Dissertation Proposal

A thorough and coherent dissertation proposal must be completed following the comprehensive examination. Normally, it is 15-20 pages in length, excluding appendices and bibliography, but the student should consult their supervisory committee on this.

The proposal must be presented to the department by the student before proceeding to research. The Supervisor/Co-supervisors and committee must accept the proposal prior to setting the departmental presentation date. A minimum of one week’s notice of the presentation is required by the department to ensure available space and notice time. The Supervisor/Co-supervisors, Graduate Officer (or delegate) must be in attendance. The presentation is open to the committee, other faculty and graduate students as well.

There are two different formats for dissertation production: traditional or manuscript format. The student’s Supervisor/Co-supervisors and supervisory committee must approve of the format at the time of the student’s proposal defence. The candidate is responsible for securing this agreement with their supervisor and committee.

In general, the PhD Thesis by traditional format normally should be 200-300 pages in length, not including reference list/bibliography and based on double spacing and 12pt text. A consistent APA reference system must be used throughout the thesis. The cover page should be formatted as required by the School of Graduate Studies (SGS). The manuscript format is a collection of scholarly papers for which the student is normally required to be the sole or principal author, and which forms a cohesive, unitary whole, documenting a single program of research. It should contain an introductory chapter that sets up the project, and a concluding chapter that unites the material presented in the chapters in a cohesive way. The Supervisor/ Co-supervisors and supervisory committee must agree with undertaking this format. See SGS Guidelines for Formatting Thesis and ethesis templates.

Feedback received in the presentation should be incorporated into the final proposal. Once approved, the proposal must be sent for ethical review under the Interdisciplinary Committee on Ethics in Human Research (ICEHR) if the dissertation methods require. When ICHER gives approval and the supervisory committee are satisfied with the proposal, research may begin.

Dissertation Research and Writing

The student embarks on data collection, analysis and writing of their thesis in consultation with their Supervisor/Co-supervisors.


PhD Candidates must submit a written dissertation deemed acceptable by the University, and demonstrate their ability to defend their work in a public oral examination. The dissertation should successfully demonstrate the candidate’s competence to undertake independent research work and should contribute significantly to knowledge in the field of study. The contribution should be of a high scholarly merit and demonstrate that the candidate is aware of the pertinent published literature. Regardless of format chosen, the dissertation should be written in a style that is clear and concise. A high degree of literacy is expected of all graduate students, and elegance and clarity are desirable whatever the subject of the thesis might be.

Upon completion, the dissertation is sent for examination by three examiners (normally one external and two internal). The candidate’s supervisor must ensure that Examiners are willing to examine a manuscript format thesis/dissertation. When examiners report to the School of Graduate Studies, the decision is made whether to proceed to oral dissertation defence. See here for further information.

Oral Defence Process

The Oral Defence includes the candidate, Supervisor/Co-supervisor, Dean’s Representative, Head or Head’s Representative and three Examiners. They may be present in the room or connected via edefence procedures. The candidate gives a 20-30 minute presentation of their research and findings. Organized by SGS. Visual aid technologies may be used in the presentation. Following the presentation, there are two rounds of questions moderated by the Dean’s Representative. Upon completion of the questioning, the candidate leaves the room and the examiners discuss the results. The candidate is called back to the room and given the results of the defence. See here for oral defence evaluation and here for edefence.

Final Dissertation Submission to Department

Following final revisions of the dissertation, Memorial University requires submission as an ethesis. Supervisor/Co-supervisors and committee must approve the final version to be submitted. This is then sent to the Head and Recommendation for Award of Graduate Degree form is signed. SGS clears the successful candidate academically for convocation and automatically issues a letter to the candidate. See here for timeline and all forms required to complete graduation. The student uploads their dissertation and their metadata and any supplementary files through a secure form on my.mun.ca.

A clean, final hard bound copy of the final Thesis MUST be deposited in the Department Office before the student can graduate.


Department of Sociology

230 Elizabeth Ave

St. John's, NL A1B 3X9 CANADA

Tel: (709) 864-2530

Fax: (709) 864-2552