Master's Program

This section includes important information you will need during your academic studies at the Centre. For more detailed information, please refer to the Graduate Handbook.

  1. Course Requirements
  2. Language Requirement
  3. Thesis Requirement
  4. Stages and Deadlines
  5. Satisfactory Progress

Course Requirements 

M.A. students are required to take six half courses or equivalent during their two years of study: four in the first year and two in the second. Since this distribution is intended to allow them to concentrate on the thesis during the second year, permission to do fewer than four courses in the first year must be sought from the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC). Students are required to fulfill a “breadth requirement” by taking at least one half course from each of Group A and Group B (see belowy). In contrast to the more specialized courses in Group C, these courses have a topical focus but are also designed to cover a variety of theorists from the above areas, and to introduce students to nineteenth-century and modern, as well as to contemporary theory. The breadth requirement can be fulfilled over two years.

  • Group A: aesthetics, philosophy, psychoanalysis, language theory
  • Group B: social, cultural and political theory
  • Group C: topical focus covering a variety of theorists from the above areas, introducing students to 19th-century, modern, and contemporary theory

Graduate courses in a number of other programs concerned with theory and criticism may also be approved, with the permission of the Director and Graduate Studies Committee (GSC). Students may take up to two such half courses, provided that they are relevant to the program of study. Students should submit a formal request, including the course syllabus, outlining how the course is relevant to their research at the Theory Centre.  Requests should be submitted no later than the start of term (September 1/January 1/May 1).  In order to ensure a place in the course, students must also submit a Course Outside Home Program form.

In very exceptional circumstances, students may fulfill one of their six course requirements by taking a Directed Reading course. Students should, however, be aware that instructors receive no credit for teaching reading courses and may therefore be unwilling to offer them. Reading courses are given on a Pass/Fail basis, must meet for the same number of hours as a regular course, cannot be specifically oriented to the student's thesis, and will not be approved if there is a regular course that covers approximately the same material. Requests for reading courses, including syllabus, marking scheme, and letter of consent from the instructor, must be submitted no later than six weeks before the start of the term in which the course is to be taken. Please consult the Director for further details.

Find Course Enrolment Forms Here


Language Requirement 

In order to graduate with a degree in Theory and Criticism, students must demonstrate a reading knowledge of at least one language other than English that is relevant to their research. Students are strongly encouraged to complete this requirement in their first year. Students who have already satisfied this requirement through previous post-secondary studies should consult with the Director at the beginning of the year. *Note* the language requirement must be completed before submission of the thesis for examination.

There are three ways of satisfying the language requirement:

  1. Placement Test - For those who are fairly fluent but whose proficiency is not reflected in formal course preparation. The language department administers a test to determine students' proficiency. The test is computerised and takes approximately one hour. Once completed, the results should be printed and returned to the Director of the Centre for evaluation. More information.
  2. Undergraduate Course - A grade of 70% or higher in a full year university-level introductory course (eg: German 1030). *Note* registration in an undergraduate course requires the appropriate form, which must be submitted to the Registrar's Office by the add/drop period.
  3. Previous Studies - Students who have already satisfied the language requirement through previous post-secondary language studies may apply these credits toward the language requirement.


Please Note: Students enrolling in language courses other than French through the Department of Modern Languages may take those languages Pass/Fail. You must indicate that you wish to take the course Pass/Fail at the time of enrollment (registration status cannot be changed retroactively). If you have questions, please consult the Centre.


Thesis Requirement 

Each M.A. student is required to write a thesis. The thesis is a formal statement of the theory, source materials, methodology, and findings of a student's major research project. It must be between 25,000 and 35,000 words, excluding bibliography and non-substantive appendices.

All program requirements (including language requirement) must be completed before the thesis examination takes place.

The examination of the thesis exposes the student's work to scholarly criticism. To fulfill the degree requirement, the thesis and the candidate's examination must be assessed and approved by a Thesis Examination Board and meet the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies' (SGPS) requirements for thesis form and thesis content.

Each student writing a thesis must have a Thesis Supervisory Committee.

Supervisor: This individual plays a key role in the direction of the student’s research. The chief supervisor must be a member of the Centre's Core Faculty. This designation ensures that the faculty member has the appropriate level of supervisory membership and primary responsibility for overseeing the Master's thesis research. Although every effort will be made to accommodate the student's research preferences, the program cannot guarantee a particular supervisor.

Second Reader: An additional core faculty member, preferably representing a different discipline from that of the supervisor, who provides another perspective on the formulation and direction of the thesis, but does not read the thesis in its entirety. S/he also serves on the “hearing committee” [see below], as well as on the examining committee.

For more information, please see the SGPS' Thesis Regulation Guide


Stages and Deadlines 

(All deadlines listed below are absolute and affect grading and progress in the program.)

Year I, September

Through meetings with the program Director, instructors and/or core faculty, the student should begin thinking about a thesis topic, a supervisor and a second reader. Begin by browsing through core faculty listings in the Centre Handbook, and discussing possible thesis topics informally with faculty who specialize in your area of interest. Approach any faculty of interest and ask whether or not they will supervise your thesis. If so, then you and/or the supervisor should approach another core faculty member about acting as second reader for the thesis.

Year I, January 15

By January 15th of the first year of study, the student must submit for approval by the GSC the names of a potential supervisor, second reader, and provisional title or research area for the thesis. *Please note* one individual faculty member is not permitted to supervise more than two Centre MA students from any given cohort.

Year I, April 1

Working with their supervisor, the student must submit

  • a 10-12 page draft proposal, incorporating within it a rationale for its interdisciplinary and theoretical nature;
  • a preliminary bibliography (2-3 pp.);
  • a 2-3 page abstract of the proposal

Year I, April 15-30

The student will attend a "thesis hearing" at which s/he will discuss the proposal with a hearing committee chosen by the GSC. The committee will consist of the supervisor, the second reader, and a member of the GSC who has read the draft proposal in advance. The purpose of the hearing is to provide feedback on the proposal, and examine its merits. The GSC member of the committee will provide a short report on the "thesis hearing" to the GSC. The thesis hearing appears on student transcript, and a grade of “PASS” is necessary for completion of the first year of the program.

Year I, June 15

If the proposal requires revisions, the student will submit a final proposal to the members of the hearing committee and a further meeting may be required.  The student will have revised the proposal, taking into account feedback from the hearing committee and the GSC.

Year II, September 15

The student will submit to the supervisor and second reader a draft of a section of the thesis (approx. 25 pp.; not the revised proposal). The supervisor and second reader will submit assessments of this draft to the Director. If appropriate (in terms of the second reader's expertise), the student may submit a later section of the thesis to the Director instead of the chapter/section submitted in September.

Year II, December to February

The supervisor will submit a written report on the student's thesis progress to the Director.

Year II, May to August

M.A. examinations are scheduled through the program using the following timeline:

  • 4 Weeks to Examination: Program must submit names of examiners to SGPS
  • 3 Weeks to Examination: Candidate submits *approved* thesis to the program

Thesis submission guidelines are set by the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and can be found here.


Satisfactory Progress 

Graduate students are expected to make satisfactory progress toward timely completion of all program requirements. The term "satisfactory progress" pertains to completion of the language requirement, completion of course work, and progress on work towards the thesis. All cases of "unsatisfactory progress" will be considered by the Graduate Studies Committee, and can result in withdrawal of funding as well as withdrawal from the program.

Language Requirement

All entering students should discuss their schedule for completing the language requirement with the Director upon their arrival at the Centre. Please note that a student cannot defend his or her thesis or graduate if the language requirement has not been fulfilled.

Course Work

"Satisfactory progress" constitutes the timely completion of each course with a grade of 78% or above.

A student may request an incomplete (INC) without penalty on compassionate or medical grounds. In such cases, the student must make a written request to both the instructor and the Director no later than the last day of class, no exceptions. The written request must include a) the date by which the remaining work will be completed, and b) (where relevant) a certificate from a physician. This request will be forwarded to the GSC for approval. Permission from the instructor is not a guarantee that the INC request will be granted. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the student will not be allowed to carry more than one INC in a semester.

The INC will be changed to a grade only if the work is completed by the grade submission deadline for the term following. If a grade is not submitted by this deadline, the INC becomes a Failure. An 'F' grade resulting from an INC is final. The SGPS will not consider a revision of the grade except on documented medical or compassionate grounds.


"Satisfactory" progress in thesis work consists of a) completion of the thesis hearing and final version of the thesis prospectus by June 15th of Year I; b) completion of the first thesis chapter by September 15th of Year II; c) submission and examination of the completed thesis during the Summer term of Year II.