MA current students

We are pleased to welcome you to the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo! We hope that you find your experience here to be rich and rewarding. This online handbook provides a brief overview of some of the most important information you will need as you start out on your graduate student journey. Please feel free to let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

PDF versions of our handbooks can be accessed here:

*If you have any problems accessing these documents, please contact the Graduate Programs Coordinator.

**Please note that sections of this site will not take place until we return back to campus.

Waterloo Grad Ready is a program and space to support you as you begin your graduate program.

It will offer you opportunities to build connections with students, faculty, and staff; resources to help you transition to graduate life; and workshops to support your ongoing graduate experience.

Our graduate studies community has come together to support you in this new online environment and will add new information and programming throughout the coming months. Please check Waterloo Grad Ready for updates.


Orientation Schedule

Orientation will consist of faculty and department-specific events. The detailed Orientation schedule will be communicated to you by the Graduate Program Coordinator in August. Students also have the option to participate in the University-wide events offered through the Student Success Office.

Faculty of Arts Orientation

Faculty of Arts students are encouraged to attend the orientation hosted by the Faculty of Arts. Details to be communicated to you by the Graduate Coordinator over the summer.

Political Science Orientation

During the Department orientation you will have a chance to meet the Department Chair, Graduate Chair, Graduate Program Coordinator, as well as receive information on various aspects of being a graduate student, including: Teaching Assistant duties, scholarships, payroll, co-op, library, and mental health resources. All new students are required to attend. A separate social event will be held for students and faculty to have a chance to mingle and socialize. Attendance for the social event is optional.

Meetings with the Graduate Chair

Each student will be contacted by the Graduate Program Coordinator to set up a meeting time with the Graduate Chair during Orientation Week. The meetings will be approximately 15 minutes in length and will cover, among other things, your Master’s Research Paper (MRP) or Thesis, possible supervisors, the TA (Teaching Assistant) contract, courses, and any questions you may have.

Scholarship information sessions

Information sessions on application procedures for Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) and Tri-Council Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Scholarships will be available to students in mid-September. Representatives from these agencies will present and answer questions. Please check the Graduate Studies Postdoctoral Affairs website for more information and watch for posters and email notifications.

Getting started

Graduate Student Duties and Obligations

All graduate students are expected to perform their duties and fulfil their obligations, which include:

  • Being courteous and respectful to your peers, faculty, and department staff
  • Responding to any emails promptly during normal workdays
  • Checking your office mailbox several times a week (students may receive important HR information, department notices, and inter-office mail from faculty)
  • Attending department events (Orientation, Speaker Series, PSCI Awards Ceremony, PSCI Grad Student Conference, PSCI Annual Book Launch, etc.) unless there is a conflict with a class or TA duties
  • Notifying your supervisor and the department if you will be away from the campus for more than one week

Academic Integrity

All students in the program are expected to know what constitutes academic integrity. When the commission of an offence is established, disciplinary penalties will be imposed in accordance with Policy #71 (Student Discipline). For information on categories of offences and types of penalties, students are directed to consult the Office of Academic Integrity . If you need help in learning what constitutes an academic offence or how to avoid offences, ask your course instructor or Graduate Chair for guidance.

Students who believe that they have been wrongfully or unjustly penalized have the right to grieve; refer to Policy #70, Student Grievance.

Graduate Academic Integrity Module (Graduate AIM)

The purpose of the Graduate AIM is to give all new graduate students the same, basic understanding of academic integrity at UWaterloo. This aggregation of information and resources will help students transition from the expectations of other institutions to the standards of academic integrity at the University of Waterloo.

The Graduate Academic Integrity Module (Graduate AIM) is an online course, managed by the Office of Academic Integrity. Students can access the course starting the first day of classes through Waterloo LEARN.

The Graduate AIM is comprised of a tutorial and a quiz. The tutorial has three primary sections:

  1. Crediting Your Sources – plagiarism, citing properly
  2. Collaborating with Others – inappropriate collaboration, intellectual property, patents
  3. Acting with Honesty – cheating, fabrication, falsification

The quiz requires students to apply the concepts they read about in the tutorial material. Students must receive a mark of at least 75% on the quiz in order to pass the Graduate AIM. They are allowed to retake the quiz if necessary. Students have eight weeks from the beginning of the term to successfully complete the quiz.

Department engagement and events

Students are expected to attend all events unless there is a conflict with lectures or TA duties.

Meet the Prof Night

The PSCI Grad Student Association (PSCI GSA) organizes this event as a way for graduate students to meet and interact with Department faculty members. The event takes place on-campus during the Fall term.

Award Ceremony

In October, the Department holds an Award Ceremony. This event celebrates the academic achievements of graduate and undergraduate students in the Department. The event takes place in the late afternoon and all graduate students are invited to attend.

Speaker Series

The Speaker Series is an intermittent event where invited faculty members and significant political speakers present on different topics in politics. This event is organized by the Department on a monthly basis and lunch is provided.

Graduate Student Conference

This is a one day conference organized by the PSCI Graduate Students (usually an organizing committee of 4 or 5 students) in March of each year. It aims to engage students from across Canada with a broad range of research interests. Under the guidance of a faculty member, students will put out a call for papers, arrange panels, and invite a key-note speaker. The Graduate Program Coordinator assists with administrative and budgetary support. Graduate students are also strongly encouraged to present their own papers.

Annual Book Launch

In March, the Department holds an Annual Book Launch. It is organized by the Department and hosted at the Grad House, to celebrate major publications by faculty members. The event aims to bring attention to the dedication and hard work done by faculty members. It is also a great networking opportunity for graduate students. Food is provided and books are given away to students.

Inquiry & Insight: The Graduate Student Journal of Political Science

The PSCI Graduate Student Journal has been published for the last 9 years. For the past several years papers that were submitted for the conference were used in the Journal. Normally 3 students, in consultation with a faculty member, edit and publish the journal.

Student responsibilities

Teaching Assistantships

Being a Teaching Assistant provided new perspectives and many rewarding opportunities. Moving to the front of the classroom tested my aptitude and knowledge, and allowed me to experience new and exciting facets of academia. A truly invaluable experience for early and passionate researchers

Christopher Abbott, MA class of 2016-2017
TA for PSCI 283 and INTST 101

TA assignments will be announced in August for the Fall term, December for the Winter term, and April for the Spring term.

The Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE) provides graduate students with numerous recourses to prepare for their classroom experience. All students who hold a teaching assistantship should review the extensive collection of teaching tips the CTE offers.

The Department encourages graduate students interested in furthering their teaching practices to enrol in one of the CTE’s teaching certificate programs. All completed certificates will appear as an official milestone on the student’s transcript.

TAs will also be required to read the TA Handbook and sign their Graduate Teaching Assistant Agreement, which outlines the responsibilities associated with the employment portion of the TAship. It must be submitted to the Graduate Program Coordinator no later than the second week of the academic term in which the TAship is held.

Students must have a minimum of 75% average to maintain their TAship.

Mandatory TA Training

Your online TA training will be completed in the Teaching Assistant Training site in LEARN.  TAs are asked to complete the following mandatory modules:

  • Preparing to TA at Waterloo
  • Supporting Student Mental Health
  • Giving and Receiving Feedback (NEW)

Proctoring Duties

As part of their TA duties, students are required to proctor midterm and final exams. It is recommended that you do not book any flights or make arrangements to leave the campus until the exam period is finished. The exam period for each term is listed in the Academic Deadlines and Events Calendar.

Once the exam schedule is released, please check with the instructor you TA for to see when you will be needed for marking. Please note that you may be assigned to proctor a course for which you are not the usual TA.

Payroll and Workday

Students hired as TAs or RAs are required to complete an onboarding process through Workday, the University of Waterloo’s HR system.

Steps to complete the onboarding process

  1. Once you are hired into Workday, you will receive an email to claim/confirm your WatIAM system identity from
  2. Using your WatIAM, log in to Workday to complete the onboarding items in your inbox. View the Workday User Guides (New Employees > Onboarding) for step-by-step instructions.
  3. You will need to enter your personal information, tax forms, SIN number and banking and in order to be paid through direct deposit.

Graduate students who have completed onboarding in a previous term will be prompted to verify or update their information. If you need assistance, please contact or ext. 35935.

Mandatory Safety Training

The training modules below are required for compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). All employees, whether full-time, part-time or contract are required to take this training.

For compliance with Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, the following online training is considered mandatory for all employees:

Employee Safety Orientation

  • Go to the LEARN home page.
  • Login using your University of Waterloo nexus username and password (same as WatIAM).
  • Click the "Self Registration" link at top of page
  • Select "Employee safety orientation (SO1001)" from the list.
  • Note: if you receive a "not authorized" error, contact LEARN support to have your User ID added to LEARN.

Accessible Customer Service

  • Go to the LEARN home page.
  • Login using your University of Waterloo nexus username and password (same as WatIAM).
  • Click the “Self Registration” link at the top of the page
  • Select “Accessibility Training” from the list – you have the choice of reviewing the transcript for all sessions or completing the interactive modules online


  • Go to the LEARN home page.
  • Login using your University of Waterloo nexus username and password (same as WatIAM).
  • Click the "Self Registration" link at top of page
  • Select "Employee WHMIS 2015" from the list.

Workplace Violence Awareness

  • Go to the LEARN home page.
  • Login using your University of Waterloo nexus username and password (same as WatIAM).
  • Click the "Self Registration" link at top of page
  • Select "Workplace Violence Awareness (SO1081)" from the list.
  • Note: if you receive a "not authorized" error, contact LEARN support to have your User ID added to LEARN.

Once you have completed the above training,please provide the Graduate Coordinator with proof of completion. A screen shot from your Workday account (go to Learning in the application menu, then More under the Progress menu, then Learning History) or LEARN account showing you have completed the training is sufficient. You will not be able to begin your TA duties until all 4 modules have been completed.

Tuition Payment | Fee Arrangement

Student Financial Services will post your tuition fees on Quest approximately one month prior to the beginning of each term. Payment/fee arrangements can be made through an online banking payment, by certified cheque, through payroll deduction (with a promissory note) for Teaching Assistant (TA)/Research Assistant (RA) earnings, and from scholarship/bursary payments. For more information about tuition fees, fee arrangements, promissory note, and payment deadlines refer to the Student Financial Services website.

If you require a confirmation of funding letter for TA/RA earnings, please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator once you have received a notice from Student Financial Services regarding Fee deadlines. Confirmation of funding letters are only required if your funding does not appear as anticipated aid in Quest.


All students are required to set up their UWaterloo email account. All program related messages will be sent to your UWaterloo email account only. Any problems arising from the failure of a student to check their email in this account will be the full responsibility of the student. If you would rather use another account, please setup your UWaterloo account to forward to your personal account.

WatIAM Student Account

Students setup their WatIAM account during the application process. This user name and password gives you access to all UWaterloo applications, such as email, computer network and wireless internet access, LEARN and Quest (information system for student registration, financial aid, and personal information).

Student Card (WatCard)

Visit the WatCard Office (in the Campus Tech Shop in the Student Life Centre) at the beginning of term to pick up your student card. You will need to show a valid piece of photo ID. The WatCard is your one card to access many facilities and services both on and off campus. You will use it daily for food purchases, photocopying, Physical Activities Complex access, libraries, and computer labs.

Graduate Student Association (GSA)

University of Waterloo students are members of the Graduate Student Association and are encouraged to contact them for information regarding related services and events.

Political Science GSA (PSGSA)

In addition to the GSA, Political Science students have the opportunity to join the PSGSA. The PSGSA is entirely student organized and run; elections occur each year in PSCI 600 for the position of President, Vice President, Treasurer, and, if there is enough interest in the cohort, an executive committee.

There are three Department of Political Science related events the PSGSA runs each year:

  1. Meet the Professor night (usually hosted at the Grad House in October)
  2. Graduate Student Conference (usually held in early March)
  3. Inquiry and Insight Graduate Student Journal (this can include papers presented at the Graduate Student Conference, or can be its own entity)

The PSGSA is also responsible for hosting social events for Political Science graduate students throughout the year. Social events should be inclusive for all students to attend.

The Treasurer will be given access to the PSGSA RBC bank account. Funding for the PSGSA is provided on a term basis by the GSA. Additional funding can be requested through the Faculty of Arts, or the GSA Graduate Studies Endowment Fund.

The PSGSA is also tasked with electing a student representative to attend most* Graduate Committee meetings. This student does not have to be involved in the PSGSA in another capacity, but must commit to Graduate Committee meetings for the full academic year (three terms). They are responsible for keeping the cohort informed of relevant updates, and for reporting any questions/concerns the cohort may have to the Graduate Committee.

*due to the sensitive and confidential information shared during the admission process, the student representative will not attend any Graduate Committee meetings pertaining to admissions.  

Office Space

All graduate students in the Department of Political Science have access to the Graduate Student Office (HH 346). The Graduate Program Coordinator will provide you with your key code access for the room during Orientation Week.

Please remember that the office is a shared space. For security, please make sure the door is shut and locked if you are the last one to leave.


Each student will be assigned a mailbox in HH 346. Please be sure to check it at least once a week.

Computing Facilities

Graduate students have access to the printer in HH 346. Ink and paper for the printer are the sole responsibility of the students, funded by the PSGSA budget. Please note that HH 346 is for Political Science Graduate students only. Graduate students also have access to the computer labs in PAS 1037, PAS 1080, and PAS 1098.

Printing & Copying

Dana Porter Library and David Centre Library offer printing resources for students. W Print also offers printing options. A copier that is available 24 hours is located in the Student Life Centre on the first floor.

Information for International Students

Student Success Office (SSO) resources:

Sign up for monthly email updates with the International Student Experience Newsletter.

Waterloo Housing — Waterloo Residences offers a variety of different services to meet the needs of all students, ensuring that residence is the right fit for everyone. Information on for on and off-campus housing is also available.

Federation of Students (FEDS) — The FEDS at the University of Waterloo provide a number of services for International students including a listing of clubs (national, regional, and religious associations).

The Working Centre — Is a great opportunity for students to connect to the larger Kitchener-Waterloo community. The Centre offers services such as the sale and repairs of used bikes, organizes events (i.e. the annual Multicultural Film Festival), and offers volunteer opportunities to those who want to get engaged in the community.

University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) — Full-time and part-time on-campus graduate students are automatically charged for UHIP coverage on their student account.


Campus Wellness

Campus Wellness services are available to all students who may require mental or physical health aid. Do familiarize yourself with the complete list of services offered through Campus Wellness.

Counselling Services is located on the second floor of the Needles Hall expansion. For assistance, or to book an appointment, please call 519-888-4567 ext. 32655. Please visit the Hours page for more information about specific service hours. Walk-in appointments are available.

If urgent assistance is needed, you can contact Good2Talk at 1-866-925-5454.


Faculty members are a great resource for graduate students. If you would like to review the research that a faculty member specializes in, or would like to set up an appointment, contact information can be found on our Department webpage.

Co-operative and Experiential Education

The Co-operative and Experiential Education centre also offers career advice for all students and staff at UWaterloo.

Students should contact a Career Advisor for support and guidance with searching for both academic and non-academic jobs. Workshops, and individual appointments on a wide range of work search topics, including effective document preparation, interview skills and job search strategies are available.

AccessAbility Services

Students can register for services and accommodations provided through AccessAbility Services by using their online system. Some of the Student Services offered include:

  • Adaptive technology
  • Alternate format texts
  • Campus orientation assistance
  • Learning strategists
  • Student access van

Drop in appointments are also available for students wishing to meet with an advisor. Appointments are 30 minutes in length and are offered Monday-Thursday |1:30pm-4:30pm. To book an appointment, please call reception at 519-888-4567 ext.35082.


The University of Waterloo has two main libraries on campus: the Dana Porter (DP) Library and the Davis Centre Library. The DP library is the main library for PSCI students. If you have any questions or need information, you may contact Nancy Collins, Head, Information Services and Resources, Dana Porter Library (Interim contact until a new Political Science librarian is appointed. Contact Nancy by email: For all other inquiries, please visit the library website.


GRADventure is a central hub of professional development resources designed specifically for graduate students at the University of Waterloo. It is offered by Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs, in collaboration with campus partners. (source: GRADventure)

Students are encouraged to regularly check the GRADventure website, or to follow them on Twitter (@GRADventure_UW) for information on upcoming events, workshops, and opportunities to get involved.

Writing and Communication Centre

The Writing and Communication Centre offers graduate-specific programing. For quick questions or check-ins, you can visit the Writing and Communication Centre for drop-in appointments.

Other resources offered, include:

Registration & Enrolment

Course enrolment period

Course enrolment at the University of Waterloo is done on a term-by-term basis, and will begin approximately one month prior to the start of each term. During the course enrolment period, graduate students can add and drop classes using Quest. Please note the following important details:

  • Email the Graduate Program Coordinator for permission to enrol in graduate classes labelled Instructor/Department Consent Required.
  • Graduate students who are not fee arranged and have enrolled in classes will have their classes dropped at the end of the third week of classes (end of class enrolment period).
  • Graduate students who wish to drop a class after the enrolment period ends may do so, but a grade of Withdrawn, no credit granted (WD) will be applied and the class will remain on the transcript. Note that WD is not an academic penalty.
  • Please see the Graduate Studies Academic Calendar for a complete list of important academic dates, including open course enrolment for graduate students.
  • Outside of the course enrolment periods listed in the Graduate Studies Academic Calendar, students with special circumstances can petition to drop or add a class using a course drop add form (Graduate Studies forms website)

If you are unsure which courses you would like to take, students are encouraged to discuss their options with their faculty supervisor or the Graduate Chair. You can also consult the Schedule of Graduate Classes for information on courses offered each term.

Quest (Student Information System)

You will use Quest to register for classes, update your address, view your tuition account, and your unofficial transcript.

New students only have access to Quest after they have been issued an Offer of Admission and their status is listed as ‘Matriculated’. Students who have outstanding admission conditions do not have access.

Having difficulties using Quest?

Drop Add Forms

Complete the Drop-Add form when adding, dropping, or making course changes after the registration deadline; auditing a course; or enrolling for undergraduate courses. You will need to sign it, have the instructor sign it, and submit it to the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Students are encouraged to finalize all course changes within the first week of the term. Once a course starts, any course assignments (and associated grades) missed prior to enrolling in the course will be forfeit. Graduate students may add/drop courses using Quest during the first three weeks of term. After this period, a WD (withdrawn) will show up beside any courses dropped.


  • MRP students must complete the equivalent of 6 one-term graduate level Political Science or related courses (0.50 unit weight), including PSCI 600 Theories and Methods of Political Analysis. Normally, MRP students will take no more than two courses outside the Department of Political Science.
  • Thesis students must complete the equivalent of 4 one-term graduate level Political Science or related courses (0.50 unit weight), including PSCI 600 Theories and Methods of Political Analysis. Normally, Thesis students will take no more than one course outside the Department of Political Science.
  • The overall average achieved in the 4 or 6 courses should be at least 70%.

Reading courses

Reading courses may supplement regular offerings in the program, although it is understood that they will be approved at the discretion of the Graduate Chair. Students will normally be permitted to take one reading course as part of their MA degree.

Arrangements and faculty approval must be completed no later than two weeks after the beginning of the term. The deadline for submitting a reading course form is September 20 (Fall), January 20 (Winter), May 20 (Spring). Please note due to faculty workload commitments, not all requests, even when otherwise justified, can be accepted.

Formal Approval

Once you and the faculty member agree to a reading course, you will need to fill out a Reading Course form. When the faculty member is satisfied with the reading course proposal, the form is signed and submitted to the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Registration in a Reading Course

Once the reading course proposal has been approved, the Graduate Program Coordinator will email you a permission number. Please register ASAP after receiving this number.

Adding a reading course on Quest is the same as adding an in-class course:

  1. Enter the four digit class number in the field box provided
  2. TAB out of the field (do not use the enter key)
  3. This will prompt a blue link (subject name and number) beside the field box, select this
  4. This will open the page where you will enter the permission number
  5. Submit the request

OVGS courses

An Ontario Visiting Graduate Student (OVGS) form must be submitted to the Graduate Program Coordinator if you wish to take a course at another university (such as Wilfrid Laurier University). You will indicate the course(s) to be taken and the term during which the course(s) is/are offered at the host University.

Enrolment is not complete until the form has been approved by the Department Chair and Graduate Dean of both the Home University and Host University. Students are allowed to register for a maximum of two OVGS courses during their program.

Course(s) selected must be at the graduate level and there must be no comparable course(s) offered at the University of Waterloo. The course(s) selected must be required for your degree program. Courses may not be taken as "extras" or "audits". Students must obtain at least a 75% (B) in any course taken at another university.

Please note OVGS courses do not appear in your class schedule in Quest. They do, however, appear on your unofficial transcript. You can confirm your enrolment after the start of term by running your unofficial transcript in Quest.