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Thesis examination failures

If one or both of the examiners decided that the thesis does not meet the requirements for the degree (i.e. an outcome of NOT PASSED was designated on the examination report), a Master’s student will not graduate and a Doctoral student will not proceed to the Oral Defence. However, the student has the option to revise and resubmit a failed thesis.

In cases where plagiarism in the thesis is alleged, the thesis examination process does not proceed any further and the case is investigated through University disciplinary processes.

Revise and resubmit

A student whose thesis has not passed the examination may choose to revise and resubmit the thesis.  To do so, the student must contact GPS within 6 weeks of the notification of this outcome indicating the intention to revise and resubmit the thesis, including a supporting letter from the supervisor(s) confirming that the supervisor(s) will maintain supervisory oversight for the revision; this letter must be co-signed by the head of the Unit.*

Once the revise and resubmit process has been approved, the revised thesis must be resubmitted to GPS no later than 1 year from the notification of approval. GPS will normally send the revised thesis to the original examiner(s) who will determine if the revised thesis has been revised to address the issues raised in the original examiner’s report(s) and has now met the requirements for the degree. 

If the original examiner is not willing or available to serve, the Unit* must provide GPS with the names of two potential examiners (internal or external, depending on who did not pass the thesis). GPS will contact and secure the examiner. Once the names have been submitted to GPS, no contact between the Unit* or student and potential examiners is permitted. This new examiner will be provided with the original  report that did not pass the thesis, and will be asked to determine whether the revised thesis has addressed the issues raised by the original examiner’s report and has met the requirements for the degree. 

The following are also required for resubmission of the revised thesis:

If the student does not contact GPS requesting to revise and resubmit the thesis within the designated 6 week time period or, once approved to revise the thesis, does not re-submit the revised thesis by the one year deadline, the thesis will be deemed to have failed and the student will be withdrawn from the university.

For Master’s students, if the revised thesis is passed, then the student will have fulfilled that requirement for the degree. For Doctoral students, if the revised thesis is passed, then the student will proceed to the Oral Defence. (The Oral Defence committee will only receive the thesis that has been passed and nothing concerning the revise and resubmit process will be conveyed.)

Should the re-examination fail to pass the thesis, the thesis will be deemed to have failed the examination process and the student will be withdrawn from the University unless they feel there is evidence of bias, error, or serious misrepresentation on the part of the examiner (see below).

Hearing Committee (for bias, error, or misrepresentation)

Revised, December 2012. Start of revision.

If a thesis has not been passed and the student feels that this judgment is not based on the academic or scholarly quality of the thesis itself,  but  rather is determined by bias, error, or serious misrepresentation on  the  part  of  the  examiner, the student may submit to  the  Dean  of  Graduate  and Postdoctoral Studies a   written  request  for a new examiner for the thesis, documenting the bias, error, or serious misrepresentation.  This request must be made within six weeks of the notification that the thesis has not passed, and may be accompanied by a letter of support from the supervisor and/or Unit.

To consider the request, the Dean will convene (and chair) a Hearing Committee, composed of 2 standing  members of Graduate Council and an appointed member of the student’s  disciplinary Faculty. This Committee will review the request at a hearing to which the student will be invited in order to present their case.***  The Committee will render a decision (in the absence of the student) as to whether bias, error or serious misrepresentation has been proven. The decision and the reasons behind it will be communicated in writing to the student by the Dean of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies within one week of the Committee hearing.

If the request for a new examiner is approved by the Committee, the examination by the examiner in question will be considered void; the student and supervisor with the approval of the Unit must identify and contact a new examiner (and submit a new Nomination of Examiners form to GPS).  The thesis may not be revised prior to submission to the new examiner.

If the request for a new examiner is not approved by the Committee, and this is first time that the thesis has been evaluated, the student has the right to Revise and Resubmit under the normal procedures. If the revised thesis also fails to pass examination, the thesis will be judged as not fulfilling the requirements for the degree and the student will be withdrawn from the University.

Revised and resubmitted thesis: If bias, error, or serious misrepresentation is first alleged as a result of the examination of a revised thesis (i.e. a thesis that did not pass the first examination and was subsequently revised and resubmitted), the Hearing Committee process described above will be followed. If the allegation is upheld, a new examiner will be secured as described above. If the allegation is not upheld, no further revisions will be considered; the student will be withdrawn from the University.

Revised, December 2012. End of revision.

Oral Defence Failure

If the Oral Defence Committee determines that the thesis or the defence was inadequate or that the thesis requires major revisions, the Committee will require the student either:

1) To resubmit a revised version of the thesis to the Oral Defence Committee who will then evaluate the revised thesis without another Oral Defence, or

2) To conduct another defence without the submission of a revised thesis, or

3) To resubmit a revised version of the thesis to the Oral Defence Committee who will then evaluate the revised thesis and conduct another Oral Defence.

Within a week of the Oral Defence, the Pro-Dean will inform the student in writing of the failure and subsequent actions to be taken. This letter will:

  • Summarize the reasons for the failure;
  • Indicate changes to the thesis stipulated by the Committee members;
  • State the deadline for resubmission of the revised thesis, if required (up to six months);
  • State the deadline for reconvening the Oral Defence, if required;
  • Outline any other actions, and
  • Delegate a member of the Committee, usually the supervisor, to ensure that the student carries out the required changes to the written thesis and/or complies with the other stipulations.

*Unit refers to a department or a school or an institute or a division, in the case of Experimental Medicine.

**Head refers to chair of the Academic Unit* or delegate (such as Graduate Program Director/Associate Director). Names of delegate(s) should be submitted to the Director, Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs.

*** The student may bring an advisor from the university community to the hearing (who must not be paid for their services.)