Cultural, Social, and Political Thought major

PhD students registered in the Cultural, Social, and Political Thought (CSPT) major must successfully complete the comprehensive examination after obtaining the required 9.0 credits of core CSPT coursework and within the first 24 months of their program registration. All Comprehensive Examinations will have written components and an oral examination of no longer than 2 hours.

The Cultural, Social, and Political Thought major in the Ph.D. program is interdisciplinary and intended to ground students in a body of cognate critical theories and methodologies. Across disciplinary boundaries, the Cultural, Social, and Political Thought major emphasizes the critical engagement of ideas and their manifestation in shifting cultural, social, and political contexts, therefore, the comprehensive examination will be designed to reflect the major’s following learning outcomes and to support breadth and depth in the student’s research program, as determined by the Comprehensive Examination Committee in consultation with the student:

Social Theory to demonstrate comprehensive expertise and advanced understanding of relevant theoretical frameworks pertinent to cultural, social and political thought;

Method to demonstrate comprehensive expertise and advanced understanding of relevant methodology and methods pertinent to cultural, social and political thought;

Substantive Field to demonstrate comprehensive expertise and advanced substantive knowledge in interdisciplinary area of cultural, social and political thought. Research topics are not constrained, but may include such problems, issues, and concepts as gender, race, class, age, disability, sexuality, equality, nation, citizenship, justice, power and resistance.

 

TIMELINE

The CSPT Advisory Committee strongly recommends that the candidate devote six (6) months to preparation for the Comprehensive Examination process in advance of the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) paperwork deadline for the oral examination. It is recommended that the candidate and supervisor declare topic(s), format, and Comprehensive Examination Committee composition at the commencement of this six-month period. While the candidate is expected to work independently, the Supervisor and Comprehensive Examination Committee should provide guidance and consider details of the proposed examination for approval early in the process. The SGS requires the Comprehensive Examination Notification Form at least four (4) weeks before the scheduled date of the oral comprehensive examination.

 

COMPREHENSIVE EXAMINATION COMMITTEE

Comprehensive Examination Committee membership is comprised of the following:

  • A Chair
  • The members of the candidate’s supervisory committee
  • Optional external examiner

The Chair of the Comprehensive Examination cannot be the candidate’s supervisor. The Chair of the Comprehensive Examination is a representative of the School of Graduate Studies and is required to be familiar with the policies and procedures related to the defence.

The Comprehensive Examination Format

Examination Component:

Description:

Written Component

All Comprehensive Examinations will have written components designed to reflect the major’s learning outcomes, as outlined in the preamble, and to support breadth and depth in the student’s research program, as determined by the examination committee in consultation with the student. Written components of the examination may take one of the two suggested models outlined below or variations and combinations of these models, as the Comprehensive Examination Committee, in consultation with the candidate, determines is appropriate. The written components are assessed by the committee on a pass/fail basis. If the candidate has passed the written component, then the oral examination will proceed as scheduled according to the Comprehensive Examination Notification form. If the candidate has failed the written component, the candidate will be given one (1) opportunity to retake the written components. Regardless of the format, the expectation is that the student will be the sole author of any materials subject to examination and will normally be the primary author on any subsequent publications arising from these materials.

 

Format Option 1: Two Papers and a Practical Written Component

      The candidate will prepare and submit:

  • Two (2) papers of quality and scope (each of approximately 7,000 words) that would meet the standards of peer review and demonstrate comprehensive and advanced understanding in one or more of the CSPT learning outcome areas outlined above: Social Theory, Methodology, and/or Substantive Field. To ensure that the two submissions cross disciplinary boundaries, are distinct from each other, and together constitute coverage of at least two of the three CSPT learning outcomes, the candidate should submit a declaration of intent to the comprehensive examination committee for approval early in the process.

 

  • To reflect the CSPT’s emphasis on intellectual, as well as practical knowledge mobilization, the comprehensive examination should include a well-researched practical component relevant to the candidate’s area focus and/or interests, whether to work in collaboration with community partners and agencies to facilitate social change or to develop critical practices in pedagogy. A practical component may include, but is not limited to, the following: policy report, consultation brief, curatorial plan, special project funding proposal, course-planning dossier (e.g. syllabus, reading list, sample assessment strategy, lesson plan).

 

Format Option 2. Three Component Written Examination and a Practical Written Component

         The candidate, in consultation with the Comprehensive Examination Committee, identifies focus in each of the above CSPT learning outcome areas and prepares three bibliographies, which must have adequate depth and breath, be distinct from each other, and cross disciplinary boundaries.

  • The committee will prepare and provide the candidate with a set of questions derived in response to two (2) of the three (3) bibliographies. The candidate will select and respond to one (1) from each of the two (2) sets in a 72 hour take-home examination;

 

  • The candidate will submit an essay (approximately 5,000 words) that represents a critical synthesis of the theoretical, methodological, and substantive considerations derived from the three bibliographies and would meet the standards of peer review.

 

  • To reflect the CSPT’s emphasis on intellectual, as well as practical knowledge mobilization, the comprehensive examination should include a well-researched practical component relevant to the candidate’s area focus and/or interests, whether to work in collaboration with community partners and agencies to facilitate social change or to develop critical practices in pedagogy. A practical component may include, but is not limited to, the following: policy report, consultation brief, curatorial plan, special project funding proposal, course-planning dossier (e.g. syllabus, reading list, sample assessment strategy, lesson plan).

Oral Component

  • The Candidate will give a presentation, followed by questions from, and discussion with, the Comprehensive Examination Committee designed to assess the candidate’s competencies in the critical theories, methodologies, and substantive area treated in the examination.

 

  • If the candidate fails the oral examination, the candidate will be given one opportunity for re-examination no sooner than two (2) weeks following the initial oral examination.