Program at a Glance

DEGREE:

Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD)

FIELDS OF STUDY:

Human Geography

Physical Geography

PROGRAM COMPONENTS:

Coursework

Research

Comprehensive Exam

Dissertation Defense

ENROLLMENT OPTIONS:

Full-time

Part-time

FACULTY:

Arts and Science

DURATION:

4-6 years

ENROLLMENT OPTIONS

Students have the option to enrol under a full-time status or a part-time status. Program duration may vary depending on enrolment status.

Full-time

Students registered as “full-time” must be engaged in their studies on a full-time basis (i.e. as their full-time occupation) and must be available to visit the campus regularly. If an extended absence from the University is required, students must apply to their graduate unit for permission for an extended leave. Time limits for completing studies as a full-time student are listed under degree requirements at the School of Graduate Studies.

Part-time

Some programs (including Geography) are offered to part-time students. A student enrolled in part-time studies may, over the academic year, take a maximum of one-third of the annual program requirements. A student registered as part-time is subject to the minimum degree fee (see the School of Graduate Studies website for information on enrollment regulations). Transfer from part-time to full-time studies requires approval of the graduate unit. Time limits for completing studies as a part time student are listed under degree requirements at the School of Graduate Studies.

 

FIELDS OF STUDY

The PhD program can be taken in human or physical geography, including any of the following sub-fields:

  • Physical Geography and Natural Systems
  • Environmental Geography and Resource Management
  • Urban/Economic Geography
  • Historical/Social or Cultural Geography
  • Spatial Information Systems

Depending on the nature of your research interests, your studies may intersect with several of the sub-fields.

You can find out more about the specific research endeavours and interests of our faculty on the Supervisors page. 

The PhD program involves a number of different components. Each is outlined in detail below.

PhD students will work closely with a faculty supervisor to complete each component, with feedback from their PhD committee. The committee evaluates the research statement, the doctoral exam, the research proposal and the dissertation. The Associate Chair, Graduate must approve the committee’s composition before the committee holds its first meeting. Subsequent changes in committee membership must be similarly approved. Committees are typically selected by the PhD student and their supervisor based on related research interests.

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PROGRAM COMPONENTS & REQUIREMENTS

Courseload: minimum 3.0 FCE

Required Courses: 

  • Human Geography Core Course (0.5 FCE)
  • Elective Course in Geography (1.0 FCE)
  • Additional Elective Courses (1.5 FCE, at least 0.5 must be from outside the Department)

*Suggested completion by end of year one

During the second term of the first year, the student and supervisor assemble a Supervisory Committee. In addition to the supervisor(s), the committee consists of at least one geography graduate faculty and one graduate faculty from any graduate unit. The Supervisory Committee must meet once a year to review research progress. See additional details in the sections below.

Review meetings are held with your assigned Supervisory Committee once per year to assess progress and determine plans for the following year. The Supervisory Committee will submit the progress report to the graduate office and the report is recorded in the student’s ACORN/ROSI record. It is your responsibility to schedule progress meetings.

The first year, you should complete and submit the annual progress report form and a draft comprehensive reading list. Annual reports for each of the following years should include a list of activities undertaken the past year (publications, courses, conferences, training activities, professional development activities) and an up-to-date timeline for completion.  Progress reports can also be accompanied by draft materials for research or publications (i.e. questionnaires and interview guides, initial analysis of results, chapter summaries, etc.).

Reading List

Prior to completing the comprehensive exam, students will create a reading list with input from their supervisory committee. The reading list will identify 3 areas of concentration and include approximately 100 readings.

Exam

The exam must be taken between June of year one and December of year two. The exam is comprised of a written component and an oral component. Students will receive 3 questions in each area of concentration (for a total of 9 questions) and must answer 1 of the 3 options for each concentration. The questions are determined by the supervisory committee and are based on the readings identified in the reading list.

The student may choose to take the exam in one of three formats:

One-day exam: in this format, students write the exam over an eight hour period, in closed room on campus. The exam is open book but internet access is not permitted. Citations must be included in the exam and the length of each answer should be between 2000-2500 words.

Two day exam: in this format, students write the exam over two periods, one day apart. In total the exam will last eight hours. The exam is open book but internet access is not permitted. Citations must be included in the exam and the length of each answer should be between 2000-2500 words.

Five day exam: in this format, students have a five day period (including weekends) to write the exam. The exam may be written either on or off campus. It is expected that responses will contain greater depth than the one or two day format, and should be 3500 to 4500 words. Citations are expected.

The written exam is submitted electronically to all committee members and to the graduate office.

The oral exam takes place no later than one week following the submission of the written exam.

The research proposal must be submitted and defended before the supervisory committee at the end of year two.

The proposal should take the form of a 24 page paper with the following components:

  • Statement of problem
  • Research questions
  • Discussion and literature review
  • Research objectives/hypothesis
  • Outline of methodology (data sources and methods)
  • Suggested timeline for completion

The student achieves PhD candidacy when the research proposal and all the previous stages have been successfully completed.

Thesis Format

The thesis documents the students original research, and take one of two forms: a traditional manuscript or a paper thesis (which is comprised of 3 distinct and publishable journal articles). See the School of Graduate Studies website for information on formatting.

Dissertation Exam

Students must defend their thesis before completing the program. The final defense  involves a Departmental Thesis Examination and a School of Graduate Studies Oral Examination.

Departmental Thesis Exam: the student must defend their final thesis to the supervisory committee. The graduate office must be notified of the exam details and receive a copy of the dissertation 2 weeks prior to the exam date. The graduate office will supply the supervisory committee with an exam form prior to the examination.

SGS Final Oral Examination: the student must additionally defend their dissertation through an oral presentation. The examination committee is comprised of 6 members and must include at least 3 examiners who have not been closely involved in the thesis (i.e. members of the department who have not read the thesis or members external to the departments who have not read the thesis). No more than 3 member may be from the student’s supervisory committee.

The Final Oral Examination (FOE) must be scheduled a minimum of 8 weeks prior to the examination date. Guidelines for the exam procedures may be found at the School of Graduate Studies website.

Submitting Your Thesis

Once final revisions or modifications have been completed, students must submit the final thesis dissertation to the School of Graduate Studies and to the department. See the School of Graduate Studies website for instructions.

Courseload: minimum 1.5 FCE

Required Courses: 

  • Physical Geography Core Course (0.5 FCE)
  • Elective Course in Geography (0.5 FCE)
  • Elective Courses in Any Department (0.5 FCE)

*Suggested completion by end of year one

During the second term of the first year, the student and supervisor assemble a Supervisory Committee. In addition to the supervisor(s), the committee consists of at least one geography graduate faculty and one graduate faculty from any graduate unit. The Supervisory Committee must meet once a year to review research progress. See additional details in the sections below.

Review meetings are held with your assigned Supervisory Committee once per year to assess progress and determine plans for the following year. The Supervisory Committee will submit the progress report to the graduate office and the report is recorded in the student’s ACORN/ROSI record. It is your responsibility to schedule progress meetings.

The first year, you should complete and submit the annual progress report form and a draft comprehensive reading list. Annual reports for each of the following years should include a list of activities undertaken the past year (publications, courses, conferences, training activities, professional development activities) and an up-to-date timeline for completion.  Progress reports can also be accompanied by draft materials for research or publications (i.e. questionnaires and interview guides, initial analysis of results, chapter summaries, etc.).

Reading List

Prior to completing the comprehensive exam, students will create a reading list with input from their supervisory committee. The reading list will identify 4 areas of concentration and include approximately 100 readings.

Exam

The exam must be taken between June of year one and December of year two. The exam is comprised of a written component and an oral component. Students will receive 2 questions in each area of concentration (for a total of 8 questions) and must answer 1 of the 2 options for each concentration. The questions are determined by the supervisory committee and are based on the readings identified in the reading list.

The student may choose to take the exam in one of three formats:

One-day exam: in this format, students write the exam over an eight hour period, in closed room on campus. The exam is open book but internet access is not permitted. Citations must be included in the exam and the length of each answer should be between 1500-2000 words.

Two day exam: in this format, students write the exam over two periods, one day apart. In total the exam will last eight hours. The exam is open book but internet access is not permitted. Citations must be included in the exam and the length of each answer should be between 2500-3500 words.

Five day exam: in this format, students have a five day period (including weekends) to write the exam. The exam may be written either on or off campus. It is expected that responses will contain greater depth than the one or two day format, and should be 3500 to 4500 words. Citations are expected.

The written exam is submitted electronically to all committee members and to the graduate office.

The oral exam takes place no later than one week following the submission of the written exam.

The research proposal must be submitted and defended before the supervisory committee at the end of year two.

The proposal should take the form of a 24 page paper with the following components:

  • Statement of problem
  • Research questions
  • Discussion and literature review
  • Research objectives/hypothesis
  • Outline of methodology (data sources and methods)
  • Suggested timeline for completion

The student achieves PhD candidacy when the research proposal and all the previous stages have been successfully completed.

Thesis Format

The thesis documents the students original research, and take one of two forms: a traditional manuscript or a paper thesis (which is comprised of 3 distinct and publishable journal articles). See the School of Graduate Studies website for information on formatting.

Dissertation Exam

Students must defend their thesis before completing the program. The final defense  involves a Departmental Thesis Examination and a School of Graduate Studies Oral Examination.

Departmental Thesis Exam: the student must defend their final thesis to the supervisory committee. The graduate office must be notified of the exam details and receive a copy of the dissertation 2 weeks prior to the exam date. The graduate office will supply the supervisory committee with an exam form prior to the examination.

SGS Final Oral Examination: the student must additionally defend their dissertation through an oral presentation. The examination committee is comprised of 6 members and must include at least 3 examiners who have not been closely involved in the thesis (i.e. members of the department who have not read the thesis or members external to the departments who have not read the thesis). No more than 3 member may be from the student’s supervisory committee.

The Final Oral Examination (FOE) must be scheduled a minimum of 8 weeks prior to the examination date. Guidelines for the exam procedures may be found at the School of Graduate Studies website.

Submitting Your Thesis

Once final revisions or modifications have been completed, students must submit the final thesis dissertation to the School of Graduate Studies and to the department. See the School of Graduate Studies website for instructions.

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