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Glossary

Glossary of items in the Graduate Degree Programs
Table of contents

    Committees

    Admissions Committee

    This committee consists of faculty members whose expertise jointly spans the research areas of the Department, chaired by the Associate Chair. The Admissions Committee evaluates candidates’ academic and research potential and preparation for the proposed program of study and decides on whether or not to recommend that the School of Graduate Studies issue an offer of admission at either the M.Sc. or Ph.D. level. The offer will usually be contingent upon satisfactory completion within a designated time interval of some program which is in progress. Candidates who fail to complete the M.Sc. within one year (three terms) will not normally be admitted to the Ph.D. program.

    Ph.D. Supervisory Committee

    A supervisory committee will be appointed for each Ph.D. candidate immediately upon his or her acceptance into the Ph.D. program (or by the end of the first year, for direct-entry Ph.D.). This committee will consist of the supervisor and two other Faculty members of the Graduate Department of Physics who are appointed upon the recommendation of the supervisor, in consultation with the student, and with the approval of the Associate Chair. It is recommended that the committee consist of one experimentalist and one theorist, and that, as far as possible, one should be in the same research field and the other in a related field. The supervisory committee is intended to monitor the student's progress and be available to provide guidance and assistance to the student. Informal meetings between the student and individual members of the committee are encouraged. However, both student and supervisor have the right to call a formal meeting at any time. The Associate Chair for Graduate Studies, or a faculty member whom he or she appoints, may attend any formal meeting of the supervisory committee. The first formal meeting of the supervisory committee will normally be at the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination. (See below.)

    Standards and Evaluations Committee

    This committee consists of faculty members and is chaired by the Associate Chair. The committee provides a ranking of students for external graduate scholarships (NSERC, OGS, etc.). Members of this committee convene all Ph.D. Qualifying Examinations.

    Courses

    Graduate Lecture Course

    A full year graduate course (indicator Y) carries one full academic credit. A half year graduate course (with indicators F, S, or H) carries one half academic credit.

    Course Requirements

    For the purposes of fulfilling the lecture course requirements for the M.Sc. or Ph.D., the Department recognizes any relevant lecture course listed in the current School of Graduate Studies calendar (please consult with the Associate Chair concerning courses in other departments), or in the Department's current Graduate Course Listings. However PHY 1600Y, “Effective Communication for Physicists”, and the modular course (PHY2109H) will not count towards course requirements for M.Sc. or first-year direct-entry Ph.D. students, although they will count towards the course requirements for the Ph.D. Students will not be given credit for any courses taken during their time as undergraduates; nor may they take for graduate credit any courses they have already taken as undergraduates (e.g. courses cross-listed in the Faculty of Arts and Science). Students require the approval of their supervisor and of the Associate Chair before registering in graduate lecture courses. It is normally expected that at least 50% of the courses taken by students toward satisfying the requirements for the M.Sc. or Ph.D. will have a PHY indicator, and that no more than 30% will be graduate courses that are cross-listed as undergraduate courses in the Faculty of Arts and Science. The course requirement specifies only the minimum number of courses which are to be included in the graduate programs; however, it is expected that all students will audit additional graduate lecture courses and attend seminars in their area of specialization throughout the period of their graduate education as well as the weekly departmental colloquium. Additional requirements may also be imposed by a student’s supervisory committee.

    Research Courses

    M.Sc. and first-year direct-entry Ph.D. candidates register in these courses, and M.Sc. (with thesis) students register also in their second year, in sequence of the last digit (i.e. in PHY60x1Y in their first year of graduate study, in PHY60x2Y in their second year of graduate study.) Grades for these courses are provided by the supervisor, based on the supervisor's evaluation of the ability and progress of the student in performing research as evidenced in interactions with the student throughout the year. The available Research courses are:

    PHY6011Y - Research in Atmospheric Physics

    PHY6021Y - Research in Biophysics

    PHY6031Y - Research in Condensed Matter Physics

    PHY6041Y - Research in Geophysics

    PHY6051Y - Research in Quantum Optics

    PHY6071Y - Research in Subatomic Physics and Astrophysics

    Seminar Courses

    All M.Sc. (Option II) students enroll in the seminar course appropriate to their area of research. The grade for this course is provided by a Faculty assessor on the basis of the student's ability to orally present and defend the results of the Research Project at the M.Sc. Oral Examination. The L designator for these courses means that although students enroll in these courses upon entry to the M.Sc. program, the grade needs to be reported to the School of Graduate Studies only after the M.Sc. oral examination. The available Seminar courses are:

    PHY7001L - Atmospheric Physics Seminar

    PHY7002L - Biophysics Seminar

    PHY7003L - Condensed Matter Physics Seminar

    PHY7004L - Geophysics Seminar

    PHY7005L - Quantum Optics Seminar

    PHY7007L – Subatomic Physics and Astrophysics Seminar

    Courses from other Departments

    Physics graduate students often find courses offered by other departments useful in their programs. In this respect, the available resources include the School of Graduate Studies Calendar and up to date information available at other departments, often through handbooks similar to ours. In the recent past, our graduate students have taken courses from the Departments of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Chemistry, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mathematics, to name a few. Normally no more than 50% of a student’s courses can be from another department, and not all courses are appropriate. Consult your research supervisor and the Associate Chair for advice.

    Grading of Graduate Courses

    See Grading Guidelines for Physics Graduate Courses.

    Examinations

    M.Sc. Oral Examination (Option II and III)

    Within three terms of their initial enrolment, candidates for Option II of the M.Sc. (without thesis) will be given an oral examination on the Research Project which they have been pursuing. The Examination Committee will consist of the supervisor and two Faculty assessors appointed by the Department, in consultation with the supervisor. The two Faculty assessors will provide two grades, one based on the written report of the Research Project (PHY3400Y), and the other on the oral presentation and defence of the Research Project (the 7000-series Seminar course). For Option III students, this examination will be held within 6 terms of initial enrolment.

    Ph.D. Oral Qualifying Examination

    Ph.D. candidates must present themselves for examination within two terms of enrolment in the Ph.D. program (five terms for direct entry students). The intention of the Qualifying Examination is to assess the candidate's ability and readiness to promptly carry forward and successfully complete independent Ph.D.-level research. This assessment will be based on the candidate's graduate record to date, including three graduate lecture courses and the research performed, together with the presentation and defence of a research plan for the Ph.D. thesis. The examination committee will normally consist of the supervisory committee and a Convenor, who is a member of the Standards and Evaluations Committee who is not a member of the candidate's proposed supervisory committee. One of the Convenor's important duties is to ensure that departmental standards are maintained across the wide spectrum of disciplines in the Department. Committee members should have received a 5-6 page outline of the proposed thesis project at least a week before the exam. As a full member of the examining committee the Convenor will lead a discussion on the candidate's academic and research performance to date, as determined by the grades obtained in three graduate lecture courses, the 6000-series Research course, and the M.Sc. ‘Report’ course (if taken); members of the supervisory committee will comment on their perception of the candidate's ability to perform independent research at the Ph.D. level and on the quality of the research carried out by the candidate. The candidate will then be asked to present, in approximately 20 minutes, a research plan that will lead to a Ph.D. thesis. The examining committee will then question the candidate, who will be asked to explain and defend this research plan. Finally, the Convenor will lead a discussion to obtain a consensus on whether or not the candidate has presented a sufficiently realistic and well-conceived program of research and has sufficiently demonstrated the academic ability, the required background preparation, the potential for independent research, and the scientific judgement to be permitted to continue in the Ph.D. program. The examination committee may permit or deny confirmation of the candidate in the Ph.D. program. The committee may recommend one or more conditions (e.g. additional course requirements) that the candidate must fulfill before being allowed to continue. In the event of a denial, the candidate may be re-examined within four months of the date of the first examination. Upon a second unsuccessful result, Ph.D. enrolment will be terminated.

    N.B. For candidates who start their Ph.D. studies in September, the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination must be taken before the end of the April of the same academic year (following year for direct-entry Ph.D.).

    Departmental Ph.D. Oral Examination

    Each candidate for the Ph.D. and their thesis will be examined at a Departmental Ph.D. Oral Examination upon receipt of a copy of the thesis. The examination committee normally consists of the supervisory committee, convened by the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies. As a full member of the examining committee, the Convenor will ensure that the candidate presents a lucid discussion of the thesis contribution in the time allocated (normally 20 minutes). The Convenor will, through questioning and by observing the response to questions from other committee members, confirm that the candidate can defend the work being presented and that the student has a sufficient mastery of the subject area and research area in general to reasonably expect the candidate to be successful at the Final Oral Examination. At the same time, the Convenor will ensure that the examination is conducted in a manner that is completely fair to the candidate. After the examination the Convenor will lead the discussion to obtain a consensus of the Committee as to whether or not the candidate may go forward to the Final Oral Examination of the School of Graduate Studies.

    Ph.D. Final Oral Examination (FOE) of the School of Graduate Studies

    This examination is run under the auspices of the School of Graduate Studies by a committee which includes, besides members from the Department of Physics, one member from outside the University of Toronto, who provides an external appraisal of the thesis. The Final Oral Examination will be scheduled not sooner than eight weeks after the Department Ph.D. Oral Examination. This time cannot be reduced due to the time required to organize the meeting and the time required for the committee and the examiner to read the thesis. Students are strongly advised to allow for this time when planning their completion exercises. The Graduate Office has further information on the timeline and at the appropriate time, you should get the latest information from them.

    Reports and Theses

    Archival

    An archival document is departmental approved and made available in the University’s digital library repository where it becomes a matter of public record. Accordingly it must be written in a clear and comprehensible manner in acceptable scientific language, free of both major and minor errors, well organized, and professionally bound and presented. It should provide a complete and accurate record of the research which has been performed. All references and sources must be carefully and comprehensively listed, and full details of calculations, experimental procedures, and equipment should normally be included (often in appendices). Theses are generally archival documents, reports are not.

    M.Sc. Report. (Option I)

    The written account of an independent examination by candidates for Option I of an agreed minor research topic or literature survey carried out with the advice of a research supervisor. It is not expected to involve extensive calculations or the building of any new experimental equipment. It should be completed within three terms of full time graduate study in which three full lecture courses are also being taken. The report need not meet archival standards. It is considered to constitute the same workload as two full courses, with one full-course grade being given by the supervisor for the supporting research as the research course grade, and one full-course grade being given by an independent Faculty assessor for the M.Sc. report, which is listed as PHY3400Y on the candidate’s transcript. The format and length of the report are given below.

    N.B. For candidates who start their M.Sc. studies in September, the M.Sc. Report must be submitted to the Graduate Office before the end of the third week of the following August.

    M.Sc. Research Report (Option II)

    Research carried out by candidates for Option II under the supervision of a faculty member resulting in a written report. The research should attack a significant scientific question, but need not involve extensive calculation or the construction of any new piece of experimental equipment. It should be capable of completion within three terms of full time graduate study where two courses are being taken simultaneously, and be brought to a point where the potential of the research is demonstrated and the candidate's ability to carry out independent research can be evaluated. The written report is not expected to meet archival standards. The format and length of the report are given below. The Research Project is considered to constitute the same workload as three full lecture courses. The grade for the Research course is given by the supervisor based on the student's work during the first two terms. Then, upon completion of the written report, the candidate will be given an oral examination by a committee consisting of the supervisor and two Faculty assessors appointed by the Department. The Faculty assessors will provide the remaining two grades at this examination: one based on the quality of the oral presentation and defence by the student of the Research Project (the appropriate ‘Seminar’ course) and the other based on the quality of the written report (PHY3400Y).

    N.B. For candidates who start their M.Sc. studies in September, the written report must be submitted electronically to the Graduate Office before the end of the third week of the following August, and the oral examination must be taken before the end of the second week in September.

    M.Sc. Research Thesis. (Option III)

    The written report of research carried out by candidates for Option III under the supervision of a faculty member. The thesis is to be of archival quality and should attack a scientific question of publishable significance. The investigation undertaken should be much less extensive than for a Ph.D. and need not be carried out in such an independent manner. It should be capable of completion within six terms of full time graduate study while two lecture courses are also being taken. It is considered to constitute the same work load as four full lecture courses. The format and length of the thesis are given below. The thesis will be assessed by the supervisor and two independent Faculty assessors assigned by the Department; the thesis may be accepted, accepted with minor changes, or rejected (see also M.Sc. Oral Examination). The Research thesis is indicated on the student’s transcript by the indicator THS9999Y; no grade is assigned.

    Ph.D. Thesis

    The written report of original research carried out by the candidate in an independent manner, but under supervision as to quality and correctness. The research should result in one or more contributions to the scientific field of sufficient importance to be publishable in the scientific literature. The written thesis is to be of archival quality, and must represent the candidate's own work. The format and length of the thesis are given below. The thesis and the candidate will be examined at a Departmental Ph.D. Oral Examination, by a committee that will normally consist of the supervisory committee, convened by the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies. This committee will recommend whether or not the candidate should proceed to the Final Oral Examination.

    Report and Thesis Formats:

    Technical Requirements

    Good-quality white bond paper, thick enough to be opaque, should be used (20 lb. base is acceptable). The size of the pages should be 8 1/2" x 11" (21.5 cm x 28 cm), the text reading across the 8 1/2" (21.5 cm) dimension. The left-hand margin should be at least 1 1/4" (32 mm), and the remaining three margins should be at least 3/4" (20 mm) to the main text. “Times New Roman” or “Helvetica” or similar typeface is preferred. Font size must be a minimum 10 points and 1015 characters per inch. (Note: Font size of 12 points is recommended.) You may use a smaller font size for graphs, formulas, and appendices (avoid italics). The spacing of the printed lines must be at least one-and-a-half spaces, on one side of the paper only. Single spacing may be used for long quoted passages and footnotes. Decisions as to the form and location of footnotes and the presentation of references and bibliography are to be made by the student and the supervisor at an early stage in the writing of the report or thesis. The preferred location for footnotes is either at the bottom of the page or at the end of the chapters to which they refer.

    Size Limits

    In all cases size limits refer to the main body of the document, excluding prefaces, references, indexes, diagrams, tables, appendices and the like. However the document shall be examinable without reference to text other than that contained in the main body of the document. The current limits are as follows:

    • M.Sc. report – Option I 6,000 words
    • M.Sc. report – Option II 12,000 words
    • M.Sc. thesis − Option III 25,000 words
    • Ph.D. thesis 45,000 words

    Reports or theses which exceed the limits above will not normally be accepted for examination. Explicit evidence of compliance with size limits will not normally be required, but will be requested by the Graduate Office as necessary.

    Format

    Check that all pages are present, in sequence, and correctly numbered. There shall be an integrated reference list and/or bibliography for the entire report or thesis. Diagrams and tables shall be integrated with the text in an appropriate manner.

    For Ph.D. students, please see http://www.sgs.utoronto.ca/currentstudents/Pages/Producing-Your-Thesis.aspx regarding formatting and submitting your thesis to the School of Graduate Studies.