Research Pathway

The research pathway is designed to focus on developing practical research skills by a more intensive investigation of a research question that is of interest to you.  Students will work with an instructor and a faculty advisor to develop a research project, complete the research, and present their findings in the form of a traditional Honours thesis. This work is undertaken individually and cannot be a group project.

If you are thinking about graduate school, this is a great way to gain experience writing a longer piece of scholarship.  Even if you do not want to pursue graduate studies, an Honours thesis could be your academic capstone, something to be proud of for years to come. When you apply for jobs prospective employers will be impressed to see that you have brought a research project to fruition.

To fulfill the requirements of the research pathway students with a PSCI average over 75% and above can enroll in PSCI 499A Special Honours Essay (0.5 credit) in Fall semester followed by PSCI 499 B Special Honours Essay (0.5 credit) in Winter semester. The numeric grade for PSCI 499A is submitted only after the completion of PSCI 499B. We recommend that students should pursue the research pathway in their fourth year.

PSCI 499 Research Pathway Enrollment Form (pdf)

Check out the research projects some of our students have been working on!

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. Do I need a faculty advisor before enrolling in PSCI 499A?

No, however you should have a few names in mind, or have spoken informally to one or two professors, prior to enrolling in 499A. It is important to also let your research develop as you see fit over the term so we ask that you formally approach your top choice for faculty advisor only once the 499A research proposal is finished at the end of the term. You will have something to hand them and you will have a clear sense of what you need assistance with by that point.

2. When should I enroll in PSCI 499A?

We recommend that you enroll in PSCI 499A in the enrollment period prior to the Fall term of your fourth year or your 4A Fall term. This gives the Department time to review your academic record and to suggest potential faculty members who might be able to supervise you according to your subject matter of interest. Initiate the PSCI 499A and seek departmental approval from the experiential learning coordinator. Submit the form to Karen Walo who will register you in the pathway.

3. Can you describe what kind of final project is expected to earn credit in the research pathway?

PSCI 499A consists of creating a research proposal over a series of workshops, in consultation with the course instructor, with the final version submitted by end of term 1. PSCI 499B consists of writing an honours thesis, in consultation with your faculty advisor, with the final version submitted at the end of Winter term. The thesis will be approximately 40 pages long and will contain the components usually associated with project of this sort, such as an introduction (setting out the research question under investigation), a literature review, a case study, and a conclusion.

4. Who will grade my final project?

The research proposal written for 499A is graded by the course instructor; the honours thesis written for 499B is graded by the faculty advisor. PSCI 499A is worth 30%, while PSCI 499B is 70% of your total PSCI 499 grade.

5. What is the value of writing an honours thesis over completing some of the other final projects submitted in the engagement pathway?

An honours thesis allows you to pursue a research project of your choosing. You will grain expertise in this area and a well-chosen topic will situate you for further study at the Master’s level and beyond. Prospective employers will also appreciate seeing that you can craft your own research project from scratch and that you have enhanced, in-depth knowledge on that chosen academic topic. Methodological training is also provided – an indispensable skill for all future research endeavours.