The Qualifying Examination Procedures
The QE is intended to ensure that the student has a sound understanding of the area, can teach general and specific courses at undergraduate and graduate levels, and in the case of PAR candidates, can articulate an integration of performance and research. The QE also provides the opportunity for the committee to question the student on the proposed dissertation prospectus, and make the transition from course work into research.
1) [Usually 2 weeks before the QE]
The Chair of the QE asks each member of the committee for (usually) 2-3 questions each. These are assembled into the 2/3 written examination papers relevant to the 2/3 lists prepared by the student, if necessary with editing and/or combining. Each examination paper consists of 4 questions, from which the student selects 2 to write about. It is usual that questions by some committee members are not directly addressed, but all members read and assess the answers whether or not they submitted the questions under review. Mainstream PhD candidates in Performance Studies take 3 written examinations, and may choose to add one practice as research paper. Practice as Research PhD candidates in Performance Studies take 2 written examinations and a practice as research paper via portfolio, and may choose to add one further written examination. Professional PhD candidates in Performance Studies usually take the examinations as Practice as Research, but may, with agreement of the Major Professor and the MPA, take other combinations of examination as long as there are at least three clear examination areas.
2) [Usually at least 4-5 days before the first examination]
The Chair of the QE sends the written examination papers to the Program Administrator, who is responsible for ensuring that they are sent either on paper or electronically to the student on the appropriate days. The student will already have agreed with the Chair of the committee on which day they would like to sit which exam, and at what time of day they would like to receive the examination. Students may choose any combination of days in the 7 day period, so for example, they may choose to write three exams in three days, or to space them out over a Friday, Monday and Thursday. Usually they are sent out at 9/10am on day 1 and received back at 9/10am on day 2, and so on.
3) The student writes 2 answers out of the 4 questions. The answers are expected to run 2,500-3000 words each. In the rare case of a performance examination [only possible with PAR students who also write two examinations and submit a portfolio], the examination rubric and evaluation criteria will be decided upon in discussion between the student and members of the committee.
4) The Program Administrator sends the written examination answers to committee members on the day that the student completes each examination. This is to ensure that members have the time to read them all before the oral examination, although it is up to the committee members to decide when they read them. The committee members are responsible for examining any practice as research elements in their own time. If this involves live performance work, the student is responsible for informing them of dates and times well in advance of the examination, and if these are impossible for a committee member, the student is responsible for providing them with documentation of the performance sufficient for examination purposes. Practice as research elements are usually held by the Program Administrator for two weeks prior to the examination.
5) The oral examination location and time are decided among the student, Program Administrator, and the Chair (who liaises in turn with the committee members). The oral examination takes place as soon as possible after the date of the final examination and within a week of the final examination.
Conduct of the oral examination
6) The oral examination consists of an introduction by the student to issues that may have arisen out of the examination, and then questions by the committee members to the student about the answers made. The intent of these questions is constructive, and is to reassure the committee members that the student is prepared to teach at undergraduate and graduate levels in both general and specific areas. The committee also questions the student on the dissertation prospectus, especially with regard to the relevance of the dissertation to the examination areas, and to potential developments with which they may be helpful.
In the Performance Studies Graduate Group it is not expected that the candidate will have entirely or precisely planned the writing of the dissertation, and this part of the oral examination is intended to help them focus, re-focus, or consider elements that the examiners feel would be important to the development of the proposed work.
7) The standard format for the oral examination, which usually last 2-3 hours is as follows:
(1.) everyone meets and then the candidate is asked to leave for a few minutes while the examiners discuss how to organize the questioning and we get a general sense of how the examiners felt about the exams going into the oral.
(2.) candidate comes in the room and is invited to present for 5-10 minutes on issues arising from the examinations.
(3.) Chair asks committee members to raise questions or points of discussion. Often this is organized by passing from member to member, giving each 10-15 minutes, with other members contributing where relevant. Discussion focuses on the written examinations and the portfolio for the practice as research elements.
(4.) After the discussion of the examination there is usually a short break of 5-10 minutes, during part of which the committee consults on its own and determines whether it is satisfied by the examination questioning.
(5.) the candidate is called back in, presents on the dissertation, followed by a more free-flowing discussion of the dissertation prospectus, for up to a further hour.
(6.) the candidate is asked to leave while the committee determines whether or not the candidate has passed or not passed.
(a.) If the student has clearly passed, they are invited in and congratulated.
(b.) If the student has passed but needs to reconsider some of the areas of work (this usually happens especially with regard to the relation of the dissertation to the examination areas), they are invited in and congratulated and then filled in on the work that the committee thinks they need to do to ensure an appropriate level of quality in the dissertation.
(c.) If the student has not passed, they are invited in and the committee need to tell them precisely what it is that they have to do before they re-take the QE. 35
8) the candidate gets further feedback from the Major Professor within a week after the examination.
9) if necessary, arrangements are made for a re-take within the following six months to a year.
10) The Chair of the committee informs the Graduate Program Adviser, who in turn informs the student and Program Administrator in writing of whether they have passed, or not passed. The Program Administrator informs the Office of Graduate Studies of whether the student has passed or not passed. In case of “not pass”, the Major Professor and student must decide on whether the student wishes to re-take the examination, and put this procedure into motion, with copy to the Program Administrator. Up to three months are allowed for a retake, and only one retake is permitted. If initial failure is due to structural problems in examination lists, emendations may be made prior to the retake.
11) Re-takes: The structure of a re-take examination is the same as for the normal QE, except that the committee has the option of pass/fail, rather than pass/not pass. If a student fails the QE at this stage they no longer continue with the PhD degree. In the case of a pass or a fail, the MPA informs the student and the Program Administrator in writing of the outcome. The Program Administrator informs the Office of Graduate Studies of the outcome.