Master's program requirements

MA Requirements Units
Twp field seminars: POLI 507, 508, 509, 516, 540 3.0
Two elective courses 3.0
Thesis: POLI 599 9.0
Total Units 15.0

A UVic MA is normally a 15.0 unit program. In Political Science, every MA student completes a thesis worth 9.0 units. The remaining 6.0 units consist of course work at the graduate level.

Each of the courses listed here count for 1.5 units, and so an MA student will normally do four courses plus a thesis. Since graduate courses are much more demanding than undergraduate courses, a graduate student should not do more than three courses a term.

All MA students are required to complete four 1.5 unit courses. At least two of these courses (3 units) must be taken from the following list of field seminars: POLI 507, 508, 509, 516, and 540.

Students may take one course (1.5 units) that is either a senior undergraduate course (300 or 400 level), a directed readings course (POLI 590), or a graduate course offered by another department. Students may take the remaining course (1.5 units) from ohter graduate courses offered in the department.

Note: Graduate students should note that all of their course selections (or changes) must be approved by the Graduate Advisor.

Planning your program

Recently, the Department of Political Science has revised the program, mainly by reducing the number of courses you are required to take, to ensure that students are able to finish in 12 months.

The following information will help you in planning what will be an intensive 12 months of learning.


Students are required to complete 4 one-semester courses. Usually students take 2 courses each semester and will only be allowed to deviate from this schedule under special circumstances.

However, if a student wants to take 3 courses in the fall and 1 in the spring, this is possible. It is recommended that you complete your course work as quickly as possible so that you can focus on completingyour thesis during the spring and summer months.

What to expect

Graduate seminars are not like undergraduate classes. The reading assignments are more demanding and professors expect you to do most of your learning on your own. Seminars are designed to facilitate discussion among graduate students and to provide a framework within which students can expose their ideas to critical scrutiny.

The quality of a seminar depends on the quality of the students. The better prepared you are, the more you contribute to the discussions, the better the seminar will be.

In most seminar courses, you will be expected to write a major paper on topics within the broad limits of the course. Where possible, try to write papers that contribute directly to your thesis work or allow you to explore an aspect of your thesis research.

Course selection

Our seminars are connected to the main fields within Political Science as well as some of the fields in which this particular department specializes. Generally, political scientists are expected to be familiar with more than one field. Therefore, you are required to take courses in at least two of the four main political science subfields: International Relations, Canadian, Comparative and Theory.

You must take one other Political Science seminar, either in a third field or on a specialized topic. For your fourth course, you may take another Political Science graduate seminar, a graduate seminar in another department, a senior undergraduate course in a relevant field, or a Directed Readings (POLI 590) course with a regular faculty member in Political Science.

Directed Readings courses are courses related to a topic on which the professor has particular expertise. The Directed Readings must be offered by a member of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. (Sessional lecturers are not eligible.)

If you wish to do Directed Readings with a particular faculty member, you will have to be flexible about the timing, format, and exact nature of the readings. The best idea is to do Directed Readings closely related to your thesis topic. If you supervisor is not teaching a graduate course he/she may be prepared to offer such a course, but be sure to consult with the person concerned well in advance.

A political science professor may teach a graduate seminar under the rubric of an interdisciplinary program, like Contemporary Social and Political Thought (CSPT), Indigenous Governance or Law. If you take such a course, you may ask for permission to count it as a "Political Science" seminar. The Graduate Advisor decides whether such permission is appropriate.

In addition to graduate seminars within and outside the department, and Directed Readings, many of our senior undergraduate seminars in Political Science (i.e., those numbered at 400 or above) can be taken by graduate students. Some of these seminars are on narrow topics that might be very interesting to graduate students and some of them can be 'upgraded' to graduate level. Some are cross-listed (e.g. Poli 420/533). You can find a list of these seminars on our website.

You should plan to spend the summer term completing your thesis. Register in POLI 599 to maintain your student status.

Cross-listed courses

You will notice that all of the graduate courses are cross-listed with other courses in Political Science or related disciplines. The field courses are exclusively for graduate students. Some of the students in a field course will be MA students, registered in the 500-level version of the course. Others will be PhD students, registered in the 600-level version. PhD students will have additional readings and more onerous assignments, but will participate in the same seminar discussions.

There is a similar arrangement for two of the issues courses as well as the methods course, but in these cases there wil be graduate students from outside Political Science who may be taking the course under another rubric.

The remaining issues courses are all cross-listed with 400-level undergraduate seminars. In these cases, the graduate students registered in the 500-level version of the course will have additional readings and more onerous assignments than the undergraduates.


Although you can use My Page to register for Political Science graduate seminars, you will need special permission to register for Political Science undergraduate classes or for graduate seminars outside the Political Science Department. All of this can be done when you arrive in September.

However, if there is an undergraduate seminar, or seminar outside the Department, that you particularly want to take, send an e-mail message to the professor indicating your interest, and ask if there will be room for you in the seminar. Copy the message to the Graduate Advisor () and the graduate secretary ().

Program approval

Your program has to be approved by the Graduate Advisor.

A 'walk-in' session will be set up for this purpose in September. Please have the graduate secretary print a copy of your "CAPP report" and bring this with you. Please make sure you have registered in all your courses before you come for approval. This is also the time to formalize who your supervisor is.

Your program can be changed at any time, with permission of the Graduate Advisor. The Advisor's checks that your program conforms to the Department's and the Faculty's basic requirements.


Once you have become a graduate student, you have to be registered year round. So, if you are not taking any other courses in a particular term, you should register for POLI 599 (thesis). Since the thesis counts for 9 units, you can maintain "full-time" status as long as you are registered for it.

If you run into difficulties, the Faculty allows you to "temporarily withdraw" from the program for up to three terms (4 months each). Once you have exhausted this privilege, you have to maintain your registration (and pay fees continuously).

You have to pay three terms of fees in order to graduate, no matter how quickly you complete. You only have to pay additional fees if you take additional time to complete.