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Doctoral oral defence completes the evaluation of the research work which is explained in your thesis. When the jury authorizes a doctoral oral defence, it is usually held within a time limit of 30 days. The purpose of a oral defence is to:

  • Confirm the authenticity of the thesis and make a final judgment regarding it.
  • Determine the student’s aptitudes for oral communication.

Unless specified otherwise, the defence of a doctorate’s thesis is public, open to the university community and to persons invited by the doctoral student.

The Doctoral oral defence must be held at least 10 days after the student has received his or her evaluation reports so he or she may properly prepare.

Unless specified otherwise, the defence must be held in French.

The doctoral oral defence normally takes place in person.

At the time of the defence, the student, his or her supervisor and co-supervisor (if any), as well as the president of the defence, are expected to be physically present. It is also recommended that other jury members be physically present. If this is not possible, other jury members may attend virtually, using Zoom or Webex.

In exceptional cases, a fully online defence may be authorized. In such cases, the choice must be made jointly by the student, his or her research supervisor, co-supervisor, and the president of the defence, who must also agree on the modalities.

The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies offers tools to help doctoral candidates prepare their defence.

The doctoral oral defence lasts for approximately two hours, including the announcement of the decision. Except in very special cases, the decision is made during the process.

The quorum for an oral defence is established at the majority of jury members and the external examiner must ideally attend in person or by videoconference. The doctoral oral defence is delayed or postponed if there is no quorum.

The jury chair first invites the student to give a short summation of 20 to 30 minutes. Then each jury member has a say: there are usually two rounds of questions.

The chair and the jury members then withdraw to deliberate. Following their deliberation, the defence is accepted or refused unanimously or by a majority vote.

Following the defence, the jury issues a certificate which officialises the jury’s decision and specifies if it is reached unanimously or by a majority vote.

The thesis is accepted

The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies forwards to the student a certificate of doctoral oral defence and invites him/her to make a final filing of the thesis by making some corrections under the supervision of his or her research supervisor. The student has a period of 8 weeks to make the final corrections.

The thesis is refused

The student has a right of appeal to the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies if he/she can invoke circumstances or arguments which invalidate the evaluation process. The jury’s final decision cannot in itself be subject to an application for review from the results of an evaluation, (Règlement des études , section 4.47 [Studies Regulation, in French only]. Once the time limit to appeal has lapsed without the student appealing, a fail mark is noted in his or her file.

If needed, the University makes available a list of rooms which may be accessed on campus.

Faculties which do not have a room adapted for doctoral oral defence should  contact their IT service center (information in French only) for help in organizing a videoconference.

At the student’s request, the public is authorized to attend the doctoral oral defence live and virtually. The room where the event is held must have the required commodities when possible.

In the event of a discrepancy between the French and English texts, the French version prevails.