PhD Thesis and Final Doctoral Exam

The doctoral 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 Doctoral Thesis

Although there is debate about ‘how’ research is done, the concept of the doctoral thesis research in RES 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 the issues of how to do the research and what will be expected from the dissertation. These discussions should be re-examined at formal meetings of the graduate student’s supervisory committee.


Doctoral Thesis Formatting Guidelines

All RES doctoral theses must follow the G+PS thesis preparation guidelines.


Final Doctoral Examination

The Final Doctoral Exam at UBC has two stages:

  • the External Examination and
  • the Final Oral Defence.

The Final Doctoral Examination is a complex procedure and advance planning is essential to reduce stress and help ensure smooth process. RES doctoral students should carefully review the G+PS Final Doctoral Examination Guide at least one year before you plan to start on this process.