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Oral Defence of the Dissertation

The purpose of the oral defence of a dissertation is to demonstrate to the examiners that the candidate fully understands the work that was completed, how the research was completed, and the meaning and significance of the findings and conclusions. The candidate must also have a clear understanding of how the work fits with the relevant literature and/or practice.

The Dissertation Examination Committee

The Dissertation Examination Committee (DEC) consists of all the members of the Dissertation Advisory Committee (DAC) and an external examiner who is knowledgeable on the subject of the thesis and at arm’s length from the candidate and the dissertation advisor (DA). The external examiner must be approved by the graduate coordinator.

Normally, at least one member of the DEC must be from outside the academic unit/program of the candidate. Thus, if all members of the DAC are internal to the candidate’s academic unit/program, the external examiner may not be.

When the external examiner must come from outside Biology or Chemistry and Biochemistry, normally this person will be a faculty member from another Laurier department. Where there is no available faculty member with requisite expertise in another department at Laurier, a suitable member of another nearby university may be asked to serve as external examiner.

The chair for the defence, appointed by the PhD Program Committee, must be a member of the graduate faculty of the university and be external to the DEC, but may come from within Biology or Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Guidelines for Determining "Arm's Length" of External Examiners

An external examiner must be at “arm’s length” from the candidate and the dissertation advisor (DA). Arm’s length means not being a close friend, a regular or current collaborator, a former supervisor or a former colleague. It also means not being in a conflict-of-interest position with regard to the candidate or DA and not having a vested interest in the outcome of the oral defence.

Scheduling of the Oral Defence

Obtain approval of the Dissertation Advisory Committee (DAC) to schedule the oral defence and survey the committee for availability. Notify the graduate administrative assistant who will provide the request to schedule oral examination form. The form must be signed and submitted at least 9 weeks before the proposed date.

The oral defence is handled by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. For detailed information on the scheduling of the defence, please read the Dissertation and Thesis Preparation page.


After the Defence

Once the committee has made a decision, the candidate will be informed of the decision and will be given an opportunity to offer any comments about the defence, especially with regard to the fairness of the examination and the findings.

The student may be asked to make appropriate revisions. Once these are done in a satisfactory manner, the supervisor (or a person named by the committee) will accept the thesis as it is.

The student must then submit the dissertation/thesis electronically.