PhD Regulations

Admission Requirements

  1. An applicant for the PhD program must normally have taken courses at the Honors or MA level in at least five of the following six areas of English Language or Literature:

    • Old English, Middle English, OR History of the Language
    • Renaissance dramatic OR Renaissance non-dramatic
    • 18th century OR 19th century
    • American OR Canadian
    • Twentieth-Century British OR Postcolonial
    • Theory (e.g., historical, contemporary, feminist, genre, etc.).
  2. Admission is on a competitive basis. To be considered for admission, an applicant must have the MA degree (or its equivalent) in English Literature or a related field with a grade average of A- (80-84%) or higher across the English courses. This is the minimum requirement and it does not guarantee admission. The minimum requirement for consideration is a grade average of 78% across all graduate courses taken, where there are grades available. If no grades are available, the last 10 full- or 20 half-courses are counted in calculating the average. Attainment of this minimum requirement does not, in and of itself, constitute eligibility for admission.

  3. English proficiency standards set by the Department of English must be met (see Supporting Documentation for a PhD Applicant).

  4. The deadline for applications is January 15. Applications can be considered after that date only if places are still open. Admission decisions are not subject to appeal. Students may enter the PhD program only upon completion of all requirements for their previous degree.

  5. Applicants to the PhD program must submit both a writing sample (e.g., a recent essay) and a statement of intent (see Supporting Documentation for a PhD Applicant).

Faculty Mentors

On entering the graduate program, students will be assigned a Faculty Mentor by the Chair of Graduate Studies. The mentor/student relationship is largely informal and intended to provide students with a designated member of the Graduate Faculty whom they may approach with questions relating to their graduate education and welfare, especially in the first year. Students may consult with their Faculty Mentors as much or as little as need arises. The role of the Faculty Mentor does not replace that of either the Chair of Graduate Studies or the Committee on Graduate Studies. The Mentor will not necessarily serve as the student’s thesis or project supervisor.

Residency Requirement

Four full years (i.e., twelve graduate terms, full-time) after the M.A. will normally be required. At the discretion of the Department, and subject to the approval of the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, a part of this period may be spent in research and study elsewhere. Advance application, supplying academic justification, should be made to the Chair of Graduate Studies if a student is proposing to take periods of absence exceeding four weeks in any term.

Course Work

Course Work

A minimum average of 78% is required for progression.

The requirement is normally a minimum of three full graduate courses in English after the MA (two half-courses are the equivalent of one full course) taken in the first and second year of full-time enrolment. All three full graduate courses must be completed by the end of the second year. Failure to complete course work on schedule will not be grounds for deferral of either of the qualifying examinations. With approval from the Chair of Graduate Studies, up to the equivalent of 1.0 full course may be taken from another program (examples of eligible programs include French, Classics, Modern Languages, Comparative Literature, Women's Studies, Theory and Criticism, History, Political Studies, Psychology, Anthropology, Sociology, and Philosophy). A student may audit any other courses in English at the discretion of the instructors involved. All PhD students are required to take at least one half-course at the graduate level before 1900 if they have not done so at the MA level.

Compulsory Course in Bibliography and Textual Studies

As of September 2018, English 9002, Advanced Research Methods, is no longer a required course for our MA or PhD programs.

Reading Course

A reading course is one in which the student will meet an instructor regularly (a minimum of twenty-five hours is required for a full course and thirteen hours for a half-course) to discuss his or her progress in following a prescribed reading list. A candidate may be allowed to take up to one full course as a reading course as one of the graduate courses prescribed for the PhD if he or she is able to find an instructor willing to direct such a course and if the Committee on Graduate Studies approves. The approval and commencement of reading courses (which in all other respects conform to departmental specifications) is contingent on a student's being in good standing in other graduate courses (i.e., assignments are handed in on time and are satisfactory). Course content, assignments and student-teacher consultation are expected to be equivalent in weight to regularly offered courses. A reading course must be approved by the Committee on Graduate Studies prior to the commencement of the course.

An outline (description) of the proposed course, briefly explaining its purpose, listing the texts to be studied, and including the evaluation scheme should be submitted to the Chair of Graduate Studies at least four weeks before the term in which the course is to be taken. The instructor should have indicated approval of this proposal by adding a signature to it.

Term Work

The Graduate Faculty in English has set the following deadlines for the completion of term work in graduate courses:

January 1 for Fall half-courses;
May 1 for Fall-Winter full courses and for Winter half-courses;
September 1 for Summer courses.

Any instructor is entitled to set a deadline prior to those established by the Graduate Faculty in English, and it will have the same force and carry the same penalty as the Department deadline. Any student who has not submitted all required work by the deadline will receive an F in the course, and his or her registration in subsequent graduate courses (i.e., progression in the program) will be subject to review by the Committee on Graduate Studies. Exceptions to this rule will be made only on medical or compassionate grounds that are established to the satisfaction of the Committee on Graduate Studies. Those intending to ask for extensions on such grounds should do so at least a week before the deadline.

Appeals Procedures

Appeals Relating to Courses

Should a student feel that he or she must appeal an evaluation from an instructor, the following procedures will be followed:

  1. If a student is dissatisfied with judgments rendered by the instructor, the student should try to resolve the differences with the instructor. The student must consult with the instructor in this way before he or she launches a formal appeal.
  2. If, after such discussions, the student is still not satisfied, he or she can appeal part or all of the course.
  3. The student can inform the Chair of the Committee on Graduate Studies at any time during the course, or up to six weeks after the final marks are submitted, that he or she intends to appeal one or more assignments, but normally the Committee will wait until the course is over and the instructor has submitted all marks before acting on the appeal, and it will consider the appeal in the context of the entire course.
  4. Once the Chair begins to act on the appeal, the instructor will be notified that the appeal is in process. The Committee on Graduate Studies will consult with both the student and the instructor before it reaches a decision. The student will be informed of the decision in writing within six weeks of receipt of the written appeal and complete documentation.
  5. The Chair can, at the student's request, act on the appeal before the end of the course, but the student should understand that normally the instructor will be notified at that time of the appeal.
  6. The proceedings of the appeal hearing are confidential.
  7. Specific circumstances pertaining to individual courses may make it necessary for these procedures to be modified at the discretion of the Committee on Graduate Studies or its Chair.

Appeals Relating to Qualifying Examinations

Preamble: As indicated in Section 11 of the SGPS Graduate Regulations, all students have the right to appeal an academic ruling in their program, so long as the appeal is directed toward a procedural matter and not on an academic outcome. The examiners’ adjudication of the student’s intellectual performance is not open to appeal, unless that adjudication can be directly traced to bias or unfairness. Students wishing to appeal the assessment of a qualifying exam, whether written or oral, should first remind themselves of the objectives, standards, and regulations regarding qualifying exams, as posted on the department’s website (Section X, “The Qualifying Exams,”). A student considering or launching an appeal may bring a representative from GES, the GTA Union, or SOGS to any meeting convened in the process outlined below.

As per SGPS Appeals Procedures, an appeal must be filed within four weeks of the issuance of the mark or ruling. In the event that the second sitting of an exam is being appealed, material from the first sitting of that exam cannot be considered.

  1. Prior to launching an appeal on the adjudication of a qualifying exam, the student shall meet with the chair of the examining committee for a review of the student’s performance in the exam, be it written or oral.  Should the student be unsatisfied with the review provided, s/he should then discuss the matter with the Chair of Graduate Studies (or designate).
  2. Should the student remain unconvinced that proper procedures were followed during the examination or in the determination of its grade, s/he may then launch an appeal of the decision.  That appeal must be based on one or more of the following grounds:
    • medical or compassionate circumstances arising during the examination;
    • extenuating circumstances beyond the student’s control arising during the examination;
    • bias by one or more examiners against the student;
    • inaccuracy of one or more examiners in regard to the student’s reading list;
    • discrepancy from the procedures as outlined in the regulations.
  3. Within four weeks of the examination in question, the student shall write a letter to the Chair of Graduate Studies (or designate) outlining the terms of the complaint and the restitution being sought (such as a raising of the grade or the nullifying of the exam results).  In the event that the Chair of Graduate Studies is named in the appeal letter, the matter will be referred to the Department Chair or, if the Chair has been named as well, to the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.  Under no circumstances shall the original decision maker(s) whose decision or ruling is under appeal hear an appeal of that decision or ruling at the program level.
  4. Upon receiving the letter of appeal, the Chair (or designate) shall interview each of the examiners and/or the chair of the oral regarding the claims made in the letter about improper procedures in the conduct of the examination. The interviews will be conducted separately, and in confidence.
  5. At the earliest convenience, the Chair of Graduate Studies (or designate) shall convene a meeting of the Committee on Graduate Studies to consider the soundness of the appeal and its proposed restitution.  Any member who has been named in the appeal will be recused from this meeting. Upon hearing this evidence and rendering a decision, the Committee shall task the Chair with writing an explanatory letter to the Appealer, explaining this decision.  Normally, this letter should be written within two weeks of the receipt of the appeal.

Specific circumstances pertaining to individual exams may make it necessary for these procedures to be modified at the discretion of the Committee on Graduate Studies or its Chair.

Appeals relating to actions of the Chair of Graduate Studies

Whether in connection with the program appeals process, with involuntary withdrawal owing to non-progression, or in any other matter, shall be addressed to the Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies).


PhD students are expected to strive to complete all requirements for the degree within 12 terms (4 years) of initial registration in the PhD program. Guaranteed University-based financial support for direct entry PhD candidates is limited to 12 terms in the program. A list of the degree requirements is found here (

For course work, the standard for progression is an average of at least 78%. Passing these milestones in a timely manner is required for degree progression. In accordance with paragraph 4.03(b) in the regulations of the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS), the maximum period of registration in the doctoral program is six calendar years from initial registration.

Yearly Reports (Pathfinder Portfolios)

A report must be completed on time each year using Pathfinder, as required by the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. The submission and approval of an annual Pathfinder report is required to extend registration each year beyond year 4. The date for Pathfinder submissions is June 1.

Prior to the completion and submission of the Pathfinder portfolio, students should contact their supervisory committee to discuss their progress over the year and what is required in the coming year for timely completion.

If the supervisory committee’s feedback states that the student is not meeting expectations towards timely completion, or if the student, supervisor(s), or the graduate chair has concerns with progress, the student will meet with the supervisor(s) and graduate chair to discuss progress and determine if registration should be extended. Extending registration may be conditional on the student meeting a schedule of completed work.

Qualifying Examinations

General Framework

During the first and second year of the PhD, students will take two qualifying exams. Qualifying exams prepare the candidate for teaching, not only in his/her area of specialization, but as broadly as possible, especially for the survey courses that most faculty are required to teach at some point in their careers. For candidates not planning to enter the academy as teachers and researchers, the exams offer invaluable practice in the arts of acquiring a large and complex body of knowledge, synthesizing of information, communicating that information, and managing time.

In January of the PhD candidate’s first year of study, he/she will declare a secondary field; the primary field of interest will be declared no later than the following June. These fields will normally be taken from the following fourteen areas (clicking on each link will take you to that field's general reading list in PDF PDF download):

Old and Middle English Language and Literature;
English Drama to the Restoration;
Renaissance Non-Dramatic Literature;
Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Literature;
Nineteenth-Century British Literature (Victorian Supplemental, Romantics Supplemental);
Twentieth-Century British and Irish Literature;
American Literature;
Canadian Literature;
Postcolonial Literature;
Literary Criticism and Theory;
Women’s Literature and Gender Studies;
Textual Studies*;
Cultural Studies;
Indigenous Literature and Literary Criticism/Theory.

Textual Studies may only be chosen as a secondary field.

Download the list of 2023-24 Qualifying Examination Committees. PDF download

Each examination is drawn up, graded, and examined orally (where applicable) by an Examining Committee of three faculty members (with the exception of the nineteenth-century, which usually has 4), one of whom is designated the chair and through whom all inquiries should be directed. The general/secondary reading lists for each of these fields is available from the Graduate Coordinator. Candidates are also permitted to see select previous exams in order to get a clearer sense of what is usually required. These exams can be viewed in the Graduate Coordinator’s office.

PhD candidates whose research is located in a field that crosses between the categories on the list above, or that is not included in them, may propose a special field for the Primary Field Examination. Students who propose a special field are responsible for selecting the three faculty members who will constitute the examining committee and for obtaining their agreement, and, in consultation with the proposed examining committee, for compiling the list of works to be covered in the examination. This list should be comparable in length, breadth, and depth to the lists approved by the Department for the Primary Field Examination in the regular fields listed above. Special fields will not be permitted for the Secondary Field Examination.

Students wishing to propose a special field for the Primary Field Examination must inform the Chair of Graduate studies before Reading Week in their second term of doctoral study. They must obtain the consent of their three proposed examiners, and the proposed special field together with the list of examiners must be submitted to the Committee on Graduate Studies no later than June 15 of the first year of doctoral study. The list of works to be covered by the special field examination should be assembled in consultation with the examining committee and must be submitted for their final approval and that of the Committee on Graduate Studies no later than November 15 of the second year of doctoral study.

All qualifying exams are four hours in length. Exams are normally written on computers, although candidates are allowed to write by hand, should they choose. Faculty proctors will oversee the examination, and will gather up all exams at the end of the exam period.


There are two Qualifying Exams:

  1. Secondary Field examination (written only)
  2. Primary Field examination (written exam followed by an oral exam approximately one week later)

The examinations will be held on a stated day in May; in case of deferral or re-sitting there will be a makeup date in September. Candidates who defer an exam will be required to take it at the next sitting. Deferrals will be granted only on compelling medical or compassionate grounds (and with supporting documentation, where applicable). Requests for deferrals should be made to the Chair of Graduate Studies in English.

A student must undertake the written secondary, written primary, and oral primary examinations no later than May of the second year in the program, except in cases of deferrals on medical or compassionate grounds.

Descriptions of Exams

Secondary Field Examination
In January of the candidate’s first year of the program, all qualifying students will meet with their Examining Committee to discuss the format of the May exam and to clarify any matters pertaining to the writing of the exam. Candidates will obtain a reading list for the chosen secondary field from the Graduate Coordinator (UC 2401C - or see links to PDF reading lists above).

If applicable, candidates will draw up an individual list based on the general list in their field and forward it to the examining committee by 1 February for approval. Approval or minor suggestions for revision will be provided in writing.

In May of the first year of doctoral studies, all students will write the qualifying exam for the secondary field. Exams will be graded by the Examination Committee for each area, and the grade will be conveyed to the student. The exams are graded on the basis of “Pass,” “Fail,” or “Pass with Distinction,” which is what will be recorded on the transcript.

Primary Field Examination
Once the doctoral candidate has passed the Secondary Field Examination, he/she will move on to the Primary Field examination. The Primary Field examination will test the candidate’s broad knowledge in the field in which his or her thesis research is to take place; it will indicate that s/he is “qualified” to write the dissertation. As with the Secondary Field examination, candidates will normally obtain a general reading list for their chosen primary field from the Graduate Coordinator. The reading list will serve as the base upon which the student will develop his/her final list for the exam during the summer before the second year of study. Students writing the Primary Field exam in a special field should use the existing lists as a model for their special list, and may wish to include works on their list from one or more of the existing lists.  In September of the second year of the doctoral program, all students sitting the Primary Field in the coming May will meet with their Examining Committees to discuss the format of the exam, to clarify any matters pertaining to the writing of the exam, and to finalize the list of works on which they will be examined. Expansion and fine-tuning of the Primary Field reading list must be done in consultation with the members of the Examining Committee for that area, and when the Committee has given final approval to that list, its Chair will forward it to the Chair of Graduate Studies in English for the approval of the Committee on Graduate Studies. Lists should be communicated to the CGS by 1 November (if writing in May) or 1 July (if writing in September). Earlier submissions are encouraged. Templates are available from the Graduate Coordinator.

The written Primary Field examination will be followed approximately one week later by an oral examination, lasting one to two hours. Like the written exam, the oral exam will test the candidate's broad knowledge of his or her chosen Primary Field. Questions (to be based on both the general reading list and the expanded reading list) might invite a candidate to elaborate on his or her written answers, and might also test a candidate's knowledge of texts that she or he chose not to write about in the written Primary Field exam. All three of these exams--the written Secondary Field, the written Primary Field, and the oral Primary Field--are graded "Pass," "Fail" or "Distinction" on the transcript. Students must pass both the written and oral Primary Field examinations in order to progress in the program.

Normally, a student who fails the qualifying exam will be re-examined by the same committee.

Failing Results and the Results of Failing

Secondary Field Examination
If a student fails the Secondary Field examination at the first sitting, the committee for that examination, through its chair, may request the Committee on Graduate Studies to set an exam at the next sitting for a make-up examination. A student who fails the Secondary Field examination on the second sitting will be required to withdraw from the program.

Primary Field Examination
If a student fails the Primary Field examination at the first sitting, either in its written or its oral component, the committee for that examination, through its chair, may request the Committee on Graduate Studies to set an exam at the next sitting. Only the failed portion of the Primary Field exam would be re-taken in that sitting, which is to say, failure on the oral component in the exam will require a retaking of the oral only, not the written. A student who fails the written Primary Field examination on the second sitting will be required to withdraw from the program. A student who fails the oral Primary Field examination on a second sitting will be required to withdraw from the program.


The Thesis Prospectus should be a fairly succinct document, outlining the candidate’s topic, methods, and resources for the thesis. It should be prepared in consultation with the supervisor-designate and optionally also the second reader-designate. The following form and content are required:

    1. Candidate's name, degrees, and student number, with email address.
    2. Names of supervisor(s) and second reader, with email addresses.
    3. Working title of thesis.
    4. A series of main body paragraphs. The following sequence is suggested but other sequencing is permissible and may work better in particular cases:
      • A paragraph stating the proposed topic (or "working hypothesis"). This paragraph should also outline the scope of the project, including geographical, national, and temporal parameters.
      • A paragraph or two showing that the topic is innovative or covers territory not adequately investigated in previous scholarship. These paragraphs should explain how the topic makes an intervention within or otherwise advances existing fields of scholarship. 
      • A paragraph or two describing the candidate’s methodology, with an explanation of underlying theory, philosophy, mode of critique, etc., as appropriate. 
      • A paragraph identifying the primary texts and/or case studies that the thesis will examine. A provisional outline of chapters may be effective here. 
      • A paragraph documenting the nature, location, and availability of resources, such as bibliographical materials. Any additional skills needed for execution of the project (e.g., language acquisition) should also be mentioned here. If it is proposed to conduct author interviews or other processes involving human subjects, this should be specifically noted. 
      • A bibliography. In addition to listing the sources referred to in the text of the prospectus, the bibliography should communicate the student's awareness of the current state of the field by including relevant primary source material and a minimum of 25 secondary sources.

Length of prospectus

1,200 words (not counting the bibliography)

Submission date

25 June of Year 2, to the Committee on Graduate Studies, via the Graduate Coordinator


The Committee on Graduate Studies will discuss and report back on the Prospectus within ten working days. Where revisions are deemed necessary, a consultation will be held between the Chair of Graduate Studies, representing the Committee, and the candidate. Final approval of the Prospectus should normally have occurred within fifteen working days of original submission. 

Sample Chapter

No more than six months after passing the Primary Field Examination, doctoral candidates will submit a chapter or substantial section of their thesis to a committee comprising the supervisor, the second reader, and a third member to be chosen by the candidate in consultation with the supervisor. This chapter or section should be at least 25 pages long and will demonstrate the viability of the candidate’s program of research and his or her ability to carry it out. Approximately two weeks after submission of the sample chapter, the candidate will discuss it at a formally scheduled conference with the three members of the committee. Timely completion of this requirement will be a condition of continuance in the program. Once it has been completed, the supervisor will inform the Graduate Chair and completion of the sample chapter will be recorded as a milestone towards completion of the doctorate.

Language Requirement

By the time they complete Year 3 of the PhD program, students must provide evidence that they have a reading knowledge of at least one language other than English. That language will, in appropriate instances, relate directly to the candidate’s thesis area.

Old English may not be used to satisfy this requirement.

The requirement can normally be satisfied in one of the following ways:

  • For native speakers of other languages, possession of English language competence at the level required for admission to the program.
  • Completion of one or more university courses in the chosen language, at or beyond the first-year university level (or its equivalent).
  • A pass in a "challenge test," taken without any requirement for prior course-work in the language. A student wishing to have the Department arrange such a test must notify the Chair of the Committee on Graduate Studies through the Graduate Assistant by the end of the second term of residence.

Responsibility for finding a means of satisfying the requirement in the chosen language rests with the student. In practice, unless the student already has competence in the chosen language, it will be advisable to select languages that are supported by staffing and instruction at Western University.

In exceptional cases, satisfaction of the above requirements notwithstanding, the Committee on Graduate Studies may rule that further study of a language is required because of the specific demands of the chosen area of research for the Thesis.

Thesis Completion Guidelines

The following notes provide English program in-house guidance for supervisors and candidates concerning the final stages of thesis completion and the setting up of the exam board and the defence. Definitive regulations are posted by SGPS and they should also be consulted:

Please also see the Department of English's Thesis Regulations & Procedures:

  1. Planning prior to submission of thesis draft to supervisor
    In considering possibilities for a defence date, the candidate must plan well ahead to ensure that he or she has any necessary SGPS extensions in place, is in good standing with the University regarding fees and any other dues, has fulfilled the program's language requirements, can meet the SGPS deadlines for submission of thesis to SGPS, has allowed for the six weeks of reading time required for examiners, and (particularly in Summer Term) is taking account of faculty and staff vacation periods and other authorized leaves. It is wise to have made financial provision for payment of an extra term's tuition fees in case the defence has to be delayed for any reason. Please see Section 4.04 d) of the Graduate Regulations on Thesis Defense Only status.

  2. Submission of penultimate thesis draft to supervisor
    The candidate submits a penultimate draft of the complete thesis to the supervisor. The draft must constitute one through-composed text (not, for instance, a set of discrete articles). All chapters, including introduction, conclusion, bibliography, notes, and any appendices, must be submitted at the same time (since the supervisor will want to check one section against another). A high standard of spell-checking and proof-reading should have been reached, so that the supervisor is not distracted by microscale errors. Similarly, bibliography format should conform with MLA requirements. If the draft does not meet the standards listed above it is not ready for this formal supervisor submission stage.

  3. Supervisor reads thesis draft
    The time needed by the supervisor for reading and reporting back should be negotiated in advance. The supervisor will need to be allowed several weeks at least, since this is a crucial stage in the proceedings. Special circumstances may call for longer. Supervisors should not be put under pressure to reduce or waive this reading time. Similar observations apply to other members of the supervisory board who have reading commitments.

  4. Final revisions
    The supervisor informs the candidate of any revisions that need to be made. All residual proof-reading and checking (e.g., of references) must be done as part of the revision, whether or not indicated by the supervisor.

  5. Notification of graduate chair
    If the supervisor is satisfied as to the overall quality of the thesis draft, he or she informs the graduate chair that the thesis is within two or three weeks of readiness for submission to SGPS and that carry-through to SGPS submission of thesis is guaranteed.

  6. Preparation for final submission
    The candidate should consult the SGPS webpage on Thesis Regulations for up-to-date format requirements. Copies of previous English program theses should not be used as templates, since format requirements may have changed. Where the SGPS instructions do not cover specific contingencies, MLA formatting and referencing guidelines should be followed instead. Where SGPS and MLA conflict, SGPS guidelines should be followed.

  7. Candidate and supervisor role in setting up the examination board and defence date
    Four examiners are needed: 1 external to the University, 1 within the University but external to the program, 2 internal to the program. Candidate and supervisor should discuss possible examiner nominees fully, reviewing the various options. Considerations are, for instance, a) their likely availability, b) the applicability of their teaching and research interests to the specific thesis project, c) their experience in the examiner role, d) their potential helpfulness for the candidate's career.

    All nominee examiners must be "at arm's length" from the candidate. That means not being a relative or a friend, not having helped substantively with the thesis at any stage, not having collaborated with the candidate (e.g., on conference panels, editorship of journals or essay collections), and so forth. In case of the program examiners, these requirements apply less rigorously.

    In addition, departmental and university examiners must have membership with SGPS in order to participate.

    When these discussions have resulted in a consensus shortlist of prospective examiners, the supervisor passes the list on to the graduate chair. This list should include complete contact information, including e-addresses, telephone numbers, and links to the nominee's webpage, so as to expedite the correspondence between graduate chair and the nominees. In the English program it is the convention that the candidate and supervisor do not themselves issue the formal invitation to prospective examiners. That (as described below) is the role of the graduate chair, who in turns consults the Department chair on budgetary matters connected with the external examiner visit.

  8. Graduate chair role in setting up the examination board and defence date
    On receipt of the list of potential examiners, the graduate chair asks the supervisor whether all prospective examiners are "at arm's length" from the candidate. If satisfied on this score, the graduate chair contacts the prospective examiners. Although this process is prioritized over other graduate chair commitments and can sometimes be completed quite rapidly, equally (and unpredictably) it may well consume two or even three weeks. Nominees may have many commitments and be unable to respond immediately. Also, it can be difficult to find a date when all parties can attend defence. (It is the expectation, under SGPS regulations, that all examiners be present.) Candidates need to build this allowance into their time-line leading up to defence. Once all arrangements are made the graduate chair nominates the examination board to SGPS.

  9. SGPS submission
    Within the following week, and by the deadlines specified by SGPS (see SGPS thesis submission timelines), the candidate should submit thesis to SGPS (see Preliminary Submission). The Doctoral Thesis Examination Request form must be signed by all required parties and submittedby the Graduate Coordinatorto the Thesis and Membership Coordinator at SGPS. In those rare and undesirable cases where the supervisor has declined to sign off but where the candidate wishes to go to examination regardless, the candidate should enquire with the graduate chair or graduate coordinator as to the procedures for submitting on their own recognizance.

  10. Commencement of examination
    The thesis is dispatched to the examiners by the SGPS Thesis Coordinator. The Coordinator will also, in due course, inform the candidate officially as to date, time, and venue of the defence (though the first two items will have been unofficially communicated already by the graduate chair).

  11. Guidance to candidate on defence
    During the examiner reading time, the supervisor and the graduate chair will provide advice and guidance to the candidate on the standard protocols for the defence and how to prepare for it.


It is emphasized that the responsibility for following the rules printed here, the regulations of the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies printed in the Calendar (available on their website at, and the rules of the University Library regarding format of the thesis rests on the candidate.