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External Examiner’s Written Evaluation of the Dissertation

Thank you for the time and effort you will invest in reviewing the dissertation.

As an External Examiner, you must independently and without consultation decide whether the thesis meets the scholarly standards for the discipline at the doctoral level in form and content. Your analysis and recommendation will inform the decision on whether or not the candidate is ready to proceed to the oral defence.

The External Examiner's report is submitted directly to the program director two weeks before the scheduled Oral Defense.

Should the assessment be negative, the program director will communicate with the supervisory committee and candidate to discuss the outcome of the review and next steps. Despite a negative assessment, a candidate has the right to proceed to a defence.

If your recommendation is that the candidate is ready to proceed to defence, your report will be shared with the Supervisor and the Candidate in advance of the oral defense, to help them prepare.

Overall Assessment

Please indicate clearly whether you deem the dissertation acceptable to proceed to defense, or whether it is clearly unacceptable without needing the defense to determine that result.


You are then invited to compose a summary of your preliminary evaluation, which will be provided to the candidate and their supervisor in advance of the defense.

Some topics you might focus your report on include:

  • Significance of the research question(s) addressed
  • Appropriateness of the research methods used or the approach taken/success in using the chosen method or approach
  • Originality/Value of the thesis as a contribution to knowledge
  • Quality of the writing

At this point, your written evaluation need only decide whether to recommend the Dissertation proceed to defense (i.e. whether it is pass, or a clear fail).

You do not need to distinguish between minor and major revisions at this stage, but you may begin to detail possible revisions in your report.

The examiners’ conferral at the defense will determine the final result of only minor revisions (to be overseen by the supervisor alone), or major revisions (needing to be reassessed by all examiners), or a clear fail, with a separate decision about the satisfactory character of the oral defense that day.

Reports may be submitted to the program director as an email, plain text, PDF, Microsoft Word or as an RTF file.

For regulations, definitions, and information about the Conduct of the Examination, see Senate Policy 164 (Section 23, Doctoral Dissertation Phase).