enrolled. The examination will ascertain the student’s knowledge of the fundamentals and applications of the physics closely related to the thesis topic. An assessment of the student’s ability to conduct research will be a factor in determining the examination result. If the student has not passed the Qualifying Exam by the end of the sixth semester in which they are enrolled, he/she may be required to withdraw from the program.
An acceptable thesis on an advanced research topic must be submitted. The topic of the thesis and the quality of the research will be such as to merit publication in reputable scholarly media. Detailed specifications of format, etc. are available from the appropriate graduate office.
Acceptance of the thesis requires satisfactory completion of a Final Oral Examination. The examination is devoted chiefly, but not necessarily entirely, to the defence of the doctoral thesis. The examination will be evaluated by the student's PhD Examining Committee. The student is deemed to have passed the examination if not more than one of the examiners votes negatively unless the dissenting vote is that of the external examiner. An abstention is regarded as a negative vote. If unsatisfactory, the candidate may be given the opportunity of a second attempt. A second unsatisfactory result will terminate the student's candidacy.
2.3.4 A student in the physics graduate program as a Master's candidate, who shows a particular aptitude for research, may be permitted under certain circumstances to transfer to the Ph.D. program without writing an MSc thesis. The following guidelines will be used in deciding whether a student will be recommended by his/her committee to the appropriate University authorities to be allowed to proceed directly to the PhD degree.
- The formal request must be initiated by the student, not later than the end of the fourth semester.
- The student should have an A average in his/her fourth-year undergraduate courses and A grades on three one-term graduate courses.
- The student must provide a written report of progress in his/her research.
- The advisor/supervisor with the recommendation of the advisory/supervisory committee must provide a statement in support of the student's request.
3.0 Duties and responsibilities of faculty
3.1 MSc program
The advisor/supervisor accepts the responsibility of ensuring that the approved program is duly completed. The advisor/supervisor is also responsible for directing the research project of the candidate and for supervising the preparation of the thesis.
The MSc advisory/supervisory committee is normally selected within the first six months of a student’s registration (within the first four months in the case of a coursework MSc). It consists of at least three members including the advisor/supervisor who acts as the Committee Chair and convenes the meetings. (Note that if there is an advisor/supervisor and co-advisor/co-supervisor these count as two committee members at the University of Guelph. You will need 2 committee members in addition to advisor/supervisor and co-advisor/co-supervisor at the University of Waterloo) At least two committee members must be members of GSP within the student’s general area of research. At least one committee member must be a faculty member of the Department of Physics at the University of Guelph or the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo. This committee is responsible for monitoring the progress of the student. It is expected that the advisory/supervisory committee will formally meet with the student during the first six months of registration, and subsequently meet twice a year. One meeting per year may be held informally between the student, advisor/supervisor and at least one advisory/supervisory committee member. One meeting per year must be a formal one involving the entire advisory/supervisory committee. Results of the formal meeting are to be reported on the Advisory Committee Report Form and submitted to the GSP Director, Departmental graduate officer/coordinator and the Faculty of Science Graduate Office (for University of Waterloo students only). A written Advisory Committee Report is submitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies at UofG, along with supporting documentation only in the case of an unsatisfactory report. The advisory/supervisory committee examines the thesis and makes appropriate recommendations before the thesis is submitted to the examining committee.
3.1.3 The examining committee normally consists of three members (two is possible) as follows:
- the advisor/supervisor
- one member of the advisory/supervisory committee appointed by the director
- one member from GSP who is not a member of the advisory/supervisory committee, appointed by the director to act as chairman and convene the committee.
3.2 PhD program
3.2.1 The advisor/supervisor accepts the responsibility of ensuring that the approved program is duly completed. The advisor/supervisor is also responsible for directing the research project of the candidate and for supervising the preparation of the thesis.
3.2.2 The PhD advisory/supervisory committee is normally selected within the first six months of a student’s registration. It consists of at least four members including the advisor/supervisor who acts as the committee chair and convenes the meetings. (Note that if there is an advisor/supervisor and co-advisor/co-supervisor these count as two committee members.) At least two committee members must be members of GSP within the student’s general area of research. At least one committee member must be a faculty member of the Department of Physics at the University of Guelph or the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo. It is recommended, but not mandatory that one committee member must be a faculty member who is not a member of GSP. The advisor/supervisor consults with the student in the selection of members of the advisory/supervisory committee. This committee is responsible for monitoring the progress of the student. It is expected that the advisory/supervisory committee will formally meet with the student during the first six months of registration, and subsequently meet twice a year. One meeting per year may be held informally between the student, advisor/supervisor and at least one advisory/supervisory committee member. One meeting per year must be a formal one involving the entire advisory/supervisory committee. At the formal meeting, PhD students are expected to provide a written report to the committee and defend it orally. Results of the formal meetings are to be reported on the Advisory Committee Report Form and submitted to the GSP Director, Departmental Graduate Officer/Coordinator and Faculty of Science Graduate Office (for University of Waterloo students only). A written Advisory Committee Report is submitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies at UofG, along with supporting documentation only in the case of an unsatisfactory report. The advisory/supervisory committee examines the thesis and makes appropriate recommendations before the thesis is submitted to the examining committee.
3.2.3 The qualifying examination committee consists of two common members who are the director or his/her designate and the graduate officer/coordinator (or his/her designate) whose home department is not that of the director, and three expert members who include the student's advisor/supervisor and at least one member (two is possible) of his/ her advisory/supervisory committee. The director or his/her designate normally chairs all the examinations. The three expert members will select three or four areas of physics for each student's examination. These areas will have been decided at the student’s first formal committee meeting and recorded on the Advisory Committee Report form.
3.2.4 The PhD Thesis Examining Committee consists of at least five voting members, as defined in the appropriate University calendar.
3.3 Graduate courses
3.3.1 Changes in the content of core courses can only be made with the approval of the Coordinating Committee.
The overall performance of a student in any core course will normally be judged on the basis of:
- interim assessment(s), counting no less than one-third of the total
- a final assessment, counting no more than two-thirds.
In most cases, and certainly in the case of Physics 701/7010, Physics 704/7040, and Physics 706/7060, the interim assessment(s) will be made through assignments and the final one through a formal exam; the instructor of a non-core course, however, may sometimes find it advisable to adopt somewhat different methods of assessment such as projects, seminars, etc.
4.0 Functions and responsibilities of committees within the program
The basic administration of the activities of the program is handled by the director of GSP, the associate director of GSP, and the GSP administrator in consultation with the coordinating committee of which the director is the chair. Apart from the director and associate director, the other ten members of this committee are the two departmental chairs, the two department a graduate officers/coordinators, four additional faculty (two from each campus), and two graduate student representatives (one from each campus). The faculty may include, at the discretion of the director, a GSP member who is adjunct at either of the two Departments. The director and associate director, as well as the graduate officer and graduate coordinator (one from Guelph and one from Waterloo) will make up the Admissions Sub-Committee of GSP.
Faculty members elected or appointed to serve on the coordinating committee shall do so for a term of two years each. Elections will be held each year in both departments, staggering the terms of the elected members. The student election is coordinated by the GSP office. Elected graduate students will serve for one year with the possibility of re-election.
4.2.1 The director, along with the associate director, shall represent the interests of GSP both within and outside the two universities. In carrying out his/her general responsibilities, the director should have access to the senior administrative officers of both universities.
4.2.2 The director, will maintain open lines of communication with the associate director, the GSP administrator, and the GSP coordinating committee. In consultation with these parties, he/she shall be responsible for the operation of GSP including such matters as receipt of student applications, decisions regarding these, and transmission of academic recommendations on these to the appropriate officer of one or other university; appointment of advisory/supervisory committees for students; chairing qualifying examination committees, communication between GSP and the departmental graduate officers/coordinators of the participating universities with respect to examination results, etc.
4.2.3 The director, in consultation with the associate director and the GSP administrator, shall be responsible for any reports relating to the program. This should include publication of an annual report to the Graduate Council or equivalent body in each university (with the expectation of its subsequent wider distribution).
4.3.1 The associate director will be a full (not adjunct) member of the department on the campus that is not the home campus of the director. Along with the director he/she shall represent the interests of GSP both within and outside the two universities. In carrying out his/her general responsibilities, the associate director should have access to the senior administrative officers of his/her home university. The associate director will act as advocate for the GSP program at his/her home campus.
4.3.2 The associate director will maintain open lines of communication with the GSP director. He/she will consult with the director, the GSP administrator and the coordinating committee, on all matters pertaining to the operation of GSP as per 4.2.2 and the publicity of GSP as per 4.2.3. The associate director may be called upon to take responsibility for some of the tasks normally assigned to the GSP director; this delegation of duties will come at the request of the director and is subject to agreement by the associate director. Such a situation may arise, for example, when the director is temporarily unavailable.
4.4 Coordinating committee
4.4.1 It shall be the body that determines who shall be listed as members of GSP.
4.4.2 It shall be the body that formulates policies or by-laws governing the operation of GSP and presents these for approval by the members of GSP and, where necessary, by the graduate councils of the universities. In this respect it will also serve as the executive committee of the program and will be advisory to the director and associate director.
4.4.3 It shall be the body that acts in a consultant capacity concerning the offering and scheduling of graduate courses and recommending particular instructors for them to the appropriate Departmental Chair.
4.4.4 It shall be the body holding discretion over all participation in graduate work, lecturing, supervision of students, etc., by non-members of GSP.
4.5 Admissions sub-committee
4.5.1 It shall consider all applications for graduate studies and make specific recommendations for action to be taken as soon as applications are complete.
4.5.2 In conjunction with the departmental graduate officers/coordinators, it shall classify acceptable candidates in the appropriate categories as specified in the appropriate calendars.
4.5.3 It shall be responsible for the forwarding of processed applications together with recommendations signed by the director of the program to the appropriate university office.
4.5.4 It shall be responsible for the forwarding of all files of accepted students to the appropriate departmental graduate officer/coordinator.
4.6 The departmental graduate officers/coordinators
4.6.1 They shall approve the program of study for each graduate student, as outlined by the student and his/her advisor/supervisor on the Graduate Degree Program Form.
4.6.2 They shall maintain a file on the student's performance in all areas related to the program and any other pertinent information. This includes:
- The student's file from the Admissions Sub-committee.
- The recommended program of study for the student.
- All course marks and the results of comprehensive examinations, where required.
- All progress reports and thesis evaluation forms.
- Records of financial payments, including copies of financial appointment offers and acceptance forms.
- All correspondence dealing with the student.
4.6.3 They shall assist any incoming student who is admitted without an advisor/supervisor being designated (except for students enrolled in the coursework MSc or non degree programs) in the choice of a research supervisor within the first semester of enrolment in the program.
4.6.4 They shall approve the advisor/supervisory committee as recommended by the advisor/supervisor.
4.6.5 They shall obtain progress reports from the advisory/supervisory committee and forward copies to the appropriate Graduate Office.
4.6.6 They shall bring cases requiring special consideration to the Coordinating Committee.
5.0 GSP policies and procedures - Qualifying Exams
Procedure for Qualifying Examinations for PhD Students
This oral examination is designed to test the student's knowledge of fundamentals and applications of physics closely related to the thesis topic.
The advisory/supervisory committee will meet formally with the student during the first year of the PhD program. From this meeting a list of areas of physics deemed necessary background for the thesis topic will result and be recorded on the Advisory Committee Report form.
The qualifying examination committee consists of two common members (common to a given set of exams) who are the director or his/her designate, and the graduate officer (or his/her designate) whose home department is not that of the director, and three expert members who include the student's advisor/supervisor and at least one member (two is possible) of his/her advisory/supervisory committee. The director or his/her designate normally chairs all the examinations. The three expert members will select three or four areas of physics for each student's examination. These areas will have been decided at the student’s first formal committee meeting and recorded on the Advisory Committee Report form.
Approximately three months before the exam, the student will be reminded of the areas of the examination and will be asked to provide a 2 or 3 page (approximately 500 to 1000 words) research proposal to the GSP office. This proposal is intended to be the student’s view of the purpose and present state of his/her proposed thesis research, and although he/she may discuss it with his/her advisor/supervisor it is to be the student’s work, not a joint effort.
When the proposal is received by the GSP office, each of the three expert members of the committee will, with the knowledge of the proposal and the designated areas, be asked to set 3 exam questions, each requiring approximately 10 minutes to answer. Along with their questions, the expert examiners will also submit an outline of the answers they expect for their respective questions; this will not only ensure that the questions are of the right length but will also be of help to the non-expert examiners during the exam. Sufficient collaboration should occur among expert examiners to avoid excessive duplication of the exam questions. The GSP office will make the request to the expert members for the exam questions and solutions with a deadline for receipt. Once all of the exam questions and solutions have been received, the Director or Associate Director will vet and approve them. Once problems are approved and assembled, the exam will be scheduled.
The exam is intended to be approximately 90 minutes long but may run longer, if necessary. All questions need not be covered, although they should be available during the examination for use if desired.
The student will have access to the exam in the examination room for up to two hours (if the student so desires) prior to the start of the formal oral examination period. No books or other aids are permitted. The student may choose the first question for which he/she will present a solution; the exam will then proceed in the established question order. Solutions to questions will be presented to the examination committee one at a time without interruption. The examination committee will ask questions and/or provide feedback only after the student has completed his/her presentation. The student will be assessed separately on the presentation and discussion components of each question.
The report of the supervisor and the student's grades in graduate courses will be available to the committee for its deliberations after the examination is finished. Discussion of the candidate's responses to individual questions is expected before arriving at a final decision.
The committee makes one of the following recommendations to the director concerning the results of this examination.
- Recommend pass
- Recommend pass but some remedial work is desired and should be checked by the advisory/supervisory committee by some reasonable specified time
- Recommend re-appear
- Recommend fail, required to withdraw
Option 3 will not be available to a student more than once. The director will communicate the result to the student in a timely manner.
6.0 GSP policies and procedures - Director & Associate Director
The director and associate director
6.1 General Observations
- The GSP program shall exist for and be committed solely to the pursuit of excellence in research and graduate instruction.
- To this end it is expected that directors, and associate directors as and when appointed, shall be individuals of prestige on the national (and international) scene who have appreciation of and strong commitment to high standards in research and teaching.
- Further to this end of attaining excellence, operation of the GSP program shall ultimately be the responsibility of the director
- Membership in the program shall imply acceptance of these principles by all the members.
6.2 Selection of a director/associate director
The director and associate director normally serve three year terms. Either or both terms may be renewed for one additional three year period in special circumstances.
6.2.1 Selection of the director
The Selection Committee for the GSP Director consists of the membership of the Coordinating Committee with the exceptions listed below:
- the director is not a member of the Selection Committee
- members of the Coordinating Committee who are candidates for the position of director are not members of the Selection Committee
- The Associate Provost, Graduate Studies at the University of Waterloo, and the Assistant Vice-President (Academic) at the University of Guelph are members of the Selection Committee
- The GSP administrator is a member of the selection committee
At their first meeting, the Selection Committee shall elect the Chair. This first meeting should occur about six months prior to the end of the term. In this and in all subsequent meetings of the Selection Committee, a quorum shall be 2/3 of the Committee's membership
The Chair of the Selection Committee will call for nominations and applications. Nominations can be made by any member of GSP and must be accompanied by a letter from the nominee stating his/her agreement to serve if selected. The Chair obtains complete curriculum vitae from the proposed candidates. All candidates must be members of GSP and full (not adjunct) members of either of the constituent physics (and Astronomy) departments.
The selection committee will review the candidates and, after appropriate consultation present at most one name from either campus to the membership for voting . The consultation phase of the process may well involve position statements in seminar or discussion format at each campus. Letters from the membership regarding the candidates are welcomed, and will be destroyed by the Chair at the end of the process. Each candidate (or the candidate in cases where there is only one) will be asked to present their vision for the program to the membership. This will normally be in the form of an oral presentation.
The voting by the membership consists of a secret mail ballot using the standard two-envelope system. The ballots will be counted by the Chair and by a graduate student member of the selection committee. Results will be communicated to the selection committee at its final meeting. A simple majority of the ballots returned constitutes approval.
When the results of the vote are determined, the Chairs of the Physics Departments are informed in writing by the Chairperson of the Selection Committee. The two Departmental Chairs then jointly recommend the appointment of the Director through normal channels, i.e., to the Deans, the Vice-Presidents and the Presidents of the two universities.
6.2.2 Selection of the associate director
The selection of the associate director takes place immediately after the selection of the director. The two Chairs, in consultation with the director-elect and the selection committee, are responsible for making the selection.
6.3 Allocation of responsibilities
6.3.1 Departmental chairs
The Chairs’ duties and responsibilities shall be as already defined in the two universities, except for those matters regarding graduate students which are specifically assigned to the director of GSP.
6.3.2 The director
Refer to section 4.2 The director.
6.3.3 The associate director
Refer to section 4.3 The associate director.
6.3.4 Director/associate director and graduate officers/coordinators
The director and associate director, as well as the graduate officer and graduate coordinator (one from Guelph and one from Waterloo) will make up the Admissions Sub-Committee of GSP. These four individuals will work together on admission decisions, scholarship matters and on the co-ordination of financial support for the students.
The GSP operating budget will result from discussions between the director, the associate director, the Science Deans and the Chairs.
6.4 GSP officeThis office, staffed by the GSP administrator, is a key component in the recruitment and admission of graduate students for the GSP program. This office must ensure expedient processing of graduate applications, and oversee the entire admissions process for incoming students from the time of their application until final admission by the home university. In addition, it is responsible for handling graduate student administration (records, committee meetings, etc.), all aspects of scheduling graduate courses (arrangements regarding transport of graduate students between the two universities as required, managing course enrolment, maintaining course records, etc.), scheduling and administering PhD qualifying exams, the organization of at least two GSP Distinguished Lectures annually, the organization of the GSP annual poster session, and all other aspects of administering the GSP program. The GSP administrator will maintain the link between the two campuses by actively communicating with all students and faculty at both campuses on graduate matters (ie. he/she will act as the ‘face’ of GSP). He/she will spend time on both campuses on a weekly basis as required by the needs of the program. Both departments will maintain an administrative office for the GSP program.
7.0 GSP policies and procedures - Membership
Members of GSP must hold a faculty appointment at either the University of Guelph or the University of Waterloo and will normally have a strong and active research program in one of the following physics subdisciplines:
- Subatomic Physics
- Astrophysics and Gravitation
- Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics
- Chemical Physics
- Industrial and Applied Physics
- Condensed Matter and Material Physics
- Quantum Computing
Faculty members from the Physics Department at Wilfrid Laurier University and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics may become members provided that they are appointed as Adjunct Professors in the Department of Physics at Waterloo or Associated Graduate Faculty at Guelph.
Members must have an active involvement with the graduate student program, through teaching of graduate courses, supervision of graduate students, or by serving on students' advisory committees.
Members will normally hold a significant research grant or be part of a research team which is funded by a research grant or contract from an external agency.
Members will normally be full-time employees who are authorized by their university to supervise graduate students. Retired faculty who are adjunct or emeritus professors may continue, if they wish, to co-supervise graduate students with the agreement of the Coordinating Committee.
Membership status will be reviewed by the Coordinating Committee every two years for non-tenured faculty and every five years for tenured faculty at the discretion of the director. Review of membership may require submission of an up to date CV.
Faculty seeking membership in GSP may apply at any time by submitting their CV to either of the two department Chairs, or the Director. Membership for the applicant will be granted if a majority of the Coordinating Committee approves the application.
7.2 Associate membership
Individuals from other institutions who hold the status of Adjunct Professor (at Waterloo) or Associate Graduate Faculty (at Guelph) may be considered for associate membership of GSP. Associated members may serve on supervisory committees and may co-supervise MSc. or PhD students. If they are principal co-supervisor, they must have sufficient research to provide the necessary financial support for students. As in the case of general membership, associate members must demonstrate evidence of active involvement with the graduate program through teaching of graduate courses, co-supervision of graduate students, or service on students' advisory committees. Associate memberships are reviewed every three years.
8.0 GSP policies and procedures - Emergency Decisions
8.1 Emergency decisions
An Executive Committee consisting of the director of GSP and the chairs of the two physics departments will be a standing committee of GSP empowered to make urgent ad hoc decisions on behalf of the Coordinating Committee.
If appropriate, these decisions can be confirmed or modified at the next regular meeting of the Coordinating Committee, particularly if a decision has implications for future policies and practices.
This committee will receive and prepare items for coordinating Committee meetings.
This committee can act for the director in his/her absence.
9.0 GSP policies and procedures - Graduate Courses
9.1 Graduate courses
The provision of the broadest possible range of graduate courses was a prime reason for the 1981 merger of the Guelph and Waterloo graduate programs. Our goal is to offer these courses as often as possible, consistent with student needs and available resources.
The courses in GSP fall into three categories based on the regularity with which they are offered:
- on demand
Both the long-term plan and the current year's schedule may be consulted by contacting the GSP office. Normally, courses taken for credit will be those designated as Graduate Courses within the program. Courses currently denoted as core courses are as follows:
- Physics 701/7010 Quantum Mechanics I
- Physics 704/7040 Statistical Physics I
- Physics 706/7060 Electro Magnetic Theory
- Physics 703/7030 Introduction to Quantum Field Theory
- Physics 781/7810 Fundamentals of Astrophysics
- Physics 767/7670 Introduction to Quantum Information Processing
To assist in updating the master plan, advisors/supervisors are expected to inform the Director's office of each student's overall course needs shortly after she/he joins the program; these needs may, of course, change later.
In early March the director requests input on need for the upcoming Fall and Winter semesters from all students and supervisors. In late March the director requests the chairs to incorporate a specific set of graduate courses into their teaching schedules. The chairs and director will consult on the choice of instructors and the chair will be responsible for informing the relevant instructors. In May the director will circulate the schedule of courses and instructors for the upcoming two semesters. Any requests after this point in time for additions to the schedule will be made in writing to the director; it is most likely that additions would be given under course designation 771 or the like.
If only 1 or 2 students require a given course it will be a reading course; if the number is 3 or 4 the nature of the course will be at the discretion of the instructor; for 5 or more students a full lecture course will be given.
In case only 1 student requests or enrolls in a course it may have to be deferred for one or two semesters. However, it is hoped that the only instance when a course is unavailable will be when the instructor for a highly specialized course is on leave.
Brief course descriptions are maintained in the GSP office for use by the students.
10.0 GSP policies and procedures - Student Remuneration
10.1 Student remuneration
The Coordinating Committee of GSP will review remuneration of graduate students at least once a year and will publish early in each year a statement of support for three categories of students - those with NSERC awards, those with OGS or comparable awards, and those currently without such awards. At each campus the chairs and the graduate officer/coordinator will determine how these sums are to be constituted from teaching assistantships, research assistantships and any scholarship funds available; they will supply the Director with the necessary information.
The criteria governing financial support of students are: that the student receive sufficient support, that financial worries do not impede his/her studies; that GSP compete effectively in the market-place; that the burden on faculty research grants be tolerable; that the administration of support be straightforward; that there be incentives to pursue scholarships; that all students in the category be treated similarly as far as possible.
GSP recognizes the special difficulties faced by foreign students. Graduate officers/coordinators will make every effort to assist these students in the context of the recommendations of the two universities as to the income level needed for tuition and living expenses of such students.
The GSP remuneration package is taken to be a minimum and advisors/supervisors may pay more if able and if mutually agreed upon between advisor/supervisor and student. The GSP office should be informed of all such exceptions. Students may be admitted with less than the guaranteed minimum only with approval of the Director in those instances in which advisors are unable to fund the portion and the student has been clearly explained the details in writing in the letter of offer.
Published stipends apply to full-time, continuing students. Support for part-time students will be negotiated through the appropriate graduate officer/coordinator.GSP guarantees financial support for a period of 6 semesters in the MSc program and for a period of 9 semesters in the PhD program; for students transferring from an MSc to a PhD program this guarantee will extend over 14 semesters. Support after this period will be determined by the advisor/supervisor depending on the funds available. This guarantee is further contingent upon the student not accepting employment, outside of that arranged through GSP for more than 10 hours per week. Any student exceeding this program limit does not enjoy this guarantee and remuneration (specifically the RA component) by the program will be as arranged by the advisor /supervisor and graduate officer/coordinator and as approved by the Director.
11.0 GSP policies and procedures - Inter-Institution Exchange
11.1 Course 775 -Inter-Institution Exchange
Since this course is unconventional and since the calendar description is necessarily limited in length, the administration of this course is fully defined here.
11.1.1 Calendar description
At the discretion of the Director, a GSP student may receive course credit for a semester of specialized studies carried out at another institution. Formal evaluation is required.
11.1.2 Intent of course
The intent of this course is to supplement the existing provision by which a graduate student may take one or two one-semester courses at other Ontario universities. 'Another institution' may be a university or a major research laboratory inside or outside Canada. ‘Specialised studies' could be course-work, participation in a defined research project, or learning a new area from an expert; acquiring technical expertise without a major academic component would not qualify. The time duration will be one semester.
A supervisor wishing to have a student take P775 will make a written case to the Director. The Executive Committee will then discuss the application and accept or reject it; they will require input from the proposed 'host' supervisor at the other institution.
The marking scheme will be agreed upon before the course is taught.
12.0 GSP policies and procedures - Exam Ethics
12.1 Exam ethics
While both universities have procedures regarding academic misconduct, which are contained in the respective graduate calendars, this policy is meant to address certain matters relating to graduate courses and examinations.
12.1.1 Assignments are routinely used for interim assessment in many GSP courses and it is common for the assignments to change little during the years that a single professor teaches a particular course. Whereas we do not discourage students discussing the solutions of current problem sets among themselves, these discussions must be such that a student’s submitted solution is predominantly his/her own work. In no circumstance should a student use or look at the written solution of another student nor should any student volunteer a written solution to anyone else. In particular, solutions from previous years' problem sets are not to be made available to anyone. For courses in which take-home examinations (final or mid-term) are given, students are not to discuss solutions with anyone else nor use the written solutions of anyone else.
[Instructors in courses other than core courses reserve the right to make exceptions to these rules if they deem fit. Such exceptions should be part of the written course outline distributed at the start of the course.]
12.1.2 A student who misses a final examination must present the instructor with a medical certificate or other documented evidence before a supplementary exam can be arranged. A student who has written the final examination will not normally be permitted to write a supplementary exam.
13.0 GSP policies and procedures - Waivers for Core Graduate Courses
13.1 Course waivers for core graduate courses
The following guidelines are proposed for determining the equivalence or non-equivalence of graduate courses taken by a student elsewhere (e.g., in a MSc. or PhD program at another university) to the “core courses” required by GSP, and hence whether the student is eligible to request a waiver for taking those courses in the GSP program.
13.1.1 It is agreed that if the material covered in a particular graduate course taken elsewhere is essentially equivalent to that of the corresponding GSP core course, then a course waiver can be granted. When such a course waiver is granted, it is still necessary that the student take the stipulated number of courses in each of the GSP MSc and PhD programs.
13.1.2 Normally, course equivalence/no-equivalence is established on a case-by-case basis by the GSP instructor(s) of the course involved, comparing course contents (both written content from the other university and discussion with student involved). Once a particular course at a particular other university has been accepted as equivalent, this more detailed evaluation procedure is not repeated unless GSP becomes aware that the course content at the other university has changed significantly. For most cases, from both the program's point of view and that of the student, this procedure does make reasonably sure that the program quality is not compromised.
13.1.3 In connection with those cases where equivalence may apply, but there is some doubt remaining (in the mind(s) of the expert(s) on that topic-such as a course instructor or instructors) to recommend a waiver, GSP can require the student either to take our core graduate course or to pass an exam on the material in that course. However, it is agreed that no general "qualifying exams" should be given to satisfy the core course requirements.
13.1.4 Waivers of core graduate courses will not normally be granted for courses taken previously which are clearly undergraduate courses. If there are uncertainties about the level (graduate vs. undergraduate) of previously-taken courses, then the previous procedures (1 - 3) will be applied.
13.1.5 If a graduate student wishes to appeal any aspect of the steps described above for refusing to waive the core course(s) he/she is encouraged to follow standard university procedures for launching such an appeal of an academic decision. Details can be obtained from the program graduate officers/coordinators, program Director, or graduate calendars.