MA program requirements

MA (Course-based) Requirements and Policies

Course Requirements for Course-based Master’s

MA (Course-based) students in the Department of Political Science must complete a minimum of 24 units (4 Full-Course Equivalents). The following conditions apply:

  • At least 18 units must be taken in the Political Science Department at the University of Calgary.
  • At least 6 units and no more than 9 units will be in the student’s Primary Field. The student's Primary Field will be one of Canadian Politics, Comparative Politics, Indigenous Politics, International Relations, or Political Thought.
  • No more than 6 units may be taken in any one of the non-primary fields
  • A maximum of 6 units can be a reading course. Please note: proposed reading courses must be approved by the Department Head, with a course outline that has been submitted to and approved by the Head.
  • Political Science 697 (Major research paper)
  • Political Science 691 (see Advanced Credit)


Normally, MA (Course-based) students will take 12 units (4 Half-course equivalents) in the Fall Semester, 9 units (3 HCE) in the Winter Semester and then write their Major Research Paper (POLI 697 worth 3 units) in the Spring and Summer Semesters.

Advanced Credit/Advanced Standing: The applicant must make advanced credit requests as part of the admissions process. Credit will not normally be given for course work taken as part of another completed degree/diploma. See Advanced Credit.

If graduate-level courses are taken as post-BA courses, the Graduate Program Director may allow the student to claim up to 6 units as part of the admission process.

Applicants with knowledge of research methods equivalent to Political Science 399 may be given advanced standing in Political Science 691. Advanced standing exempts students from taking this course, but they are still required to complete the total number of units required for their degree. Applicants must make advanced standing requests as part of the admission process.

Course-based students normally take courses that prepare them for conducting research for their Master’s Research paper. Students must consult with the Graduate Program Director or their Supervisor when selecting courses and will be required to submit a Course Approval Form.

Course-based students may take a maximum of 6 units (1.0 full-course equivalents) as reading courses. Each reading course must be approved by the Department Head. The Head’s approval of reading courses will be guided by the following understandings:

  • Reading courses should aim to develop a broad understanding of the student’s Primary Field, Secondary Field (if applicable), and/or the discipline of Political Science as a whole.
  • Minimum enrolment levels in existing course offerings ought to be maintained and therefore students should select their courses from within the existing offerings. Doing so will allow students to take courses in a seminar setting with their peers and faculty to deliver courses on- rather than off-load.

Please see the Faculty of Graduate Studies Calendar under “Academic Standing” for the FGS requirements concerning “adequate progress” and the conditions that lead to “poor academic standing” in the course work component.

The University recognizes that there are instances when a student may wish to challenge University decisions about grades or academic policy. When a dispute arises, every effort should be made to resolve the issues informally rather than resort to a formal appeal. If, however, a formal appeal is necessary, the student should follow the Appeals Procedures in the most recent Faculty of Graduate Studies Calendar.

Major Research Paper requirements for Course-based Master’s

Please consult the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) requirements for Thesis formatting, templates, and copyright information, as these will be useful for your major research paper, too. The Departmental policies supplement the FGS regulations and requirements and are, in every case, subordinate to them.

The Major Research Paper, or MRP, will be comprised as POLI 697. The following conditions apply:

  • The Major Research Paper will be supervised by a faculty member.
  • Each student will be registered in their own section of POLI 697.
  • The course would be conducted over the entire Spring/Summer sessions.
  • Students are expected to have their Major Research Paper completed before the end of the Summer session.

MA (Course-based) students should aim to achieve the best possible dissertation in light of the “Quality of Thesis” requirements as outlined in the FGS Graduate Calendar.

Students will provide supervisors with the opportunity to provide feedback and Supervisors must provide feedback on the work shown to them. 

The Department strongly recommends that a Major Research Paper not exceed 9,000 words (exclusive of notes and bibliography).

Ultimately, the Major Research Paper must be the student’s own work. Editing should take place as part of a learning process, a collaboration between the student and their supervisor. Working with a student to teach the student how to edit a research paper is part of a learning experience; having a thesis professionally edited is not acceptable. However, permission for professional editing may be granted by the GPD in consultation with the Supervisor, when circumstances warrant.

The Major Research Paper will be reviewed by the supervisor and another faculty member. The student’s grade in the course is determined by the supervisor, in consultation with the second reader, based on the quality of the research paper.

There is no oral defence for the Major Research Paper.