School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Cultural Studies

Miller, J.

Acting Director
Tolmie, J. (July 1-December 31, 2015)

Steering Committee
Caron, C.I., Lovelace, R., Miller, J.,  Murray, L., Naaman, D., Tolmie, J., Weldemichael, A., Zaiontz, K.

L. Aarssen, M.L. Adams, H. Adelman, S. Aiken, B. Allan, J. Allen, B. Amani, R. Ascough, S. Aziz, S. Babbitt, K. Bertrand, J. Brison, A. Burfoot, F. Burke, S. Burney, L. Cameron, C. Caron, H. Castleden, D. Chamberlain, L. Daneshemend, J. Davidson, J. Davies, R. Day, P. Dickey-Young, K. Dubinsky, M. Epprecht, P. Fachinger, T. Fort, E. Goldberg, M. Hand, E. Hill, J. Hosek, A. Husain, A. Jack-Davies, V. Jefremovas, L. Jessup, G. Kibbins, S. King, A. Kobayashi, K. Lahey, F. Leeming, C. Levine-Rasky, M. Little, S. Lord, R. Lovelace, G. Lovell, D. Lyon, E. MacDonald, S. MacKenzie, C. Mackey, S. Matrix, I. McKay, S. McKegney, K. McKittrick, J. Mennell, J. Miller, A. Morehead, S. Morgensen,  D. Murakami Wood, L. Murray, D. Naaman, K. Pegley, E. Power, K. Renders, N. Rewa, C. Robertson, D. Robinson, M. Rogalsky, S. Rutherford, J. Salverson, A. Salzmann, D. Santeramo, J. Scott, S. Sismondo, G.E. Smith, M. Smith, S. Smith, S. Srivastava, P. Sullivan, P. Thompson, J. Tolmie, A. Varadharajan, B. Walker, C. Walker, M. Walker, M. Wallace, A. Weldemichael, G. Willmott, C. Zaccagnino, K. Zaiontz

Purpose and Philosophy

Cultural Studies is an emphatically interdisciplinary area of inquiry that intersects the humanities, science studies, social sciences, and the arts. Its researchers theorize the forces that shape the lived reality of people in the 21st century.

Drawing on a range of practices, researchers investigate values, cultural processes and objects, economic and social relations, institutions and identities.

What distinguishes Cultural Studies from other approaches to the study of culture is its recognition that no single disciplinary approach can get at the complexity of cultural forms and its emphasis on power, social justice and social change.

Necessarily self-reflexive, Cultural Studies draws on a range of methods and critical theories. It offers opportunities to break down conventional divisions between academia and activism, between theoretical critique and cultural production.

Comprising 92 distinguished faculty from 22 disciplines to offer an innovative program at the M.A. and Ph.D. levels, Cultural Studies at Queen's is committed to a diversity of students and faculty and to the global expertise that they bring to the cultural and academic fields.

Our goal is to create an intellectual environment that combines a high level of academic scholarship and an ongoing meaningful engagement with cultural issues relevant to local and global communities.

Financial Support

The Cultural Studies Program offers support for each full-time student during the first two years in the masters program and the first four years in the doctoral program. Financial support is derived from university scholarships and research and teaching assistantships.

Applicants are encouraged to apply for the national and provincial awards listed earlier in this calendar. Attention is drawn to the submission dates for these awards, which normally fall well before the deadline for applications to the Cultural Studies Program, e.g. Commonwealth Fellowships in October, Ontario Graduate Scholarships, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Fellowships in November.

Fields of Research

The program integrates the range of theoretical and practical approaches used within Cultural Studies, and fosters scholarship in both historical and contemporary fields of research. The Ph.D .program has been designed around four field areas and offers a project component that allows those who choose to do so to develop their cultural practice (e.g. filmmaking or curating) or to engage in work in the community as part of their studies. Graduates will be prepared to continue in academic work or to work as critically engaged citizens in a variety of cultural environments. The four fields offered in the PhD program are:

  1. Communication, Media and Technologies
  2. Globalization, Nationalisms and Cultural Citizenship
  3. Social Movements
  4. Bodies and Identities

It is our intention that analyses of class, race, and gender, alongside other primary axes of social difference and inequality, will pervade all teaching and research conducted in these fields.

Programs of Study

Applications are accepted under the general regulations of the School of Graduate Studies. Admission to the masters program is normally limited to students with a minimum strong upper second-class standing in the upper years of their B.A. programs. Admission to the Ph.D. is normally limited to applicants with first class standing on their Masters work. Masters students in the fourth term may apply for promotion to the PhD program.

The master’s program leads to the degree of Master of Arts. The doctoral program leads to the degree of Ph.D. In addition to coursework and participation in the bi-weekly seminar series, the requirements for the M.A. degree include options for students: Pattern I requires students to write a thesis or undertake a major research project, Pattern II requires students to either write a research essay or undertake a minor project. The Ph.D. includes a project option in addition to a dissertation, required coursework and participation in the bi-weekly seminar series.

Language Requirements: Students will be encouraged to gain facility in a language other than English that pertains particularly to their own scholarly and career interests. Where facility in a language is necessary to research in the candidate’s field, the student will be required to acquire it. In such cases, the requirement will be determined by the student’s supervisory committee. In such cases, students will be required to pass a language proficiency test before being allowed to undertake their field work.

Master of Arts

The program offers two options for the masters degree:

M.A. Pattern I: four full-term courses plus CUST-802, plus a 20,000 -25,000 word thesis OR a major project (CUST-899).

M.A. Pattern II: six full-term courses plus CUST-802, plus a 10,000-12,000 word research essay OR a minor project (CUST-898).

The program offers four core courses: one on Cultural Studies Theory, one on Critical Methodology, one on Cultural Studies Historiography and one on Community-Based Research (see Course section for descriptions).  Students are required to complete at least two of the four.

All other courses will be electives, drawn from the list of available courses issued each year.

M.A. Project Option

This option allows students to create a cultural product (exhibition, performance, film, play, text) or to become involved in community-based work as a means of partially fulfilling the requirements for an M.A. Students taking the project option are required to provide an analytic-theoretical commentary based on the work, its conditions of production, and its implications for academic scholarship.

M.A. Proposal

The thesis or major project topic must be chosen in consultation with the student's program advisor. In consultation with the supervisor, the student will select a second reader for the thesis or project. After preliminary research, a student must submit a proposal for approval. The proposal will be discussed and subsequently approved by the supervisor and the second reader in a meeting. Students are expected to complete and defend their M.A. thesis or major project within two years of starting the program.

Doctor of Philosophy

Year 1

Doctoral students are expected to take a minimum of four one-term graduate courses in their first year, at least two of which must be from the four core courses offered by the program (see Course section for descriptions), plus CUST-902. Doctoral students with a Queen's M.A. in Cultural Studies need only take two courses, plus CUST-902. Their two courses will be drawn from the list of available courses, and determined in consultation with supervisor and/or program director.

Year 2

At the beginning of the second year, each student, in consultation with the student’s program advisor, must finalize arrangements with a supervisor and two other faculty members for the qualifying examination and Ph.D. thesis. Those faculty members comprise the supervisory committee for the qualifying exam and for the thesis and monitor the student’s progress.

To complete the qualifying examination, the student will submit a 1000 word proposal for the qualifying exam and an annotated bibliography. Upon approval by the committee, the student will write a 3500 to 5000 word exam in a two-week period, based on questions created by the examining committee, which address the theoretical, methodological, and substantive aspects of the dissertation. If the student fails the exam (which occurs when two or more examiners say the exam has been failed), the student has one chance to re-write it within the next six months.

By the end of the second year, the student will have completed the qualifying examination and will have commenced a Special Research Seminar, reading with a supervisor in the area of an intended thesis or project in order to prepare a thesis or project proposal. The thesis or project proposal must identify the object of study, research method, theoretical framework, and must include an annotated bibliography of works relevant to the chosen area(s) of study. For the project option, a clear and detailed description of how the student will meet the requirements for that option must also be included.

Ph.D. Project Option

This option allows students to create a cultural product (exhibition, performance, film, play, text) or become involved in community-based work as a means of partially fulfilling the requirements for a Ph.D. Students taking the project option are required to provide an analytic-theoretical commentary based on the work, its conditions of production, and its implications for academic scholarship.

This option is comprised of the same course work, plus a project of a scale and scope that may be completed within the time it takes to write a doctoral thesis, i.e. three years. The analytic component will be comprised of a paper of approximately 20,000 -25,000 words in length.

Ph.D. Proposal

All students are required to prepare a thesis or project proposal. Proposals are defended before the student’s thesis committee. The examination focuses upon the relevant theoretical, methodological and substantive areas germane to the student’s program. It also tests the student’s understanding of the discipline, the viability, scope and coherence of the thesis proposal and the preparedness of the candidate to undertake the proposed research. All students are required to show the relation of the research to the program's objectives, available faculty expertise, and to the relevant academic literature. Students in the project option whose work will involve community collaborators must show that they have appropriate participants, and they must justify their choice of participants given the theoretical, political, and methodological contexts of their thesis work.

The student will have the opportunity to re-write the proposal and defend it twice.

After the thesis proposal is approved, thesis or project research should commence. Students are expected to complete and defend their thesis or project within four years of starting the program.

Elective Courses

The elective course component of the program is designed to foster in-depth study in one or more areas and to provide flexibility to meet diverse student interests and career goals. Students can select their electives from the course offerings issued each year by the program.