SFU Physics Thesis and Defence

Thesis Writing and Formatting Resources

SFU Graduate Studies maintains a page with a variety of helpful resources related to the process of getting started, writing, formatting and defending your thesis. We highly recommend that you browse the pages linked below:

Information on writing and correctly formating your thesis for Physics is outlined here:

Thesis Defence Procedures

Planning your thesis defence can take between two and three months from the point when you hand your completed draft to your supervisory committee, so be sure to begin planning early. Carefully review the steps below in advance, and be realistic about the timeline of your defence.

Deadlines

There are a number of deadlines associated with planning your defence, and you will need to be very organized to meet the deadlines to get your draft approved by your supervisory committee, schedule your examination committee, complete your revisions, and submit your final thesis draft before the library submission deadline. 

Once you decide that your thesis is near completion and that you are ready to begin scheduling your defence, the first task will be to choose a defence date. This is esssentially project management, so you need to set a final deadline. All of your other deadlines will stem from this date.

Note that the SFU Library thesis submission deadline is typically the last day of the last month of the term (with the exception of the Fall term, where the deadline falls early due to holidays.) Most theses require revisions after the defence, so you may wish to leave a 2 week window between your defence and the SFU Library submisssion deadline. This window will allow time for you to complete your revisions and have your senior supervisor review and approve them.

MSc Defence Procedures

Step 1: Choose a Target Date For Your Defence (min. 8 weeks before your intended defence date)

This is the step that will determine all of your defence-related deadlines. We recommend that you choose your target date in the following way:

Look up the SFU Library Thesis Submission Deadline you wish to target

Allow Time For Your Revisions

You may wish to allow for up to two weeks between your targeted defence date and the submission deadline to complete the following tasks:

  • complete any revisions suggested by your Examination Committee
  • submit your revisions to your Senior Supervisor who will review and approve them
  • complete your thesis submission paperwork

Allow for the Busy Schedules of Your Examining Committee

  • Once you have a targeted defence date, keep in mind that your entire examination committee needs to be available at the time of the defence.
  • You may wish to give them a range of 1 to 2 weeks as well to allow for busy faculty schedules, especially towards the end of the term.

Step 2: Set Your Preliminary Deadlines

Once you have set a target date range, work back from the earliest possible defence date to set your other defence deadlines as follows. If your defence ends up being scheduled later than the earliest date, you can always adjust your other deadlines when your defence date is confirmed.

Note the dates for the following deadlines:

  • 8 weeks before your defence date
  • 4 weeks before your defence date
  • 1 week before your defence date
  • 2 business days before your defence date

Use the Physics MSc Defence Checklist to track your deadlines

Step 3: Eight Weeks Before Defence

Eight weeks before your defence you should complete the following tasks:

Confirm Names of All Committee Members with the Graduate Program Assistant:

  • Supervisory Committee
  • Internal Examiner (chosen in consultation with your Senior Supervisor)
    The Internal Examiner is a member of faculty at SFU, or a person otherwise suitably qualified, who is not a member of the student's supervisory committee. For those seeking a degree under special arrangements, this person shall be from outside the University.

Submit Thesis for Review by Your Supervisory Committee (the Internal Examiner does not require a copy of your thesis at this point)

  • Electronic copies of the thesis are submitted to each supervisory committee member. Hard copies are provided if required. Do not submit to the Internal Examiner at this time.
  • Ask your supervisory committee to review your thesis and make any necessary suggestions so it is "ready for defence" by the four week deadline. The Graduate Program Assistant will ask them to sign a form confirming that the thesis is "ready for defence" before the defence paperwork can be submitted to DGS to meet the four week deadline.
  • Note: Student is responsible for asking each supervisory committee member if they require a hard copy of the thesis.

Schedule Defence Date and Time of Defence

  • Contact Supervisors and the Internal Examiner to schedule a date and time for your defence
  • Submit confirmed defence date to the Graduate Program Assistant. Let the Graduate Program Assistant know if you have a room preference.
  • Let Graduate Program Assistant know which examination committee members will attend in person

Submit Audio/Visual and Technical Requests to Graduate Program Assistant (e.g. projector, videoconferencing, etc.)

REMEMBER TO APPLY TO GRADUATE!

Related Links

Step 4: Four Weeks Before Defence

Submit Thesis to Graduate Program Assistant (.PDF format) for Distribution to Your Examining Committee

Submit Any Additional Hard Copies Required by Your Examination Committee to the Graduate Program Assitant

  • please use 3-ring binders (there may be some available in the Physics General Office)

Submit the Following Materials to the Graduate Program Assitant, so he/she can promote your defence:

  • A list of graduate coursework taken at SFU
  • A list of your publications
  • A list of your presentations (including talks or poster presentations)
  • A list of your awards, including internal SFU awards, and awards from outside of SFU
  • An alternative, text-only version of your abstract (required only if your title or abstract contains characters that do not translate to text-only formats (e.g. superscirpt or subscript, Greek symbols, equations, etc.)

Submit a copy of your Approval page to the Grad Program Assistant for Revision

  • The Approval page (page ii in your thesis template) will be signed by the members of your Supervisory Committee upon successful completion of your defence. If this page is not formatted correctly, the SFU Library thesis assistant will send it back and we will be required to collect your committee's signatures a second time.
  • The Physics Graduate Program Assistant can review the contents and formatting of this page with you to ensure that it meets SFU Library requirements.
Related Links

Supervisory Committee Approval of Your Thesis Draft

  • Each member of your Supervisory Committee will sign your Approval of Examining Committee form, or send an email to the Graduate Program Assistant, indicating that they have reviewed the thesis and declare it "ready for defence."

Step 5: One Week Before Defence

Make Any Required Revisions and Submit Revised Approval Page to the Graduate Program Assistant

  • Please submit a digital version

Book a Practice Session with The Grad Program Assistant

  • Ask for a laser pointer, adapter, etc. as needed.

Step 6: Two Business Days Before Defence

Supply Presentation Materials To Grad Program Assistant for distribution to Anyone On Your Committee Who is Participating Via Video Conference

  • Include .ppt slides, etc. to be used in the case of a poor video connection or technology failure

Step 7: Day of Defence

Pick Up Copies of Your Notice of Defence from Your Department Mailbox

  • Distribute defence notices to the audience at your defence

Note: You may wish to arrive 30 minutes early to test the audio/visual for your defence

Step 8: Complete Your Revisions

Complete your Thesis Revisions and Submit Them For Approval By Your Senior Supervisior

Obtain your Supervisor Revision Memo and one signed Approval Page to Include with Your Library Submission

  • Your senior supervisor will provide you with a signed Supervisor Revision Memo
  • Your Graduate Program Assistant will have several signed copies of your thesis Approval Page in your file. Request one of these to upload with your submission to the SFU Library

Step 9: Submit Your Thesis to the SFU Library

Prepare and Submit Your Thesis

Complete Any Formatting Revisions Required by the SFU Library for Publication

Step 10: Submit Your Thesis for Printing and Binding

Once your thesis has been approved by the SFU Library, submit an electronic copy to your Graduate Program Assistant for printing and binding.

  • The department will pay for the binding of two discretionary copies: One for your supervisor, and one for you
  • You are responsible for covering the costs of any additional copies you may wish to order
  • You are responsible for paper and printing costs as per the Department's thesis printing policy

Printing and binding can take several months. Be sure to update the Graduate Program Assistant with your most current contact information.

PhD Defence Procedures

Step 1: Choose a Target Date For Your Defence (min. 10 weeks before your intended defence date)

This is the step that will determine all of your defence-related deadlines. We recommend that you choose your target date in the following way:

Look up the SFU Library Thesis Submission Deadline you wish to target

Allow Time For Your Revisions

You may wish to allow for up to two weeks between your targeted defence date and the submission deadline to complete the following tasks:

  • complete any revisions suggested by your Examination Committee
  • submit your revisions to your Senior Supervisor who will review and approve them
  • complete your thesis submission paperwork

Allow for the Busy Schedules of Your Examining Committee

  • Once you have a targeted defence date, keep in mind that your entire examination committee needs to be available at the time of the defence.
  • You may wish to give them a range of 1 to 2 weeks as well to allow for busy faculty schedules, especially towards the end of the term.

Step 2: Set Your Preliminary Deadlines

Once you have set a target date range, work back from the earliest possible defence date to set your other defence deadlines as follows. If your defence ends up being scheduled later that the earliest date, you can always adjust your other deadlines when your defence date is confirmed.

Note the dates for the following deadlines:

  • 10 weeks before your defence date
  • 6 weeks before your defence date
  • 5 weeks before your defence date
  • 1 week before your defence date
  • 2 business days before your defence date

Use the Physics PhD Defence Checklist to track your deadlines

Step 3: Ten Weeks Before Defence

Ten weeks before your defence you should complete the following tasks:

CONFIRM NAMES OF ALL COMMITTEE MEMBERS WITH THE GRADUATE PROGRAM ASSISTANT:

  • Supervisory Committee
  • Internal Examiner (chosen in consultation with your Senior Supervisor)
    The Internal Examiner is a member of faculty at SFU, or a person otherwise suitably qualified, who is not a member of the student's supervisory committee. For those seeking a degree under special arrangements, this person shall be from outside the University.
  • External Examiner
    The External Examiner shall be specifically qualified in the field of the thesis and not be a member of faculty at the University.
    Note that the student should have no contact with the External Examiner and that the selection of external examiners for the PhD should be carried out by the supervisory committees.

SUBMIT THESIS FOR REVIEW BY YOUR SUPERVISORY COMMITTEE (Internal and External Examiners do not require copies at this point)

  • Electronic copies of the thesis are submitted to each supervisory committee member. Hard copies are provided if required. Do not submit copies to the Internal or External Examiners.
  • Ask your supervisory committee to review your thesis and make any necessary suggestions so it is "ready for defence" by the six week deadline. The Graduate Program Assistant will ask them to sign a form confirming that the thesis is "ready for defence" before the defence paperwork can be submitted at the six week deadline.
  • Note: Student is responsible for asking each supervisory committee member if they require a hard copy of the thesis.

SCHEDULE DEFENCE DATE AND TIME OF DEFENCE

  • Consult with your Senior Supervisor who will contact the External Examiner to request a range of available dates and times for your defence
  • Working around the External Examiner's schedule provided to you by your Senior Supervisor, contact your Supervisory Committee members and the Internal Examiner to schedule a date and time for your defence
  • Submit confirmed defence date to the Graduate Program Assistant. Let the Graduate Program Assistant know if you have a room preference.
  • Let Graduate Program Assistant know which Examining Committee members will attend in person

SUBMIT AUDIO/VISUAL AND TECHNICAL REQUESTS TO GRADUATE PROGRAM ASSISTANT (E.G. PROJECTOR, VIDEOCONFERENCING, ETC.)

REMEMBER TO APPLY TO GRADUATE!

Related Links

Step 4: Six Weeks Before Defence

Submit Thesis to Graduate Program Assistant (.PDF format) for Distribution to Your Entire Examining Committee VIA DGS

Submit Any Additional Hard Copies Required by Your Examining Committee to the Graduate Program Assitant

  • please use 3-ring binders (there may be some available in the Physics General Office)

Supervisory Committee Approval of Your Thesis Draft

  • Each member of your Supervisory Committee will sign your Approval of Examining Committee form, or send an email to the Graduate Program Assistant indicating that they have reviewed the thesis and declare it "ready for defence."

Step 5: Five Weeks Before Defence

Submit the Following Materials to the Graduate Program Assistant, so he/she can promote your defence:

  • A list of graduate coursework taken at SFU
  • A list of your publications
  • A list of your presentations (including talks or poster presentations)
  • A list of your awards, including internal SFU awards, and awards from outside of SFU
  • An alternative, text-only version of your abstract (required only if your title or abstract contains characters that do not translate to text-only formats (e.g. superscript or subscript, Greek symbols, equations, etc.)

Make Any Required Revisions to the Thesis Approval Page

  • The Approval page (page ii in your thesis template) will be signed by the members of your Supervisory Committee upon successful completion of your defence. If this page is not formatted correctly, the SFU Library thesis assistant will send it back and we will be required to collect your committee's signatures a second time.
  • The Physics Graduate Program Assistant can review the contents and formatting of this page with you to ensure that it meets SFU Library requirements.
Related Links

Step 6: One Week Before Defence

Make any reuqired revisions and Submit Revised Approval Page to the Graduate Program Assistant

  • Please submit a digital version

BOOK A PRACTICE SESSION WITH THE GRAD PROGRAM ASSISTANT

  • Ask for a laser pointer, adapter, etc. as needed.

Step 7: Two Business Days Before Defence

Supply Presentation Materials To Grad Program Assistant for distribution to Anyone On Your Committee Who is Participating Via Video Conference

Include .ppt slides, etc. to be used in the case of a poor video connection or technology failure

Step 8: Day of Defence

Pick Up Copies of Your Notice of Defence from Your Department Mailbox

  • Distribute defence notices to the audience at your defence

Note: You may wish to arrive 30 minutes early to test the audio/visual for your defence

Step 9: Complete Your Revisions

Complete your Thesis Revisions and Submit Them For Approval By Your Senior Supervisior

Obtain your Supervisor Revision Memo and one signed Approval Page to Include with Your Library Submission

  • Your senior supervisor will provide you with a signed Supervisor Revision Memo
  • Your Graduate Program Assistant will have several signed copies of your thesis Approval Page in your file. Request one of these to upload with your submission to the SFU Library

Step 10: Submit Your Thesis to the SFU Library

Prepare and Submit Your Thesis

Complete Any Formatting Revisions Required by the SFU Library for Publication

Step 11: Submit Your Thesis for Printing and Binding

Once your thesis has been approved by the SFU Library, submit an electronic copy to your Graduate Program Assistant for printing and binding.

  • The department will pay for the binding of two discretionary copies: One for your supervisor, and one for you
  • You are responsible for covering the costs of any additional copies you may wish to order
  • You are responsible for paper and printing costs as per the Department's thesis printing policy

Printing and binding can take several months. Be sure to update the Graduate Program Assistant with your most current contact information.