Western University SociologyFaculty of Social Science

Thesis Information

Thesis Proposal

The thesis proposal is a required milestone in both programs (MA, PhD).  In the MA program, the expectation is that students in the thesis stream will complete the milestone  in their third term. In the PhD program, typically the proposal would be completed and approved in the summer (at the end of year 2) or the fall (beginning of year 3), following the completion of year 2 comprehensive exams.  Thesis proposal guidelines are available for both MA and PhD students (see "Documents" section, above). Students should also consult the respective MA or PhD sections of the Graduate Handbook for further details.

Supervisory Committee

The Thesis Supervisory Committee consists of a Supervisor and at least one additional member of the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS). If there are joint supervisors, there is no need for a supervisory committee member. In this case, the expectation is that the supervisors have equal responsibility in providing advice and criticism throughout the writing process and that the thesis will be read in its entirety by both supervisors before preliminary submission of the thesis. If there is just one supervisor, there must be a supervisory committee member and the expectation in our department is that the supervisory committee member will serve as a “reader,” providing advice and feedback beginning at the proposal development stage and throughout the writing process.  The supervisory committee members is expected to read the thesis in its entirety before preliminary submission.  Where deemed necessary, it is possible to name more than one supervisory committee member. One supervisory committee member may subsequently serve as a thesis program examiner (no other overlap between the supervisory committee and examining board is allowed). Keep in mind that examiners must be seen to be able to examine the student and the thesis at arm's-length, free of substantial conflict of interest. See section 8.4.2.1 (PhD) or 8.5.2.1 (MA) of the SGPS Thesis Regulations for further details. For the timing of supervisory committee selection and other details, students should consult the respective MA or PhD section of the Graduate Handbook.

Formatting and Elements of a Thesis

All procedures and regulations found in the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies' Thesis Regulation Guide must be followed in the completion of the thesis. Students are encouraged to visit Section 8.3 early in the writing process. This section lists all components of a thesis (with a brief description of each) and formatting specifications. Although individual page templates are provided in Section 8.3, the use of the electronic formatting template (the link is provided below) is recommended since it includes all of the individual templates in one continuous document, moving seamlessly from the introductory page numbering to main body content page numbering. You may save the template, then copy and paste your text into it. Note that use of the templates is not mandatory but you must ensure that your thesis meets the SGPS formatting requirements. Click here for electronic formatting templates. The thesis may be submitted in .pdf, .doc, or .rtf format. Students are encouraged to use the Portable Document Format (.pdf) as all documents received through the Scholarship@Western Electronic Thesis and Dissertation repository are automatically converted to .pdf. Using the .pdf format allows the candidate to verify the appearance and organization of the document as it will be presented to the examiners.

Notes regarding the Certificate of Examination

PhD students are not required to submit a Certificate of Examination. The Certificate is provided to the Chair of the thesis exam by the Thesis Coordinator in Grad Studies.

MA students are not required to submit a Certificate of Examination.  The Certificate is provided to the Chair of the thesis exam by the Graduate Program Assistant.  Students must confirm their thesis title and name, as they wish them to appear, with the Graduate Program Assistant.

Bibliography

The presentation of references/ bibliographies must be consistent throughout the thesis and conform to a style appropriate to the discipline (i.e., referencing format of the Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology).

Terms Deadlines and Other Considerations

Term Deadlines

When the supervisory committee considers the thesis and the candidate to have met recognized scholarly standards for the degree and to be ready to proceed to Examination, the examination process begins. A student who meets the term deadlines for each step of the process will complete in the term and graduate at the subsequent convocation. Click here for term deadlines.

Thesis Defence Only (TDO) Status

Students who submit their thesis electronically for preliminary examination by the end of a term are eligible for Thesis Defence Only (TDO) status for the following term. A student with TDO status pays only part-time ancillary fees (a significant savings!) for that subsequent term and may defend and complete any time during the TDO term.  TDO status must be requested. For further details and a link to the request form, click here.  The student would graduate at the applicable convocation after completion of program requirements (i.e., after the thesis examination, revisions, and submission of final copy of thesis and Certificate of Examination).

Apply to Graduate

You must apply to graduate, via the online Student Centre - student.uwo.ca - early in the term in which you plan to complete. This process also includes verification of your name and degree being awarded.

Fee Refunds

Depending on when you complete, you may be eligible for a refund. Click here for the Registrar's refund schedule.

Steps Leading to Thesis Exam and Degree Completion

1. Submission of Examining Board Information

MA - Four weeks before the date of the thesis exam, the thesis supervisor provides, to the graduate program assistant, the information for the Master's Thesis Examination Board form. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to provide the names and contact information of the two program examiners and the University examiner, as well as the thesis examination date and time agreeable to all. The graduate program assistant will find a Chair for the thesis exam, complete the form and send it to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS) for approval.

PhD - Six weeks before the date of the thesis exam, the thesis supervisor provides, to the graduate program assistant, the information for the Doctoral Thesis Examination Board form.  It is the responsibility of the supervisor to provide the names and contact information of two program examiners, the University examiner, and the External examiner, as well as the thesis examination date and time agreeable to all.  The graduate program assistant will send the form to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS) for approval.

2. Preliminary Thesis Submission

MA - at least three weeks before the date of the thesis exam
PhD - at least five weeks before the date of the thesis exam

The thesis is submitted for preliminary examination by the thesis examiners. Ensure that you have included all required elements and that the formatting is correct (see Formatting and Elements of a Thesis, above) in preparation for preliminary electronic submission. 

Also, at this time, the student and the supervisor sign the respective Master's Thesis Supervisor Approval Form or Doctoral Thesis Supervisor Approval Form, available from the graduate program assistant or on the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies' website.

3. Prepare For Thesis Defence (aka Thesis Exam)

For tips, see the SGPS web site as well as the GRADUpdATE Newsletter.

4. Public Lecture (PhD Only)

5. Thesis Defence

MA candidates are expected to present their work (approximately 10-15 minutes) at the beginning of the Defence. MA defences are held in SSC 5406, if available; otherwise in either SSC 5427 or 5428.  Please notify the graduate program assistant if audiovisual equipment will be required.  PhD candidates are required to present a public lecture (approximately 15-20 minutes), usually scheduled immediately prior to the thesis defence and held in SSC 5220 or 9420.  An announcement of the public lecture will appear in the Western News and department faculty, students, and staff are invited to attend.  Examiners are also invited to attend and, therefore, a presentation is not usually required at the Thesis Defence. PhD Defences are usually held in the International and Graduate Affairs Building.

 

6. Revisions

It is normal for minor revisions to be required after the thesis defence.  Either your supervisor or one of the examiners will withhold signature on the Certificate of Examination, pending approval of the revisions. In the case of an MA, the Certificate will be held in the graduate program assistant's office; PhD candidates...ask the Chair of the defence where the Certificate will be held.

7. Final Thesis Submission

Click here for final electronic submission instructions.

8. Certificate of Examination, Library & Archives Canada form

The final step for degree completion is to submit the signed Certificate of Examination (scanned copy is acceptable). PhDs must also submit the Library and Archives Canada form, found on the web site provided in the Final Thesis Submission section above. If submitting the forms in person, go to SGPS (Room 1N07 in the International and Graduate Affairs Building).  Your degree is complete!   Congratulations!