PhD Reading Committee

Each candidate, in consultation with their research supervisor, must establish a Reading Committee at the beginning of their program.

The first Reading Committee will take place within the first 9 months of beginning the program. Following the Qualification exam, the committee will typically meet every 9 months to review the progress of the research program.  Should there be extenuating circumstances preventing a committee meeting at the scheduled time, the student should notify the Associate Chair, Graduate Studies, in writing, of the circumstances and request permission to delay the meeting. If scheduling is difficult, students may be advised to meet with a smaller group and then with the difficult to schedule member separately.  Changing committee membership may also be recommended.

The committee has complete authority to recommend the termination of a student’s degree program if adequate progress is not demonstrated.

In addition to the regular consultation between candidate and supervisor, the candidate should seek advice and consultation informally with other members of the committee throughout their program.

Planning of the format and length of the thesis should be carried out in close consultation with the supervisor and committee.

The committee will also meet with the candidate to offer advice on the written thesis before the Departmental Oral Examination.  If the Reading Committee believes the candidate can skip the Departmental Oral Examination, this needs to be stated in the Reading Committee Assessment Form. Once all Reading Committee meetings are complete, the candidate may proceed to the SGS Final Oral Examination.

Reading Committee Membership

*Students must attend all PhD Supervisory Reading Committee Meetings in person. Committee members may attend remotely if needed.
Student in person attendance is mandatory for access to a white or black board during a meeting/exam.

The supervisor and candidate work together at the beginning of the program to select the Reading Committee membership, which must be comprised of:

  • The supervisor(s)
  • Two other faculty members, one of whom must hold their primary appointment in this Department. The Graduate Office will assign the role of Chair of the committee to one of these faculty members.

Reading Committee Meeting

The student must submit a Reading Committee Confirmation by email to the Graduate Assistant at least one week (5 business days) prior to the meeting date, providing the following information:

  • Name of each Committee Member
  • Date, Time and Location of Meeting

Contact the Graduate Office to book a meeting room. Please visit Room & Equipment Bookings for details. If this is your first Reading Committee Meeting, the Graduate Office will assign the Chair for your exam.

Progress Reports and Conduct of Reading Committee Meetings

At least one week prior to each meeting the student must submit the following to their committee:

The written progress report is typically 4-5 pages in length, but may be longer if required by the supervisor or committee. The report will include:

  • A summary of the student’s project
  • Rationale
  • The research hypothesis
  • The research objectives
  • The student’s progress towards each of the research objectives to date
  • A summary of how the student has addressed committee recommendations from previous meeting(s)
  • Future plans with a timeline to achieve the research objectives
  • If the student has a recent paper in progress, submitted or published, this can be added to the progress report.

In addition to the written progress report, the student will prepare a 20-minute oral presentation on the work to date and future plans to complete their degree.

On the basis of the progress report, the oral presentation and the student’s answers to questions, the committee will evaluate the student’s performance to date and make recommendations regarding modifications to the research plan or emphasis of the work.

The committee’s assessment will be summarized and communicated to the student.  Students are asked to sign the Reading Committee Meeting Assessment Form in order to confirm that the document accurately reflects the discussion and recommendations made at the meeting.  Students may also add their own comments to the form after the assessment has been communicated to them. The student should retain a copy of the form for their records and submit a copy to the Graduate Office at