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Comprehensive Examination

Note: The exam was updated in 2022. Below information reflects the updated exam timing, format, content, etc.

The purpose of the PhD Comprehensive Exam is to provide PhD students an opportunity to demonstrate the integration of knowledge and successful application of learning from the core curriculum in the PhD program. Students are asked to demonstrate the ability to apply learning in the key areas of proposal development and the ability to critique published research studies, skills that are essential to progress in the program, and to succeed in a research career.

  • Current PhD students can find more information  here.
  • Supervisors of current students can find more information here (if you do not have access, email the PhD program to request it).

Exam Timing & Format

The exam is typically held once each year in late May and/or early June each year. Most students take the exam at the end of their second year of coursework. The exam will be scheduled over a two-week period, with Week 1 focusing on two written submissions, and Week 2 focusing on an oral examination. The Week 1 written submissions include a research proposal developed in response to a simulated ‘Call for Proposals’ and a written critique of a published research article. The Week 2 Oral Examination will be up to one hour, with approximately 30 minutes allocated to review and defence of each of the two written components.

How Is It Marked?

The new format involves four separate components, intended to examine both written and oral competencies related to each of proposal development and the ability to appraise and critique published academic research. Each of these components will be assessed and weighted equally.

The exam is marked as follows:

  • For a clear pass, an overall average mark of 76% or higher, with a minimum mark of 68% in each of the four components is required.
  • A conditional pass is awarded for achieving an overall average mark between 68% and 75%, and/or a mark that falls below 68% in any of the four components.
  • A fail will be assigned if the overall average mark is less than 68%.