Master's thesis process

Royal Roads' master's thesis processes are defined by our academic regulations.

Guiding you through the process

As you progress through your program of study, you'll learn more about the thesis process from your program area contacts and the theses and dissertations manager.

Here is an overview of what you can expect when preparing your thesis.

Definition of a thesis

Our academic regulations define the thesis at Royal Roads, including the requirements for completion.

In short, a thesis is:

"a systematic study of a significant problem, issue, or phenomenon. The thesis demonstrates the ability to analyze existing research, collate or collect data and apply it in the context of an existing problem, issue or opportunity... The finished thesis evidences critical and independent thinking, subject expertise, appropriate organization and format, and thorough documentation."

The thesis should constitute approximately 400 hours of effort by the student resulting in the awarding of 12 credits.

To complete the requirements, the student defends their thesis publicly and submits the final version for publication.

Thesis supervisory committee

The student assembles a thesis supervisory committee that will go through an approval process. Approval for the committee is given by a designate from the Office of the Vice-President Academic and Provost in consultation with the program thesis coordinator and the dean of the faculty, as required.

The supervisory committee should meet the following requirements:

  • It must be composed of a minimum of two and a maximum of three members, including the thesis supervisor.
  • One member must be an adjunct, associate or full-time faculty member at Royal Roads University. In some circumstances, a supervisor or committee member who is not full-time Royal Roads faculty may be eligible.
  • Normally, all members hold a doctorate. In exceptional circumstances, individuals with extensive practitioner experience who are recognized as an expert in the field may be eligible to serve as a supervisor or committee member.

External examiner

The external examiner provides an independent assessment of the quality of the student's research.

Choosing the external examiner

The external examiner will be nominated by the program thesis coordinator and approved by the designate from the Office of the Vice-President Academic and Provost.

The external examiner must:

  • have an “arms-length” relationship with the student, thesis supervisor and other members of the supervisory committee (current Royal Roads University associate and adjunct faculty are not considered arm's-length)
  • not have had a personal or collaborative professional relationship with the student, supervisor within the last five years
  • have a doctorate in a related area of study

Role of external examiner

Prior to the student's defence, the external examiner will submit a report of the thesis to the student and supervisory committee.

Conflict of interest

It's the responsibility of the student and supervisory committee to ensure there is no conflict of interest when choosing the external examiner. To maintain the integrity of the examiner process, the student, supervisor and committee members should not contact the external examiner directly. The Office of the Vice-President Academic and Provost performs all communication with potential or confirmed external examiners.

Record of thesis progress

The student and the supervisory committee are required to use the Thesis Manager's SharePoint site throughout the thesis process. Information and correspondence shared through SharePoint constitutes the university’s formal record of thesis progress.

Thesis defence

Each master’s thesis will need to pass an oral, public defence.

The student must:

  • defend the contents of the thesis
  • demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of research methods appropriate to the topic and fields of study
  • demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of the literature in the field(s) and the work of other scholars

The defence includes:

  • a 15- to 20-minute presentation by the student, summarizing the major themes and findings of the thesis
  • two rounds of questioning by committee members
  • a decision from the committee, by majority vote, that includes recommendations (see the master's thesis process for the recommendation options and information about appealing the decision)

Normally, a defence should not exceed 90 minutes.

Publishing the thesis

Unless an exemption has been granted by the Office of the Vice-President Academic and Provost, all theses must be submitted for publication in Royal Roads’ digital archive, as well as Pro-Quest and Library and Archives Canada to meet final graduation requirements.

Theses in non-traditional formats must be accompanied by a PDF summary (minimum 2,500 words), which will be archived.