Master’s (MA) students in the Department of History have the option to write a research essay to complete their degree in 12 months, or to write a longer thesis in 20 months. Both options come with the opportunity to work closely with our award-winning faculty members in a range of graduate-only seminars with diverse regional and thematic foci, as well as courses focused on methods and historiography. Most students select the research-essay option, designed to be completed within one year. Both streams provide an excellent foundation for doctoral programmes in History, pave the way towards degrees in other fields such as law and education, as well as other career paths in government, media and private business.
All incoming full-time students enrolled in the degree programmes must take in their first year of study a minimum of two session-length (two term) courses or their equivalents, and the recommended length is 100 pp., maximum length 150 pp. The Pattern I is designed to be completed within 12-20 months from initial registration. Part-time students may enroll in one course per session and must take the minimum two graduate history courses in the department for their degrees. (*Please note: Course requirements for students in pattern I and Pattern II are being revised for 2021-22 academic year.)
Two session-length (two-term) graduate courses (or the equivalent in term-length courses) plus a Master's thesis [HIST-899], Part-time students may enroll in one course per session and must take the minimum two graduate history courses in the department for their degrees.
The thesis proposal must be submitted to the Graduate Committee for approval by the end of the second term of the first academic session of M.A. study (May 15). Please email your proposal to Cathy Dickison at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will forward it to the Graduate Committee members.
Approval: The Graduate Committee's approval must be obtained before the candidate commences work on the thesis. The thesis proposal must be approved (by signature or email) by the proposed supervisor(s) prior to submission to the committee.
The Master's thesis will be subject to examination under the general regulations of the School of Graduate Studies. The examination committee for the thesis will consist of (a) the Chair of Committee, (b) the Supervisor(s), and (c) at least one other faculty member, who will normally be from the department but, with the approval of the graduate chair, may be from another department at Queen’s or, in exceptional circumstances, external to Queen’s.
The outcome of the oral thesis examination is based on the acceptability of both the thesis and the defence of the thesis at the oral thesis examination. The possible outcomes at the end of the oral thesis examination are Passed, Referred or Failed. The Chair of the examination committee is not a voting member of the committee. In the event that the two examiners vote for two different outcome categories, the Graduate Chair will appoint a third examiner to read the thesis and cast a deciding vote within ten working days. If the Graduate Chair is also the supervisor of the student, the Department Chair will be responsible for appointing a third examiner to read the thesis and cast a deciding vote within ten working days.
The format of the thesis must be in compliance with the School of Graduate Studies. Titles of theses will be listed in the Canadian Historical Association, Register of Post-Graduate Dissertations in Progress in History and Related Subjects.
All History theses are uploaded on to Q-space.
All incoming full-time students enrolled in degree the programme must take, in their first year of study, a minimum of three session-length (two-term) courses or their equivalents, plus a Master's cognate essay, recommended length 40-50 pp., maximum length 50 pp. The Pattern II M.A. is designed to be completed within twelve months. Part-time students may enroll in one course per session and must take the minimum two graduate history courses in the department for their degrees. (*Please note: Course requirements for students in pattern I and Pattern II are being revised for 2021-22 academic year.)
Three session-length (two-term) graduate courses (or the equivalent in term-length courses) plus a Master's thesis [HIST-898], recommended length 50 pp. The Pattern II M.A. should be completed in twelve months. Part-time students may enroll in one course per session.
One session-length (1.0) or two term-length (0.5) courses in Pattern II may be taken in another department or at RMC. One of the courses must be closely related to the subject of the student's cognate essay. The three courses are not to be taken in the same field. History 895*, 896* or 897 ‘Directed Reading' courses are not encouraged and may make up no more than one session-length course in the student's programme. Students must have the approval of the prospective instructor of a reading course and the Graduate chair before registering for it in the summer preregistration period.
The Master's cognate essay (50 pages maximum) is usually the outgrowth of a term paper from one of the student's courses. It may be based on primary research, or it may be an interpretive essay based on secondary sources. The cognate essay proposal must be submitted to the Graduate Committee for approval by the end of the second term of the first academic session of M.A. study (May 15). The Graduate Committee's approval must be obtained before the candidate commences work on the essay. The cognate essay proposal must be approved (by signature or email) by the proposed supervisor(s) prior to submission to the committee.
Examination of the cognate essay
The Master's essay will not be subject to an oral defence and there will be no grade awarded. It will be read by one member of the department in addition to the essay supervisor. The format of the cognate essay must conform to the high standards expected of graduate students in order to secure approval of the supervisor and second reader. In particular, cognate essays should be typed, doubled spaced, single-sided and with reasonable margins (at least one inch), include footnotes or endnotes, and a bibliography formatted to a recognized style in the discipline, and a title page that clearly identifies the student's name, student number, title, supervisor, year of submission, and the phrase "cognate essay submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree Master's of Arts in the Department of History."
The student, supervisor, graduate chair, and second reader will select a date when the essay is to be submitted to the graduate office of the department. In order to give adequate time for examination and revisions, the essay should be submitted at least four weeks before any deadline for completion. The supervisor and the second reader will report on the essay within 14 days of receiving it. These reports will pass, fail, or recommend minor revisions to the essay. If minor revisions are required, then the revised essay is to be resubmitted to the supervisor and second reader within 14 days of the student being informed of the assessment. Students are entitled to a copy of the second reader's report.
If major revisions are required, then a failing grade is assigned. Should the second reader and the supervisor differ on their assessment of the essay, the graduate chair will attempt to resolve the differences, but will provide compulsory arbitration of any dispute should this be necessary. The student is entitled to resubmit an essay judged to have failed within three months of being informed of the original assessment. The supervisor's permission is advisable but not compulsory to have the essay resubmitted. In addition, normal academic grievance procedures apply.
After approval of their cognate essay, candidates will provide a final electronic copy of the cognate essay to the Graduate Assistant by email (email@example.com).
Completion of the M.A.
There shall be no switching from Pattern II to Pattern I or from Pattern I to Pattern II after January 15 of the first year of registration in the programme. (A shift from Pattern I to Pattern II more than 2 weeks after the commencement of courses may entail an additional year of study).
The time limit for completion of the M.A. programme is five years from initial registration. Any request for extensions will be carefully reviewed by the department and the School of Graduate Studies, and M.A. students are encouraged to complete their programmes within 12-16 months from initial registration (20 months at most).
Master's students may select any 800-numbered course, whether these be exclusively graduate courses, joint graduate/undergraduate courses or combined with a predominantly upper-year undergraduate course. Students pursuing Pattern II programmes in exceptional circumstances may include up to one session-length (1.0) directed reading course (895*, 896*, 897) with the prior approval of the prospective instructor and the Graduate Chair. Courses numbered 900 are available only to doctoral candidates.
M.A. students wishing to take Hist-895*, 896*, or 897, or a course at RMC, must enroll in the Pattern II (three-course) programme.
Instructors are asked to arrange their courses so that each student will have completed by mid-October sufficient written work to provide an objective standard upon which to judge his/her progress. The purpose of this regulation is to assist instructors and the department fellowships committee in the writing of references for scholarship applications which are usually due by late October/early November and also so that students may have an indication of their standing to date in each course.
If course examinations are to be held they will take place in the ordinary fall or spring examination periods. Instructors are asked not to require work from students registered in their courses after these periods, because such work can be done only at the expense of the remainder of a student's programme.
All Masters students must achieve a final grade of "B-" (2.7) in their primary courses in order to remain in the programme.
All graduate instructors of session-length courses (1.0) shall report to the Graduate Chair on the progress of students enrolled in their courses by the end of the first term of enrolment and at the end of the academic year. The Graduate Chair will provide a form for these reports and will make them available to the students on request. The purpose of this requirement is to enable the Graduate Committee to warn a student of unsatisfactory progress at the end of the first term. The committee may also judge it appropriate to recommend to the School of Graduate Studies that a student withdraw, if it is thought that he/she is not capable of showing improvement in the second term.
The deadline for completion of incomplete work in any graduate course is 15 August of the year following initial registration in the course. Individual exceptions can be made to this rule only on the explicit permission of the Graduate Committee following appeal by the student to the Graduate Committee. If a student has not completed all requirements for a course the year following initial registration, that student must sign a contract with his/her instructor that specifies exactly when those requirements are to be completed. A student may not register in the second or subsequent year of his/her graduate programme with an incomplete mark unless the Graduate Committee has ruled that an extension be granted.
A joint or combined course is a seminar in which both graduate and senior undergraduate students are enrolled. The orientation of joint or combined seminars should depend on the balance of enrolment. In joint courses where the graduate students constitute a majority, the primary orientation should be graduate. In combined courses where the undergraduate students constitute a majority, the primary orientation should be undergraduate. In any particular case, precise pedagogical methods remain the prerogative of the instructor.
The size of graduate seminars normally should not exceed 12 students. Combined seminars should not contain more than 16 graduates and undergraduates. Enrolment in joint seminars will be limited on a sliding scale depending on the number of graduate students enrolled in the seminar. The maximum enrolment will be reduced by one for each graduate student registered in the seminar. Hence one graduate registration will reduce the total enrolment to 15; two will reduce it to 14, et seq. Four graduate student registrations reduce it to 12, and total enrolment will not be reduced further beyond that. If five graduate students register for a joint seminar, consideration will be given to de-combining the course.
Supervision of MA Programmes
Until a student has decided upon a supervisor, the Graduate Chair or his/her named deputy will oversee that student's progress. Once a student and supervisor have agreed on a supervision and the proposed thesis topic has received the approval of the Graduate Committee, that supervisor becomes the student's advisor in the department. History Department expectations regarding Student/Supervisor communication are further detailed in these guidelines.
Students intending to write a thesis in military history under the supervision of an RMC staff member will be required to have dual thesis supervision - one adviser from RMC and one adviser from the Queen's History Department. The Queen's History Department will bear the ultimate responsibility for the supervision of the thesis. Similar arrangements will be made for students wishing to have a dual supervisor at another university (e.g. under the Trent/Queen's cooperative agreement).
Thesis supervisors will report on the exact status of each thesis student they are supervising as of 1 May each year. The Graduate Chair will provide a form for this report which will ask for the current state of progress, the schedule for completion (with precise milestones), and the reason for any changes in the scheduling.
Thesis and Cognate Essay Proposals
Proposed thesis and cognate essay topics shall be submitted to the Graduate Committee, in writing, for approval by May 15th.
Students must have their supervisor's approval of the topic.
The M.A. thesis or cognate essay proposal should be neither lengthy nor elaborate.
The format of proposals will differ depending on the nature of the topics, but in general they should contain, in no more than two typewritten pages, the following information:
- Why is the topic important?
- Give a brief summary of the state of the question in the existing literature.
- What contribution do you expect to make?
- What is novel about your approach or interpretation?
- What are the sources for the project?
- What sources will you be using that have not already been used by others?
- What problems do you expect to encounter in obtaining sources? (working bibliography to be included)
- Outline the stages of your project to completion.
Any research project involving human subjects, whether funded or not, must receive ethics approval of the General Research Ethics Board [GREB]. To determine if your project requires ethics consult either the Tri-Council Policy Statement or the Ethics Office.
The following link will guide you through the process of applying for Ethics approval:
Pattern I - Thesis
End of February
In order to graduate you must submit a final electronic copy of your thesis to the Graduate Office - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pattern II - Cognate
End of February
Mid July/late July
Early August/mid August
Withdrawal on Academic Grounds
There are two situations which require withdrawal from the graduate programme in History:
- failure on a primary course;
- failure of the qualifying exam for the second time;
- failure of the thesis (this is covered by the published regulations of the Graduate School).
Any student who receives a grade of less than 65% in a primary course has failed that course. A student who fails a primary course will be required to withdraw from a graduate degree programme in history. (A primary course is any course prescribed for a student's approved programme of study. Only courses additional to the student's approved programme -- e.g. language courses or remedial writing courses -- are designated as secondary. For these courses a mark of less than second class may be accepted.)
When a failing mark is reported to the graduate office, the graduate chair will confirm the mark with the instructor(s), ensure that the student is aware of the procedures for appealing the grade and any academic decision that may result from it as outlined in these regulations and in those of the School of Graduate Studies, and inform the student's supervisor(s) of the situation.
Complaints and Problems
If individual students have a complaint or problem they normally discuss it in the first instance with the faculty member concerned. If they remain dissatisfied they then normally take the problem to the Graduate Chair. If they are still dissatisfied the normal procedure is then to go to the Chair of the Department.
Students with complaints or problems should always feel free to seek the advice and assistance of the student members of the Graduate Committee. It should be noted that any student is free, at any time, to take a problem or a complaint directly or to either the Graduate Chair or to the Chair of the Department.
If a student feels that he/she has a grievance and wishes to pursue formal grievance procedures he/she should in the first instance consult the Graduate Chair and the Chair of the Department. The full "Senate Statement on Grievance, Discipline and Related Matters" is available in the Graduate Chair's office for consultation by students and faculty members. A grievance should concern procedural (non-academic) matters only and should not be confused with an appeal of an academic decision.
Graduate School rules concerning grievance and appeal of academic decisions are described in Sections 8.8 and 8.9 of the current graduate calendar. Appeals beyond the department are limited to procedural matters; the ruling of the department with respect to academic decisions is final.
Appeals of Academic Course Decisions
Procedures for appealing non-course related academic decisions are outlined in the relevant sections of these regulations and by the School of Graduate Studies. Regarding final marks in a graduate course in the department:
- Any student wishing clarification about, or who is dissatisfied with, an assigned grade in a graduate course should first discuss the matter with the course instructor(s) to ensure everyone is aware of all the relevant facts. The instructor(s) will review the work in question in a timely fashion. This discussion should take place within 14 days of the grades being available. If the instructor(s) agree to change a grade, a change of grade form shall be processed in the usual way. Either the instructor(s) or student may request that the graduate chair play an informal mediation role.
- If the instructor confirms the original grade, and if the student is still dissatisfied, then the student should appeal to the department chair for a formal review, stating clearly the grounds on which the grade should be raised. The appeal should be made through the graduate chair. If the department chair believes the grounds to be reasonable, then he/she shall initiate a review of the grade. The department chair, in consultation with the graduate chair, will undertake the review which may include asking an appropriate member of the department's graduate faculty to grade a clean and blinded copy of any written work which forms part of the appeal. He/she may also seek the advice of the faculty members of the department's graduate committee. The final decision will be made by the department chair.
- If the department chair does not agree to a review of the grade, then the student has the right to formally request a review of the grade through the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies. The Dean will forward the request to the department chair, who will conduct a review of the grade.
- The grade determined by means of the review shall be recorded as the final official grade, irrespective of whether it is identical to, or higher or lower than, the original grade. The department chair or graduate chair will inform all parties, including the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, of the result of the review.
- Further appeal of an assigned grade can be made only on the basis of a specific procedural error or errors made in the departmental grade review procedures. This would be done through convening the Academic Appeal Board of the School of Graduate Studies (see Step 4 through Step 5, Appeals Against Academic Decisions).
Note: These procedures for review of an assigned grade do not apply when a failing grade (FA) has been received on courses numbered 899 (Master's Thesis) or 999 (Doctoral Thesis). Appeal of a grade of Fail on a graduate thesis is appealed through the Appeal of Thesis Examination Committee Decision, under Appeals Against Academic Decisions.