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Social and Cultural Analysis PhD

Admission Requirements

  • MA in sociology or in anthropology, with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00, from a recognized university.
  • Proficiency in English. Applicants whose primary language is not English must demonstrate that their knowledge of English is sufficient to pursue graduate studies in their chosen field. Please refer to the Graduate Admission page for further information on the Language Proficiency requirements and exemptions.

A superior academic record and strong references are both essential. The intended area of research is also a factor as admission is contingent on the availability of an appropriate research supervisor. Applicants who do not have the required background in either one of the disciplines are required to take courses (undergraduate or graduate) before being admitted into the program. The number of credits required varies depending on the student's personal background but are limited to no more than 24 credits.

Degree Requirements

Fully-qualified candidates are required to complete a minimum of 90 credits.

12 credits – Required Courses

SOAN 800 - General Seminar (6 credits)
SOAN 820 - Professional Development (3 credits)
SOAN 840 - General Seminar 840 (3 credits)

6 credits – Elective Courses

Students may choose two courses from the list below:


ANTH 600 - Identity and Difference (3 credits)
ANTH 601 - Decolonizing Anthropology (3 credits)
ANTH 610 - Ethnographic Research and Ethics (3 credits)
ANTH 620 - Writing Ethnography (3 credits)
ANTH 630 - New Directions in Anthropological Research (3 credits)
ANTH 640 - Special Topics I * (3 credits)
ANTH 641 - Special Topics II * (3 credits)


SOCI 602 - Issues in Classical Sociological Theory (3 credits)
SOCI 603 - Issues in Contemporary Sociological Theory (3 credits)
SOCI 612 - Quantitative Research Design and Methods (3 credits)
SOCI 613 - Qualitative Research Design and Methods (3 credits)
SOCI 620 - Population and Society (3 credits)
SOCI 622 - Studies in Race and Ethnicity (3 credits)
SOCI 625 - Sociology of Culture (3 credits)
SOCI 626 - North American Societies (3 credits)
SOCI 627 - Social Movements and Social Change (3 credits)
SOCI 632 - Sociology of the Family (3 credits)
SOCI 633 - Sociology of Knowledge (3 credits)
SOCI 635 - Gender Studies (3 credits)
SOCI 637 - Development (3 credits)
SOCI 638 - The City (3 credits)
SOCI 639 - Social Problems (3 credits)
SOCI 640 - Community Studies (3 credits)
SOCI 642 - Studies in Governance (3 credits)
SOCI 644 - Sociology of the Body (3 credits)
SOCI 645 - Sociology of Men (3 credits)
SOCI 646 - Globalization (3 credits)
SOCI 647 - Democracy and Citizenship (3 credits)
SOCI 648 - Health, Illness and Medicine (3 credits)
SOCI 649 - Media and Communication (3 credits)
SOCI 652 - Self and Subjectivity (3 credits)
SOCI 653 - Intellectual Biography (3 credits)

* Subject matter varies from term to term and from year to year. Students may re-register for this course provided that the course content has changed.

Note: Doctoral students are asked to perform at a higher level as leaders in class discussions and are given more in-depth work in the form of papers and oral presentations.

12 credits – Comprehensive Examinations

SOAN 850 - Comprehensive Exam l (6 credits)
SOAN 860 - Comprehensive Exam ll (6 credits)

3 credits – Thesis Proposal

SOAN 870 - Thesis Proposal (3 credits)

57 credits – Thesis

SOAN 890 - Thesis (57 credits)

Comprehensive Examinations (12 credits). All candidates are required to write two 6-credit comprehensive exams (SOAN 850 and 860). The topics for these exams are set at the end of the first year or beginning of the second year, and the exams completed within the second year of the program. Each comprehensive exam is assessed by a committee of three faculty members drawn from the two disciplines, and formed in consultation with the student's supervisor.

Thesis Proposal (3 credits). A candidate who has passed the comprehensive examinations must then submit a thesis proposal to the Graduate Program Director and the thesis committee (selected in consultation with the GPD). This proposal is explained to, and defended before the thesis committee. If accepted, this constitutes the completion of SOAN 870 (3 credits).

Thesis (57 credits). The candidate who has passed the PhD comprehensive examinations and the thesis proposal proceeds to the final requirement. The thesis is expected to make an original contribution to knowledge, to be based on primary sources and to be presented in an acceptable literary form. The thesis demonstrates knowledge of theories and methods associated with each discipline. The thesis is normally no more than 400 pages in length in total. Subject to the approval of the GPD and the thesis committee, a component of the thesis can take the form of a film or CD Rom.

Language Requirement. Given that the bulk of the literature in the two disciplines is written in English and French, reading assignments are given in both languages. Students are required to work towards reading proficiency very quickly. Upon completion of their coursework, students are required to demonstrate reading proficiency in both languages before being permitted to begin the thesis portion of their program. The proficiency level is verified through the administration of a translation test at the end of the coursework period.
In addition, students whose research topic requires the knowledge of a third language are expected to take the necessary courses and demonstrate proficiency in that language before embarking on their research.

Academic Regulations

  1. Academic Standing. Please refer to the Academic Standing section of the Calendar for a detailed review of the Academic Regulations.
  2. Residence. The minimum period of residence is two calendar years (6 terms) of full-time graduate study beyond the Master’s degree or the equivalent in part-time study.
  3. Time Limit. Please refer to the Academic Regulation page for further details regarding the Time Limit requirements.
  4. Graduation Requirement. In order to graduate, students must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00.


Required Courses

SOAN 800 General Seminar (6 credits)
This course focuses on orientating the common epistemological interests of sociological and anthropological approaches to social and cultural analysis in the four areas of specialization. In order to maximize interdisciplinary coverage, the seminar is led by two faculty members, one trained in sociology and one in anthropology.

SOAN 820 Professional Development
This course is designed as a seminar in which guest speakers orally present the results of their work and practical information on various professional skills (professionalization). Students are exposed to a variety of research conducted in the two disciplines and acquire communication and teaching skills necessary for working in the real world (defined as both academic and non-academic). Students learn how to present research results to a variety of audiences, how to address issues related to university teaching, and how to deal with ethical issues in the research context. The course is graded as Pass/Fail. It is mandatory for all students in the program. Each week, students must submit a written report on the presentation of the previous week.

SOAN 840 General Seminar
Designed as a preparation to the research involved in the thesis, the second general seminar focuses on the development of writing and research capacities, preparing research proposals, addressing issues in theory and method in relation to various topics, covering literature reviews. One faculty member is responsible for this seminar.

SOAN 850 Comprehensive Exam l (6 credits)
SOAN 860 Comprehensive Exam ll (6 credits)

Towards the end of their first year in the program, and in consultation with their thesis supervisor, PhD students form an advisory committee of three faculty members, including their supervisor, to assist in the preparation of the comprehensive exams (6 credits each). A core reading list consists of approximately 25 titles for each exam. The ultimate goal of the exams is to establish a candidate’s academic specialization. After completing the exams, students should have acquired sufficient background to teach a course and/or conduct advanced research in the area.

The examinations normally take place before the end of the student’s second year in the program. Each exam takes the form of a written essay (20-25 pages) that the student has three weeks to write. The student’s advisory committee members evaluate the exam as earning a grade of pass or fail. To constitute a successful exam, it must receive a grade of pass from all three members of the committee. Students who fail one of these exams are allowed to take it for a second time during the following term. A second failure leads to the student’s withdrawal from the program.

SOAN 870 Thesis Proposal
A candidate who has successfully completed the course requirements and the comprehensive exams must submit a thesis proposal to the Graduate Program Director and the thesis committee. The thesis committee, selected in consultation with the GPD, is composed of three members representing both Sociology and Anthropology. It may be the student’s initial advisory committee. The thesis proposal should describe the topic of the thesis, situate it in the relevant literature, and discuss the intended research methods. The written version of the proposal is approved by the members of the thesis committee and followed by an oral defense before the committee members. Following this, the PhD candidate is invited to present his thesis proposal in a departmental seminar.

SOAN 890 Thesis (57 credits)
Doctoral candidates submit a thesis based on their research and defend it in an oral examination. The thesis is expected to make an original contribution to knowledge, to be based on primary sources and to be presented in an acceptable form. The thesis should normally be no more than 400 pages in length (or equivalent if a non-literary format is used).

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