Before admission to candidacy for the degree, students must pass three comprehensive field examinations – one in each of the three fields that constitute a student’s program of study – and an oral examination of the student's written thesis proposal.
Each member of a student’s advisory committee is responsible for setting and grading the exam in their field (see ‘Setting up a comprehensive exam’ below). All of the student's advisors will receive copies of the other exams that the student has written. Preparation for the written examinations could constitute a part of directed study tutorial a student takes in the three fields of study.
Each supervisor will be responsible for one comprehensive exam. All students must complete two research-based comprehensive exams. These 72 hour take-home exams are based on a bibliography agreed upon with the supervisor. The bibliography can include both monographs and articles and is on average comprised of 25 to 30 items, but in each case is also determined by standards and current practices in the given field. The typical preparation time for a comprehensive examination is three months. One week before the exam, the director of the program (firstname.lastname@example.org) as well as the administrator, email@example.com, must receive the bibliography as well as 1-3 questions. These questions will then be sent by the supervisor to the student at the appointed day and time of the exam. Once completed (72 hours after receiving the question(s)), the student will send the answer(s) to the supervisor of the comprehensive exam and to both the director and the administrator of the Humanities PhD program. Expected page lengths for exams are 20 to 30 pages (5000 to 7500 words).
The third exam can diverge from the research-based 72-hour comprehensive exam. In the cases where the student is in the research-creation stream, the third exam is studio-based (see guidelines for a studio comprehensive exam below). For the remaining students, the third comprehensive exam can take the form of
1- a third research-based comprehensive exam (see above)
2- a publishable research essay. We consider a publishable essay one that displays a true engagement with key literature(s) and advances an argument that could make a scholarly contribution if revised appropriately. In this case, the supervisor's role functions as an initial round of peer-review.
The Director of the Humanities program monitors the setting of the comprehensive examinations to ensure that appropriate and equitable standards are followed in all the fields.
Pre-comps meeting: It is highly recommended that a pre-comprehensive exams meeting of the student with all members of their advisory committee be held in which the areas to be covered in the three exams could be discussed in the broader context of the student’s overall program of study and dissertation project. The student will prepare a document to be circulated to the advisors at least a week prior to the meeting, briefly outlining the dissertation project (as the student sees it as this point in their studies) and suggesting possible areas, with selected key readings, to be covered in each field exam. At the meeting, this document will serve as a point of departure for feedback and initial discussion of the scope and focus of the material to be covered in each of the three exams. It is the responsibility of the student to set up such a meeting, coordinating with their advisors. Following the pre-comps meeting, the student will arrange to meet individually with each advisor in order to finalize a bibliography for each of the three comprehensive exams.
Comprehensive Examinations (HUMA 891, 892, 893). Upon completion of the required coursework (6 courses / 18 credits), students take three comprehensive field examinations before proceeding to the thesis proposal stage. Each examination is set and marked by the student’s advisor in that field. For students pursuing a research-creation project, one of the comprehensive examinations is a studio examination attended by all three advisors and chaired by the program director.
HUMA 891 Comprehensive Examination Major Field (3 credits)
HUMA 892 Comprehensive Examination Minor Field I (3 credits)
HUMA 893 Comprehensive Examination Minor Field II (3 credits)
The three take-home comprehensive field examinations are normally written following the completion of the 8 courses / 24 (minimum) course credits. In the case of students pursuing a research-creation project, one of the examinations will be a studio examination (see ‘Guidelines for Studio comprehensive exam’ below). The three comprehensive field examinations are designated:
- HUMA 885A Comprehensive Examination Major Field (3 credits)
- HUMA 885B Comprehensive Examination Minor Field I (3 credits)
- HUMA 885C Comprehensive Examination Minor Field II (3 credits)
- Student and advisor in the field agree on a date and time for the exam and inform the Humanities Director with a copy to the Humanities coordinator.
- At least a week prior to the exam date, the advisor emails the Humanities Director, with a copy to the Humanities office, the bibliography and exam question/s for approval; the Director emails a confirmation to the advisor, with a copy to the Humanities office;
- At the agreed upon date and time, the advisor emails the student the question/s with instructions, with copies to the Humanities Director and Humanities office; at the end of the 72 hour period, the student emails to the advisor the exam essay, with copies to: the two other members of the student’s advisory committee, the Humanities Director, and the Humanities office;
- The advisor reads and grades the exam (Pass/Fail), and submits to the Humanities office a completed Comprehensive Exam Grade Sheet (provided by the Humanities office). Normally, a grade is submitted within a two-week timeframe from the receipt of the student's exam response.
Note: If a student fails any of his or her comprehensive field examinations, he or she may take the failed examination again, once only, after a period of at least three months from the date of the original examination, and no later than one year after the date of the original examination.
Humanities students who have been admitted into the research-creation stream and have Studio (a creative practice) as one of their three fields, do a studio-based comprehensive exam and regular written exams in their other two fields. General guidelines:
- The student will set a date for the comprehensive exam in consultation with his or her Studio advisor and taking into consideration the availability of the other two field advisors.
- A week prior to the comprehensive exam, and in consultation with the advisor in the field, the student will email their advisory committee members, with a copy to the Humanities Director and Humanities office, a written artist statement and, whenever applicable, a list identifying the artistic work to be presented. Depending on the nature of the Studio project, the student may be asked by the Studio advisor to submit to the advisory committee other types of relevant documentation;
- The comprehensive exam will take the form of a presentation by the student of their creative work, accompanied by a reflection on issues relevant to the student’s creative practice and its connection to the scholarly investigation that forms part of the doctoral project of research-creation. This will be followed by a discussion and question period. In some circumstances an exhibition of works might be used as a supplement to this presentation.
- The Pass or Fail evaluation of the student's work is decided by the student's Studio Advisor in consultation with the other two committee members present at the exam.
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