Apr 19, 2024  
School of Graduate Studies Calendar, 2020-2021 
School of Graduate Studies Calendar, 2020-2021 [-ARCHIVED CALENDAR-]

History, Ph.D

Ph.D. Degree


The Department supervises doctoral research in a variety of areas of specialization. Prospective applicants are directed to consult the Department’s website which details research specializations. Candidates must contact individual faculty for guidance on appropriate thesis topics.


When admission to Ph.D. work has been granted a candidate will, in consultation with his or her prospective supervisor and the Graduate Studies Chair of the Department, select two Minor Fields and one Major Specialization. Minor Fields and Major Specialization will cover the principal literature in the areas of concentration.

Minor fields normally consist of two half-year 700‐level graduate reading seminars in each of which a major historiographical essay and a written course examination are required. The grade for a minor field will consist of the grades for the in- course requirements, the examination, and the historiographical essay, in combination as indicated by the minor field supervisor. One minor field course will be taken in the fall term, the second in the winter term.

While some overlap may be deemed beneficial, the Minor Fields should not duplicate Major Specialization reading. All doctoral candidates must have a minimum of three, and usually four, instructors supervising the combination of their Minor Fields and Major Specialization.

Major Specialization preparation begins in September and takes the form of a reading course that will run normally until the following May. The reading for the course will be determined by the course instructors with oversight from the department’s Graduate Studies Committee to ensure appropriate breadth and depth of the reading list. As part of the reading course candidates will complete a significant historiographical paper or papers as well as a mandatory examination.

Successful completion of 6 units of Minor‐Field coursework and 6 units of Major Specialization coursework, fulfill the course requirements of the School of Graduate Studies for doctoral candidates. Satisfactory performance in doctoral Minor Field and Major Specialization courses is a minimum grade of B‐. A single grade of F on any course in the Ph.D. program, or two B- grades, entails automatic withdrawal from the program.

Finally, all PhD candidates will write a dissertation research proposal by the end of their first year in the PhD programme.  Each candidate’s proposal, of 10-15 pages in length, would be defended on a Pass/Fail basis by the candidate’s PhD committee no later than the third week of September. This defence will constitute the required PhD comprehensive examination (written and oral). In order to attain a passing mark, the dissertation proposal and its oral defense must satisfactorily demonstrate breadth of knowledge and the integration of key ideas and methods related to the student’s thesis area. Successful passage of the comprehensive examination along with successful completion of the coursework is required before a candidate may proceed in programme.


A thesis should be a piece of substantial original research. It should be a maximum of 300 pages, exclusive of footnotes and bibliography.

Language Requirement

Language requirement for doctoral candidates: competence in English and one other language is the minimum requirement of the Department of History. For candidates working in Canadian, British, or thematic areas, the other language will normally be French, although utility in the candidate’s proposed field of research will be the governing consideration. Candidates researching in European History must demonstrate competence in two appropriate languages. Competence in a modern non‐English language is deemed to mean the ability to translate standard historical prose with the aid of a dictionary. Specific expectations for translation competency are explained in the Ph.D. regulations which are available on the department website. Written tests are administered by the Department for Ph.D. candidates at intervals throughout the academic year. In particular cases the Supervisory Committee may recommend that a candidate demonstrate proficiency in an additional language or in special methodological skills, such as statistics or advanced cartography, in preparation for her or his research. All such recommendations must be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee. One language requirement for the Ph.D. must be cleared by the time the Comprehensive Examination is completed. Candidates requiring two or more languages should complete the language requirement most relevant to their dissertation topic before completion of their Comprehensive Examination; the other language requirements may be completed while working on the dissertation but must be cleared prior to the dissertation defense.

Additional Information

In certain cases, applicants with a B.A. (Honours) or the equivalent may be admitted directly to Ph.D. studies if their previous academic record shows sufficient promise, including at least an A average. Within one calendar year, the progress of students admitted to Ph.D. studies directly from a bachelor’s degree will be reviewed by their supervisory committee and the Graduate Studies Committee. The Graduate Studies Committee will then recommend to the School of Graduate Studies one of the following:

  1. proceed with Ph.D. studies
  2. not proceed with Ph.D. studies but re‐register as a Master’s candidate
  3. withdraw from the University

The Ph.D. coursework required for candidates admitted directly with a B.A. (Honours) or the equivalent will be 15 units, comprising successful completion of two Minor Fields; completion of the Major Field; and successful completion of HISTORY 741 Historiography .