MSc Degree Completion Guidelines

All graduate theses or dissertations must conform to the minimum style and form requirements as detailed in SGSPA General Forms of Theses Candidates are advised to follow all necessary copyright rules described at Copyright & Your Thesis

MSc examining committees are composed of the following members:

  1. Chairperson – the Chair is not a voting member of the committee
  2. Supervisor(s)
  3.  Department Head (or Head’s Delegate)
  4. Examiner
  5. Examiner

At least one member of the Thesis Examination Committee shall be external to SKHS. The Chair may be internal to SKHS provided that at least one examiner is external to the department. Normally, one examiner is external to the department, however all examiners could be from SKHS provided that the Chair is external to the department.

If assistance is required to secure a Chair, the supervisor should contact the SKHS Graduate Program Coordinator as soon as possible.

The candidate and supervisor must notify the SKHS Graduate Assistant of the oral examination by submitting a completed and signed oral examination form.

This form must be submitted at least 15 working days in advance of a scheduled examination. The candidate must also submit a copy of their thesis to the SKHS Graduate Program Coordinator at this time.

The Graduate Program Coordinator will provide the examining committee with the thesis, exam instructions and forms at least 10 working days in advance of the exam. The Graduate Program Coordinator will also notify the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs of the examination at this time, providing the candidate’s MSc exam form, transcript, and proof of completion of other degree requirements.

The MSc oral thesis examination proceeds according to the following guideline:

The examiners and the candidate are introduced to one another by the Chair. The candidate will then be asked to withdraw briefly from the room (physical or virtual) while the committee members’ reports are read.

The candidate is recalled and gives a 10–20-minute oral presentation of their thesis.

Questioning follows in the order of external examiner(s), internal examiner(s), head or delegate (including if the Head is serving in Chair role, i.e., read their own report), and supervisor(s).

The candidate is asked to once again withdraw from the room while the committee deliberates.

The candidate is recalled and told of their results, which can be one of the following outcomes: 

Passed: A thesis is passed if it acceptable in its present form or pending minor revisions, and its defense at the oral thesis examination was satisfactory. 

Passed with Major Revisions: A thesis is passed with major revisions if it is not acceptable in its present form or pending minor revisions but could be acceptable pending major revisions. This result does not require a second oral thesis examination; however, all revisions must be completed within 4-months. All major revisions must be documented by the Chair and certified to the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs. 

Referred: A thesis is referred if it is not acceptable in its present form and, after extensive revision by the candidate, required re-examination by the examining committee. The referred result may be used whether the committee determines that the thesis requires substantive changes or rewriting and/or if it determines that the oral thesis examination itself is unsatisfactory. In all cases of referral, the nature of the revisions and/or additional work, and/or the deficiencies associated with the oral examination, must be specified in writing by the Chair to avoid dispute or ambiguity. These comments will be passed on to the candidate in a letter from the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs as revisions that must be met for the thesis to be reconsidered. The candidate has up to twelve months to complete revisions. 

Failed: A thesis is failed if the document is unacceptable to the discipline even with substantive revisions. If the committee returns two or more votes of Failed on the basis of the document, this means that the committee recommends that the student be required to withdraw on academic grounds. Failure may also result from an unacceptable second oral thesis examination, where the student was manifestly unable to adequately present and defend the thesis. A decision of failed on the basis of the second oral thesis examination requires agreement by the majority (more than half) of the examining committee. 

The Chair will complete and submit all exam documentation to the SKHS Graduate Program Coordinator, who will then submit the records to the School of Graduate Studies. 

Oral thesis examinations are normally open, meaning that all members of the Queen’s community (any faculty member, staff member, or student at the University) may attend. Visitors (anyone who is not a member of the Queen’s community) may attend an open oral thesis examination if their attendance has been arranged by the candidate and the supervisor(s).

An oral thesis examination may be closed, meaning that only members of the examining committee may be present.


All students working on a thesis must register for each term until they have completed all requirements for their degree program.

Requirements are considered complete when an electronic copy of the thesis, in PDF-format approved by the oral thesis examination committee is submitted to the School of Graduate Studies through the E-Thesis Submission process in QSpace. Please review: Final Thesis Submission.

Tuition + Fees Refund

A student who completes their program mid-term is eligible for a partial refund of ancillary and tuition fees assessed for that term. Students are required to return their student card to Records and Services for a refund of ancillary fees. 

For more information, please see Fee Refunds - Office of the University Registrar. If you have questions, please contact the Office of the University Registrar through email at and include your full name and student number.