Course Information

Click here for MA program course requirements.

Click here for PhD program course requirements.

Course Registration & Add/Drop Deadlines

Graduate students must make their course selections by the end of the second week of classes each term. All course selections must be approved by the Graduate Chair.

Courses dropped by the end of the first month of the official beginning of term will not appear on the transcript. When a student drops a course after this date, but by the end of the second month of the term, the course stays on the transcript along with the notation "WDN" (withdrawn). Courses dropped after the end of the second month are recorded as failures. (Official beginning of Fall term — September 1; Winter term — January 1; Summer term — May 1)

Course Completion Within a Term

All requirements for an individual course must be completed by the end of the term in which a course is offered (Fall-December 31; Winter-April 30; Summer-August 31). Only in exceptional circumstances, and with permission, may a student take additional time to complete the course requirements. To request permission, a student must complete a Request to Carry an Incomplete form (see top of page for a link to the form). Before a grade of "incomplete" can be granted, a student must first petition the professor of the course for permission; if the professor is satisfied that the incomplete is warranted, the student must then seek permission of the graduate chair. Such requests must specify the reason for the incomplete, the remaining work to be completed, and the recommended date for completion. It should be noted that teaching assistants may place their continued funding in jeopardy if they carry incompletes.

The following policies apply to Graduate Course Incompletes

  • Students may be assigned "INC" for a maximum of one term following the end date of a course.
  • If a student completes the course requirement within this period, the "INC" will be removed from the transcript.
  • If a student fails to complete the course requirements in this period, he or she will automatically be assigned a "FAIL."
  • Exceptions to the third rule will be granted only under exceptional circumstances by appeal to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Accommodation for Completion of Course Requirement(s)

Only in exceptional circumstances may a student be provided special accommodation in the completion of a course requirement (i.e., exams, papers). To request a one-time accommodation (brief illness, family emergency), the student should inform the professor when they are able so accommodation can be made. Accommodation for an ongoing disability may be requested through Accesible Education Western, a confidential service, working with students and their programs, normally their graduate chair, to ensure that appropriate academic accommodations to program requirements are arranged. Western's School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies' website provides further information - Students are encouraged to consult the program graduate chair if they would like to discuss whether this option would be appropriate for their situation.

Completion of Course Requirements

Full-time graduate students who have not completed their coursework must either complete their coursework or register in at least two courses for each of the Fall and Winter terms. These two courses must be in addition to any re-enrolment for "incompletes". MA students who are doing their second year as full-time students must register and complete their coursework in the second year or they may be asked to withdraw from the graduate program.

Reading Courses

Reading courses taken as part of program requirements must be in areas not covered by current course offerings. In such courses, students are expected to perform at a level comparable to what is expected in a course with equivalent credit, and the student's performance will be formally evaluated. Typically, students will complete their course requirements by taking scheduled courses. In exceptional circumstances, permission to take reading courses may be granted at the discretion of the graduate chair. Exceptional circumstances may include that there is no course being offered in the student’s area of study (broadly, rather than narrowly considered) in a given year (not a given term) or that a student wishes to take additional courses beyond those that are required. Normally, students will be permitted to take a maximum of one reading course.

The following guidelines apply to reading coures:

  • The student must demonstrate a need for the reading course, e.g., an appropriate regular course is not offered. The student and the graduate chair must ensure that the proposed reading course fits into the student's substantive program of study and that the requirement cannot be met through the regular courses.
  • A proposal of the work to be done must be agreed to and signed by the student and the faculty member directing the work. The proposal must be submitted, no later than the end of the second week into a term, to the graduate program assistant. The reading course proposal form can be downloaded here (see top of page) or obtained from the graduate program assistant.
  • Before the credit is allowed, a statement of work completed must be submitted by the directing faculty member to the graduate chair.
  • Note that all graduate courses listed as offered on the graduate program web site will be offered as long as there are student(s) taking the course. In case of low enrolment, the course will retain the listed designation but it may be treated as a reading course.

If the student has completed the work set forth in the synopsis, the faculty member should note this in the statement. If the faculty member and the student have altered the work requirements or the method of evaluation, the faculty member is required to state what work was completed.

If these guidelines are not followed, the reading course will be judged not to have met the program requirements. A student may take any number of reading courses not meeting the program requirements, but courses that do not meet program requirements will not count toward the minimum course requirement or toward the computation of course averages. 

Courses in Other Departments

Specific course requirements may be satisfied by taking courses from other departments, or from inter-disciplinary programs. Students are advised to explore the possibilities that are available. Normally, MA students may take up to one course outside the program and PhDs may take up to two courses outside the program.  As with any course selection, the approval of the graduate chair is required. A Request form must be completed and submitted to the Sociology graduate program assistant.  Click here for a list of courses in other departments.

Auditing a Course

With the permission of the graduate chair, a student may audit a course.  Students may request an audit by completing the appropriate form and submitting it to the Sociology graduate program assistant.

Additional Courses and Professional Development

While the MA and PhD programs define a minimum number of courses, students are encouraged to take more than the minimum, possibly in other areas or possibly as audits. Students are also encouraged to take part in the various colloquia and professional occasions that occur in the Department, in the University, and in professional associations.