MA Program: Major Research Paper Stream

MA students taking the project-based option must complete 9 units of coursework and complete a major research paper worth 6 units. The Master's program project-based option is designed to be completed in 12 months.


The 9 units of coursework must include at least two Political Science graduate field seminars (normally POLI 508 and 540), POLI 505 (unless written exemption is given to the graduate advisor by the student's supervisor and an additional 1.5 units of Political Science graduate coursework is completed), and two additional Political Science graduate courses. The remaining 1.5 units of coursework may be taken from Political Science graduate courses, a senior undergraduate course (300 or 400 level), a directed readings course or a graduate course offered by another department.

The MRP stream involves more course work than the thesis stream so MRP students will need to plan their course work carefully. Keep on track with your reading assignments and start working on your term papers at the start of term so that you are able to finish successfully the three courses you need to take each term. 

Major Research Paper:

The major research paper (POLI 598) is based on an independent research project, normally 40-50 pages in length. At the initiative of the student and with the approval of the supervisory committee, it may also consist of a research paper on a topic in political science completed for an external organization (e.g., employer, or a voluntary non-profit organization). The paper will be graded by the student's supervisory committee.

When you complete your coursework in April, turn your attention to your Major Research Paper. Decide a topic or problem and a strategy to approach it. Discuss these matters with your supervisor and develop a five-page proposal. Get feedback from your supervisor on how to turn your proposal into a research paper. 

Typically, one of your graduate course essays can be a starting point for your Major Research Paper. Imagine turning it into a paper for a scholarly journal: How will you expand on the original research and pursue the lines of inquiry in more detail? How can you develop your earlier essay into a more fully realized piece of work? Discuss these matters with your supervisor and keep in mind that you will need to do at least two drafts of the research paper in order to submit a thoughtful and polished piece of work.