b. Year Two: Major Field Examination
i. Advisory Committee
The advisory committee consists of three Urban Planning faculty members - a Chair and two other members. At least two of the members must be Urban Planning ladder faculty (0% appointment or higher). One of the members may be either a UP non-ladder faculty who has been granted approval to serve on committees by the UCLA Graduate Council. Any exception to this policy must be approved by the student's advisor(s), the PhD Coordinator, and the Department Chair. Please see your Graduate Advisor, Robin McCallum, if you have questions or need additional information.
Students typically convene a first meeting of the advisory committee to discuss how to prepare for the examination. As the exam is to be scheduled at a time not less than six months in the future, the meeting should be held either in Spring Quarter of the first year or no later than the Fall Quarter of the second year.
ii. Preparation of Exam
Exam preparation can include courses, papers, practice questions, specific readings, and so forth. Prior to the formulation of the written examination, students typically present their committees with a list of topics on which they are prepared to be examined. The chair of the examination committee then parcels out the task of writing the questions. No more than six questions shall be asked on the examination.
At this time the chair, in consultation with the other members of the commitee, works out a tentative schedule for the examination, its format (required questions, choices and so forth), and whether the exam will be open or closed book. The entire committee should lreview a draft of the examination to ensure that the questions are fair and unambiguous, that they cover the appropriate range of topics, and that they adequately prove the student's knowledge.
Students may prepare for the field examination in several ways. Many find it worthwhile to write answers to questions asked on previous examinations. Best of all, groups of students may meet regularly to critique each others' responses to these questions. Some committee chairs meet periodically with students to discuss readings and other types of preparation. Others organize the meetings around discussions of a series of papers prepared by the student in advance. These papers should not be seen as original research work aimed at eventual publication, but as comprehensive and critical review essays that synthesize and integrate knowledge and literatures around major themes and key debates in the Major Field. They will serve as the basis for informing the chair and other committee members of how comprehensively the student has investigated those themes and debates, and identify the main areas for which the student is prepared to be examined.
iii. Format of Exam
The committee decides whether the written examination will be closed- or open-book. Each format has its merits. A closed-book examination by definition is one in which the student brings to the examination venue no documents or notes, books or periodicals, nor other prepared materials including those on data storage devices (such as flash drives, CDs, etc.). A closed-book exam is arguably more a measure of the candidate's quality of mind rather than his/her ability to "research" a topic from available materials. Because the open-book option allows access to, in principle, any documentation, the option presumes a generally higher standard of performance that the committee should take into account in its evaluation of the written work. Open-book examinations may distract students into reviewing documents for evidence to cull rather than to think through the issues raised in the questions.
Students may not copy and paste any pre-written text to their written examination answers.
Under no circumstances are prepared discs or flash drives allowed.
iv. Timing of Exam
In consultation with the committee, the candidate sets the date for both the written and oral parts of the examination. The oral examination should be administered within ten days of the written examination.
The student informs the Graduate Advisor of the time and date of the written examination, and the name of the student observer for the oral examination. The Advisor then prepares a memorandum confirming the time, place, and date of the written and oral examination, sending the memorandum out to all committee members and students.
Faculty offices are appropriate venues for taking the written examination.
v. The Written Exam
The Chair of the examination committee provides to the Graduate Advisor an electronic copy of the examination prior to the start of the written exam. The Graduate Advisor delivers the examination questions to the candidate, and the candidate returns the completed examination paper to the Graduate Advisor or the delegate. The Graduate Advisor or the delegate photocopies the examination paper and distributes it to the committee members.
Six hours (including breaks) are allowed for writing the examination. Students whose first language is not English are allowed seven hours.
The examination should be written on a computer.
vi. The Oral Exam
All three committee members must be present during the oral exam. In exceptional cases, when an exam committee member is unavailable for a face-to-face meeting, the faculty member may be part of the oral exam via conference call. The student or the faculty member must bear the expense of the call.
The committee chair invites a non-voting Ph.D. student observer to sit in on the exam.
An oral examination has no time limit but generally runs about two hours.
The oral examination, a continuation of the written examination, provides the candidate and the examining committee with the opportunity to clarify and expand on answers to questions on the written examination and, of course, other issues in the field. The candidate's overall performance on the oral and written portions is reported to the Graduate Advisor as "fail, with no re-examination," "fail, re-examination," "provisional pass, with follow up work required," "pass," or "pass with distinction." The report is included in the student's permanent dossier.
If a student receives a "provisional pass, with follow up work required," the timeline for re-submitting the work should be immediately determined by the examining committee, and this timeline should be submitted to the Graduate Advisor. If a student receives a "fail, re-examination," he/she has one more chance to take the full exam again (written and oral), and the exam questions must be different. The timeline for re-taking the full exam should be immediately determined by the examining committee, and this timeline should be submitted to the Graduate Advisor.
The written and oral portions of the examination are usually "graded" as a unit. If members of the committee disagree on the evaluation of answers to specific questions or on the overall recommendation, it is the committee chair's responsibility to reconcile those differences.