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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Arts
April 19, 2014
Canadian Excellence

Thesis Option

Students who choose the thesis option are required to take PO601, PO602, two half-credit courses, and PO699 (thesis).

The thesis (PO699) is a formal investigation of a topic within the discipline which, focusing on a well-defined research question, reviews the relevant literature and presents original data and/or analysis. Students whose program of studies includes a thesis requirement must submit a thesis which is written in satisfactory literary form, and is based upon research in some topic connected with their discipline. The thesis must demonstrate the candidate's capacity for original and independent work, and when appropriate it should include a critical evaluation of work which has previously been done in the field of research. Frequently, the thesis will require extensive field research. It should also emphasize any new conclusions which might be drawn from the candidate's own research. As a guideline, the thesis will typically range between 100-125 typewritten pages.

Students enrolling in PO699 must submit to the graduate officer the name of a faculty member who has agreed to supervise their thesis; this must be done no later than December 15 (if their initial registration took place in September). Together, the student and the supervisor will select the remaining two members of the three-person advisory committee (all of whom must be members of the Graduate Faculty at WLU or hold comparable status at another recognized university). The supervisor shall inform the graduate officer in writing of the names of the advisory committee, by January 31st at the latest.

Normally, once a PO699 advisory committee has been constituted, it will meet to determine the roles each member will play in bringing the student's project to completion. In consultation with his/her advisory committee, the student will draft a formal proposal, typically five to eight typewritten pages in length, which should include: working title, brief statement of the research question or objectives of the research, some indication of the theoretical and/or practical relevance of the proposed topic, hypothesis(es) or expectations regarding the findings, brief overview of the relationship of the topic to the existing political science literature, methodology, select bibliography.  The proposal must be approved by the advisory committee by April 1 at the latest. The committee will forward to the graduate officer a copy of the Master's - MRP/Thesis Proposal Approval form, along with a copy of the approved proposal; the graduate officer will communicate this information to the dean of Graduate Studies, in order that the student may be eligible for third-term funding.  The Graduate Studies Office (GSO) must receive the form no later than April 1.

It is the student's responsibility to remain in touch with his/her advisory committee, and to submit drafts of his/her work in a timely fashion. Students are advised to have a complete rough draft of their thesis ready by July 1, if they are to have any realistic hope of graduating in the fall. The scheduling of the oral defence, of course, will depend in large part on the quality of the draft submitted.

Normally, a student will proceed to the oral defence stage of the project when the advisory committee agrees that the thesis is ready for defence. In the event that the committee cannot agree, an oral defence may be scheduled when the supervisor and one other committee member agree that the paper or thesis is defensible. In the event that there is no such agreement on the committee, the student may request that an oral defence be scheduled.

Before a thesis oral defence can be scheduled, the student must submit six unbound copies of the thesis to the department, three copies of which will be forwarded to the dean of Graduate Studies. When the defence is scheduled, the Dean of Graduate Studies will appoint an oral examination committee comprised of (1) a chairperson who is not from the Political Science Department, and who has not taught the student, (2) the student's three-member thesis advisory committee, and (3) an additional examiner who is external to the department, and who may be nominated by the Department.

The oral defence will normally last about 90 minutes. The candidate will begin with a ten-minute summary of his or her project-its relevance, the major findings, and suggestions for future research. One or two rounds of questioning will follow, the order of questioners to be determined by the chairperson. At the end of the oral defence, the examination committee will decide whether the thesis passes, fails, or requires revisions (either substantive or editorial). If the student wishes to be eligible for fall convocation, then all revisions to the thesis must be completed by September 30 at the latest. The student is responsible for delivering the required number of copies of the revised thesis to the GSO by the specified deadline.


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