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Oral Defence Outcomes

There are four possible outcomes of an oral defence: a "Passed" outcome and three "Not Passed" outcomes.

PASSED

If the committee feels that the thesis and the responses to questions raised in the defence meet appropriate academic standards for the granting of the PhD degree, the student will be judged to have passed the defence.

If the committee determines that minor revisions (i.e., stylistic or editorial changes) are necessary for the thesis to fulfill the academic standards necessary for partial fulfillment of the degree, the Pro-Dean must delegate one member of the committee, usually the supervisor, to ensure that the student carries out the required changes.

NOT PASSED

If the committee determines that the thesis or oral defence does not meet appropriate academic standards for the PhD and would require, for example, major revisions to the text and/or additional study, it must decide between the following three "Not Passed" outcomes:

Thesis not passed: The oral defence is satisfactory but the thesis does not meet PhD degree standards. If this is the first "Not Passed" outcome, the student is allowed to submit a revised version of the thesis within six (6) months to the oral defence committee who will then evaluate the revised thesis without another oral defence.

Oral defence not passed: The thesis is satisfactory but the oral defence does not meet PhD degree standards. If this is the first "Not Passed" outcome, the student is allowed to conduct another oral defence within six (6) months without the submission of a revised thesis.

Thesis and oral defence not passed: Both the thesis and oral defence do not meet PhD degree standards. If this is the first "Not Passed" outcome, the student is allowed to submit a revised version of the thesis within six (6) months to the oral defence committee, who will then evaluate the revised thesis and conduct another oral defence.

Note: If the student has a previous "Not Passed" decision on an initial thesis or Oral Defence, a second "Not Passed" decision will result in withdrawal from the University.

If the committee judges that either the thesis or the defence (or both) do not meet the standards for the degree (one of three "Not Passed" outcomes), the Pro-Dean will confirm, in writing and within a week of the oral defence, the decision and subsequent actions to be taken. The Pro-Dean’s letter to the student will:

  • Summarize the reasons for the decision;
  • Indicate required revisions to the thesis;
  • Determine the deadline for submission of the revised thesis, if required (up to six months);
  • Determine the deadline for reconvening the oral defence, if required;
  • Outline any other actions needed; 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 other stated conditions.

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Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, McGill University.

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