IMPR PhD Qualifying Exams | College of Arts

IMPR PhD Qualifying Exams

The Qualifying Exam (QE) for the IMPR program will consist of:

  • completion of the Pedagogy Lab course requirements; 
  • an intensive literature review
  • a public colloquium presentation representing development of a focused area of research study; 
  • an essay or research creation project (based on the colloquium project) that is suitable for publication or inclusion in the dissertation; 
  • proposal representing preliminary dissertation research focus and development, and:
  • an oral presentation for the examination committee, to include defense of the proposal and presentation of the Commonplace Book with specific focus on dissertation-related materials. 

The aim of the QE is to evaluate the student’s understandings of best practices, theory, core readings, pedagogical impact, community outreach, and future directions in research in the primary area of Critical Studies in Improvisation. The QE is intended to connect readings/writing to practice in ways that students can apply directly in their dissertation / research creation going forward. 

The primary research area for all IMPR Students is Critical Studies in Improvisation. The research study may take the form of a typical scholarly written study, or practice-based, creative, or community engaged research options. In all situations a written component will be compulsory. The proposal is intended to focus on the dissertation and to focus students’ work on the research requirements to complete the dissertation in whatever form it ultimately takes, acknowledging that practice-based research is a significant component of the IMPR program. 

The Qualifying Exam will be complete for Grad Studies’ purposes after successful oral examination. The proposal must be submitted by the 40th class day of the 4th semester. To that end, the university-wide regulations applying to QEs described below will be followed. In order for an IMPR student to be considered ABD the QE must be completed. Upon successful completion of the QE, IMPR students will be considered ABD.

QE Literature Review

Core readings for the QE are to be determined by each student in consultation with advisory committee members. Given the range and interdisciplinary background of IMPR cohorts, “text” is understood to be an expansive term that references not only written materials but also media and intermedia, performances, musicking/sounding practices, community engagements, and other forms of expression whether visual, gestural, theatrical, and so forth. The list is expected to include an appropriate number of texts decided upon in consultation with the advisory committee and with appropriate attention to a range of scholarly voices, texts, and methodologies. The literature review is expected to be a minimum of 20 pages and should be completed for the Colloquium Presentation and submitted as a section of the Proposal.

Colloquium Presentation

The QE includes a public colloquium presentation representing the development of a research study in the student’s focus area, that is suitable for publication. This presentation is meant to occur early in September of a student’s fourth semester in the program as part of the regularly scheduled IMPR colloquium. 

Essay or Research Creation Project

The QE requires an essay or research creation project (based on the colloquium presentation) that is suitable for publication or inclusion in the dissertation and the result of work with the student’s advisory committee. The intent of this requirement is to give students the opportunity in working on the QE to advance research that relates directly to their proposed focus for the dissertation.


The proposal portion of the QE, to be submitted by the 40th day of the fourth semester, should include a rationale, methodologies, core research texts, and an emergent thesis for the dissertation. This can build on the Colloquium Presentation preparation and feedback.

Oral Examination

The exam will include presentation of the Commonplace Book and a critical evaluation of its materials in specific relation to the intended outcomes—the specific use of the CB is to help identify emergent areas of focus in a student’s research and to track critical readings, performance practices, community engagements, and the like in preparing for the dissertation.

University of Guelph Qualifying Examination Regulations

As early as possible and in no case later than the final semester of the minimum duration requirement, the student is required to pass an examination to assess his or her knowledge of the subject area and related fields. The examination ordinarily will be in several parts (written and/or oral) and should be completed within a two-week period if possible. 

The qualifying examination is an examination by the academic unit in which the student is enrolled (as distinct from an examination by the advisory committee). Upon completing it satisfactorily, the student is deemed to have met the departmental standards and becomes a candidate for the PhD degree. The examining committee, appointed by the chair or director of the academic unit concerned, consists of five members

  • The chair/director of the academic unit (or designate) or the chair of the graduate studies committee, who acts as chair of the examination committee, except when this person is also chair of the advisory committee. In that event, the chair will designate another member of the regular graduate faculty of the unit to chair the examination; 
  • Two members, normally of the regular or associated graduate faculty who are not members of the advisory committee, in addition to the chair; 
  • Two members of the advisory committee;
  • Normally, at least one of the qualifying examination committee members must be from outside the department in which the student is registered. That person may be a member of the advisory committee. 

As a qualifying examination, consideration is to be given not only (1) to the student's knowledge of the subject matter and ability to integrate the material derived from his or her studies, but also (2) to the student's ability and promise in research. The examining committee, therefore, will receive from the advisory committee a written evaluation of the quality of the student's research performance to date and of the student's potential as a researcher. The examining committee will determine the relative importance to be given to these two major components of the qualifying examination. 

The student is deemed to have passed the qualifying examination if not more than one of the examiners votes negatively. An abstention is regarded as a negative vote. The results of the qualifying examination will be reported to the Assistant VP of Graduate Studies through the chair of the academic unit. The report to the Assistant VP will record the decision as unsatisfactory or satisfactory. The Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies will register the student in UNIV*7000 and record the result of the report. 

 If unsatisfactory, the student may be given a second attempt at the examination. A student who fails the qualifying examination and who is being given a second opportunity to pass the examination will be required to repeat it no later than six months after the failed attempt. Academic units may impose a shorter time limit. A second failure constitutes a recommendation to the Board of Graduate Studies that the student be required to withdraw (see Unsatisfactory Progress and Appeals of Decisions