Visual Arts DepartmentWestern Arts and Humanities

Guidelines for the one-year MA in Art History

The MA degree requires full-time study for three terms (fall, winter, summer) and has two streams, a course-based stream and a thesis-based stream. In the course-based stream, students complete a total of seven half courses, including one half course in research methods, and a 30-page research paper, worth one half course. In the thesis-based stream, students complete four half courses, including one half course in research methods, and a 60-page thesis. Both streams require that students fulfill a language requirement (reading proficiency in one language, other than English) either through taking a language course or by passing a test.

Thesis Stream

Students who would like to pursue the thesis-stream are required to get in touch with a faculty member during the summer to discuss possible topics. Students must submit a thesis proposal of 1000 words plus bibliography by September 7th. If the proposal is deemed unsuitable, the student is moved into the course-based stream. If the proposal is sound but requires revisions, the student should complete them promptly and re-submit by September 30th. A draft of the first chapter is due to the Supervisor by January 1st. In the summer term, students complete their thesis, which has to be approved by an examining committee and accepted by Western’s School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS).


The format specifications and timeline for submitting the thesis are regulated by SGPS. Please see:


Thesis Proposals

The MA thesis in art history can be undertaken in one of two forms. In the monographic format, students will pursue a single research subject and will organize the thesis into two or three chapters focused around a central problem. In the integrated-article format, the thesis chapters treat discrete but related problems. Students may examine two different case studies that should be interrelated either by their methodological approach or by a shared research problematic. The case studies may be derived from previously submitted term papers; however, those papers must be thoroughly revised. The integrated articles must be accompanied by a substantial introduction of approximately 8-10 pages, which explains the rationale for drawing the articles together in the thesis. In both formats, the thesis must include a review of relevant literature. For more information about the preparation and formatting of these two types of theses, see the guide on the SGPS website:


Course-Based Stream

Students choosing the course-based stream are required to write a major research paper (MRP) of approximately 30 pages. The MRP is completed under the supervision of a faculty member and will be counted as a specially designated course, which is given a grade that appears on the student's transcript. Because it is a research paper rather than a thesis, it will not be defended.


By the end of March, students must submit a proposal for their MRP to the Graduate Committee. This document should be 1000 words plus bibliography and should indicate the proposed Supervisor and outline the research problematic. Students are encouraged to develop their MRP research from one of their course papers. The Graduate Committee reviews all thesis proposals, and by April 30, the Graduate Chair writes to students with feedback on their proposals and confirmation of the thesis Supervisor. Students are required to submit a draft of the MRP to their Supervisor by May 31. The final version of the paper is due June 30.


The MRP is graded by both the Supervisor and a Second Reader. (The Graduate Chair arranges Second Readers). The student receives the average of the two grades. If the grade discrepancy between the two readers is greater than 10%, the project will be submitted to a third reader to be graded.

Submission Format

The text must be double‐spaced and single‐sided, with a one and a half inch margin at the left to allow for binding. Include a title page, an abstract, and a table of contents.

One copy, unbound and unstapled, is to be submitted to the Graduate office along with an electronic copy sent as an email attachment. A cover note should indicate the name of the Supervisor.

Late Policy

Only under exceptional circumstances, or with appropriate medical documentation, will MRPs be accepted late for grading without penalty. If a student requires an extension, it is the student's responsibility to negotiate an extension with the Supervisor at least one week prior to the due date. In the event an extension is not sought or granted, the following penalty will be imposed: The MRP will be given a 2% grade deduction per day, including weekends up to a maximum of 10 days. After this 10 day period, the MRP will not be graded, except under unusual circumstances.