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Doctoral final oral exam (FOE) remote participation guidelines

All exams must be held online (remotely) or postponed. Per SGS guidelines, BME is temporarily implementing the following FOE procedures (effective March 18, 2020) until further notice:


Option 1) Conduct the exam remotely

Unless otherwise specified, all proceedings and approval processes of the FOE remain unchanged. Regardless of the online video conference platform of choice, the following requirements stayed the same:

  • Quorum
  • The candidate is prohibited from communicating with the external examiner until the start of the FOE
  • The exam is confidential, and only those approved by the SGS Vice-Dean, Students, may attend
  • Recording of the exam is strictly prohibited. Any recording features included with the video- or tele-conferencing software must be turned off

What changed:

  • Approximately one week prior to the exam, a committee member (ideally the Chair) should reach out to all committee members to decide on the online video conference platform (Zoom, Bb Collaborate, Skype, etc.) The platform should be chosen by consensus, and the Graduate Office grad.bme@utoronto.ca should be informed of the committee’s choice
  • The exam committee shall decide who will host/manage the meeting. Ideally this would be a committee member who is comfortable with the video conference software. It cannot be the student
  • All participants (including the candidate) should join the video conference at least 5 minutes early to test the audio and video feeds
  • At the start, when the committee has an initial discussion about the dissertation, reviews the external appraisal, and determines the questioning order – the candidate will need to recuse himself/herself by disconnecting. A committee member (ideally the Chair) will call/invite the candidate to reconnect after committee deliberation
  • During voting, the candidate must disconnect again. The candidate will be re-invited to the video conference after the voting process has been completed and the votes have been tallied
  • The committee should adopt the following method for voting:
    • The Chair’s email should be provided to all voting members
    • Committee members should have a voting ballot template for reference
    • The Chair will invite members to submit their vote using email
    • When instructed by the Chair, committee members should vote by answering the following questions:
      • Do you judge the thesis to be acceptable?  Yes or No.
      • If Yes, do you judge it to be acceptable As Stands, or with Minor Corrections, or with Minor Modifications?
    • Committee members should individually email their vote to the Chair, cc grad.bme@utoronto.ca, and cc sgs.doctoral@utoronto.ca
      • (if the thesis is not accepted, the Chair should instead consult with the supervisor and the Graduate Office grad.bme@utoronto.ca on the most appropriate way to share the result)
    • The Chair will fill out the Chair summary form and ascertain the exam outcome
    • The Chair will share the decision with the committee and candidate
    • The Chair will email a scan/picture of the Chair summary form to grad.bme@utoronto.ca and cc sgs.doctoral@utoronto.ca


Additional instructions for PhD candidates:

  • The candidate must fill in the attestation form to affirm that you understand the privacy of the exam and have a controlled space in which to conduct it (return the form to sgs.doctoral@utoronto.ca, and cc grad.bme@utoronto.ca)
  • Provide all participants with a copy of your presentation slides at least two hours prior to the exam. The slides should be distributed by your supervisor (you’re prohibited from contacting the external examiner until the start of the exam).
  • Provide the Chair and supervisor with your contact information.
  • If you’re using Zoom, select “Share Screen” to start the presentation. Since you’re sharing your screen (rather than extending your screen), “Presenter View” is not be available.
  • Stop sharing your screen after your presentation is finished (this improves your and other participants’ visibility).
  • When asked to withdraw from the FOE, you must leave the video conference. Stand by to receive communication as the exam Chair or supervisor will re-invite you to the exam at the appropriate time. You may need to then share your screen again depending on the situation.
  • The Graduate Office will provide post-exam instructions to the candidate through email shortly (normally within 2 business days) after the exam.


Option 2) Postpone the exam

If you would like to postpone your exam, email the Graduate Office (grad.bme@utoronto.ca) to provide information about the alternate date(s) as soon as possible. SGS will work with the candidate and BME regarding final year academic fees if the exam is postponed. Fees will be assessed based on the original exam date and the time the student takes to submit the final thesis, and the pro-rated academic fees schedule will remain in place.