The Thesis Proposal Defence typically begins with a short presentation (10 – 12 minutes) by the student regarding his or her proposed research plan. Committee members may engage in rounds of questions or less-structured discussion with the student regarding his or her research approach, design, methods, logistics, anticipated outcomes, or other topics related to the proposal.
Students may be questioned on their understanding of the context and background knowledge pertaining to the research questions and their knowledge of the relevant published literature, current research approaches, and existing or potential new methods. If gaps in the student’s knowledge are identified, the Committee may recommend that the student undertake self-learning or remedial coursework outside the program’s course requirements (e.g., course audits) to improve the student’s understanding of critical areas of the discipline. Significant knowledge gaps are likely to be re-evaluated in the Field of Study Exams (see below), so students are encouraged to use their Thesis Proposal Defence as a tool to help focus their study.