Thesis Defence

The process for defending a graduate thesis at the University of Alberta is well described in the program manual. It is very important that a student meet with the chair of the examining committee to go over the examination procedure.

Some tips:

Ensure that you have met the program requirements (coursework and types of courses), as outlined in the program manual; otherwise, you will not be allowed to defend. (For PhD students, this is checked for the candidacy exam.)

Practice your seminar so that you know what you will talk about and so that you know that you will stay under the time limit. Ideally, practise in the examination room. If you have video or other complex media requirements, test them on the equipment in the room so that you know they work.

Prepare a cv, emphasizing your academic record (education, publications, scholarships and awards).

Prepare handouts of your presentation for the examination committee members. This will allow them to make notes easily for any points of discussion.

Try to relax and remember that you know more about your specific topic than anyone else in the room.

Remember that it is much better to say “I don’t know” than to bluff with an answer that may be wrong.

Know that you can expect to be treated with dignity and respect during the examination. The chair of the exam has a role in ensuring that the exam is conducted in a fair manner. (“Fair” does not mean “easy.”)

FGSR now requires that when a defence outcome is “Pass subject to revisions”, the chair of the examining committee must provide to FGSR in writing within five days of the examination: (i) the reason for the outcome, (ii) details of the required revisions, (iii) the approval mechanism for meeting the required revisions, and (iv) the supervision and assistance the student can expect to receive from the examining committee.

Professor, Mechanical Engineering