Master’s Thesis and Final Oral Examination

The Master’s thesis in Resources, Environment and Sustainability (RES) is a fundamental and essential component of the program. It is the main evidence that is available to the academic community by which the candidate is assessed in his/her abilities to synthesize and integrate biophysical and socio-economic sciences into new paradigms or knowledge.

Structure of an RES Master’s Thesis

Although there is debate about how research is done, the concept and structure of the RES Master’s thesis research is, in general, the same as in any graduate program. That is, there is:

  • a statement of an issue
  • a rationale of the significance of the issue
  • a set of research questions (these may be presented as hypotheses, objectives, questions, propositions)
  • a set of methods or tools from various disciplines that will be brought to bear to address the research questions
  • a discussion of theoretical and analytical frameworks relevant to the issue
  • research tools selected
  • expected results
  • a summary and/or conclusions of the research, and
  • a discussion of how the research has contributed to the overall issue.

Specifics among the various sections will vary by the nature of the research topic, the graduate student and the supervisor/ supervisory committee. It is important that discussion take place early in a graduate student’s program on how to do the research and what will be expected from the thesis. These discussions should be re-examined at formal meetings of the graduate student’s supervisory committee.

All RES Master’s and Doctoral students must follow the G+PS formatting guidelines.


RES Master’s Thesis Defence Committee Requirements

Committee composition:
The master’s thesis examination committee should be comprised of the members of the pre-approved RES supervisory committee plus one external examiner who has had no involvement in the thesis supervision. G+PS requires that the examination committee include, at minimum, the supervisor and one person not involved in the thesis supervision.

External (non-committee) member:
An external (non-committee) examiner should be someone who was not involved in the thesis supervisory committee or research. In cases where the supervisory committee did not include an IRES core faculty member or core associate, the external (non-committee) member should be an IRES core or CA faculty member. Supervisors should endeavour to avoid calling upon an individual for service as an external examiner more than once per 12 months. (G+PS recommends that at least 1 member of the examining committee be from another graduate program.)

Examination chair:
The chair of master’s thesis defence should be a member of the examination committee who is also an IRES core or CA faculty member. G+PS permits the thesis supervisor to also serve as Chair of the Master’s examination.


RES Master’s Thesis Final Oral Examination

The RES Master’s Final Oral Examination is an integral part of the RES Master’s Program and requires students defend their theses before they graduate.  A successful defence of your Master’s thesis will depend on your ability to present your research effectively and confidently. Some basic skills and techniques which may be helpful for preparation can be found on the G+PS website.

The structure of the RES Master’s Final Oral Examination is as follows:

  1. A 25 minute (average) presentation made by the candidate.
  2. First round of questions from the Examining Committee in order of most distant from the candidate (generally begins with the External Examiner and ends with the Supervisor). Each committee member is given about 15 minutes for their questions.
  3. A second round of questions, generally about 5 minutes from each of the Examining Committee members.
  4. The audience is welcome to ask questions at this point.
  5. The candidate and audience leave the room and the Examining Committee decide whether the student has passed.
  6. The candidate is invited back into the room and informed of their result.


After the Master’s Thesis Final Oral Examination

You will need to complete any recommended revisions to your THesis before submitting it and some final administrative paperwork to G+PS to close your program.


Lastly, you will need to apply to Graduate via your SSC account!


Master’s Thesis Timeline