PhD in Humanities

Thesis Proposal with Defense

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A thesis proposal is submitted and defended in the term following the writing of the comprehensive field examinations. Students are admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. upon acceptance by their advisory committee of the written thesis proposal and its successful oral defence.

The thesis proposal is approximately 25 pages long (double-spaced), and contains:

  • a substantive presentation of the thesis question
  • a brief review of the literature
  • a bibliography
  • an overview of the proposed structure (chapter by chapter) of the thesis. It should be a substantial reworking of the initial research proposal.

Sample Thesis Proposal


  • The student develops the proposal in consultation with the Major field supervisor, with input from the Minor field advisors.
  • The student submits the thesis proposal to the three members of his or her advisory committee, and if they are satisfied that the thesis proposal is ready to proceed to defence, they complete and sign the Thesis Proposal Submission Form.
  • The thesis proposal together with the completed and signed thesis proposal submission form are submitted to the Director of the Humanities Program for further approval.
  • Upon the Director’s approval,  the student’s Major field supervisor coordinates a time for the thesis proposal defence. All three member of the student’s advisory committee participate in the thesis proposal defence, which is chaired by the Humanities Director and normally takes place in the Humanities conference room.
  • The defence lasts approximately two hours and includes the following elements:
      • The student gives a brief oral summary of the proposal;
      • Committee members engage the student in a discussion of aspects of the proposal and beyond that of the projected doctoral dissertation, touching on such issues as the theoretical framework and methodology to be used, structure of the dissertation, schedule for its completion, etc.;
      • During the discussion, committee members may also ask questions about the comprehensive fields exams, especially as the exam topics relate to the student’s dissertation project.
  • Following the formal defence, the advisory committee with the Humanities Director assess the student’s performance in camera, and decide on a pass or fail grade.
  • A thesis proposal grade sheet for HUMA 886 Thesis Proposal will be provided to the student's major field advisor who will complete, sign, and submit it to Sharon Fitch, S-LB 689.01. The committee may also indicate on a separate paper whether there are concerns that the student should keep in mind as they proceed towards work on their doctoral dissertation and attach it to the grade form.

The Thesis Proposal defence is especially important in cases where non-paper thesis components are being considered. The student's supervisory committee, in collaboration with the Humanities Director, must assess and approve the nature of the relationship between the thesis components and the pertinence of the chosen medium. The committee must establish the student's competence to work with the chosen medium.

If a student fails the thesis proposal defence, he or she may request a second (and last) attempt, the repeated defense to take place after a period of at least three months from the date of the original defence, and no later than one year after the date of the original defence.


Concordia University