Regulations For MA Students

This document describes the requirements, procedures, and spirit of the graduate programmes in Visual Arts. We believe that graduate work is a very serious undertaking. All parties - students, faculty, support staff - must know what is expected of them and work in an atmosphere of collegial support and trust. Rules cannot run programmes, but we also believe that reasonable regulations must be laid down and adhered to. What follows applies to all programme students. The progression of those working part-time must be agreed upon by the student and the Graduate Committee.


I. Responsibilities of the Candidate
II. Residence
III. Courses
IV. Theses Stream
V. Course-Based Stream
VI. Language Requirement 
VII. Appeals

I. Responsibilities of the Candidate

It is emphasized that the responsibility for following the rules printed here, the regulations of the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies printed in the Calendar and the rules of the University Library regarding format of the thesis, rests on the candidate.
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II. Residence

The MA degrees (course-based and thesis) will normally take one calendar year to complete. No University or Department funding will be extended past this limit. The formal residency requirement is three regular academic terms for the MA.
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III. Courses

All Master’s students will take a core course in Theory and Methods in their first year.

There are two streams for the MA, a course-based stream and a thesis-based stream. In the course-based stream, students complete a total of six 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.

With the written permission of the Graduate Chair, and after consultation with the Graduate Committee, students may mix studio and art history options. Students may also substitute one half course from another graduate program at Western for one of the elective VA courses, after consultation with their supervisor and with the approval of the Graduate Chair (this includes internship courses).

Term Work
The following deadlines apply for the completion of term work in graduate courses:

(a) The second day of second term for half courses running through the Fall Term;
(b) May 15 for full courses running through the Fall and Winter Terms and for half courses running through the Winter Term;
(c) August 31 for summer courses.

Any instructor is entitled to set a deadline prior to those established by the Graduate Committee in Visual Arts, and it will have the same force and carry the same penalty as the Department deadline.

It is to the benefit of all students and faculty to have course work completed by the end of each course. Any student who has not submitted all required work by the deadline will receive an F in the course, and his or her registration in subsequent graduate courses (i.e. progression in the programme) will be subject to review by the Graduate Committee. Exceptions to this rule will be made only on medical or compassionate grounds that are established to the satisfaction of the Graduate Committee. Those intending to ask for extensions on such grounds should do so at least a week before the deadline.

Under exceptional circumstances, a student may ask an instructor for an Incomplete in a course. No incomplete may be carried beyond the end of the following term, including summer terms.

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IV. 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 Proposal
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 listed above.

Submission of Theses
MA candidates should plan to meet with their thesis supervisor at least six weeks prior to the Graduate Chair submitting the names of the examining board. At that time they should submit a completed draft of the thesis to the supervisor who, in consultation with the second-reader and/or thesis committee members will decide whether it is of sufficient quality to proceed towards the defense. If the thesis draft is approved, the student and advisor should immediately notify the Graduate Chair suggesting a list of possible dates for the thesis defense, bearing in mind that all examiners must be given a finished copy of the thesis at least three weeks prior to the defense.

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V. 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.

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VI. Language Requirement (M.A. Candidates)

The language requirement can be met in one of two ways.

1) Through approved course credit.

Students will be expected to attain at least a B+ (76-78%) grade in the following courses (or their equivalent from another institution): French 1002 or any higher level language or language translation course, German 1030 or any higher level German language or language translation course. The same applies to Latin 1030, Spanish 1030, Russian 1030 etc. Other languages may be appropriate (e.g. Italian) even if they are not currently offered at the 1030 level or higher at UWO. If students wish to meet the language requirement through previously completed language courses at other institutions, they should submit a request in writing to the Graduate Chair. This request must include either a course outline or a calendar description of the courses taken. The Graduate Chair will present this material for approval by the Graduate Committee.

2) Through a translation test.

Students can meet their language requirement by passing a reading test administered by the Department. The test will be tailored to the student's special area of research and the use of a dictionary is permitted. The accuracy of the translation will be assessed by a faculty member who has expertise in the language selected. Students wishing to take such a test must submit a request in writing specifying which language they have selected at least four weeks prior to the requested test date.

Since the language requirement is part of the MA and PhD program, students do not need to pay additional fees for courses taken to fulfill this obligation. To enroll in an undergraduate course students need to download a Graduate Student Taking Undergraduate Course Form here. The student must have this form signed by their supervisor (or mentor) and the graduate chair. The student then takes the form to the appropriate language department and enrolls in the recommended course. A placement test may be necessary to determine the right level. To complete the registration process, the student returns the fully completed form to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

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VII. Appeals


Graduate Appeals Committee (a subcommittee of the Graduate Committee)

Terms of Reference:
1) To ensure that a written set of appeals procedures is available to students.
2) To hear and process requests for academic appeal made by a graduate student against a final grading decision when a satisfactory resolution with the Course Instructor is not reached in the first stage (see “Stages in the Appeal Process” below).
3) In the event of any appeals, the Chair of the Graduate Appeals Committee (or designate) will produce a short annual report summarizing the year’s activities. This report will be submitted to the first department meeting of the fall semester.

The Graduate Appeals Committee shall be composed of the following voting members.
1) Members elected by the Graduate Committee (4 fulltime members and two alternates)
2) The Chair shall be elected from among its members.

One-two years renewable for elected faculty members. One year renewable for student member[s] whose voluntary membership will be solicited by the Graduate Appeals Committee.

Three committee members.

Appeal Procedures:
An appeal is a request for an exemption from a Senate regulation or a ruling of a program, instructor, or administrator in academic matters; or a request that a grade on a particular piece of work or examination, or a final standing in a course or program be changed. If the matter relates to a course, the student must attempt to resolve the matter with the course instructor and if unsuccessful may appeal to the Graduate Chair (or designate). If the matter does not relate to a course, the student normally will submit a written appeal to the Graduate Chair in the first instance. In cases where the original decision was made by the Graduate Chair, the student should consult his or her program regarding the appropriate appeal procedure within the program. An appeal must be made in writing to the Graduate Program within three weeks of the date when the grade was officially reported, or when the ruling was made by a program, instructor, or administrator in academic matters.

NOTE: The outcome of an appeal may result in an increase, decrease, or no change in the grade under appeal.

Grounds for Appeal:
The grounds for an appeal may be one or more of: medical or compassionate circumstances, extenuating circumstances beyond the appellant's control, bias, inaccuracy or unfairness. Ignorance of Senate regulations and policies and particular program requirements and policies as set out in the University's Academic Calendars does not constitute grounds for an appeal. Students wishing to file an appeal must submit in writing the matter under appeal, the grounds of appeal, a clear and detailed explanation of those grounds, including all supporting documentation, and the relief requested.

The Department of Visual Arts does not view the appeals process as an opportunity for students to solicit a second opinion on a grade assigned to a particular piece of work. Appeals must pertain to the final grade in a course, and will only be entertained if sufficient grounds for appeal can be met. Grounds for an appeal must be based on circumstances that extend beyond a student's mere concern or disappointment with their grade standing. The committee must be able to ascertain that the circumstances surrounding the assessment were flawed and therefore that the grade itself may be shown to be flawed.

Stages in the Appeals Process:
1. The first stage of the process is a discussion of the disputed grade with the appropriate Course Instructor.

For grades assigned to individual assignments, essays, and projects completed throughout the term, the student first must appeal to the Instructor of the course, within three weeks of the date on which the Instructor returned the assignments to the class. The Appeals Committee will not hear any further appeals about the final grade in any course unless this first step has been taken.

2. If completion of the first stage has not resolved the matter, the student may appeal the final grade in the course to the Graduate Appeals Committee.

Appeals of final grades must be within the time frame indicated in the Graduate Calendars. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that the appeal is submitted within the deadline. The student shall submit a formal letter to the Graduate Appeals Committee outlining the grounds for the appeal, the remedy sought and relevant materials. If the appeal involves a request for work to be re-graded, the original marked work and a clean copy (if possible) must be included. In the case of studio-based work the original project and/or detailed documentation must be submitted. If the appeal is commenced once the deadline has passed, it will not be considered by the Graduate Appeals Committee nor by the Department Chair.

3. The Graduate Appeals Committee has the discretion to determine whether the grounds for appeal have been met.

If the Committee deems that the reasons for the appeal are not legitimate, the Department Chair will be informed. The appeal will be terminated and the student will be informed.

4. If the Committee decides that the grounds for appeal have been met, the following steps will be taken:

a) The Course Instructor will be shown the appeal letter and offered an opportunity to make a written response;

b) If work is to be re-graded, a reader or studio art critic normally from among Department faculty will be appointed who is competent in the area in question and was not involved in the assignment of the original mark. The reader/critic will consider the work in question and will arrive at an independent evaluation. If there is a large discrepancy between the original mark and the re-graded mark, a second reader/critic may be appointed by the Committee. If the appointed reader(s) and/or critics arrive at a grade within five marks of the original, the original grade will stand.

5. The Graduate Appeals Committee will review the evidence and will make a recommendation on the case to the Department Chair.

The Department Chair will consider the recommendation from the Graduate Appeals Committee, and will make a decision. The student and the instructor will be notified promptly and in writing by the Department Chair of the decision and of the change in grade, if any. Within the Department of Visual Arts, the Department Chair’s decision on the matter is final.

A student can appeal to the Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies) (or designate) only if s/he has undertaken an unsuccessful appeal process at the program level but the student should carefully consult the guidelines regarding such Appeals.

An "Application for an Appeal to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies," which also provides information on appeal procedures, must be used by students appealing to the Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies). This application and all supporting documents must be submitted to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies within three weeks of the date the Graduate Program's decision is issued. An appellant who is not satisfied with the Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies)' decision may have a further appeal to the Senate Review Board Academic (SRBA) if the matter is within SRBA's jurisdiction. Appeals to SRBA must be made within six weeks after a decision has been issued by the Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies). Information on appeals to SRBA can be found at Additional information and SRBA Appeal Applications can be obtained from the University Secretariat, Room 290, Stevenson-Lawson Building.

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