Degree Requirements

Formal program requirements are listed in the FGS Calendar. Current and past calendars can be found on the FGS website.

MA Degree

The MA is a research degree that emphasizes the attainment of a basic capacity for critical research, analysis, academic writing and effective communication skills. The program is offered on a full time basis only. The MA program is a 3 term, or 12-month, program.

Students are required to complete 18 credits, and write a Major Research Paper (MRP) based on a sustained exploration of a theoretical question in Socio-Legal Studies. All students are also required to attend twelve (12) lectures as a part of the program’s Speakers Series. The final day for completion of all degree requirements is normally the last Friday in August (subject to change).

Degree Requirements and Timetable

Summary of MA Degree Requirements and Timetable:

Law and Social Theory (6000 3.0): 3 credits
Socio-Legal Methods (6005 3.0): 3 credits
Electives (Three half courses—i.e. courses with a 3.0 designation): 9 credits
MRP Seminar (6100 3.0): 3 credits
Speakers Series: 0 credits
MRP Proposal: 0 credits
MRP: 0 credits

Total: 18 credits 

MA Courses

Students must successfully complete eighteen (18) course credits as follows:

Required Courses (9 credits):

  • Socio-Legal Studies 6000 3.0: Law and Social Theory
  • Socio-Legal Studies 6005 3.0: Advanced Research Strategies in Socio-Legal Methods
  • Socio-Legal Studies 6100 3.0: MA Major Research Seminar

Elective Credits (9 credits):

Students must successfully complete nine (9) elective course credits from the program approved courses listed in this calendar. With the permission of the graduate program director, a maximum of six elective credits may be taken in another graduate program.

The required course offerings of the program are as follows:

  • SLST 6000 3.0 Law and Social Theory
    This course offers an overview of the major contemporary theoretical perspectives on law and society. Among the different approaches we consider are those that define law as a source of social and moral regulation, as ideology, and as discourse.
  • SLST 6005 3.0 Advanced Research Strategies in Socio-Legal Methods
    This course surveys the various ways in which data are conceptualized, collected and analyzed in research in socio-legal studies. It aims to ensure that all students on the degree program have mastered social science methodology including historical and documentary research methods, survey methods and questionnaire design, interview techniques, observational methods, and the interpretation of official statistics. A distinctive feature of this course will be the emphasis on the dynamic relationships between problems, theories, methods, and politics.
  • SLST 6100 3.0 Major Research Seminar
    This will consist of a series of meetings in the second term in which students will be provided with advice on how to write their major research papers, and required to briefly present their MRP proposals to their fellow students as well as faculty. Beyond experience in presenting their work, the seminar is seen as an important mechanism for ensuring that students are kept on track and have clear expectations for the MRP.

Additional Courses

See entire course listing including external courses at: http://slst.gradstudies.yorku.ca/courses-descriptions/

MA Speaker Series Requirements

One of the requirements for completion of the M.A. in Socio-Legal Studies is that students attend 12 lectures as part of the program Speaker Series. Of these 12 lectures, 8 must be from the Socio-Legal Studies Speaker Series. Students are expected to keep a journal of the topic and date of the 12 talks you attend to be submitted by July 14, 2017. We also ask that you write one 1-2 page reflection paper on how and whether these talks were helpful to your research or to your understanding of socio-legal studies. This short reflection paper is also due on July 14, 2017. The talks that qualify as part of our speaker series include those mentioned in any of the announcements that will be forwarded to you by the Graduate Program Assistant; advance permission from the Graduate Program Director is required for these to count as part of your Speaker’s Series requirements. For other talks that are not included in the announcements and which you think are relevant to your research and to the program, please contact the Graduate Program Director for approval.

Major Research Requirements (MRP)

The MRP should represent a sustained exploration of a theoretical or empirical question in Socio–Legal Studies. As a research project, the MRP is generally narrower in scope, less complex in methodology and/or less ambitious in data gathering and analysis, than a thesis. Students will be required to submit a proposal for their MRP by the end of their second term—a version of which will be presented to their fellow students in the context of the Major Research Paper Seminar (see below). Major Research Papers should be approximately 50 double–spaced pages (i.e. 10,000 words) in length. The paper will be supervised by a member of the Graduate Faculty in Socio–Legal Studies and read by another member of the faculty who has been appointed to the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Upon completion, the Major Research Paper will be evaluated by the Supervisor and the second reader. Both readers must approve the Major Research Paper for the requirement for the MA to be fulfilled.

Guidelines for the MRP:

  • Major research papers may, with the approval of the supervisor, be extensions and adaptations of term papers. One long paper cannot be accepted as both a course paper and a Major Research Paper.
  • At the core of our MA program is the selection of a supervisor and a reader for the Major Research Paper. Students are expected to have chosen a supervisor and a reader and to notify the Graduate Program Office by March 10, 2017. 
    The form is available on the SLST website. We suggest that you choose the reader  after consulting with your supervisor. Supervisors may be chosen from among the pool of available graduate faculty in Socio-Legal Studies. The reader must be appointed to the Faculty of Graduate Studies. It is strongly recommended that the supervisory committee meet with the student in the month of March to discuss the MRP proposal.
  • MRP Seminar: Students are expected to present a version of their proposal in the Major Research Paper seminar. The Major Research Paper supervisors are invited to attend the presentations of their students.
  • The Major Research Paper proposal must be approved by the Supervisor and Second Reader by Friday, April 7, 2017. One copy of the proposal and a signed approval form must be submitted to the SLST Graduate Program office at this time. Forms for the approval of Major Research Papers are available on the SLST Program website.
  • Students will give copies of the final draft of their MRP to both the Supervisor and the Reader. The Reader will inform the Supervisor whether the MRP is acceptable, acceptable with revisions, or unacceptable. If the Supervisor and the Reader agree that the MRP is acceptable or unacceptable, they will fill out the MRP Report available on the SLST website and return it to the program office and GPD. If the Supervisor and the Reader require revisions in the MRP, it is the responsibility of the Supervisor to convey this information to the student. The committee is free to work out how this feedback will be communicated—such as whether by a meeting between the candidate and both members of the committee or with the supervisor alone or by written communication.
  • Students are expected to complete the Major Research Paper by the first Friday in August (subject to change). Once the Major Research Paper is completed, the supervisor and the reader will submit written reports to the Graduate Program Office on appropriate forms indicating whether the paper is acceptable in fulfillment of the requirements for the M.A. in Socio–Legal Studies.
  • Once the program office is notified by the Supervisor and Reader that the MRP has been accepted, the student will be asked to prepare a bound copy for our records.
  • The final day for completion of all work for the MA including the Major Research Paper and grade reports from the supervisor and second reader is usually the last Friday in August (subject to change), in order to graduate in the Fall Session, which is October.

Research Involving Human Participants

York University has formulated policy for conduct of research involving human participants. This policy is intended to serve as joint protection for the researcher, the study participant and the University in order to ensure attention to various rights and responsibilities of the respective parties to the research endeavour. The Human Participants
Review Committee (HPRC) is responsible for ensuring that research involving human participants is consistent with the guidelines set by the University and the relevant regulatory authorities.

Students who are planning to actively conduct research using human participants during their Major Research Paper must complete and submit the Human Participants Research Protocol Questionnaire (and supporting documentation) to the Socio-Legal Studies Research Ethics Committee for review (contact the SLST office for details). Please note that ethics approval is required regardless of whether the research is funded or not –this
includes pilot and/or preliminary research. Students are advised to meet with the Program Director at least two months prior to the start of their research for a preliminary discussion regarding the required supporting documentation.

For MRPs involving Unfunded Minimal Risk Research, visit section 3.1 of the FGS Research Ethics Procedures:
http://gradstudies.yorku.ca/current-students/thesis-dissertation/research-ethics/#proc

For MRPs involving Research that is Not Minimum Risk or that is Funded, visit section 3.2 of the FGS Research Ethics Procedures:
http://gradstudies.yorku.ca/current-students/thesis-dissertation/research-ethics/#pro

PhD Degree

The PhD in Socio-Legal Studies is the first doctoral program in Canada in interdisciplinary legal studies that is not based in a law school. While the academic foundation for our program rests on the contributions of scholars from a number of different disciplines, its scholarship can be distinguished from these disciplinary approaches by its greater attention to theory, methods, and substantive areas that focus on law and legal regulation as prime objects of investigation.

Research and teaching in the program are organized around three (3) core fields. They reflect the diverse teaching and research of Socio-Legal Studies, and the strong analytical and theoretical orientation of the program, while allowing for student research in a variety of substantive topic areas:

Socio-Legal Theory

Central to this field is the recognition that law and society are mutually constitutive, that is, law is not an external force to which society is subject but, rather, represents a dynamic set of codes, practices, categories and deliberations that both shape and are shaped by broader social, political, and economic logics, contexts and relations. Theoretical perspectives on the relationship between law and society are informed by sociology, history, philosophy, economics, anthropology, political science, and psychology.

Crime, Law and Governance

Analysis of contemporary modes of security, regulation, and governance, their intersections with various forms of law, and their role in shaping individual and collective practices, identities, and fortunes through designations of illegality, criminality, and disorder. Included within this field is a wide range of substantive areas including, but not limited to: transnational policing; financial crime; immigration and borders; and police, courts and corrections.

Comparative and Historical Perspectives in Law

Studies of the variations of law across time, place and culture. Included are various approaches to the social history of law and legal regulation, as well as the analysis of indigenous forms of law, human rights regimes, and both national and transnational forms of regulation and policing.

Degree Requirements and Timetable

Summary of PhD Degree Requirements and Timetable:

Coursework: 15 credits
Dissertation Proposal Seminar: 3 credits
Comprehensive Examinations: 0 credits
Speaker Series: 0 credits
PhD Proposal: 0 credits
PhD Dissertation: 0 credits

Total: 18 credits

PhD Courses

Students must successfully complete eighteen (18) course credits as follows:

Required Courses (9 credits):

  • Socio-Legal Studies 6000 3.0: Law and Social Theory
  • Socio-Legal Studies 6005 3.0: Advanced Research Strategies in Socio-Legal Methods
  • Socio-Legal Studies 7100 3.0: Dissertation Proposal Seminar

MA students who advance to the PhD (conditional on their acceptance into the PhD program) are not required to repeat the core theory and methods courses. These courses are replaced by six elective credits. Students coming from other universities must complete the core theory and methods courses.

Elective Credits (9 credits):

Students must successfully complete nine (9) elective credits from the program-approved courses listed in the program calendar. With the permission of the graduate program director, a maximum of six elective credits may be taken in another graduate program.

The required courses offerings of the program are as follows:

  • SLST 6000 3.0 Law and Social Theory
    This course offers an overview of the major contemporary theoretical perspectives on law and society. Among the different approaches we consider are those that define law as a source of social and moral regulation, as ideology, and as discourse.
  • SLST 6005 3.0 Advanced Research Strategies in Socio-Legal Methods
    This course surveys the various ways in which data are conceptualized, collected and analyzed in research in socio-legal studies. It aims to ensure that all students on the degree program have mastered social science methodology including historical and documentary research methods, survey methods and questionnaire design, interview techniques, observational methods, and the interpretation of official statistics. A distinctive feature of this course will be the emphasis on the dynamic relationships between problems, theories, methods, and politics.
  • SLST 7100 3.0 Dissertation Proposal Seminar
    As part of the dissertation, students will be required to attend a Dissertation Proposal Seminar. Here students will be offered advice on all facets of the dissertation process—including finding a committee, preparing the proposal, conducting the research, writing the dissertation, and getting their work published. During these seminars, students will also be required to present their dissertation proposals to fellow students and faculty. This is an important mechanism for ensuring that students remain ‘on track’ and are provided with the tools required to complete the dissertation in the four year time frame. This course is offered every other year and therefore students will take it either in their first or second year. The next scheduled dissertation course will be offered in the 2017-2018 academic year.

Additional Courses

See entire course listing including external courses at: http://slst.gradstudies.yorku.ca/current-courses/courses-descriptions/

PhD Speaker Series Requirements

One of the requirements for completion of the PhD in Socio-Legal Studies is that students attend 12 lectures as part of the program Speaker Series. Of these 12 lectures, 8 must be from the Socio-Legal Studies Speaker Series. Students are expected to keep a journal of the topic and date of the 12 talks you attend to be submitted by the end of second year (6th term). We also ask that you write one 1-2 page reflection paper on how and whether these talks were helpful to your research or to your understanding of socio-legal studies.

This short reflection paper is also due by the end of second year (6th term). The talks that qualify as part of our speaker series include those mentioned in any of the announcements that will be forwarded to you by the Graduate Program Assistant; advance permission from the Graduate Program Director is required for these to count as part of your Speaker’s Series requirements. For other talks that are not included in the announcements and that you think are relevant to your research and to the program, please contact the Graduate Program Director for approval.

Comprehensive Examinations

Doctoral students are required to complete two comprehensive exams—one in theory and one in a substantive area of socio-legal studies. The purpose of the comprehensives is to prepare the student to do research and to teach in the field at a post-secondary level. Most comprehensives will entail an understanding of interdisciplinary approaches to the study of law and society, how past and current research can be interpreted in the light of different theoretical approaches, and an awareness of gaps in the literature.

Normally, students will complete one exam per term in the second year of their PhD candidacy with the same comprehensive committee.

Theory Requirement

The purpose of the theory exam is to prepare the student to develop the breadth of knowledge necessary to teach an introductory course in Socio-Legal Studies.

Fulfillment of the theory requirement will be met through an oral exam. Students will be responsible for a reading list of twenty books (or equivalent), of which ten to fifteen are to be selected from the Program’s common list and the remainder from a list of works in the student’s area of interest. The reading list is to be chosen in consultation with, and approved by, the students’ comprehensive committee.

With the agreement of their comprehensive committee, students may substitute works by the same author in place of books by that author currently on the list (e.g. substitute a different work by Foucault to the ones now listed). Five journal articles will be considered equivalent to one book.

The student, in consultation with the comprehensive committee, will compose a reading list along with a short (approximately 5 pages) statement explaining the rationale for the reading list and a list of general or thematic questions based on the list. These will be submitted to the SLST Curriculum Committee, which will review the list for consistency with program requirements (set out above) and for comprehensiveness or breadth in keeping with the general purpose of the theory requirement.

Theory reading lists will be kept on file in the SLST office, and used for periodic reviews of the common list.

The student, in consultation with the comprehensive committee, will set a date for the oral exam. One week before the scheduled exam, the student will submit a written statement (approximately 8-10 pages) that will be presented orally at the exam (i.e. a 20-25 minute oral presentation). While the written and oral statements may be substantially the same, it is expected that the oral presentation will not consist of a direct reading of the written statement. The statements will offer a reflective review of the approved reading list and issues arising from it. The comprehensive committee will base their first round of questions on the originally submitted rationale and questions, as well as on the written statement. Additional questions and discussion will follow. The oral exam is expected to be 90 – 120 minutes in length.

Substantive Requirements

Fulfillment of the substantive requirement will be met through written work followed by an oral defense. The written work can take two forms:

  1. A review of research in an area of specialization that is related to the dissertation. The paper (approximately 40 pages) should demonstrate an understanding of the relevant literature, the different theoretical approaches used to interpret empirical research and an awareness of major debates in this site of research as well as major gaps in theory and research. The area of specialization and the readings to be reviewed will be decided by the student in consultation with their committee. The reading list will consist of 20 books or equivalent.
    After reading the approved list for the substantive comprehensive, the student, in consultation with the comprehensive committee, will submit 3 to 5 questions based on the readings to her/his comprehensive committee. The comprehensive committee will select 2 of these questions, which may be revised as the committee sees fit. These questions will be given to the student on an agreed-upon date. The essay will be due two weeks later, and will respond to the questions posed,
    OR
  2. An outline of an advanced undergraduate course in a chosen area to include: an academic rationale for the organization of the course providing broad coverage of the field; a rationale for the particular selection of topics; and a list of twenty-four two hour lecture sessions, with readings to accompany each session. Also, the students will write the full text of a lecture on one of the topics in the course, to be chosen in consultation with the comprehensive committee. This written lecture should be approximately 25-30 pages.

The substantive comprehensive, whether completed as option (a) or (b), will be subject to an oral defense, to be scheduled within 2 weeks of receiving the essays or course & lecture. The defense is expected to be 90 to 120 minutes in length.

Evaluation of Comprehensive Examinations

At the conclusion of the oral exam or defense, the student will be asked to leave the room, while the committee determines the evaluation. The committee may determine one of the following outcomes:

Pass:

  • The student has demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of the field. Grade will be recorded.

Incomplete:

  • The student has not demonstrated an adequate understanding of the field. The comprehensive committee will provide the student with written comments and directions within one week of the oral exam or defense. The student will then schedule another oral exam, in the case of the theory requirement, or will re-write another essay or lecture, in the case of the substantive requirement. These must be completed not more than two months after receiving the comments. If, after the subsequent oral exam or written submission, the committee is satisfied that the student has demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of the field, the grade will be changed to “Pass”. Otherwise, the grade will be changed to “Fail” and the student will be withdrawn from the program.

Fail:

  • The student has not demonstrated an adequate understanding of the field. The comprehensive committee will provide written comments within one week of the oral exam explaining their finding. The grade will be recorded and the student will be withdrawn from the program.

Note: In normal circumstances, it is expected that in cases of unsatisfactory exams, the comprehensive committee will assign a grade of Incomplete and provide a written explanation in order to allow the student to do the exam again.

A comprehensive requirement is considered passed if no more than one member of the committee casts a negative vote.

The GPD (or designate) will attend all evaluation meetings as an ex-officio, non-voting member.

Doctoral Proposal and Dissertation

Doctoral dissertations shall be on a topic approved by the student’s supervisor and supervisory committee, and shall include submission and approval of a dissertation proposal, including appropriate ethics review and approval, in accordance with Faculty and program requirements and procedures. Dissertations must embody the results of original research and must be successfully defended at an oral examination.

The doctoral dissertation must embody original work conducted while in program, and must constitute a significant contribution to knowledge. It should contain evidence of critical understanding of the relevant literature. The material embodied in the dissertation should merit publication.

Supervisor and Supervisory Committee

As per Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations, PhD student must have a supervisor on file by the end of their 5th term (normally the end of second year). Students will not be able to register for the 7th term if a supervisor is not on file. The full supervisory committee must be on file by the end of the 8th term. Should a supervisory committee not be on file, students will not be permitted to register for their 10th term. Please see the following link for the supervisor and supervisory committee form:
Supervisor Committee Approval (.pdf)

PhD Recommended Timeline

Year 1 (Term 1,2,3)

  • Five 3.0 credits, including SLST 6000 (Law and Social Theory); SLST 6005 (Advanced Research Strategies in Socio-Legal Methods), unless waived.
  • Take 7100 (PhD Seminar) if offered.

Year 2 (Terms 4,5,6)

  • Finalize coursework.
  • Have name of supervisor on file.
  • Complete comprehensives.
  • Complete Speakers' Series requirement.
  • Take 7100 (PhD Seminar) if offered.

Year 3 (Terms 7,8,9)

  • Have full supervisory committee on file.
  • Submit PhD proposal.
  • Complete Ethics Review (if applicable).
  • Begin research.

Year 4 (Terms 10 - 15)

  • Research, write Dissertation in consultation with Supervisory Committee.