Wilfrid Laurier University Graduate Calendar - 2005/2006
Canadian Excellence

Requirements for Submitting a Doctoral Dissertation and Scheduling the Oral Examination

All students are required to complete an original dissertation that makes a significant contribution to the existing knowledge in their field.

If a dissertation topic involves animals or human subjects, approval for the investigation must be sought from the WLU Research Ethics Board. Details are available from the Office of Research.

The dissertation is the culmination of a candidate's program. The dissertation must represent an original and significant contribution to the field and must, therefore, be exposed to the scholarly criticism of the members of the university community. The dissertation is placed on display in the Graduate Studies Office for two weeks. The examination is open and provides the candidate with an opportunity to defend and clarify the research.

Structure and Selection of the Dissertation Examining Committee

Each dissertation examining committee must consist of a supervisor, who normally will be a full-time member of the faculty; at least three other members of the graduate faculty of the university, one of whom must be a member from outside the academic unit of the candidate; and an external examiner with no previous formal linkages with the student, the supervisor or the academic unit.

The supervisor and all internal members must hold a current appointment to the Faculty of Graduate Studies. The committee, in consultation with the candidate and the supervisor, will appoint the external members of the committee.

The external examiner will be appointed by the dean of Graduate Studies from a list of at least three scholars who are recognized authorities on the subject of the dissertation. These external scholars must currently reside in Canada or the United States. The list of potential examiners will be submitted (on the appropriate nomination form) by the academic unit, after consultation with the supervisor and the other internal members of the examining committee. The nominations must be submitted at least eight weeks in advance of the proposed date(s) for the oral examination.

Procedures for Dissertation Submission/Scheduling the Oral Exam

At least eight weeks in advance of the proposed date(s) for the examination, the academic unit must submit the names of at least three potential external examiners (from Canada or the United States) to the dean of Graduate Studies. The dean of Graduate Studies, in consultation with the academic unit, will invite an external examiner who agrees to read the dissertation, to submit a written evaluation at least 10 working days prior to the proposed examination date(s), and to attend the oral examination. The written report should indicate the external examiner's preliminary vote (per the decision categories) based on a reading of the dissertation. Failure to receive this report by mail, e-mail or fax will result in the postponement of the oral examination. Once an external examiner has agreed to serve, the date, time and location of the examination will be confirmed.

Candidates must distribute one copy of the dissertation to each of the internal members of the committee and submit two copies, along with the signed Dissertation Submission Form, to the Graduate Studies Office at least five weeks in advance of the scheduled examination date. These copies must be submitted in the format required by the current thesis format guidelines. The Graduate Studies Office will forward one copy to the external examiner, and place the other copy on display for examination by any member of the university. The Graduate Studies Office will announce the submission of the dissertation, the membership of the examining committee, and the date and location of the oral defence. Major criticisms of the dissertation by members of the university community, other than those on the examining committee, must be submitted in writing to the dean of Graduate Studies no later than one week prior to the oral examination.