Masters by Research Paper

The Master of Arts in Sociology by Coursework and Master’s Research Paper may be obtained by full or part-time study. This degree requires the student to complete 24 credit hours, consisting of six graduate courses (core and electives), the compulsory Master’s Research Paper (MRP) and a presentation of the MRP at a Departmental Seminar. For details of entry requirements, see the academic calendar.

Students choosing this Master’s stream wish to undertake advanced studies in Sociology, but are not looking to complete a Master’s thesis. In this program, students will
• broaden their skills and knowledge in social theory and the methods of social research;
• develop their capacity to conceptualize, plan, and complete a research program;
• enhance their ability to think and respond to social issues critically and analytically;
• improve their writing proficiency;
• acquire skills vital to their professional development


Core Courses: 4 required
3 credit hours each, normally completed during the first two semesters of full-time study
SOCI 6040: Advanced Quantitative Methods
SOCI 6041: Advanced Qualitative Methods
SOCI 6150: Social Theory
SOCI 6880: Graduate Seminar

Elective Courses: Two (2) 6000-level courses
3 credit hours each, normally completed during the first two semesters of full-time study

Research Paper: SOCI 6900: Master’s Research Paper
6 credit hours, normally completed during the third semester of full-time study


Fall Semester
SOCI 6040: Advanced Quantitative Methods: Compulsory for all incoming graduate students of Sociology. Designed to enhance students’ understanding of the theory and practice of quantitative social research, with a focus on the practical experience of conducting quantitative research and the use of relevant quantitative data analysis software.

SOCI 6150: Social Theory: Compulsory for all incoming graduate students of Sociology. Provides advanced instruction in selected topics in Social Theory.

SOCI 6880: Sociology Graduate Seminar: Compulsory for all incoming graduate students of Sociology. Focuses on the development of professional skills required of all graduate students. These include research, writing, and presentation skills; instruction around publishing and knowledge mobilization; responding to faculty and other scholarly research; and “surviving” grad school.

Winter Semester
SOCI 6041: Advanced Qualitative Methods: Provides advanced instruction in the variety of methodological approaches that characterize qualitative social research. Focuses on developing students’ understanding of the various stages of conducting qualitative research, including developing a research design, sampling, data collection and data analysis, and how to apply these principles to their own areas of interest.

Electives: Courses in the student’s area of interest and/or focus for the Master’s Research Paper. Possibilities include graduate courses offered in the Winter Semester in the Department of Sociology or in another department, or a reading course with the student’s supervisor.

Spring Semester
SOCI 6900: Master’s Research Paper: This paper is completed by the student under the guidance of the Supervisor. See Guidelines for the MRP for greater detail. To ensure timely completion, the following schedule is recommended:
• End of June: Submission to Supervisor of first full MRP draft
• Second week of August: Submission to Supervisor of MRP for Departmental Presentation
• Third week of August: Departmental Presentation
• Last week of August: Submission of final MRP to Supervisor and Department for evaluation.


The MRP should provide a significant level of specialization equal to two graduate courses, and express the same level of rigour in writing, analysis, and organization as the thesis. The department expects the MRP will provide a critical review of the literature in an area chosen by the student. The critique must be grounded in a thesis or argument. Primary research is not required, and the student is not expected to collect new data. The MRP should be completed in a single semester, normally in the third semester without any other course being taken at the same time.

The MRP is normally 40-60 pages in length, based on double spacing and 12pt text. An alternative format, such as journal article, must be mutually agreed upon by the supervisor and student, and represent a high standard of academic writing. The MRP should contain:

• An introduction that includes a statement of the thesis or argument, and the issue or issues that will be addressed.
• A literature review that incorporates critical assessment of argument and evidence.
• A conclusion that states the student’s position on the issue(s) and that may include reference to desirable future research and to policy implications where appropriate.
• A consistent reference system must be used throughout the paper. The cover page should be formatted as with the thesis-based MA.

The MRP should reflect strong writing and analytical skills, suitable to a master’s level degree. The final grade will reflect this standard. The paper should be submitted to the Supervisor by the end of the second week of August in preparation for oral presentation.

Departmental Presentation

Normally, the student is required to present their MRP at a departmental seminar, to take place by the third week of August. At minimum, the Supervisor, Graduate Office (or delegate) and the student shall attend the seminar. The student presents their work in a 20-30 minute formal, professional talk, and responds clearly and thoughtfully to questions. Questions and changes arising from the presentation should be incorporated into the final version of the MRP, or written justification provided to the Supervisor why such changes have not been made. The student submits the final version of the MRP to the Supervisor by the beginning of the last week of August. The supervisor makes the final decision on submission of the MRP for evaluation.

Evaluation of MRP

Evaluation and final grade is based on the final version of the MRP submitted after the oral presentation and revisions have been completed. The Supervisor assigns a final grade to the MRP. The student submits an electronic copy of the paper to the Sociology main office for distribution to the Second Reader for examination. The Second Reader, selected by the Head or the Graduate Officer, provides an independent grade for the paper. No written feedback is expected. Normally the Second Reader will submit a grade within one month of receiving the MRP.

The reported final MRP grade will be the average of the grades of the Supervisor and the Second Reader. Should the Second Reader produce a grade that is more than 10 marks in variation from the Supervisor’s grade (above or below), the paper will be reviewed by a Third Reader. This reader will be selected by the Head or the Graduate Officer. The grade of the Third Reader will stand as the final grade on the paper.

Final MRP Submission to Department

After submission of the final MRP grade, a clean, corrected, spiral-bound bound copy of the final paper MUST be deposited in the Department Office before paperwork toward graduation is completed.


Department of Sociology

230 Elizabeth Ave

St. John's, NL A1B 3X9 CANADA

Tel: (709) 864-2530

Fax: (709) 864-2552