Milestones & Deadlines

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The PhD in Media Studies program requires the completion of six courses, Fields Exam, a thesis proposal and a thesis.

The program normally proceeds in the following way:

Year Fall Winter Summer
Y1 Coursework Coursework Coursework
Y2 Formation of Advisory Committee and Qualifying Meeting Fields Exam Fields Essay Submitted
Y3 Fields Exam & Thesis Proposal Thesis Research & Writing Thesis Research & Writing
Y4 Thesis Research & Writing Thesis Submitted Thesis Defense

Fields Examination and Thesis Proposal

Current students should visit the FIMS Graduate intranet for the full instructions for the Media Studies Doctoral Fields Examination and Thesis Proposal (login required).

Fields Examination

Qualifying Meeting

The first step of the Field Examination is the qualifying review meeting with the Graduate Program Director and the student’s Advisory Committee, ideally undertaken in the fall of year two. The purpose of the meeting is to review the student's progresss to that point and give the student the opportunity to communicate with the committee. Discussion will focus on both the student's work to that point and conceptualizations and plans for future directions.

Defining the Fields

The three fields will be configured as follows:

Field One: the history and theory of a medium and/or medium theory
Field Two: cultural/social theory and/or political economy
Field Three: an elective field that provides a comparative perspective (i.e. Queer Theory, Indigenous Studies, Disability Studies, etc.)

Working with the Advisory Committee, the candidate should construct core bibliographies in each field. Taken together, the fields should define the areas in which the student is planning to teach as well as the scholarly contexts for the student's projected research. The collective bibliography should include a total of 45 texts, ideally 15 texts per field.

Fields Essay & Oral Examination

After the fields have been established, the student should write an essay (approx. 30-35 pages), exploring the three fields and their interconnections, discussing the key issues and scholarship that constitute them, and identifying the kinds of research questions, scholarly issues, and debates in which the candidate plans to intervene. This essay will provide a starting point for an oral examination, to be conducted by the student’s Advisory Committee, ideally within three weeks of receiving the essay. Normally, the fields essay will be submitted by the end of the summer semester in year two.

Oral Presentation

After the completion of the Fields Examination, the student must prepare a 20-minute public presentation of their research. Normally this will occur in the fall semester of year three.

Thesis Proposal

The thesis proposal is usually undertaken after the successful completion of the Fields Examination and is normally submitted in the fall of year three in the program.

The thesis proposal is a formal articulation of the student’s program of work. This document should be approximately 20-25 pages (double-spaced, 12-point font, not inclusive of the bibliography).

The proposed research should be original, shedding new light on the existing literature. The proposal must include the following elements:
  • Abstract + Keywords
  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Chapter Outline
  • Timeline
  • References
  • Appendix, if applicable
Upon approval of the proposal, the student proceeds to undertake the research for the thesis.