Major research paper requirements

Students have the option of completing a major research paper (MRP) or a thesis for their final project. The process for completing an MRP is outlined below.

Choosing a Supervisor

Students are required to submit their Major Research Paper (MRP) Supervisor Form (Word) by October 10. If you have any problems accessing this form, contact the Graduate Program Coordinator.

Students are encouraged to meet informally with faculty members early in their first term to discuss possible topics for their MRP. Getting early feedback from potential supervisors can help you get a clearer sense of what your research project will entail and possible topics you would like to explore. A listing of faculty, and their areas of research, can be found on the Department faculty listing webpage.

In addition to a supervisor, you will need a second reader and their signature to complete the form.

MRP degree requirements


  • All students are required to take 3 courses in the Fall term (PSCI 600 plus 2 PSCI electives).
  • Students must complete the equivalent of 6 one-term graduate level Political Science courses (0.50 unit weight), including PSCI 600 Theories and Methods of Political Analysis.
  • The overall average achieved in the 6 credit courses should be at least 70%.
  • Reading courses may supplement regular offerings in the program, although it is understood that they will be approved at the discretion of the department. Students will normally be permitted to take one reading course as part of their degree.

Link(s) to courses


Milestones are non-course degree requirements (such as the academic integrity workshop, co-op work term report, master’s research paper, etc.) that must be met in order for a student to graduate. Students can keep track of their milestone progress by viewing their unofficial transcript in Quest.

  • Graduate Academic Integrity Module (Graduate AIM)
  • Master’s Seminar
    • Students are required to participate in a Master’s Seminar (also referred to as a Methods Workshop) in the Winter term: they will present their in-progress MRP work, and receive and provide feedback to fellow students.
  • Master’s Research Paper Proposal (not tracked in Quest)
    • 5-8 pages double spaced
    • Students are also required to submit a timeline for the submission of their rough drafts (individual chapters and/or the entire paper) and their final paper. This should be done in consultation with your supervisor. The final copy of your research proposal should be signed by your supervisor.
  • Master’s Research Paper
    • The Master’s Research Paper is best thought of as a "mini Thesis" and is the equivalent of 2 one-term courses (0.50 unit weight). The work is supervised by two faculty members who may ask for corrections and who jointly decide on the grade to be awarded upon completion. No oral examination/defense is required.
    • Students must achieve a grade of 75% or higher on their MRP in order to satisfy the degree requirements for the program
    • MRP documents should be 50-60 double spaced pages in length.

Students cannot change from the MRP option to the Thesis option.

Co-op option

Students in the Co-op option completing an MRP must complete the program requirements outlined above, in addition to;

  • Work-term Report
    • A 10-12 page work-term report must be submitted within one month of completion of the 4-month or 8-month co-op placement. Reports are submitted to and marked by the Graduate Chair.
    • See the PSCI Work Term Report Guidelines (PDF) for more information.

MRP formatting and submission

Formatting of MRP

Students must review Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs thesis regulations for proper formatting. MRPs formatted incorrectly will not be accepted.

Front matter

Roman numerals should be used for the Front Matter content.

Front matter content Page Number Notes
Title Page i - page number should not be displayed see example below
Author’s Declaration ii see wording below
Abstract iii none
Acknowledgements iv none
Dedication v optional
Table of Contents vi see details below
List of Figures vii if applicable
List of Tables viii if applicable
List of Illustrations ix if applicable
List of Abbreviations x if applicable

Table of Contents

Everything after the Table of Contents page needs to be listed on the Table of Contents. The Introduction begins on page 1 (bottom centre pagination).

Title page must read as follows:

Title of MRP


Full name of author (name must appear as it does on Quest)

A Master's Research Paper

presented to the University of Waterloo

in fulfilment of the

MRP requirement for the degree of

Master of Arts


Political Science

Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, year

© Name of author year

Please note text should be centred on your page.

Author’s Declaration must read as follows:

I hereby declare that I am the sole author of this Master’s Research Paper (MRP). This is a true copy of the MRP, including any required final revisions, as accepted by my examiners.

How to finish on time

Once a supervisor and second reader are chosen and approved, the student should send biweekly reports to their supervisor. Talking to your supervisor regularly and agreeing on a firm timeline to submit drafts, and work around conferences, will also help prevent last minute scrambling and possibly missing term or convocation deadlines.

Both faculty members evaluating the MRP (the supervisor and second reader or the co-supervisors) must be satisfied with the final product, and either can ask for minor or major corrections or reject the MRP outright. Upon completion, the MRP is assigned a grade (passing grade is 75%) by both faculty members.

Guidelines for completing by the end of the third term

  • Should submit a complete first draft to main supervisor by July 15 (giving 1 week for supervisor to revise).
  • Should submit a revised (second) draft to second reader by August 1 (giving 1 week for reader to revise).
  • The final draft should be submitted to both supervisors for grading no later than August 10 for an August 24 completion date.

*NOTE: The above timeline is a guideline only. Please discuss dates with your supervisor to set an appropriate completion timetable that works for you.

Final submission

The department requires the final copy of your MRP to be emailed as a PDF to the Graduate Program Coordinator upon completion.


Students may choose to have any personal copies of the approved thesis bound privately or through the services provided by W Print at the University of Waterloo.