Your graduate thesis is the culmination of your work in your program. Before you complete your degree, the University of Waterloo requires that your thesis be archived to UWSpace. The below information will provide you with guidance throughout the process of preparing for your defence, formatting your thesis, and submitting it to UWSpace for approval.

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Honours thesis.

If you are interested in taking PS499*, the honours (undergraduate) thesis course, there are a number of steps you need to take to prepare and apply. The following is particularly relevant to third-year students .

Do I need to do a thesis?

No, if you are planning to do a graduate or professional program that does not require a thesis (e.g., social work, law school, teacher’s college etc.) or if you are not planning on a post-graduate program .

How do I get accepted?

Acceptance into PS499* is based on a variety of criteria including:

A) Having met the prerequisites for the course:

B) Your academic grades:

C) The number of students seeking admission to PS499*:

D) The number of students being supervised by the faculty member who has signed your application letter.

What can I expect in the thesis course?

Students will learn how to:

Classes meet twice a week. Course work makes up approximately 40% of your PS499 grade.

Other Components of the Course

How do I apply for registration?

Who should I contact if I have questions?

Alternatively, contact the PS499 instructors:

Preparing for a Thesis

Choosing a topic area.

There are many ways to arrive at a thesis topic. Think about the various psychology courses you have taken, the topics that have particularly caught your interest, and the various ideas that have been generated (whether by yourself, other students, your professors, or by authors of articles or books you have read). This is not to imply that you should use someone else's idea without his/her permission, but rather that other peoples' ideas can be excellent starting points for thinking about a thesis.

A rich source of ideas will be the seminar course(s) you will take in third year. If you have vague ideas, but nothing specific, go online and start reading articles in appropriate journals. Start tracking down articles that sound interesting.

You should always feel free to go to one or more professors who have research interests compatible with your own . Tell them about your ideas, whatever they are, and ask for advice on relevant sources, current issues in the area, and so on.

You can also talk things over with the undergraduate advisor or the PS499 instructor(s) at any time during the year. Do not panic, just ask for help. Given the above, keep in mind that your thesis topic will most likely depend on your faculty supervisor’s area of research.

Finding a Faculty Supervisor

All full-time faculty members are expected to advise one or two fourth-year thesis students, and you should feel free to approach any of them for such assistance. But keep in mind that many faculty members will want to advise students whose thesis interests complement their own research programs .

This does not mean that the faculty member will hand you a ready-to-go research project, or even that you have to do something precisely in the faculty member's defined area of research interest. But it does mean that the farther away from the faculty member's own interests you are, the less likely it is that person will agree to supervise your thesis. The primary reasons for this are:

It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with a potential supervisor's research interests by reading a couple of his or her recent publications or conference presentations.

The development of your thesis proposal will be an interactive process between you and your advisor; to the extent that you can define your thesis topic, so much the better. But do not feel that you have to develop the final research proposal entirely on your own.

You may initially approach potential supervisors by email, by dropping by during their posted office hours, or by phoning and asking for an appointment to discuss possible thesis supervision. It is beneficial if you bring along an unofficial transcript (with your computed GPA in all Psychology courses), and a rough statement of interest which includes your future goals (e.g., graduate program in developmental psychology with a focus on cognitive development) and the topic(s) you are interested in researching for your honours thesis (e.g., children's eyewitness testimony or children's experiences with the justice system). This statement of interest should be geared towards the potential supervisor's research interests.

You should not expect an immediate yes or no response from a potential supervisor. Most faculty members will wait until they have heard from a number of potential honours thesis students and will make their decision based on several factors including the students' research interests and future goals, background preparation (courses taken, research experience, and grades), and the faculty member's previous experience with the student (from courses and RA assignments).

As well, faculty members' ability to supervise thesis students may depend on the number of graduate students they will be supervising, and whether or not they will be taking sabbatical or other types of leave in the following year. Accordingly, you should approach at least two or three potential thesis supervisors .

It is suggested that you start contacting potential supervisors in January or early February . Faculty members typically make their final decisions regarding student supervision by mid-March , if not earlier.

Getting a Head Start on your Thesis

Contact Us:

Aphrodite Al Zouhouri, Undergraduate Program Assistant

E: [email protected] T: 519.884.0710 x3664

Rita Sharkey, Graduate Program Assistant

E: [email protected] T: 519.884.0710 x3371

Lucy Carreiro, Senior Administrative Assistant

E: [email protected] T: 519.884.0710 x3272

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Eight PhD students standing on grass in front of tree branches


Program requirements.

Joint University Program with an Interdisciplinary Focus

The world faces increasingly complex problems that have taken on global significance – including conflict and peace-building, humanitarian crises and intervention, international economic inequality and instability, and global environmental change. How are these problems addressed at the global level? And are the mechanisms adopted to address them effective and just?

The PhD in Global Governance, offered jointly by Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo, is a unique opportunity for interdisciplinary examination of power and authority in the global arena. Graduate students in the program examine the variety of actors, institutions, ideas, rules, and processes that contribute to the management of global society. In addition to international organizations and inter-state relations, the study of global governance examines the various non-state actors as well as the realities of contemporary life that contribute to the establishment and functioning of global rules, norms and institutions. The Global Governance PhD program interrogates the concepts, tools, and assumptions that have served scholars in the past and assesses new approaches for addressing contemporary and future challenges.

The Global Governance PhD program is committed to providing students with training for a wide range of careers in the field of global governance. In addition to the academic curriculum, we offer supplementary “professionalization” programming, and are normally able to offer funds to support field research and travel to academic conferences. We also provide students with opportunities to gain relevant international work experience, whether as a visiting scholar at a top-ranked university, a fellow at a leading think tank, or an intern with an internationally recognized non-governmental organization or in the UN system.  See what some of our graduates are up to .

“As an international student from Brazil, I have benefitted tremendously from being involved in academic and policy debates with northern counterparts, while receiving unremitting support on my research on South America.”

—J. Ricardo Tranjan, PhD Graduate (2012)

Students must choose to specialize in one of the six fields of the program. To prepare for the comprehensive exam in that field, they must select at least two courses from their chosen field. Of these two, at least one course must be a course identified as “core” for that field.

Two Speakers

Conflict and Security

This field is concerned with the referent objects of security and associated threats; the causes and management of conflict; and the global governance challenges of human, state, societal, national, international, ecospheric, and global security. Courses in this stream examine the theory and practice of security at all levels of analysis.

Global Environmental Governance

This field is concerned with the global governance of environmental issues. Courses in this stream examine contemporary dilemmas relating to the ways in which environmental challenges are being addressed and managed by multiple agents through a range of transnational institutions and governance structures, both existing and proposed. Conceptual issues and debates, set within the context of a variety of internationally significant sustainability challenges, are investigated. Multilevel governance of these challenges at the international, regional, national and local levels are examined. Key topics covered include: global climate change, agriculture and food security, international water resource management and environmental aspects of the global economy.

Global Justice and Human Rights

This field is concerned with the study of the relationship between global governance and issues of global justice and human rights. Courses in this stream explore themes such as: the practical and ethical challenges that international human rights and relief organizations encounter when operating in the global south; theoretical approaches to understanding global justice as a contemporary social justice issue, with a particular focus on the cultural constructs relating to conceptions of freedom, obligation, and community; and contemporary debates in the field of human rights, such as those related to cultural relativism and universal human rights, human rights and foreign policy, the place of economic rights, the relationship between gender and human rights, and human rights and retrospective justice.

Global Political Economy

This field is concerned with the governance of the global economy and contemporary issues in international economic relations. Courses in this stream focus on the theoretical and public policy debates relating to governance of the global economy, as well as the evolution of international trade policy. Topics covered include: international finance and intellectual property rights; labour and environmental standards; the control of illicit economic activity; the removal of tariffs on goods and services; and current efforts to integrate services, investment, and intellectual property into the trading regime through the increasing overlap of trade policy with monetary, competition, cultural, environmental and labour policies.

Global Social Governance

This field examines the prospects for the supranational governance of social issues with a particular focus on the political and philosophical underpinnings of transnational social policy cooperation. Topics covered include: the implicit and explicit prescriptions for and impact upon national social policy of intergovernmental organisations (such as the UN and Bretton Woods Institutions), international non-governmental organisations and international private actors (such as TNCs and consultancy companies); the contribution of supranational organisations, international NGOs and other global actors to the global discourse on social policy; the role of private actors and global public-private partnerships in global health policy; the development of systems of transnational social redistribution, social regulation and social provision and empowerment; and the methods and concepts used by development agencies to assess the social policy of countries and shape their interventions.

Multilateral Institutions and Diplomacy

This field is concerned with the formal and informal practices, institutions and organizations which generate global governance. Courses in this stream focus primarily on the theory, practice and machinery of international organization, public policy, and diplomacy. Topics covered include organization theory, multilateral co-operation, foreign policy, diplomatic history, global social and public policy, representation and negotiation.

All students must complete six courses, including the following four mandatory courses: the global governance core course, an economics component, the history component, and Research Methods. Students are required to maintain an overall average of 80% in the course phase.  See full list of courses

Core Course component  (must be completed in the first term of registration in the program)

Economics Component

History Component

Research Methods

Comprehensive Examinations

Normally, candidates must write comprehensive examinations in two areas within 16 months of starting the program. Normally, students will write comprehensive exams in September at the start of their second year. The first examination will be on Global Governance and will test the breadth and depth of a student’s comprehension of the leading literature. For their second examination, students will choose to write a comprehensive examination in one of the six fields of the program. Students can only write an examination in a field if they have completed two courses, one of which must be a “core course” in that field.

Dissertation Proposal

Normally, students will complete and have approved a doctoral dissertation proposal by the end of February of their second year in the program. Completion of the proposal will normally involve a formal presentation and defence of the proposal to the Supervisory Committee. Normally, committee members and the student will also complete their second Annual Progress Report following the defence/approval of the dissertation proposal.

Within one week after completion of the presentation and defence, the student will make any final changes to the proposal that arise from the defence and provide the respective Program Director or Associate Director as well as the respective Program Graduate Coordinator/Program Officer with a copy of the final proposal for their records and the student’s file.

Normally, the doctoral dissertation research proposal will be no more than 30 pages or approximately 15,000 words, exclusive of bibliography. A proposal will include the following: a statement of the principal research question(s) and a justification of the question or questions; an outline of the principal theoretical orientations that are framing the research questions; a detailed outline of the research methods and steps to be taken to obtain answers to the research questions; an assessment of the likely contribution to knowledge of the dissertation research; a timetable for completion of the research.

Laurier students are required to complete the Dissertation Proposal Approval form .

Dissertations – Multiple Manuscript Thesis Guidelines

Doctoral theses can take various forms. The traditional thesis is a sole-authored document with various chapters. However, some theses – the multiple manuscript thesis – consist of a collection of papers that are published or submitted for publication; any such thesis must comply with the following guidelines:

More information about the PhD in Global Governance program can be found in the handbook or on the Wilfrid Laurier University or University of Waterloo program pages.


PhD Program Handbook and Forms

Additional program information is available from Maureen Ferraro (Laurier) or Andrew Thompson (UW).

Maureen Ferraro

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