M.A. Thesis: Selection and Approval of Topics; Examination

1. The subject matter and orientation of the thesis must be within the generally recognized boundaries of Political Science. In practical terms, any topic for which a Thesis Supervisor within the department can be obtained will be acceptable.  It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that the necessary source materials are available.  Students should feel free to consult Department members for suggestions as to possible thesis topics.


2. See Sections I.C (9) and (10) above for information concerning selection of Thesis Supervisor and selection and composition of M.A. Thesis Examination Committee. The student must identify and secure agreement from an appropriate faculty member to serve as supervisor of the thesis, and my consult with the Graduate Director to identify the appropriate supervisor.


3. The M.A. thesis will consist of a research paper which has as its model an article for submission for publication (normally between 8,000 and 12,000 words in length, including notes). The thesis will typically originate as a research paper in a graduate seminar and undergo revision under the direction of a Political Science faculty member (normally the seminar instructor).


4. If the thesis does not originate as a research paper in a seminar, the student should prepare a thesis prospectus by the end of April which indicates the nature of the topic he/she plans to investigate, the specific research methods and plans to be followed in the study, and the body of literature, relevant materials, etc. to be used. The approval of the prospectus rests with the Thesis Supervisor.


5. After the thesis topic is approved, and until the final evaluation of the finished thesis, the student’s primary contact will be with their Supervisor. The candidate must keep in frequent touch in order to receive advice and to report on the progress of the research.  If their research does not permit them to be in Vancouver, such reports can be submitted by mail or email.


6. In the progress of their research students will inevitably make slight changes in their topics. Major changes, however, can be made only with the approval of the Thesis Supervisor.


7. Once the thesis is nearing completion, the student should consult with their supervisor and/or the Director of the Graduate Program to identify a second reader and seek that person’s agreement to serve as the second member of the two-person thesis examination committee. The student should consult with the supervisor and second reader to ensure that both will be available for projected possible dates for an oral examination. The second reader should not have had extensive involvement in the development of the thesis (e.g., should not have provided comments on a prior draft).


8. While the Supervisor should be an important source of advice and aid to the student, they are not responsible for the final quality of the thesis, or for its final disposition by the Thesis Examination Committee. The fact that the Supervisor allows a thesis to go before the Examination Committee for evaluation does not guarantee that the committee will accept the thesis.  If, however, a thesis that the Supervisor considers unacceptable is being placed before the Committee for final disposition, the fact that the Supervisor considers it unacceptable must be made known to the student.


9. Students must be aware of the technical requirements for the preparation of a thesis contained in the brochure of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Instructions for the Preparation of Graduate Theses. As far as style is concerned, students may use any of the widely accepted formats in Political Science, such as the Turabian (Chicago) or MLA styles. The UBC Library website provides citation style guides for your reference. Proofreading and extensive editing for style and grammar are not among the tasks the Supervisor and Second Reader are expected to perform.


10. When the thesis has been approved by the supervisor, the student or supervisor must send a copy to the second reader. The Oral Examination of the thesis will then be scheduled.


11. The Oral Examination will be announced to the Department in advance and all members of the Department are welcome to attend. At the Examination, the candidate will make an oral presentation of approximately 20 minutes, summarizing the content of the thesis. Following the presentation, the Thesis Examination Committee will ask the candidate questions to assess the quality of the research and the candidate’s mastery of the thesis’s subject matter. Questions may also be asked by audience members. At the conclusion of the questioning, the Examination Committee will deliberate in camera over the assessment of the thesis.


12. A thesis may be accepted as presented, accepted on condition of revisions being made, or rejected. A successful thesis must be approved by both the supervisor and second reader. Where revisions are required, these will be submitted to and approved by the thesis supervisor within 30 days.In case of rejection, the student will be required to withdraw from the M.A. program.


13. An accepted thesis will receive a grade jointly be determined by the thesis supervisor and the second reader. The supervisor must complete a thesis report and assign the grade on the MA Thesis and Examination Report form, and both Examination Committee members must sign the form and return it to the Director of the Graduate Program.


14. The grade assigned to a successful thesis will jointly be determined by the thesis supervisor and the second reader. The supervisor must complete a thesis report and assign the grade on the MA Thesis and Examination Report form, and both Examination Committee members must sign the form and return it to the Director of the Graduate Program.


15. When the thesis has been accepted, the student must submit the thesis to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies as required according to their procedures, including submitting the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies MA thesis and Program Completion form with required signatures.


16. It is customary for the successful candidate to provide one copy of their thesis to the Political Science Reading Room, and one copy to their supervisor.