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The committee considers the oral examination, the review itself, the student's performance in courses, and any other relevant academic or research accomplishments. A student must have a majority vote of pass in order to pass the exam.In the event of a failure, the student is given one opportunity to retake the examination in the coming January or September, whichever is closer.
After a second failure a student is required to withdraw from the program. The proposal, or area exam is designed to test the research ability of the student in the area of the thesis as well as depth of knowledge in those areas of computer science closely related to the thesis topic.
Note that under special circumstances, and with approval of their supervisor(s) and the Ph. Program Committee, a student may delay the comprehensive exam, but under all circumstances the exam must be successfully completed within two years of initial registration in the Ph. It is also used to evaluate a student's research progress, and suitability of their intended research plan.
Note that while questions are mainly based on the review content, students are also expected to know relevant computer science fundamentals.
During the second part, the committee meets (without the student) to discuss and vote on the student's performance. Program Committee members (decided by the Chair of the Ph. Program Committee) and the student's supervisor are voters (in the case of co-supervision, a single vote is divided among the co-supervisors).
The oral exam begins with an oral presentation by the candidate, summarizing the report, and lasting no more than twenty minutes.
This is followed by a question/answer period with the members of the proposal committee, with each member given approximately 20-30 min of questioning (co-supervisor time is divided proportionally). Like the proposal exam, a thesis defense may be scheduled for any time that the entire committee is available.
After questions, the exam moves to a closed session consisting of just the committee members, who, based on the student's progress, report, and performance in the exam vote on pass or failure. The actual defense consists of a brief, pre-meeting of just the Ph. Defense Committee members, followed by the public part of the defense. Questions may also be asked by the rest of the defense audience.
In the case of a first failure, the student will be given a single chance to retake the examination within six months. This step requires that the completed thesis document has been transmitted to the thesis office, and that both the internal and external examiners have agreed to pass the thesis. The public part includes an initial, twenty minute presentation by the student, summarizing their thesis work, which is then followed by one or more rounds of questioning by the Ph. After questions, the exam again moves to a closed session consisting of just the committee members.
The actual Evaluation Committee is formed by the Ph. Program Committee and the supervisor (or co-supervisors). 40–45 min), the student meets with the Evaluation Committee to verbally discuss the content of the progress report, and in particular answer questions from the committee pertaining to the literature review.
This committee evaluates the review document, and conducts the oral examination. A student's supervisor(s) also participates in this examination.