MA Thesis

At the start of the second term of the first year, students should begin work on a thesis proposal in consultation with their Supervisor. The thesis proposal should provide clear evidence of a focused research problem or theoretical issue, a coherent plan for executing the project, and a basic outline of the structure of the thesis. While there is no formal M.A. thesis proposal defense, the proposal must be approved by the student’s advisory committee before any extended research or writing of the thesis begins. Where appropriate, the proposal must also state and justify the need for UBC Research Ethics Board (REB) approval. For any project that requires REB approval, the student (in conjunction with the thesis supervisor) will need to apply for and receive REB approval before beginning the proposed thesis project. Hence, it is important for students to complete their thesis proposal as early as possible (ideally prior to the end of the term), as to allow adequate time for faculty review and approval, as well as REB submission, review (including time to address any REB requested modifications), and final approval. The aim of this timeline is to ensure that a student’s proposal preparation and REB review do not hinder time required for data collection and other thesis research activities that need to be conducted during the summer months. A copy of the approved proposal must be submitted to the Graduate Secretary for inclusion in the student's file.

The Advisory Committee for the M.A. thesis is comprised of at least two faculty members, including the Supervisor. The Supervisor serves as chair of the Advisory Committee. The student, in collaboration with her/his Supervisor, should invite at least one other faculty member from the Department to join the Advisory Committee. Please note that a faculty member from another department can serve on the Advisory Committee as a third committee member and that co-supervision is allowed as long as one of the supervisors is a regular faculty member in Sociology.

Students should identify and confirm their thesis Supervisor as soon as possible (ideally during their first term in the program) and their full Advisory Committee (i.e. Supervisor and one or more other faculty members) before the end of their second term in the program. To achieve this, students should attempt to assemble an Advisory Committee with members who have demonstrated expertise in their chosen field of research for the thesis, a condition which the SGSC shall consider in approving the Advisory Committee. Membership of an Advisory Committee can be changed, but changes cannot normally be made in the two months prior to the thesis examination and all committee changes must be approved by the SGSC.

Once the thesis proposal has been approved and UBC Research Ethics approval has been obtained, students can proceed to conducting and writing up their thesis research. To ensure timely progress, students should aim to be conducting their thesis research by the start of the summer following Year 1. M.A. theses are expected to consist of original research and analysis. They are generally 30-50 double-spaced pages in length and usually modelled on a journal article or book chapter.

The student's Supervisor, in consultation with the student and the SGSC, will determine the date of the Thesis Examination and request that the Graduate Secretary schedule the exam. The Graduate Secretary will not schedule an examination date earlier than two weeks from the date of delivery of two copies of the thesis to the Graduate Secretary's office.

The thesis will be evaluated by the Advisory Committee in a formal examination chaired by a delegate of the SGSC. The candidate will be asked to present an oral report on the thesis research and to respond to questions from the examining committee as well as from any other member of the university community who wishes to read the thesis and attend the thesis examination. A thesis may be passed as written, revisions may be requested, the examination may be adjourned, or the student may be failed. All M.A. theses are graded on a Pass/Fail basis.

Two unbound copies of the final thesis, conforming to the official standards of the University, must be submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies and one to the Sociology Graduate Office. Please also provide copies of the final thesis to all members of the Advisory Committee. When preparing the final version of the thesis the student should consult G+PS regulations pertaining to thesis formatting.

M.A. students should expect to take two years to complete the program. The first year of full-time study is typically devoted to the theory and methods seminars and the remaining credits of additional course work, as well as completion and REB approval of the thesis proposal. As indicated in the program outline above, students are expected to take three courses in each of the first two terms and the remaining two courses (SOCI 515 and one elective course) respectively during the following fall and spring terms (if not earlier). To ensure timely progress, students are expected to complete their M.A. thesis proposal (and have it approved by their committee and REB) during the second term, so that they can begin working on their thesis research (e.g., collecting data) during the summer. The second year of study normally consists of coursework, thesis research and thesis writing.

Full-time M.A. candidates must spend at least one winter session (September - April) as a full-time student and are normally required to have completed at least 18 credits of course requirements within two years of registration in the program. Students should not expect to continue if they have not met this requirement. Full-time M.A. students are required to pass the thesis examination within five years of registration; yet it is unusual for full-time students to require more than two and one-half years (not including approved leave time) to complete the program. Hence, students who are evaluated by the SGSC as making continued unsatisfactory progress in the program may be asked to withdraw from the program. Students may request from the Faculty of Graduate Studies (G+PS) a year of leave for reasons of health or personal crisis which will not be counted towards the five year time limit. Parental leave is also available upon request. Extensions beyond the five year limit are not normally granted and students who have not passed the thesis defence by the end of five years should not expect to continue in the program. Finally, note that full-time students cannot engage in remunerative work for more than 12 hours per week.

Part-time Study

The Department offers part-time study for the M.A. in Sociology. There is a maximum time limit of five years for part-time students to complete the program. Admission to part-time studies is the same as for the regular M.A. program. A period of residence is not required of part-time students and part-time M.A. students are not eligible for graduate fellowships or loans. Students can transfer from one status to the other with permission from G+PS. If the time in a degree program has expired, a student must apply for readmission rather than reinstatement. Upon readmission, the student can receive up to 12 credits towards the degree at the Department's recommendation. In exceptional instances the Department can recommend "reinstatement". Reinstatement implies that the student never left the program and that tuition fees must be paid for the time away.

These are the instructions which guide the conduct of the Departmental M.A. and Ph.D. oral thesis examinations, in each case chaired by an appointee of the SGSC. Students preparing for such examinations should be aware of these procedures and are advised to attend other students' examinations as preparation.

The Departmental oral examinations for the M.A. and Ph.D. are public and therefore open to any faculty member or graduate student in the Department. It is the responsibility of the Chair of
the candidate's Advisory Committee to ensure that a quorum will be present at an examination. In addition, the SGSC assumes that in calling the examination, the Advisory Committee has assured itself that the candidate has fulfilled all requirements for the degree.

The examination generally lasts two hours. A quorum must be present for the examination to begin. The quorum consists of the Chair of the Examining Committee (SGSC representative) and at least two Advisory Committee members. If a quorum is not present, the Chair may delay the examination, postponing it until a later date. The SGSC representative is a non-voting member of the Examining Committee.

The following procedure is suggested for the Examination Chair (SGSC representative):

1. Announce that the meeting has been called for the public examination of (name of candidate) or the (M.A. or Ph.D.) degree;

2. Request the candidate to present a synopsis of his or her work (the candidate may speak from notes and/or use a blackboard or audio-visual equipment, but should not read the synopsis; time 20 to 30 minutes);

3. Call upon members of the assigned Examining Committee (the Supervisor last) to question the candidate;

4. Call for questions by any visitors in attendance;

5. Call for further questioning by the Committee, and question the candidate him/herself.

6. Request the candidate and persons not on the Examining Committee to withdraw.

7. Call for discussion of the examination (quality of the presentation, answers, and thesis) and poll each Committee member, reaching one of the following decisions:

a) Approval of thesis (i.e., Pass or Fail), indicating any minor amendments that must be made by specified date; or b) adjournment of the examination with conditions for re-examination by specified date (this must   be done if deficiencies are found in the thesis, its presentation or its defense, that are deemed not to be serious enough to warrant failure, but must be rectified (before approval); or c) failure of the candidate.

8. Call back the candidate and, in the presence of the Examining Committee, inform him or her of the Committee's decisions about thesis approval, and any minor revisions to be made, the latter usually specified afterwards by the Supervisor.

9. Compose a brief written report indicating the Examining Committee's decisions regarding thesis approval and dates for completing corrections. Additionally, the report should note attendance and any unusual circumstances relating to the examination. The report is to be submitted to the SGSC within a few days.

You must also refer to the Faculty of Graduate + Postdoctoral Studies website to meet their requirements & deadlines:

Students are admitted to the M.A. program with the expectation that they intend to continue their course of study towards the Ph.D. As such, students in good standing in the M.A. program will be accepted into the Ph.D. program. However, M.A. students who wish to continue onto the Ph.D. will still need to submit an application (G+PS application, research prospectus, letters of recommendation, etc.).