RPE Examination

The student will give an oral presentation in which they will summarize their work and then answer questions from the RPE committee on their research outcomes and related work. The student will be evaluated on their research accomplishments, the written report, their oral presentation, and on their answers to questions. It is recommended that examinations be scheduled for two hours.

The RPE examination, like the PhD thesis proposal defense, should be chaired by a member of the research faculty of the department external to the supervisory committee of the student. The examination has three phases. Members of the examination committee may question the candidate in either or both of the first two phases.

  • In Phase I, the student gives a talk, of an approximately twenty-minute duration, which is open to all members of the department. The Chair then calls upon each member of the RPE committee to question the candidate, and invites questions from the audience.
  • In Phase II, the Chair asks everyone other than the student and the RPE committee to leave the room so that the candidate can be examined in a closed session. The Chair then calls upon each member of the RPE committee to question the candidate. At the end of this phase the Chair asks the student to leave the room.
  • In Phase III, the committee deliberates on the student’s performance and reaches a pass/fail decision. The chair then invites the student in and communicates the committee’s decision.  The Chair's report should be sent to the examination committee, the student, the Graduate Program administrator, and the Chair of the Graduate Affairs Committee. In the event of a failure, the reasons for failure must be clearly stated in the Chair's report.

The options open to students who fail the RPE depend on whether they are PhD Track students or PhD students.

PhD Students

A PhD student who fails the RPE has the option of retaking it if both
(i) the RPE committee recommends that the student be given a second chance, and
(ii)  the student can find an alternate supervisor to guide them through the RPE a second time.
The second attempt at the RPE must be completed (including the oral presentation) within 8 months of the first attempt. A student who does not pass the RPE must leave the PhD program.

PhD Track Students

Upon successful completion of the RPE, a PhD Track student is placed in our PhD program. A PhD student who decides not to do the RPE, or does not pass the RPE, can remain in the MSc program. In this case, research completed as part of the RPE can be used as part of the Master’s thesis / essay, with the approval of the supervisor(s).


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