Program guidelines

Program Guidelines

Guidelines for Ph.D. Candidates

Revised September 2016

  1. Each Ph.D. candidate will have a Supervisory Committee consisting of the Research

Supervisor(s) and at least two other members (at least one of which must be at the rank of Associate or Full Professor). One of the Supervisory Committee members may be from outside the Department.

  1. There are no calendar course requirements for a Ph.D. program. A Ph.D. candidate may be required by his/her Research Supervisor and/or Supervisory Committee to take certain academic courses for credit, depending on the candidate’s background in relation to the field of study. The candidate may choose to audit other courses after having consulting the Research Supervisor.
  1. Within 12 months of admission to the Ph.D. program each candidate must take the oral comprehensive exam. Six to eight topics will be selected for the exam by the supervisor from the general list of exam topics defined for MTRL. Two weeks prior to the exam, the candidate will be delivering a one-page brief description of his/her project together with the exam topics for review by all examination committee members. The exam is chaired by MTRL Head (or designate); the examining committee (Supervisor + 2 more faculty at least one of which must be at the rank of Associate or Full Professor) typically becomes the supervising committee after the exam. Interested students may attend the examination as observers.

The overall objective of the comprehensive examination is to demonstrate to the Examining Committee that the candidate has the ability and background necessary to pursue the proposed research. More specifically, the purpose of the examination is to assess whether the candidate has developed the fundamental knowledge on the exam topics. The format of the examination will be as follows: The candidate describes briefly within 5 min his/her project which is then followed by two rounds of questioning. Questions will focus on examining the background knowledge of the candidate that is required for the specific area of the proposed doctoral research. The duration of the examination is typically 90 min.

  1. Within 24 months of admission to the Ph.D. program each candidate must submit to the Supervising Committee and defend a Research Proposal in the proposed field of study. The proposal document follows NSERC format of maximum 24 double-spaced typewritten pages plus 2 pages of references. The Proposal Defense is chaired by the Supervisor.

Rules for the Research Proposal are detailed here: http://www.grad.ubc.ca/current-students/managing-your-program/advancement-candidacy

The research proposal will normally include a thorough literature survey in the field selected for the proposed study, and will also include a critical evaluation of previous work, a clear delineation between what is known and unknown, and the selection of a well defined problem area for investigation. The objectives of the proposed study should be clearly stated as well as a justification of the research as a potentially significant contribution to knowledge. Further, the proposal must include the methodology to be used in solving the problem. The editing and literary style of the proposal is the candidate’s responsibility.

The proposal defense will include a 20-25 minute oral presentation of the research proposal followed by two rounds of questioning. Questions will focus on assessing the candidate’s knowledge specifically related to the research proposal. The overall objective of the examination is to demonstrate to the Committee that the candidate has the ability and background necessary to pursue the proposed research. Interested students may attend the proposal defense as observers.

  1. The Supervisory Committee will meet at least once a year with the student to

review his/her progress. The student is expected to provide a written summary of his/her

progress to the committee. At the end of year 3 the Supervising Committee will meet with the Candidate to review progress and to clarify the remaining tasks for Thesis completion. Students take responsibility for project management and scheduling of meetings. Failure in timely project management by the students will be considered as “unsatisfactory performance” ensuing GRA extension implications.

 

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Guidelines for Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination and Research Proposal Examination

 

  1. Comprehensive Examination

 

  1. Six to eight topics will be selected for the exam by the supervisor from the general list of exam topics defined for MTRL. Two weeks prior to the exam, the candidate will be delivering a one-page brief description of his/her project together with the exam topics for review by all examination committee members. The exam is chaired by MTRL Head (or designate); the examining committee (Supervisor + 2 more faculty at least one of which must be at the rank of Associate or Full Professor) typically becomes the supervising committee after the exam. Interested students may attend the examination as observers.
  1. Based on the performance of the candidate at the oral examination, the Examining Committee may:

(a) pass the candidate

(b) require the candidate to repeat the examination within 4-6 weeks

(c) advise the candidate to withdraw

Having passed the comprehensive examination is a requirement to proceed to the stage of the research proposal defense.

 

  1. Research Proposal Defense

 1. Each candidate for the Ph.D. degree is required to prepare a written research proposal, not to exceed 24 double-spaced typewritten pages in total length plus 2 pages of references. It is expected that candidates will spend not more than 4 months preparing this proposal.

  1. The research proposal will normally include a thorough literature survey in the field selected for study, and will also include a critical evaluation of previous work, a clear delineation between what is known and unknown, and the selection of a well defined problem area for investigation. It should also include the methods to be used in solving the problem, as well as a justification of the research as a potentially significant contribution to knowledge. The editing and literary style of the proposal is the candidate’s responsibility.
  1. The written proposal, if acceptable to the candidate’s Research Supervisor(s), will be made available by the candidate to all interested members of faculty. As soon as convenient thereafter, the candidate’s Research Supervisor will convene an oral examination of the candidate.
  1. The proposal defense will include a 20-25 minute oral presentation of the research proposal followed by two rounds of questioning. Questions will focus on assessing the candidate’s knowledge specifically related to the research proposal. The overall objective of the examination is to demonstrate to the Committee that the candidate has the ability and background necessary to pursue the proposed research.
  1. The Examining Committee will normally consist of the Candidate’s Research Supervisor(s), and two examiners at least one of which must be at the rank of Associate Professor. The Research Supervisor acts as the chair of the Proposal exam. Interested students may attend the examination as observers.
  1. Based on the written proposal and on the performance of the candidate at the oral

examination, the Examining Committee may:

(a) accept the proposal

(b) suggest changes to the research plan

(c) require the candidate to repeat the proposal defense

(d) advise the candidate to withdraw.

 

The repeat of the proposal defense will normally occur 6-8 weeks after the initial examination.

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Guidelines for M.A.Sc. and M.Sc. Candidates (September 1, 2008)

    1. Each MASc/MSc. candidate will have a Supervisory Committee consisting of the Research Supervisor(s) and at least two other members. One of the Supervisory Committee members may be from outside the Department.
    2. The candidate and the Supervisory Committee are expected to meet at an early stage in the program to plan the candidate’s research program.
    3. The academic courses which must be taken for credit by each candidate will be determined in consultation with his/her Research Supervisor, and with the approval of the Department Head. At least 18 credits of course work are required of which at least 12 credits must be graduate courses and the remaining 6 credits either third or fourth year courses.
    4. All candidates must register in MTRL 598 and must present a research seminar to satisfy the requirements of the course. Seminars are normally given in the second year of study. Students should register for MTRL 598 in the year that they plan to give their seminar.
    5. A maximum of 3 credits may be taken in directed studies (MTRL 593 courses).
    6. Upon admission, M.A.Sc. and M.Sc. candidates will be offered Research Assistantship appointments for a maximum of 2 years, subject to satisfactory progress by the student. In the unusual case of a student requiring funding beyond the 2 year period, the student must make formal application to the Supervisory Committee for an extension of the funding. It is expected that the M.A.Sc. and M.Sc. program will normally be completed within 18 months of admission.
    7. In certain cases a transfer to the Ph.D. program can be made without completion of the M.A.Sc. or M.Sc. degree. After one year residency at UBC and 18 credits of course work with an overall 85% average and clear evidence of research ability, well qualified M.A.Sc. and M.Sc. candidates may apply for transfer to a Ph.D. program. A committee of the Department Head, the Department Graduate Advisor, and the candidates Research Supervisor will consider the application. (Refer to Appendix A for details on the transfer to the PhD program).

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Transfer of Graduate Students from an M.A.Sc. to a Ph.D. Program before Completion of the M.A.Sc. or M.Sc.(September 1, 2008)

    1. The normal procedure will be that an M.A.Sc. or M.Sc. candidate will complete his/her program before becoming a Ph.D. candidate.
    2. A student with bachelor degree with one year of study in a master’s program with 18 credits of first class average (of which 12 credits must be at the 500-level or above), with overall 85% average and demonstrated evidence of research ability or potential, may be considered for transfer to a Ph.D. program. The research performance must be identifiable and evaluated. In the case of an international student already holding an M.A.Sc. or M.Sc. degree, normally a minimum of 9 credits of course work (of which 6 credits must be at the 500-level or above) will be completed before consideration for transfer to a Ph.D. program.
    3. An Ad Hoc Committee consisting of the Department Head, the faculty member dealing with graduate student admittance and the research supervisor of the graduate student will consider the transfer and decide whether the transfer will be approved by the Department. The research performance of the candidate must be identifiable and evaluated by the Committee.
    4. Transfer into a doctoral program is normally accomplished after the first year of study at the master’s level and will not be permitted after completion of the second year.
    5. In exceptional cases, applicants who hold an honours bachelor’s degree with an overall average in the ‘A’ grade range and who demonstrate advanced research ability may be granted direct admission to a doctoral degree program on recommendation of the admitting Graduate Program and approval of the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Students entering directly from a bachelor’s degree must, during the first year of study, complete 12 credits with a first class average of which at least 9 credits must be at the 500-level or above and at least 9 credits must be of first class standing, to maintain registration as a doctoral student.
    6. If a graduate student is transferred to a Ph.D. program, he/she should present his/her research proposal comprehensive approximately three months after the transfer.
    7. Requests for transfer should be submitted to the Department Head by the research supervisor of the graduate student.

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MTRL MASC EXAM EVALUATION
October 12, 2011

The examination committee is to evaluate two components:

      • The quality, level and nature of revision required to the thesis
      • The candidate’s performance during the oral exam

THESIS

    • Considering the overall quality of the thesis, the examination committee should decide on the level and nature of revision required to the thesis.
    • Four categories:
      1. Thesis is outstanding. No, or only minor corrections required. (Supervisor approves corrections.)
      2. Thesis is satisfactory. Minor revisions required. (Supervisor approves revisions.)
      3. Thesis is satisfactory subject to substantive revision affecting content. (Supervisor and examination committee approve revision.)
      4. Thesis is unsatisfactory in current form. Major rewriting and rethinking required. (Thesis re-submitted and re-evaluated by examination committee.)

ORAL EXAM

      • The examination committee should decide on the candidate’s performance while presenting the work (20-25 min presentation), responding to questions, and defending the work.
      • Four categories:

 

        1. Outstanding performance. No weakness displayed in presentation, response to questions, and defense of the work. Clear and complete understanding of work performed and related engineering principles.
        2. Satisfactory performance. No substantive weakness displayed in presentation, response to questions, and defense of the work. Satisfactory understanding of work performed and related engineering principles.
        3. Marginal performance. Weaknesses in presentation, response to questions, or defense of the work. Deficiencies in comprehension of work performed and related engineering principles.
        4. Unsatisfactory performance. Major weaknesses in presentation, response to questions, or defense of the work. Poor comprehension of work performed and related engineering principles.

 

MARKING SCHEME
The awarded mark is based on the oral exam and the thesis performance according to the table below.

ORAL EXAM/THESIS 1 2 3 4
1 95% 90% * F
2 90% 85% 80% F
3 * 80% 75% F
4 F F F F

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