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Athabasca University

Conducting an Oral Defence

Graduate Students are required to defend their Project orally through a formal Oral Defence.

Defence Options

Graduate Students, discussing with the project supervisor, have the option of either completing their defence:
•    In person at the Athabasca University campus, or
•    Virtual defence at a distance using either phone teleconferencing or other conferencing facilities accepted by the project review committee.  

Virtual defence at a distance is preferred.  Graduate students should discuss the examination options and potential dates with their supervisors.

 Responsibility for Costs

Graduate Students who are required to participate in an oral defence and who choose to participate from distance will be responsible for the procurement of the conferencing facilities and related costs at their chosen location.  Athabasca University will cover the teleconferencing costs of the Project committee.
If students choose to travel to Athabasca University for the oral defence, they will be responsible for their own travel and accommodation costs.

Guidelines for Oral Defence

Graduate Students should discuss with their Project Supervisors the conduct and procedures to be used during their oral defence. Some guidelines to consider are:
•    During the conduct of an oral defence, students will be allowed to refer to their Project and other supporting materials (such as data-gathering instruments) related to the conduct of their research.
•    All other materials and reference books will not be allowed during the conduct of the defence.
•    Project committee members may ask specific questions to clarify or challenge the findings, conclusions or recommendations of the Project or they may ask general questions which relate to any of the program competencies studied by the student.
•    Project committee members will discuss the results of the oral defence after the student has either left the room or “logged off” from the defence.
•    The Project Supervisor will advise the defending student of his/her results.  This will normally be a short time after the oral defence has been completed.
•    In a teleconference oral defence, ensure that the conferencing facility has a commercial quality conferencing phone with a good speaker and microphone. You will not want to sit there and hold a telephone to your ear for two or more hours.

Teleconferencing Guidelines

For an oral defence conducted via teleconference, graduate students must:
•    Select a teleconferencing provider (i.e. local telephone company).
•    In conjunction with their Project committee members, select a time and date for the teleconference.
•    Arrange for a conferencing bridge if required.  (A bridge is recommended if more than three sites are being linked.  This can be arranged through the local telephone company.  For three or less sites, one location must have at least two lines and an ability to teleconference in at least two other locations).
•    Advise all Project committee members of the time, date and method (i.e. bridge or link) to be used to conduct the teleconference oral defence.
•    Before the day of the oral defence, circulate to each Project committee member all supporting material that may be used in the defence but is not part of the final Project.
•    On the day of the oral defence, initiate the teleconference.

Updated October 05 2015 by FST Technical Staff

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