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Department of Geography | Faculty of Environment Simon Fraser University Calendar | Spring 2018


Doctor of Philosophy

Applicants must have a master of arts (MA) or a master of science (MSc) degree. Those admitted without an appropriate background may have to make up specified courses.

Incoming doctor of philosophy (PhD) students will complete the doctoral component of GEOG 600, a seminar on geography graduate studies, offered each fall term.

Supervisory Committee

The student works under the faculty advisor’s guidance, pending formation of a supervisory committee that normally consists of three faculty, one of whom may be from outside the department, and is chosen by the beginning of the second term.

Program Requirements

The advisor, and subsequently the supervisory committee, and the student determine a study program to suit background and research objectives. After committee consultation, students can elect, or may be required to complete courses to acquire relevant knowledge and skills, including language.

Qualifying Examination

Written and oral qualifying exams establish competence to proceed with doctoral thesis research and are completed at the end of the second residence term and no later than the end of the third. Students who fail the written or oral exam may retake each once, after a one term lapse.

Both parts of the qualifying examination must be successfully completed by the end of the fourth residence term. The qualifying examination committee consists of supervisory committee members (the senior supervisor acts as chair), and an examiner external to the supervisory committee.

Written exams comprise four papers jointly agreed by the qualifying examination committee. The oral exam must be held within three weeks of completion of the written examination. The student is examined primarily in topics covered by the written exams, but questions may range over the entire discipline.


Candidates who successfully complete qualifying exams will present a thesis proposal at a department colloquium no later than the end of the fifth residence term. The supervisory committee must approve the written proposal prior to substantive research. The completed thesis is judged by the examining committee at an oral defence. If the defence fails, the candidate is ineligible for further degree candidacy. See “Graduate General Regulations” on page 219.

Students prepare their thesis by completing

GEOG 699 - PhD Thesis (6)

Equivalent Courses: GEOG799.

Academic Requirements within the Graduate General Regulations

All graduate students must satisfy the academic requirements that are specified in the Graduate General Regulations, as well as the specific requirements for the program in which they are enrolled.