Visual Arts DepartmentWestern Arts and Humanities

Regulations For PhD Students

This document describes the requirements, procedures, and spirit of the doctoral programme in Visual Arts. It is designed to complement the information provided by the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website for current students (http://www.uwo.ca/grad/current_students/index.htm). We believe that post-graduate work is a very serious undertaking. All parties -- students, faculty, support staff – must know what is expected of them and work in an atmosphere of collegial support and trust. Rules cannot run programmes, but we also believe that reasonable regulations must be laid down and adhered to. What follows applies to all programme students.

I.    Responsibilities of the Candidate
II.    Residency Requirements
III.    Courses
IV.    Supervisory Committees
V.    Language Requirement
VI.    Comprehensive Examinations
VII.    The Three Streams of the Program
VIII.    Part-time Studies
IX.    Appeals
 
 

I.        Responsibilities of the Candidate
It is emphasized that the responsibility for following the rules printed here and the regulations of the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies rests on the candidate.
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II.       Residency Requirements
The degree will normally take four calendar years to complete. No University or Department funding will be extended past this limit. The formal residency requirement is six regular academic terms.
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III.     Courses
Students are required to take five half courses, including four courses offered by the Department of Visual Arts. Students will normally complete their course work by the end of the first term of the second year of residency.

VA 9600 (PhD Seminar: Art Theory and Criticism) is a required half course and will normally be taken in the first year in preparation for the first minor comprehensive examination in the second year.
Students who wish to produce studio work as part of their thesis should take the Grad Studio Elective or another studio-based course to fulfill one of their course requirements. This is to ensure studio work is open to critical assessment and to provide adequate background in studio-based research methodologies.

It is to the benefit of all students and faculty to have course work completed by the end of each course. Any student who has not submitted all required work by the deadline may receive an “F” in the course, and his or her registration in subsequent graduate courses (i.e. progression in the program) will be subject to review by the Graduate Committee. Exceptions to this rule will be made only on medical or compassionate grounds that are established to the satisfaction of the Graduate Committee. Those intending to ask for extensions on such grounds should do so at least a week before the deadline.

Under exceptional circumstances, a student may ask an instructor for an Incomplete in a course. No incomplete may be carried beyond the end of the following term, including summer terms. This could result in cancellation of funding and progression (according to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies guidelines).
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IV.      Supervisory Committees
A supervisory committee will be set up for each student at the beginning of the second year. (At the beginning of their program, each student will be assigned a faculty mentor who may or may not become part of their supervisory committee.) The supervisory committee will consist of at least three faculty members: one from art history, one from studio and one other working in the student’s area of research specialization (in certain cases from outside the dept. e.g. film studies or FIMS).  At least one member of the committee will have a Ph.D. On the role and responsibilities of the committee go to: www.uwo.ca/grad/current_students/supervising_guidelines_committee.htm
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V.        Language Requirement
If a student has not already met a language requirement at the M.A. or M.F.A. level, they must demonstrate a reading proficiency in at least one language (other than English) that is relevant to their studies.  This language requirement can be met either by taking approved courses or by passing a translation test set by the department.  In certain cases proficiency in a computer language (but not a software application) can be accepted.  All students are encouraged to complete the language requirement in their first year of study.
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VI.      Comprehensive Examinations: Major and Minor and Research Prospectus

Comprehensive Examinations:

Two comprehensive examinations, a minor and a major, will be sat in year two of the student’s program. Students must write the minor exam on the regular date set by the Department in September.  The major exam will be scheduled by the student’s examining committee in January.  The exams will cover several related subjects in a particular area of study.  Each subject will have a reading list of at least six “key” texts.  The minor comprehensive examination will consist of four subjects for a total of at least 24 texts, and the major comprehensive examination will be based on a total of 36 texts. (Depending on lengths, the number of texts might vary slightly at the examining committee’s discretion.)

a. The Minor Comprehensive
The minor comprehensive examination will address “Theories and Practices of Art and Visual Culture”.   For this examination, students will select the four out of eleven standard subjects that most closely relate to their own research.  The eleven subjects are: (1) Theories of Representation, (2) Museum Theories and Histories, (3) Theories of Collecting, Archives and Databases (4) Cultures of Time and Space (5) The Construction of Cultural Values and Hierarchies, (6) Local/Global Cultural Production, (7) Cultural Difference and Postcoloniality, and (8) Gender and Sexual Difference (9) Conceptual Art (10) Art as Social Praxis and (11) Strategies of Material Production. A standard reading list of six key texts for each of these eight subjects will be approved by the Graduate Committee and regularly updated. The examination will be overseen by the Graduate Chair and will be assessed by faculty members.

b.  The Major Comprehensive
The major comprehensive examination will be specifically designed to test the main research area of individual students. As in the case of the minor comprehensive examination, the major comprehensive examination will be overseen and assessed by a committee of three faculty members.

Preparation and Defense of the Research Prospectus:

In consultation with their advisory committee a date will be set for each candidate to orally defend their research prospectus during the first term of their third year. This will take place at an open public presentation in the department. At least ten days before the meeting, the candidate will submit a copy of their research prospectus to members of their advisory committee as well as to the Graduate Chair and Graduate Assistant. The twenty-five page prospectus will outline the candidate’s research program according to the guidelines established for the stream of the program they have selected (see below for a discussion of the three streams.) A bibliography organized to indicate which materials are pertinent to a candidate’s larger research trajectory, and those that are specific to individual articles or exhibitions, must be provided. In the prospectus, the candidate will also formally declare which stream of the program they have selected. For those selecting the project-based stream, the thesis prospectus will be developed as a written document but must include reference to the student’s work as developed during course work and for the major comp.

At the public event, the candidate will make a half hour oral presentation about their research/creative practice. Following the presentation, the candidate will take questions from members of the audience. After the defense the candidate’s supervisory committee will make one of three decisions: the prospectus may pass; need minor revisions that would be approved by their supervisory committee without another defense being scheduled; or fail.

Note:
Students are only allowed to fail (and re-sit) one of the three comprehensive examinations in the program: the minor, the major and the thesis prospectus. The same examining committee will be retained in all cases of re-examination. In the event of a second failure in any category of comprehensive examination, the student will be required to withdraw from the program.

Any Student failing a minor comprehensive examination (i.e. receiving a grade below seventy per cent) will be allowed to sit one further minor comprehensive examination the following January. If that examination is successfully passed, the major examination will be delayed until May.  In the event of a second failure, the student will be required to withdraw from the program.

Provided that they did not fail a minor comprehensive examination in which case they would be required to withdraw from the program, any student failing a major comprehensive examination (i.e. receiving a grade below seventy per cent) will be allowed to sit one further major comprehensive examination the following May.  In the event of a second failure, the student will be required to withdraw from the program.

Conflict Resolution:

Any serious conflicts between a student and their committee or between examining committee members, should be referred to the Graduate Chair.

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VII.     The Three Streams of the Program
Early in the second year of their program, in consultation with their supervisory committee, each student will formally declare which stream of the program they intend to pursue. The three streams include: (1) a project-based stream; (2) a dissertation-based stream; and (3) an adapted project-based stream.

1.    Research Requirements of the Project-based Stream

This stream requires four materially-based projects and a shorter written thesis.

Year 2: A Research Prospectus of 25 pages outlining exhibition and writing plans will be presented and defended. The proposal must include a bibliography and a timetable for the completion of the work. At this time the student will formally select this stream of the program.

Years 2 & 3: 2 (Minor) Studio exhibitions (or equivalent):  These will be exhibitions of new work produced within the research program of the candidate.  One will be presented in the Department’s ArtLab Gallery and the other will be presented in a public gallery or artist-run centre as an exhibition, performance, screening or website presentation.  The exhibitions will be thoroughly documented for inclusion in the dossier which accompanies the written thesis in Year 4.

Year 4: 1 (Major) Exhibition:  This will be presented in a recognized public gallery or an institution of equivalent stature as a publicized screening, performance or as a professional web-based presentation.  The exhibition will be widely publicized and thoroughly documented.

Year 4: Written Thesis*: A written thesis of publishable quality (normally 80-100 pages in length) will be presented. This text may be comprised of chapters or a series of interrelated articles meeting the standards typically set in well-respected national or international peer-reviewed journals.  The latter must be accompanied by a substantial integrating introduction.

Year 4: Oral Examination*: An oral examination at which all Committee members will be present shall be held.  The final exhibition and written thesis will be examined in the context of the dossier documenting the earlier projects.
*The PhD thesis and thesis examination will follow the regulations established by the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (www.uwo.ca/grad/).

2.    Research Requirements of the Dissertation Stream

This stream accommodates students who want to concentrate on producing a longer dissertation or integrated series of articles.

Year 2: A Research Prospectus of 25 pages will be presented and defended. It will include a table of contents, a bibliography and a timetable for the completion of the work. At this time the student will formally select this stream of the program.

Years 2 & 3: Research Program is carried out. A creative component to the research (video, website etc.) may be carried out as a minor focus of the research. This production will be thoroughly documented for inclusion in the dossier that accompanies the written thesis in Year 4.

Year 4: Written Thesis*: A written thesis of publishable quality (normally 200 – 250 pages in length) will be presented. This text may be comprised of chapters or a series of interrelated articles meeting the standards typically set in well-respected national or international peer-reviewed journals.  The latter must be accompanied by a substantial integrating introduction.

Year 4: Oral Examination*: An oral examination at which all Committee members will be present shall be held. The dissertation will be examined and the dossier documenting an optional creative project will be discussed in this context.
* The PhD thesis and thesis examination will follow the regulations established by the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (www.uwo.ca/grad/).

3.    Research Requirements of the Adapted Project-based Stream

This stream accommodates those students whose research is best suited to a combination of materially-based projects and a written thesis.

Year 2:  A Research Prospectus of 25 pages outlining museum-based and /or other curatorial practices as well as writing plans will be presented and defended. The prospectus must include a bibliography and a timetable for completion of the work. At this time the student will formally select this stream of the program.

Years 2 & 3: 1 (Minor) Project or Exhibition (or equivalent): A research project of modest scale culminating in one of the following must be completed: (1) the writing of an article of publishable quality; (2) an exhibition; (3) a film series or (4) a performance. Where appropriate the event will be presented at a public gallery or artist-run centre. The project will be thoroughly documented for inclusion in the dossier that accompanies the written thesis in Year 4.

Year 4: 1 (Major) Project or Exhibition: The results of a major research project will be presented in a recognized public gallery or an institution of equivalent stature, or as a publicized screening, performance or as a professional web-based presentation. The exhibition will be widely publicized and thoroughly documented for the dossier.

Year 4: Written Thesis*: Either a written thesis or a related set of integrated articles of publishable quality meeting the standards typically set in well respected national or international peer-reviewed journals (normally 100-150 pages in length) will accompany the final exhibition. A set of integrated articles must be accompanied by a substantial introduction that demonstrates how they are connected.

Year 4: Oral Examination*: An oral examination at which all Committee members will be present shall be held. The final project or exhibition and written thesis will be examined in context of the dossier documenting the earlier project.

* The PhD thesis and thesis examination will follow the regulations established by the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (www.uwo.ca/grad/).
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VIII.   Part-time Studies
The program is not offered on a part-time basis. However, students who are already fairly advanced in their studies may apply for part-time status for reasons of family, medical or other circumstances that make it impossible to devote full-time attention to the thesis, or in the case of related full-time employment in hand.
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IX.       Appeals
GUIDELINES TO ACADEMIC APPEALS FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS

Graduate Appeals Committee (a subcommittee of the Graduate Committee)

Terms of Reference:
1) To ensure that a written set of appeals procedures is available to students.
2) To hear and process requests for academic appeal made by a graduate student against a final grading decision when a satisfactory resolution with the Course Instructor is not reached in the first stage (see “Stages in the Appeal Process” below).
3) In the event of any appeals, the Chair of the Graduate Appeals Committee (or designate) will produce a short annual report summarizing the year’s activities. This report will be submitted to the first department meeting of the fall semester.

Composition:
The Graduate Appeals Committee shall be composed of the following voting members.
1) Members elected by the Graduate Committee (4 fulltime members and two alternates)
2) The Chair shall be elected from among its members.

Term:
One-two years renewable for elected faculty members. One year renewable for student member[s] whose voluntary membership will be solicited by the Graduate Appeals Committee.

Quorum:
Three committee members.

Appeal Procedures:
An appeal is a request for an exemption from a Senate regulation or a ruling of a program, instructor, or administrator in academic matters; or a request that a grade on a particular piece of work or examination, or a final standing in a course or program be changed. If the matter relates to a course, the student must attempt to resolve the matter with the course instructor and if unsuccessful may appeal to the Graduate Chair (or designate). If the matter does not relate to a course, the student normally will submit a written appeal to the Graduate Chair in the first instance. In cases where the original decision was made by the Graduate Chair, the student should consult his or her program regarding the appropriate appeal procedure within the program. An appeal must be made in writing to the Graduate Program within three weeks of the date when the grade was officially reported, or when the ruling was made by a program, instructor, or administrator in academic matters.
NOTE: The outcome of an appeal may result in an increase, decrease, or no change in the grade under appeal.

Grounds for Appeal:
The grounds for an appeal may be one or more of: medical or compassionate circumstances, extenuating circumstances beyond the appellant's control, bias, inaccuracy or unfairness. Ignorance of Senate regulations and policies and particular program requirements and policies as set out in the University's Academic Calendars does not constitute grounds for an appeal. Students wishing to file an appeal must submit in writing the matter under appeal, the grounds of appeal, a clear and detailed explanation of those grounds, including all supporting documentation, and the relief requested.

The Department of Visual Arts does not view the appeals process as an opportunity for students to solicit a second opinion on a grade assigned to a particular piece of work. Appeals must pertain to the final grade in a course, and will only be entertained if sufficient grounds for appeal can be met. Grounds for an appeal must be based on circumstances that extend beyond a student's mere concern or disappointment with their grade standing. The committee must be able to ascertain that the circumstances surrounding the assessment were flawed and therefore that the grade itself may be shown to be flawed.

Stages in the Appeals Process:
The first stage of the process is a discussion of the disputed grade with the appropriate Course Instructor.
For grades assigned to individual assignments, essays, and projects completed throughout the term, the student first must appeal to the Instructor of the course, within three weeks of the date on which the Instructor returned the assignments to the class. The Appeals Committee will not hear any further appeals about the final grade in any course unless this first step has been taken.

If completion of the first stage has not resolved the matter, the student may appeal the final grade in the course to the Graduate Appeals Committee.

Appeals of final grades must be within the time frame indicated in the Graduate Calendars. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that the appeal is submitted within the deadline. The student shall submit a formal letter to the Graduate Appeals Committee outlining the grounds for the appeal, the remedy sought and relevant materials. If the appeal involves a request for work to be re-graded, the original marked work and a clean copy (if possible) must be included. In the case of studio-based work the original project and/or detailed documentation must be submitted. If the appeal is commenced once the deadline has passed, it will not be considered by the Graduate Appeals Committee nor by the Department Chair.

The Graduate Appeals Committee has the discretion to determine whether the grounds for appeal have been met.

If the Committee deems that the reasons for the appeal are not legitimate, the Department Chair will be informed. The appeal will be terminated and the student will be informed.
If the Committee decides that the grounds for appeal have been met, the following steps will be taken:

a) The Course Instructor will be shown the appeal letter and offered an opportunity to make a written response;

b) If work is to be re-graded, a reader or studio art critic normally from among Department faculty will be appointed who is competent in the area in question and was not involved in the assignment of the original mark. The reader/critic will consider the work in question and will arrive at an independent evaluation. If there is a large discrepancy between the original mark and the re-graded mark, a second reader/critic may be appointed by the Committee. If the appointed reader(s) and/or critics arrive at a grade within five marks of the original, the original grade will stand.

The Graduate Appeals Committee will review the evidence and will make a recommendation on the case to the Department Chair.

The Department Chair will consider the recommendation from the Graduate Appeals Committee, and will make a decision. The student and the instructor will be notified promptly and in writing by the Department Chair of the decision and of the change in grade, if any. Within the Department of Visual Arts, the Department Chair’s decision on the matter is final.

A student can appeal to the Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies) (or designate) only if s/he has undertaken an unsuccessful appeal process at the program level but the student should carefully consult the guidelines regarding such Appeals.

An "Application for an Appeal to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies," which also provides information on appeal procedures, must be used by students appealing to the Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies). This application and all supporting documents must be submitted to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies within three weeks of the date the Graduate Program's decision is issued. An appellant who is not satisfied with the Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies)' decision may have a further appeal to the Senate Review Board Academic (SRBA) if the matter is within SRBA's jurisdiction. Appeals to SRBA must be made within six weeks after a decision has been issued by the Vice-Provost (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies). Information on appeals to SRBA can be found at www.uwo.ca/univsec/handbook/. Additional information and SRBA Appeal Applications can be obtained from the University Secretariat, Room 290, Stevenson-Lawson Building.
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