Academic Milestones: PhD Program by Year

Year 1 and 2: Coursework

Completing 4.0 approved full-course equivalents (FCEs) with an average standing of at least A-, including:

Mandatory courses: 

  • DRA1011H Sources and Concepts in DTPS I (0.5FCE, Fall, Year 1)
  • DRA1012H Sources and Concepts in DTPS II (0.5FCE, Winter, Year 1)
  • DRA1013H Modeling New Scholarship in DTPS (0.5FCE, Fall, Year 1)
  • DRA1014H Teaching and Learning in DTPS (0.5FCE, Winter, Year 1)
  • DRA5002H Research Development (0.5FCE, Fall, Year 2)

Elective courses:

  • Selected from the list of courses offered by the Centre and other units depending on the student’s research interests.

Independent Study:

  • One FCE or two 0.5 FCE courses maximum (related to research interests). The expectation is that the students will complete 3.0 FCEs in their first year.

Year 1 and 2: Field Exam


1st year PhD

  • May-September of the 1st year - start putting together a foundation for (annotated) bibliography (to be used for thesis proposal, field exam and prospectus)
  • No later than the end of May of the 1st year - declare supervisor

2nd year PhD

  • September - declare second committee member
  • April - declare third committee member
  • NOTE: 3 member committees are required (1 supervisor 2 committee members or 2 co-supervisors and 1 committee member)
  • April 15 – submit a set of five exam questions for both the major and minor field exams to the supervisor for consideration
  • Students receive exam questions for each exam (major and minor) on the first day of their exam weeks
  • 1st week of May – write Major field exam (5-business day take-home exam: Mon-Fri, 11.59pm)
  • 3rd week of May – write Minor field exam (5-business day take-home exam: Mon-Fri, 11.59pm)
  • NOTE: If students wish, the exam time can be extended through the weekend until Sunday, 11.59pm

View the Field Exam Policy

Year 2

December 15: Deadline for submitting the thesis proposal for approval by the Academic Committee.

Thesis proposal
Who: 2nd year PhD students
Review process: The academic committee, consisting of all CDTPS graduate instructors, has to approve this proposal in order for students to proceed with their prospectus project development. The members of the academic committee will provide their feedback to the Associate Director (graduate), who will communicate the results (passed/not passed/ recommendations) to the individual student and their supervisor. It is not entirely uncommon that the first proposal submission is rejected and needs to go into round two. Students will be guided by constructive feedback and the advice of their supervisors, on how to proceed with re-submission.

Note: The thesis proposal is an important academic milestone at the end of the Fall term in the 2nd year of the PhD program. Its format is inspired by the SSHRC proposal format and thus is intended to help students to develop their first thesis proposal both in preparation of their SSHRC proposals but also in preparation of their prospectus projects. The major mentor for developing the thesis proposal is the student’s supervisor. (A supervisor should be found by the student by September or October in their 2nd year).

5 pages (total), single spaced, 12pt font.

Proposal information needed:

Student Name
Supervisor Name
Names of supervisory committee (if already decided)
Title of thesis
Keywords (5-6)
Research question/ research justification max. 500 words
Research methodology max. 500 words
Overview/Literature review max. 500 words

A. Grant applications
B. Academic/artistic project and conference presentations (previous and current academic year)
C. Teaching
D. Language requirement: completed Y/N


End of year 2: Language requirement. You must demonstrate reading knowledge of a language other than English by passing an approved language examination, or providing adequate documentation of language knowledge (e.g. native speakers of other languages who plan to do research in those languages and were previously academically educated in them need to present their university record to meet this requirement). Students may also be asked to qualify in other program-related languages, depending on their research.

Year 3 

Start of Year 3 (September-October): Prospectus defence. 

After completing and defending their prospectus, students start writing their thesis. Their supervisory committee has to meet twice that year (including the prospectus meeting). 

Year 4

Dedicated to writing the doctoral thesis, with two supervisory committee meetings. 

Year 5

Thesis. Submission of a dissertation on an approved topic embodying the results of original investigation which shall be judged to constitute a significant contribution to the knowledge of the field. Final Oral Examination. 

The Dissertation Process

  • Mandatory theory and history courses lay the ground for preparing students for their comprehensive exams, whereas the academic skills development courses prepare them for their Prospectus. 

  • Comprehensive exam (September of Year 2): this four-hour written exam tests a doctoral candidate’s ability to critically engage with a broad range of dramatic texts, theatre and performance theories and histories. The exam has two parts. In the first part, students are asked to identify and explicate important passages from a selection of key works (see Dramatic Literature Comprehensive Exam Reading List (2016-2017)). The second part consists of essay questions, with students asked to draw connections among a range of plays from across time periods and geographical locales, according to thematic, generic, or other criteria, in each essay. Both parts of the exam give students a choice of questions. 

  • Prospectus defence (September-October of Year 3): Students should develop the draft of their Prospectus in DRA5002H (Winter, Year 2), in collaboration with their supervisor and the supervisory committee. The final Prospectus has to be submitted to the supervisory committee no later than three weeks prior to the set exam date. The dissertation prospectus should be no more than 30 double-spaced pages, with an accompanying annotated bibliography of not more than 15 pages. 

The prospectus should have the following elements: 

  • title; date, institution; 
  • names of the committee members; 
  • a concise description of the project; 
  • clearly specified core research question(s); 
  • a brief literature review informed by the annotated bibliography; 
  • a statement about the significance of research and the contribution it is expected to make; 
  • a description of key primary sources (e.g. archival sources, visits with theatre companies, etc.), including the scope, nature, and availability of evidence; 
  • a description of the methodology(s) to be used; 
  • a timeline for the dissertation research and writing from inception through completion, including travel to archives; and 
  • an outline of the whole dissertation (chapters). 

Before Your Thesis Defence

10-12 weeks before examination date:

After Your Successful Thesis Defence