All masters’ candidates must complete a thesis in their area of specialization. Students register for the thesis as a six-credit course (ANTH 549) after completing all other course requirements and submitting a thesis proposal approved by their committee.
We consider MA theses to be significant contributions to scholarship. They are made available to the wider public through the holdings of the UBC Library and in the form of journal articles and special reports. They form a resource for further scholarship. As the final product of a student’s MA training, they are held to the highest scholarly standards as documents which both the student and the Department can be proud of.
MA theses, however, should be distinguished from PhD dissertations. Dissertations are modeled upon monographs or books. MA theses, in contrast, should resemble articles in academic journals. They may but need not be based upon original field research. A student may enhance her or his knowledge of an area of research and contribute towards intellectual discussion by preparing a critical analysis of the literature on a subject. While significant scholarly products in their own right, theses also represent the students’ preparation for future studies at the PhD level.
We subject the MA thesis in anthropology to strict limitations in length. A thesis may be no longer than 50 double-spaced pages, inclusive of tables, bibliography, appendices, and so forth. It must employ standard type (12 point font) and standard margins on all sides of the page. Theses must meet these conditions before they are examined.
Students in Museum Studies may, upon the advice of their committees, also prepare a museum exhibit in addition to the written MA thesis.
Preparation and Writing
The student should begin working on a thesis proposal as soon as possible. Once approved by the Advisor, a copy of the proposal must be submitted to the Anthropology Graduate Studies Committee (AGSC). Students normally complete their proposals at the end of their first year or early in the first term of their second year. The thesis proposal must be approved no later than the end of the second year.
The Advisor, with the assistance of the committee, will supervise preparation of thesis. When all the committee members agree that the thesis is acceptable, a copy is submitted to the AGSC by the Advisor along with a memo stating that the thesis is ready to be evaluated by a third reader. The AGSC appoints an additional faculty member (MARC Reader) for a final reading and evaluation. At least three weeks must be allowed for this review. Upon completion of the review, the full committee, including the MARC reader, meets to discuss the thesis. The committee may (1) pass the thesis as it is; (2) pass the thesis requiring minor corrections and revisions; (3) require an additional round of major revisions and re-evaluation of the thesis; (4) fail the thesis.
Once the committee agrees to either pass or fail the thesis, the MARC reader writes a short report to the AGSC and reports the results of the evaluation (see MARC Report form).
MA students with a specialty in Museum Studies who have also prepared a museum exhibit as part of their degree requirements will have an additional committee examiner from among the faculty members in the Museum of Anthropology. Upon successful examination and final preparation of the approved thesis (minor changes are usually requested during the final evaluation process), the student must submit an unbound copy to the Graduate Secretary and one further copy to UBC Faculty of Graduate Studies before the degree can be awarded.
Note that the thesis must adhere to style guidelines set out by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. It is recommended that the student meet with their advisory committee to discuss the thesis after the final evaluation.