Department of Physiology

The Oral Defense of the PhD Research Grant Proposal

In order to encourage critical evaluation of the proposal the student is required to submit to the Graduate Office a "Response to Reviewers", of not more than two pages in length (one extra page listing references may be attached), at least seven days before the Oral Defense. This will be distributed to members of the Oral Defense Committee so as to lead to a more productive oral presentation and discussion.

1. Appointment and Composition of the Oral Defense Committee

The Oral Defense Committee and its Chair are appointed by the PhD Research Proposal Committee. The Chair of the Oral Defense Committee will normally be a member of the Research Proposal Committee.

The three readers of the written proposal will normally form the three voting members of the Oral Defense Committee. Each of the readers will receive a copy of the other reviewers comments prior to the Defense. These will be distributed by the Departmental Graduate Office.

The supervisor and co-supervisor, if applicable, are expected to attend the Defense but are non-voting members of the Oral Defense Committee. If it is not possible to schedule the Defense within a reasonable time following receipt of the Readers' reviews due to absence of the supervisor(s), then, upon approval of the Course Director, the Defense may be allowed to proceed without him/her/them.

The Chair will ensure that the Defense process follows the guidelines (see item 3 below), that it is fair and that a consistent standard is achieved. The examination is a "Pass/Fail" examination.

2. Establishing the Oral Defense

Each student, in consultation with his or her supervisor, will be responsible for arranging the date and time of the Oral Defense (the Graduate Office must be notified as soon as possible of this date for purposes of arranging a Chair and distributing the official oral defense date notice). The Defense must take place within 30 days of notification of the success of the candidate's written proposal.

The Oral Defense is a closed examination.

A quorum consists of the three voting committee members. Should one voting member fail to attend the examination, the Chair may serve as the third voting member.

3. Procedures for The Oral Defense

Initially, the committee will meet in the absence of the candidate. At this time the Chair will ask the supervisor, or if appropriate the co-supervisor, what has been in their judgment the contribution of the student to the written Proposal. The Chair may at this time make further inquiries at his or her discretion. The candidate will be asked to join the committee and the Chair will ask the candidate what contribution the candidate has made to the written Proposal. The student will then present a 15 to 20 minute summary of the written Proposal, to include a response to the comments/criticisms of the Readers. The Chair will strictly enforce this time limit.

The committee members will then ask questions to test the student's knowledge of the Proposal and of the background information required to support the Proposal. It is expected that the student will answer at least 75% of the questions to the satisfaction of the examiners. The duration of the question period should not exceed 60 minutes. At the end of the question period the Chair and the three voting members of the committee will meet (in the absence of the student) to discuss the student's performance and vote. If one or more of the members vote "fail" then the student is deemed to have failed the oral component of the course; abstentions are not permitted.  The voting members of the committee will then fill out a Department of Physiology Assessment Form for the Oral Defense of the Doctoral Grant Proposal.  The signed form will then be forwarded to the Graduate Office.  The Chair may request a deferral of the final decision pending discussion with the Course Director and possibly also the Graduate Coordinator. The supervisor and candidate will then be informed of the outcome of the examination in writing.

Failure in the first oral defense of the PhD Research Grant Proposal will result in the student having a single opportunity to repeat the oral component of the examination within a 6-week time frame.  If the student fails to pass the second oral defense, she/he will be required to withdraw from the PhD program.