Information for Political Science graduate students.

Graduate Faculty:

Professors: Leah Bradshaw, Charles Conteh, Hevina S. Dashwood, Pierre Lizée

Associate Professors: Stefan Dolgert, Nicole Goodman, Blayne Haggart, Paul Hamilton, Tim Heinmiller, Matthew Hennigar, Ingrid Makus, Livianna Tossutti

Assistant Professor: Joanne Heritz, Pascal Lupien, Liam Midzain-Gobin

Graduate Program Director: Blayne Haggart
The Graduate Program Director is responsible for overseeing the graduate program, including: providing advice to students on course selection and program regulations, approving course selections, overseeing student progress, and serving as a member of the Faculty of Graduate Studies’ Graduate Council. The Graduate Program Director carries out all duties in regular consultation with the Graduate Program Committee.

Graduate Admissions Co-ordinator: Blayne Haggart
The Graduate Admissions Co-ordinator is responsible for: ensuring the provision of information about the program to potential applicants; overseeing the admissions process, including correspondence with prospective students at various stages and consultation with colleagues in the fields with a view to assessing admissibility; preparing admissions recommendations for the Faculty of Graduate Studies; overseeing the preparation, maintenance and distribution of program publicity material; and serving on the department’s Graduate Program Committee. The Graduate Admissions Co-ordinator carries out all duties in regular consultation with the Graduate Program Committee.

The Graduate Program Committee is composed of at least 3 regular faculty members, including the Graduate Program Director, the Graduate Admissions Co-ordinator, and the Department Chair. The Graduate Program Committee is responsible for scholarship and competitive research grant adjudication, review of student progress, responding to student concerns, changes to the structure of the graduate program, negotiating annual graduate enrolment targets, and preparing revisions to the Graduate Calendar and to the Graduate Student Handbook.

Faculty of Graduate Studies

For full-time students the program is normally a three term (one year) program. There are three types of courses in the Political Science MA program and all are one term in length. First, there are core courses, which are taught as seminars and are restricted to graduate students. These include POLI 5P80, POLI 5P81, POLI 5P82, POLI 5P83, POLI 5P84, POLI 5P85 and POLI 5P86. These core seminars provide an opportunity for critical examination of some of the most significant writings in the various subfields of the discipline and constitute a key component in the Brock MA program. POLI 5P80 and POLI 5P81 are required in all programs in conjunction with one or two additional core courses, as specified below.

Second, there are specialized courses, most of which are taught in conjunction with 4(alpha)00 level honours courses. These are also seminar courses with small class sizes. Students in the graduate course have assignments and responsibilities different from those students in the 4(alpha)00 level honours course when the two meet as a combined class.  Please note: Students who previously completed a 400 level course at Brock may not enrol in the same course at the 500 level.

Third, in rare cases there are tutorial courses. These are individualized reading courses approved for students who want to pursue a topic not covered in the graduate curriculum. The precise requirements and topics are a matter of agreement between instructor and student, subject to general departmental regulations.

A thesis or major essay is also a part of all courses of study. A thesis is an independent research project that makes an original contribution to the discipline, and should be at least 100 double-spaced pages in length, and typically not more than 150 pages; a major essay (usually called a major research paper or MRP) is typically 50-60 double-spaced pages. For more information about thesis requirements, visit the Thesis Regulations section of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. In addition to the major essay, students in the essay (MRP) stream must complete six half credit courses including POLI 5P80, POLI 5P81, and two core seminars. The essay (MRP) stream is the default option, and the one taken by most students.

Acceptance into the thesis stream requires explicit agreement by the Graduate Program Director, based on the candidate’s ability to pursue advanced scholarly research, the student’s preparation of an acceptable thesis proposal, and the availability of appropriate faculty and other resources for the supervision and completion of the proposed thesis. In addition to the thesis, students in this stream must complete four half credit courses including POLI 5P80 and POLI 5P81 and at least one other core seminar.

Students are required to consult with the Graduate Program Director, who will assist students in choosing among the various program options.

Evaluation of Student Performance
In evaluating students’ course work, the program will follow the regulations articulated in the section titled “Evaluation of Student Performance” in the Brock University Graduate Calendar.

For graduate courses, the grades A+, A, B, C, F, IN (incomplete) and IP (in progress) will be recorded on the transcript. Graduate credit will only be given for grades A+, A and B. The continuing candidacy of a candidate with a standing of less than B (70%) in one half-credit or equivalent will be subject to review by the Graduate Program Committee, and the Faculty of Graduate Studies will automatically place such students on academic probation.

Instructors of graduate courses are required to indicate the nature and weighting of assignments as well as all due dates on the course syllabus.

Major Research Paper Evaluation
Major essay and project grades shall be reported to the Faculty of Graduate Studies in the usual fashion with letter and numerical grades. If a failing grade is awarded for a major essay or project, the student will be withdrawn from the program.

Thesis Evaluation
Thesis grades for master’s programs shall be reported to the Faculty of Graduate Studies as either a Pass or Fail grade. A Pass grade must be further differentiated as one of: Acceptable as is, Acceptable with minor revisions, Acceptable with major revisions. A fail grade will be awarded if two or more committee members find the thesis unacceptable or if the External Examiner does not approve the thesis. If a failing grade is awarded for a thesis, the student will be withdrawn from the program.

All applications are submitted through Brock’s Faculty of Graduate Studies, but prospective students are strongly encouraged to contact the department’s Graduate Admissions Co-ordinator before doing so. Applications for full-time study in the MA program are due by February 1 of that year, and a September start is assumed.  For students wishing to begin in January on a part-time basis, the deadline is November 15.

Students who accept admission to the program are able to register for their courses through Brock Self-Service, the on-line registration system, beginning in mid-June. The Faculty of Graduate Studies will send students instructions about how to use the Brock Self-Service system, and students can consult the Faculty of Graduate Studies website. Students should consult the program requirements above and the list of available courses, and register as soon as possible, so as to facilitate the scheduling of teaching assistantships. As the MRP stream is the default option, all incoming full-time students should register for three graduate-level courses for the Fall term (including POLI 5P80), and another three for the Winter term (including POLI 5P81); exceptions to this are only by special permission of the Graduate Program Director only. Please note: students must be continuously registered for the entire 12 months of the program, which means they should register for POLI 5F90 (MRP) or 5F99 (Thesis) by the end of April; do not register for either of these courses before April.

Final Stage Status
Students approved for Final Stage Status by their graduate program must have a complete draft of their Major Research Paper or Thesis, that requires no further research or additional chapters/sections, and must be deemed by their graduate program committee to be able to complete their exit requirement within the subsequent term. Final Stage Status may only be awarded once and only for one term.

All student course selections must be approved by the program’s Graduate Program Director, who will review their selections and notify students of any problems or concerns before the term begins.

The MA program in Political Science is a 12-month (3 term) program, regardless of which option (MRP or Thesis) is pursued. Below are a set of signposts to help students complete their degree in the expected timeframe.

  • Mid-June – on-line graduate student registration opens. Students should consult the calendar and program requirements before registering, and contact the Graduate Program Director if they have questions. Full-time students are expected to complete 3 half-credit courses in the Fall term.
  • Mid-December – students should have:
    -completed their first three courses (including 5P80)
    made arrangements for a Supervisor.
  • Mid-January – Submit First Term Progress Report to the Graduate Program Director, according to the guidelines.
    If the MRP or Thesis will require Ethics Certification (see below), students and Supervisors should begin preparing the application to the Research Ethics Board during the winter term, so that it is ready for submission as soon as possible after the Supervisory Committee approves the research proposal in the Spring.
  • End of April – students should have completed their remaining course requirements (3 half-credits for MRP option, 1 half-credit for Thesis option), and as part of the required POLI 5P81 course have designed their independent research project, in collaboration with their Supervisor; this will form the basis of their proposal. The remaining members of the Supervisory Committee should be selected by this time. Register for Spring/Summer term (5F90 for MRP option, 5F99 for Thesis option).
  • Mid-May – send independent research proposal to the Supervisory Committee by this time at the latest; earlier submissions are encouraged. If Ethics Certification is required, it should be sought immediately after the Supervisory Committee approves the project. (Again, because of time constraints, the student and Supervisor should begin preparing for the Ethics Certification process in advance of this, and to seek the Supervisory Committee’s input on ethics issues.) 
    Submit Second Term Progress Report 
    to Graduate Program Director according to the guidelines.
  • In order to graduate, students apply on-line through their Brock Self-Serve account. This may be done before all degree requirements have been completed. Students who wish to convocate at Fall Convocation need to apply to graduate before July 1, but can apply up to September 1 with a late fee. Due dates for Spring Convocation are Feb. 1, and May 1 with a late fee.
  • Mid-July – students should have by this date submitted a complete “first draft” of their independent research paper to their Supervisor
  • Mid-August – students should have by this date submitted a revised and complete paper for their Supervisory Committee.
  • End of August – Submit Third Term Progress Report to Graduate Program Director according to the guidelines.
    Graduate Student Record Form
    : Students who wish to graduate at Fall Convocation must make sure the Graduate Program Director receives the final grade by the last Friday in August in order to submit the Graduate Record Form in time for Convocation.
  • Note that if your final grade and Graduate Student Record Form are submitted fewer than 56 days after the last day of the previous term you are not required to register for the term in which you complete your Program requirements. Think of this likelihood in advance, and discuss it with your Supervisor. 
    If you are not finished within 56 days of the last day of the previous term you will need to register for another term (i.e., your fourth term), following the same procedure as for previous registrations.

Progress Reports
The Department’s Graduate Program Committee receives progress reports from all full-time students in mid-January, mid-May, and at the end of August, and reviews each student’s progress. The progress of part-time students is reviewed annually at the end of August.

Feedback to each student and Supervisor is given in the form of a brief letter prepared by the Graduate Program Director. Student reviews may occur at other times if there is any concern regarding the student’s performance (e.g., poor performance in a course). Progress deemed to be unsatisfactory (see “Evaluation of Student Performance” above) may result in the student being placed on probation, or a recommendation to the Dean of Graduate Studies that the student be withdrawn from the program. If the Dean concurs, the Dean will send a notice of termination to the student.

Procedures for Major Research Paper/Thesis Supervision
Graduate students must complete as part of their degree requirements an independent research program, in the form of either a Major Research Paper (MRP) or Thesis, with the assistance of a Supervisor who is a member of the Department’s graduate faculty. The quality of supervision is an important variable contributing to the quality of the major research paper/thesis, and to a suitable completion time for the major research paper/thesis work. It is vital that students are provided with responsible, professional supervision that is sensitive to student needs and free of personal conflict that might interfere with intellectual development.

Attempts are made during the graduate admissions process to identify potential Supervisors for those students offered admission, and students will be advised of suitable prospects for Supervisors by the Graduate Program Director shortly after they begin their program of study (for example, in September for those starting in the Fall). The Department recognizes, however, the need for flexibility based on possible changes in the student’s area of interest or the workload of faculty. The onus is therefore on students to secure a Supervisor by contacting faculty directly; students should do so by the end of the Fall term (or as soon as possible if beginning in the Winter term). The decision by a faculty member to become a Supervisor is a voluntary one, in keeping with the Normal Departmental Workload Standard.

If either the graduate student or supervisor wishes to initiate a change in supervisor the request must be presented in writing, with explanation, to the Graduate Program Director, and approved by the Faculty Dean and the Dean of Graduate Studies in consultation with the Graduate Program Director.

Major Research Paper Option
The Supervisor and the student are jointly responsible for selecting an additional member of the Department of Political Science’s graduate faculty to serve as a Second Reader, who with the Supervisor forms the student’s Supervisory Committee. The committee’s composition must be approved by the Graduate Program Director and must be in place and operational by no later than the proposal stage of the major essay, project or thesis. The Supervisor will work closely with the student to produce a complete major research paper that is then read by the Second Reader. The Supervisor and Second Reader will then consult, and jointly determine the final grade for the MRP.

Thesis Option
Students pursuing the thesis option require a thesis supervisory committee of three members, including the graduate supervisor and two additional faculty members. At least one of the three must be a full-time Brock University faculty member. The graduate supervisor in consultation with the graduate student will propose the supervisory committee composition. The committee composition must be approved by the Graduate Program Director and must be in place and operational by no later than the proposal stage of the thesis. The Supervisor will work closely with the student to produce a draft of the thesis that will be sent to the rest of the supervisory committee for approval. If the supervisory committee approves the draft, the student will be required to defend the thesis as outlined in the Graduate Calendar.

It is recognized that when faculty members agree to supervise a graduate student, they thereby assume a number of responsibilities. Major research paper and thesis Supervisors are expected to be actively engaged in scholarly activity and linked to a wider scholarly network. The student has the right to expect from the Supervisor scholarly expertise, accessibility, and assistance with the design, planning and conduct of feasible research projects.

Specific Guidelines for Supervisors

  1. Be reasonably accessible to the student for consultation and discussion of academic progress and research problems and give timely response to written work with constructive suggestions for improvement. It is recommended that Supervisors and students agree to explicit guidelines (preferably in writing) about expectations regarding deadlines for the student to submit work and corrected drafts, and for the Supervisor to return submitted work with feedback.
  2. Offer supervision and advice appropriate to the stage of the student’s work (proposal stage, research stage, analysis and writing stage, oral defence stage if necessary and if appropriate, with the publication of results).
  3. Part of the supervisory role includes advising students in the development of a research proposal as part of POLI 5P81.
  4. Help the student establish and maintain a suitable timetable for completion of the various stages of the major research paper/thesis requirements (i.e., selection of Supervisory Committee, approval of Major Research Paper/Thesis proposal, Research Ethics Board approval if required, preparation for defence if required, etc.). The Supervisor should be aware that full-time students receive a significant reduction in fees if both the Supervisor and Graduate Program Director agree that the write-up of a major research paper or thesis is at a stage that could be considered a “first draft” prior to the payment of fees for an additional term (e.g. fourth term).
  5. Review the student’s progress in preparation for the mid-January, mid-May and end-of-August progress reports.
  6. Ensure the student is aware of University and Faculty requirements and standards for the graduate program as available in this document and in the Graduate Studies Calendar. Ensure that regulations on Intellectual Property and Research with Human Participants (if necessary) are followed before a student is permitted to begin working in any research capacity associated with the University. See web pages: Research Ethics Approval FormsHuman Ethics
  7. Conform to basic principles of academic integrity and professionalism in the supervisory role and in any subsequent publication efforts based on the student’s independent research project. Supervisors are encouraged to clarify with the student (preferably in writing) early in the supervisory relationship how contributions will be acknowledged in such future publication efforts depending on the roles performed by the faculty member and the student, and the degree to which the student’s research is part of the Supervisor’s larger research project.   In particular, the threshold level of contribution for a faculty member to claim co-authorship in future dissemination efforts should be specified. See web page: Graduate Student Intellectual Property Form
  8. Make a suitable alternative arrangement for supervision when on extensive leave or absence from the university.
  9. The Supervisor, as an active member of a research community within Brock University and beyond, necessarily serves as a role model for students, and must be prepared to devote the time required to share his or her knowledge and skills with students and other colleagues. For this to happen the Supervisor must undertake to be available as a resource person for students interested in his or her areas of expertise, and endeavour to attend academic and social activities organized by the program.
  10. Respect commitments to other members of the Supervisory Committee, including: keeping them appraised of the student’s progress, including the estimated date of delivery of the research proposal and final draft; and delivering the research proposal and final draft by the deadlines specified in the Graduate Student Handbook.

Supervisory Committee Members are expected to follow the guidelines laid down for the primary Supervisor with the exception that they do not have primary responsibility for the student. It will be the responsibility of the Supervisory Committee Members to:

  1. Offer advice appropriate to the stage of the student’s work.
  2. Review student’s MRP or thesis proposal and suggest improvements. The student’s research should not proceed further until the Supervisory Committee approves the proposal.
  3. Approve the final draft of the thesis and participate as a member of the Examining Committee, if applicable. See web page: Graduate Supervision

By engaging in a Graduate Program, the student has made a commitment to devote the time and energy necessary to complete courses and conduct a major research paper/thesis project. The Supervisor and Supervisory Committee have the right to expect that the student demonstrate ability, initiative, and receptivity. Additional guidelines for the student are as follows. The student should:

  1. Conform to University and Faculty requirements and procedures with regard to registration, graduation requirements, and to major research paper/thesis style and standards.
  2. In co-operation with the Supervisor develop and maintain a timetable for completion of all stages of course and major research paper/thesis work.
  3. Meet regularly with the Supervisor to review progress.
  4. Give serious consideration to and respond to the advice and criticism received from the Supervisor/ Supervisory Committee.
  5. Recognize that Supervisors, Second Readers, and Thesis Examination Committee Members have other personal, teaching, research and administrative obligations that may preclude an immediate response to queries or the immediate provision of feedback.
  6. Familiarize themselves with University and Faculty requirements and standards for graduate studies as available in this document, in the Graduate Studies Calendar, the University’s policy on Intellectual Property and Research with Human Participants. See web pages: Graduate Calendar, Research Ethics Approval Forms, Human Ethics
  7. Conform to provisions regarding hours of employment at Brock University.
  8. Conform to basic principles of academic integrity and professionalism with respect to the handling of data and in the development of a mature and professional relationship with the Supervisor, other scholars, as well as fellow students and staff at the University.
  9. Consult with their Supervisor and Graduate Program Director if major changes are required during the conduct of the research, and submit a revised major research paper/thesis proposal if necessary.
  10. Participate in the academic life of the program, including attendance at programsponsored events when possible.
  11. Maintain open lines of communication between themselves and the faculty. This can be facilitated through the Graduate Student representatives who attend Graduate Program Committee meetings.