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Policies and procedures for MCS thesis completion

Recommended timeline

The four important milestones for MCS students are finding a supervisor, taking courses, presenting a research proposal, and completing and defending a thesis. The recommended timeline is as follows (for students taking 5 courses):

  • First term (Sept. – Dec.): find a research area/supervisor; courses (typically 3)
  • Second term (Jan. – Apr.): courses (typically 2), preparation of proposal
  • Third term (May – Aug.): submit and present proposal (beginning of term), the research. Discussion with supervisor about workload expectations.
  • Fourth and fifth term: completion of research, thesis writing, submit thesis to examining committee, then defend thesis

It is recognized that some students may require more time to complete, and that completion in 20 months is reasonable. Once the thesis has been written, the following procedures apply. Note that a student with a student study permit will need to have a least one month remaining (before the study permit's expiry) at step 5 below. A study permit student at an earlier stage whose study permit is near expiry should renew it. This is especially important for theses being reviewed at the end of terms (December, April, August).

Assessment of MCS thesis

The examining committee consists of the supervisor(s), an internal reader and committee chair from within the CS GAU, and an examiner from another GAU. The role of the internal reader is to assess the written thesis and participate in deliberations of the examining committee prior to the involvement of the external examiner (steps 1-3 below). Further participation by the internal reader is not required, but neither is it discouraged.

The committee chair assesses the thesis as well, co-ordinates the discussions of the thesis and is responsible for communicating decisions to the Director of Graduate Studies (DoGS) and participating in the oral examination. The role of the examiner from another GAU begins once the internal committee approves the thesis. The entire process outlined below typically takes a minimum of six weeks. Once the supervisor is satisfied with the thesis, the following step by step procedures apply:

  1. A pdf version of the thesis is submitted by the supervisor to the student's examining committee via the graduate secretary. The graduate secretary will then contact the supervisor and student if members of the examining committee require hard copies.
  2. The internal committee reads the thesis. A reasonable time period should be set for this stage, typically two weeks.
  3. The internal committee meets to discuss the thesis and determines if it is ready to be sent to the examiner from another GAU and proceed to the defense. If changes are needed the committee is to discuss them and resolve any disagreements. The committee then informs the student of its decision.

    There are four possible outcomes:
      1. The thesis is ready to defend as it is
      2. Changes to the thesis are needed before being sent to the examiner from another GAU, which will be monitored by supervisor without being re-read by the internal committee.
      3. Changes to the thesis are needed before being sent to the examiner from another GAU, and need to be re-read by the committee. This includes issues such as major errors and additional work needed.
      4. The thesis is rejected by the committee

    The Chair of the examining committee will submit an email to the Director of Graduate Studies and Graduate secretary, and other members of the internal committee on the outcome of the meeting.

      • If outcome 1 or 2 is selected, the email should include a suggestion of name of a potential examiner from another GAU, and a time frame for the defense.
      • If outcome 2 is selected, the student completes the required changes, as checked by the supervisor.
      • If outcome 3 is selected, the student is to make the changes as instructed and provide new copies to the committee. Following this the process returns to the beginning of stage 3.
      • If outcome 4 is selected, this decision needs to be justified strongly.
    1. Once the internal committee has approved the thesis, and a potential examiner from another GAU has been selected, the process moves to step 4.
  4. The graduate secretary schedules the defense based on committee availability. Sufficient time is to be allowed for the examiner from another GAU (typically two weeks) to read the thesis. Please note if scheduling requires a role change (eg. switching chair & internal reader), this change is to be explicitly confirmed by the involved examining committee.
  5. A copy of the thesis will be made available for reading by Faculty members for at least seven days prior to the defense. The defense notice is sent to the CS GAU and university committee, and the forms are prepared by the Graduate secretary.
  6. The University oral examination (defense) is chaired by the Director of Graduate Studies or can be replaced by a member of the CS GAU when necessary. The examination is open to all members of the University Faculty, graduate students, and other interested and appropriate persons.

    The purpose of the oral examination is to ascertain that the candidate:
    • has a thorough understanding of the thesis work
    • is able to present the essence of the thesis in a competent fashion
    • is capable of defending the thesis in a convincing manner.
    The oral defense starts with a presentation of the thesis research by the candidate, of 25-30 minutes duration. This is followed by the questioning period by the Examining Board members. If time permits, an opportunity will be given to attending faculty members and the audience at large to briefly ask further questions and offer comments. After the oral defense, the Examining Board convenes and makes a decision on the acceptability of both the thesis/report document and the oral defense.
  7. If the decision is positive, the candidate prepares the thesis document, including all required revisions, for submission to the School of Graduate Studies along with all required forms. The decision of the committee as to revisions and defense result is to be recorded. The student needs to complete the revisions and present the final version to whoever is designated to check (usually the supervisor) them along with the previous version, including preferably a list of all changes.

    If the decision is negative, the thesis is returned to the student's GAU to arrange for major revisions and/or another oral defense, or is rejected.
  8. The designated reviewer (usually the supervisor) signs off on the final version.
  9. The student submits a pdf of the final version to the School of Graduate Studies (Andrea Ruehlicke, ) for a final check of formatting.
  10. The Director of Graduate Studies signs off on the final version and all requires paper work.
  11. The School of Graduate Studies requires two copies the the thesis (one hard copy and one electronic). See the Graduate secretary before submitting final copies for submission instructions, a blue box/label and a final check of all required forms.

The policies and procedures for MCS report completion are the same as the above MCS thesis completion, with the exception of the examining committee. The examining committee for a report should consist of the supervisor(s), an internal reader and committee chair. An examiner from another GAU is not required, therefore the defense can be schedule once the committee approves the report.