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Frequently Asked Questions about the Honours Program

Submitted by nnreimer on Mon, 08/22/2016 - 5:32pm

How do I apply to the Honours Program?

Students applying for admission to the Honours program should make requests for changes of program through the PeopleSoft Student Centre.  Applications will only be considered at the time of Fall Term registration and must be made by the June 1 deadline.

What GPA do I need?

Applicants to the Honours Program need (i) a cumulative GPA of at least 3.30 over the most recent 10 full course equivalents taken (or all courses if less than 10 FCEs have been completed), (ii) a cumulative GPA of 3.30 calculated for all Arts courses included in the past 10 FCEs, and (iii) the recommendation of the Department.  The recommendation of the Departments carries particular weight in cases where the GPA is borderline.  You need a 3.30 over the last 15 FCEs and at least a B- on Philosophy 590 to graduate with honours (3.60 and an A- for first class honours).

What is this "Department recommendation" for admission into the Honours Program, and how do I get one?

You don't need to do anything with respect to the recommendation. Once you apply for the Honours Program, your file will be forwarded to the Undergraduate Director.

What is the Honours Thesis / Philosophy 590?

An honours thesis is a substantial piece of philosophy written on a topic of your choice. Most honours theses are approximately 40 typed pages long. An honours thesis is written under the supervision of one of the permanent faculty in the Philosophy Department during the Fall and Winter terms of the last year of the Honours Program, and is examined in an oral defence at the end of the Winter term.  Students writing their thesis must enroll in Philosophy 590 during the Fall and Winter terms.

What is the Honours Seminar / Philosophy 597?

Philosophy 597 course is required as part of the Honours program.  The seminar provides instruction on thesis writing and a forum in which to present and develop your ideas to the other members of the class.  Students in the Honours Program should enroll in PHIL 597 in the Fall Term of the year in which they they write their Honours Thesis.

I tried to enrol in Philosophy 590/597 but the Student Centre informs me I need departmental permission. What should I do?

You will not be allowed to enroll in Phil 590 or PHIL 597 until you have arranged for a supervisor and received permission from the Honours Advisor.

How do I get a supervisor?

It is your responsibility to approach one of the permanent faculty and ask them to supervise your honours thesis. Ideally you should start this process in April or May of the year before writing your thesis, and have more than one possibility in mind. Faculty members may have to turn your request down if they are going to be off campus for all or part of the year, or if they have already taken on the maximum number of students they can supervise.   The primary thing you should consider when choosing a supervisor is whether they specialize in the area you wish to write your thesis on. The Honours Advisor would be happy to give you advice about choosing a supervisor, however, please keep in mind that is your job to secure supervision.

When does my thesis have to be complete?

The thesis needs to be ready to submit to the examination committee no later than the first day of the final examinations period in the Winter session. If you choose to set the oral exam early in the final examinations period then the thesis must be completed earlier - the committee should have at least 2 weeks to read the thesis before the oral exam.

How is my thesis examined?

A committee of three people will examine the thesis: your supervisor, the Honours Advisor, and a third member of the Philosophy Department chosen by you and your supervisor in consultation. Under some circumstances, the Honours Advisor may nominate another member of the Department to sit on the committee in their place.   The members of the committee will read your thesis and then conduct an oral exam before setting the grade.

How long is the oral exam? When does it occur?

As a rule, honours thesis orals are usually between an hour and an hour and a half. The oral exam cannot last any longer than two hours.   The exam will be scheduled sometime during the final exam period of the Winter term.

Can I write my thesis before the final year?

Double major students are sometimes permitted to write their honours thesis in the penultimate year of the program. This would require special permission from the Honours Advisor, and is contingent on the student having completed the majority of their philosophy course requirements before writing the thesis.

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