Masters Programs

MA programs are those taken in all fields of human geography. MSc programs are those taken in physical geography, spatial information systems and some areas of environmental studies.

All MA students must complete the Human Geography Core Course (GGR1105H) and all MSc students must complete the Physical Geography Core Course (GGR1200H). Students have the option of completing a master’s thesis or a major research paper (MRP).

Progress into the second session is dependent on achieving an overall B average in the first session and maintaining satisfactory progress as outlined in the SGS Calendar General Regulations. The department may recommend termination of a student’s registration if they have failed to maintain satisfactory progress.

Thesis Option

The thesis option is recommended for students who have a strong background in geography and who want to complete a significant research initiative. Students choosing this option should have a clear idea of the topic they would like to research. A thesis is encouraged for students who are planning on pursuing a PhD or jobs that require significant research experience.

Students enrolled in a Master’s Thesis Option are required to complete the requirements below.

  • Coursework: Completion of 3 half-credit courses (or 1.5 FCEs), including:
    • the core course (GGR1105H for MA and GGR1200H for MSc)
    • one half-credit course in geography or from an approved list
    • one half-credit course in any subject
    • students enrolled in a collaborative specialization should the Collaborative Specializations page for any additional requirements
  • Research Proposal: Submission of a research proposal to their supervisor by March 1 of their first year.
  • Thesis and defense exam: The thesis project will address a research question or set of questions. It involves the analysis and interpretation of data and outputs would include the thesis, but could also involve videos, policy reports and other forms of dissemination. A thesis may involve the use of data collected by the student or supervisor, including for example, interviews, ethnographic observations or survey data. Students may also be involved in the analysis of other forms of data, such as census data, archival materials, popular media reports, images or policy documents. The thesis should include an introduction, a statement of research question(s) or problem, a literature review, a methodology section, and discussion of findings. The thesis should be seen as the basis of one or more publishable papers. For MSc students, a thesis involves the collection or use, analysis and interpretation of data or theoretical research. The format of the thesis is to be determined in consultation between the student and supervisor. The MSc thesis must include a literature review followed by sections with an introduction, methodology, results, discussion and conclusion. Results and discussion sections may be merged where appropriate. The completed thesis should be seen as the basis of at least one publishable paper. Where a student and supervisor determine that more than one publishable paper could emerge from the MSc research, individual chapters with separate introduction, methodology, results/discussion and conclusion sections could be used. See the Geography Graduate Handbook for further details.

Major Research Paper Option

The major research paper (MRP) is recommended for students who would like to place more emphasis on coursework, for example, in the case of students who have not taken many courses in geography at the undergraduate level. An MRP may be an option for students who plan to work professionally in their field rather than pursue a PhD.

Students enrolled in a Master’s MRP Option are required to complete the requirements below.

  • Coursework: Completion of 6 half-credit courses (or 3.0 FCEs), including:
    • the core course (GGR1105H for MA and GGR1200H for MSc)
    • three half-credit courses in geography or from an approved list
    • one half-credit course which must be taken outside the department
    • one half-credit course in any subject
    • students enrolled in a collaborative specialization should the Collaborative Specializations page for any additional requirements
  • Research Proposal: Submission of a research proposal to their supervisor by March 1 of their first year.
  • Major Research Paper: The MRP will address a research question or set of questions and can take different forms, including:
    (1) A literature review that offers summary, synthesis and critique and draws conclusions without the collection and use of primary data; (2) A small scale or exploratory study that is similar to the thesis, except that it is smaller in scope. As with a thesis, this could involve use of data collected by the student or supervisor (such as interview or ethnographic data). Students may also be involved in the analysis of other forms of data, such as census data, archival materials, popular media reports, images or policy documents. The project will involve the analysis and interpretation of data and outputs would include the major research paper, but in addition could include videos, policy reports and other forms of dissemination. MSc students do not commonly do the MRP option; the majority of students complete a thesis. If a student wanted to pursue the MRP option the structure would be similar to the MA, but students are expected to establish expectations and work out the format with their supervisor. See the Geography Graduate Handbook for further details.