PhD in Social & Political Thought
All PhD students in SPTH then proceed to:
The doctoral student, in consultation with the examining committee, defines two fields on which the student wishes to be examined. One field will be designated the major field, the other the minor field.
Students are not expected to have total mastery of any field but should demonstrate a broad familiarity with the major texts, issues and critics in any given field.
Prior to the comps candidates will present a bibliography of the texts relevant to the chosen fields. The bibliography should include a minimum of (and not much more than) twenty-five (25) significant entries in the major field and a minimum of (and not much more than) fifteen (15) entries for the minor field. The examination will focus attention on the material listed in the bibliography. The bibliography must be approved by the examining committee prior to setting the date for the examination. Candidates are advised to consult with their examining committee when preparing the bibliography.
*Arrangements with respect to time, place, date and composition of the examining committee must be made through the Program office for the Director's approval at least one month prior to the examination*. The comps examination committee consists of three members of the Program who are familiar with a student's work and the Director, or his/her representative. The student will consult with their committee members to determine a suitable date and time for the exam. The student will then provide to the Director (in writing or by email), the names of the three committee members, the proposed time and date of the exam, and the bibliography, and will set up a meeting with the Director to discuss potential Director's Reps. Once the bibliography and committee is approved by the Director, the Program Assistant will contact the faculty members nominated for the Director's Rep. and arrange the comprehensive exam. Official notification of the exam will be sent (by email) to all participants from the Program Office.
For students pursuing the coursework only option:
For students pursing the coursework and MRP option:
For the comprehensive exam, the student should be reviewing the list with the supervisor before the reading begins, and ideally, the whole committee should be participating in the development of the list.
For optional use of the time leading up to the comps exam, the student should set a reading timeline, and meet with committee members to discuss the books. These meetings may be one on one with one of your committee members, or as a group, depending on the individual’s booklist and the academic interests of the committee. The student must then email the director (and copy the program assistant),
1) the booklist (Title and author) of the three books
2) the date and time that the comps is tentatively planned for (both the student and the committee members have agreed on the time, and are available for that time and date)and – if a preference has been indicated by the student or committee members –
3) any suggestions for the director’s rep.
The student does not select or contact the director’s rep. Once the director has approved the books and ranked the list of any director’s rep, and program assistant will contact the first name on the list, and see if that faculty member is willing and able to participate in the exam. The reason that four weeks advance notice is needed is that the office needs time to arrange for a director’s rep, and the director’s rep may need time to review the books that are to be examined. The advanced notice cannot be changed or waived, and the time starts from when the request is made to do the comps exam.
See our Frequently Asked Question for more information
Students should be reminded that a dissertation proposal is just that - a proposal. The finished product, a definitive argument, with well-rounded conclusions, etc. are not expected in a proposal (they are absolutely necessary in the dissertation!). What the proposal should indicate in a general and concise manner are the claims/themes/controversies/hypotheses/ arguments/ directions, etc. that the student plans to take up in the course of his/her research and writing.
The proposal cannot be reviewed without all supervisory committee approvals and all relevant related paperwork. ALL signatures or email confirmations from the committee must be submitted on the deadline, in the proposal, or the proposal will be shelved until the next deadline. The student needs to have them collected and included when the proposal comes into the office. Presuming the faculty member will submit the form on time and calling or emailing to check if the file is complete is not the program office’s responsibility, it is the student’s role.
The dissertation proposal must be submitted and approved by both the program and FGS at least six months prior to the PhD oral defence.
Deadlines for Dissertation proposals:
Fall Term: October 1st each year
Winter Term: January 25th each year
Summer Term: April 30th
If the deadline falls on a weekend, then the deadline automatically becomes the first business day after the deadline.
The proposals will then all by photocopied for the Advisory committee, sent to all committee mebers and a meeting will be set up approximately 1 month after each deadline. Committee members will be polled on availability for meeting times, and a time and date will be set and all committee members will be notified. At the same time students who have submitted their proposals will be notified of the time, date and location of the meeting, and encouraged to invite their supervisor to attend the meeting. (If the supervisor is not available, the student may ask another member of their supervisory committee to attend if they wish).
Review of the Dissertation Proposal
The dissertation proposal will be reviewed by the Advisory Committee with particular attention to the following matters:
1. Significance and timeliness as a theoretical work;
The Advisory Committee is comprised of 3 faculty members, the Director (generally as either as chair or as a regular member, or the dierctor may appoint one of the faculty committee members to be the chair), 2 voting student members, and up to 2 non-voting student alternates. The Director will inform the candidate and supervisor of any comments, suggestions or concerns in a timely manner after the meeting.
The student will meet with the committee to discuss their proposals. The supervisor may attend and participate in the discussion as well. Notes will be taken for the student, and the Chair of the committee will send them to the student and copy the supervisor, generally by email within a reasonable time after the meeting. Please note: While it is preferrable for the student to attend the meeting, if the student is unavailable at the date and time of the advisory meeting, the committee can proceed with the meeting, notes will be taken and the director will provide the information to the student and can discuss any comments on behalf of the committee with the student (and/or supervisor).
If the Advisory Committee assesses the proposal and requests revisions or clarifications, the student and supervisor will receive written comments and will be requested to resubmit the proposal once revisions have been made. In the case of serious doubt or disagreement, the Advisory committee shall make a report to the Executive Committee for any resolution. Only upon resolution by the Advisory Committee and/or the Executive Committee will the proposal be submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies for approval. If needed, a meeting to consider (or review again) the proposal can be requested at any time by the Candidate, the supervisor, the Director, or the Advisory Committee. If a meeting is to be held, it is highly recommended that the Candidate and the candidate's supervisor attend the session at which the Advisory Committee formally considers the dissertation proposal.
Most students have indicated that the Advisory committee is actually a very beneficial chance to talk to academics beyond the specialized scope of their supervisory committee about their research, and to see what kinds of questions their research generates.
Most common issues with Dissertation proposals:
* Too long
* Ethcis paperwork not clear, (ie. questionnaire sample vague and undeveloped).
* Bibliography lacking key texts
* Note: Students are strongly recommended to keep a complete copy of their dissertation proposal in their own personal records because it is their responsibiltiy to have this information. This is particularly important if the student withdraws and plans to return to defend because they may need to proposal if the program's copy - in compliance with the FIPA regulations - has been destroyed after the student has been withdrawn for two years.
Dissertations should adhere to the format set forth in the "Guidelines for the Preparation and Examination of Theses and Dissertations" published by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Thesis Guidelines of the Faculty of Graduate Studies Copies are available in the SPTH office or in the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
In conjunction with the supervisor and supervisory committee, the PhD Candidate develops an intended timetable for completion of all stages of the dissertation, and works to realize that timetable, meeting appropriate deadlines. The Candidate should meet regularly with the supervisor to review progress, normally at least once a month, and not less than once each term. Interaction with other members of the supervisory committee should take place as appropriate.
Students wishing to view dissertations by SPTH alumni may have access to the bound dissertations through the Program Director, although dissertations may not be borrowed or used outside of the SPTH offices. In addition, the Scott Library maintains dissertations of all York graduate students.
Students who are working on their Dissertation may request Extended Library Loan Privileges. The form is available in the SPTH program office.
supervision and supervisory committees