Graduate Policies and Handbook

Home to a community of 25 to 35 LLM and PhD students from around the world, our graduate program combines personally-tailored study plans with close supervision by some of Canada's finest legal minds. Our goals are to develop students into future professors and jurists and to enable private and public sector practitioners to achieve deep specialization.

The Graduate Handbook has been developed to help graduate students and faculty stay on track throughout the year by providing information on orientation, degree requirements, marking guidelines and graduate program policies, important dates etc.

Students should also refer to the Schulich School of Law and Faculty of Graduate Studies websites for all policies and up-to-date information. 

LLM Program Information

Program Options

We offer two options for the LLM program. The first is a combination of a thesis plus three courses. The second is a program of six courses, all of which require substantial research papers.

You may choose to do either of these options on a full-time (usually one year) or a part-time (usually two or more years) basis.  

Thesis option

Students usually complete the program's three courses during the first and second terms (September to April) of the academic year before completing a supervised thesis over the course of the summer. As a standard suggested timeline, students and supervisors should consider the following:

January 15

Research question/outline/proposal to supervisor

May 1

50% of thesis complete

June 15

First draft to supervisor and reader

August 1

Final draft to Examiner

Coursework option

The coursework LLM option includes six courses that each conclude with a substantial paper. This version of our LLM normally runs from September to May.  

Before deciding on the thesis or coursework option, candidates who are contemplating future doctoral studies should note that some doctoral programs require the completion of a Master of Laws degree which includes a thesis.

Degree Requirements

Graduate Seminar on Legal Education and Legal Scholarship

The Graduate Seminar on Legal Education and Legal Scholarship (LAWS 3000) is a required class for all LLM students. This seminar is given in the fall term and early part of the winter term and requires from the student a comprehensive class presentation based on a substantial paper.

Thesis option

If the degree is taken by thesis and coursework, a candidate is also required to:

(a) complete at least two additional one-term classes from the course offerings of the Schulich School of Law and
(b) present a well-researched substantial thesis of scholarly quality produced under the supervision of a member (or members) of the law faculty.  Such a thesis would normally be 125-150 typescript pages in length (double-spaced).

Coursework option

If the degree is taken by coursework alone, candidates are also required to take at least an additional five one-term classes. Of those five classes, at least three must be designated as "major paper courses" by the Schulich School of Law, or be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee as having a sufficiently substantial written component.

Course Selection

Choice of classes must be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee. The Graduate Studies Committee may approve the substitution of not more than two seminars or graduate-level classes in a discipline other than law, which may be highly relevant to the candidate's area of specialization, provided that any such substituted course or seminar has, in the opinion of the Committee, equivalence to the law classes being substituted.

Courses and Grades

Courses may be full or half year (six or three credit hours respectively). Some academic units cross-list graduate courses with senior undergraduate courses: in which case the requirements for graduate students are more demanding than those for undergraduates.

If a student is permitted to take an undergraduate course (with an appropriate additional work requirement as approved by the Faculty of Graduate Studies Academic Programs and Curriculum Committee) as part of their graduate coursework, the minimum B- grade also applies.

Audits

Students may take one audit (equivalent of six credit hours) in each residency year of their formal program. Audits must be listed as program requirements in GSIS, must be relevant to the student's program of study, and must have academic unit and the Faculty of Graduate Studies approval.

Audits not approved as part of a student's program of study will be subject to additional tuition on the student's account.  Audits cannot be taken on a Letter of Permission and will not be approved as part of a Qualifying program.

Withdrawal from Courses

The last dates for adding and deleting courses are published in the schedule of Academic Course Add/Drop Dates at the front of this calendar.

Students may not transfer from full to part-time status by withdrawing from courses after the deadlines listed in the schedule of Academic Course Add/Drop Dates.

All regularly scheduled courses may be added or dropped on the web at www.dal.ca/online by the deadline listed in Academic Course Add/Drop Dates. Special dates and processes apply to courses involving open learning.

Please note that dropping or changing courses may affect your eligibility for student aid.

Non-attendance does not, in itself, constitute withdrawal. Withdrawals are effective when a student withdraws from courses on the web at www.dal.ca/online or written notification is received at the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Incomplete Courses

A student who fails to complete the required work for a particular course during the normal period of the course will receive a grade of “F”. However, where circumstances warrant, a grade of “Incomplete” (INC) may be assigned. Subsequent completion of the work following the end of the course may result in a change of grade by the course instructor, as long as the work is completed before the following deadlines:

Fall term courses

February 1

Winter and Regular (September-April) term courses

June 1

May-June courses

August 1

May-August courses

October 1

July-August courses

October 1

MBA(FS) - Please consult the academic unit entry.

For GPA purposes a grade of INC holds a credit value of 0.0.

After these deadlines, an “INC” cannot be changed without permission of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Where the formal deadline for completion of work is beyond the INC deadline, the course instructor can request the Faculty of Graduate Studies extend the INC for an approved period of time.

All outstanding grades, including ILL or INC, must be addressed before registration for the next term.

Incomplete due to Illness

Students must have a plan to complete, repeat or replace any course with an outstanding grade, including ILL or INC, before registration for the next term. If grades are still outstanding into the next term and no arrangements have been made, students may be required to re-register in the course.

In Progress Courses

The grade of “In Progress” (IP) may be used only to report thesis courses, research project courses, courses designated as “open to independent completion of study”, and seminars requiring continuous registration until degree completion. Students must continue to register for the course each term until a final grade has been assigned.

Academic Standards

When the work of a student becomes unsatisfactory, (including insufficient progress), or a student’s attendance is irregular without sufficient reason, the Faculty of Graduate Studies may require withdrawal from one or more courses, or academic dismissal from the Faculty.

Performance during program

All coursework undertaken for the LLM must be completed with an average of not less than B and with no grade below B-.

Length of program

The degree may be taken on the basis of either one academic year (September 1 to August 31) of full-time studies, or two academic years of part-time studies.

Paper Requirements

A. Paper requirements

Coursework students must do three “longer papers” and two “shorter papers”, in addition to the graduate seminar.

Thesis students must do two “shorter papers”, in addition to the graduate seminar.

The philosophy behind these requirements is that the minimum “production standards” for students in both streams are comparable. Three “longer papers” (3 x 40 = 120) plus two “shorter papers” (2 x 25) equals 170 pages for coursework students, or, at 50 pages per “longer paper”, 200 pages. A thesis is expected to be around 150 pages; with two “shorter papers” that amounts to about 200 pages for thesis students.

B. “Longer paper”/”Shorter paper” declaration forms

Students taking the Coursework LLM must complete a “Longer paper”/ “Shorter paper” Declaration Form for each course being taken. A copy of each form must be provided to the course instructor and submitted to the Grad. Studies office (Rm. 441) by September 30 for fall courses and January 31 for winter courses.

C. Modes of evaluation

Graduate students must write substantial papers in all courses in which they are enrolled, regardless of the form of evaluation used for JD students in the same course. Instructors may include other elements in their evaluation of graduate students, such as class participation marks, marks for class presentations, reaction papers and the like, but the aggregate of such elements is not to exceed 25% of the final mark. In other words, the paper must count for at least 75% of the evaluation in the course. Instructors seeking to depart from this weighting must seek the permission of the Graduate Studies Committee.

Please note that there is no requirement that instructors offer additional elements of evaluation for graduate students. A 100% paper is fine. The policy is only setting a ceiling, not a floor, with regard to non-paper elements of the evaluation.

D. Length of papers

“Longer papers” are normally 40-50 pages in length. “Shorter papers” are normally 25-30 pages in length. Note that while the 40 and 25 page indicators are minimum requirements, the 50 and 30 page indicators are not meant to be maximum limits, though an instructor may impose maximum limits in an individual course.

E. Standards for papers

All papers (whether “longer” or “shorter”) written by graduate students are to be marked in accordance with the “Major Paper Guidelines”. The qualitative standard is the same for “shorter” and “longer” papers. A purely descriptive paper with little or inadequate analysis no more meets the minimum standard for a “shorter paper” than for a “longer paper”. Obviously the depth of research effort need not be quite as extensive for a “shorter paper” as for a “longer paper”, and issues cannot be explored quite as thoroughly as in a “longer paper”. But high quality analysis and reflection is the expected performance standard for both “shorter” and “longer papers”. All papers are to be written in accordance with the standards of intellectual honesty common to the rest of the University.

F. Marking Scale

In all courses, graduate students must receive a mark of "B-" in order to pass. A student may only pass the year if he or she has maintained a mark of at least a B- in all courses.

Faculty of Graduate Studies will only accept the following as designating marks for graduate Students: A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, and F. While only letter grades are submitted to the Faculty of Graduate Studies, it may be necessary to provide numerical equivalents for the purpose of calculating averages. It is also helpful to have a uniform system of numerical equivalents for ensuring comparability of graduate students and undergraduates where both categories of student are taking the same Law School class. Instructors should utilize the following system of numerical equivalents to letter grades for graduate students in the Law School to achieve the aforementioned objectives.

A+ 90 and above
A 85-89
A- 80-84
B+ 77-79
B 73-76
B- 70-72
F Below 70

G. Paper Deadlines

In courses where JD and LLM students are all writing papers, the deadline need not be the same for both sets of students. In particular, the deadline for LLM students can be later than for JD students. The deadline is at the discretion of the course instructor.

Supervision & Examination of LLM Theses

The LLM candidate is required to present "a well researched, substantial thesis of scholarly quality".  An LLM thesis should be 125-150 pages (double-spaced including references, but not bibliography) unless otherwise approved by the Graduate Studies Committee.

1.                  LLM Thesis Committees

 (1)         LLM Thesis Supervisory Committee

The Graduate Studies Committee of the Law School shall appoint a Supervisory Committee for each LLM student in the thesis programme from among instructors in the Faculty of Law who are members of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Normally this Supervisory Committee will be composed of two members one of whom is designated as the supervisor and the other as a reader. Where the circumstances seem appropriate, the two committee members will be designated as co-supervisors. The supervisor will normally chair the committee, although the Graduate Studies Committee may appoint a third Supervisory Committee member as Chair. Practitioners or qualified persons outside the Faculty of Law who are not members of the Faculty of Graduate Studies may be appointed as additional committee members where their expertise makes this appropriate.

(2)          Examination Committee

The Graduate Studies Committee shall appoint a Master's Thesis Examination Committee for each student comprised of:

  • a Chair appointed by the Graduate Studies Committee who is not a member of the Supervisory Committee and whose duties shall be to organize the examination of the thesis, and to report to the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies the membership of the Examination Committee, the comments (if any) of members of the Examination Committee on the thesis, and the results or outcome of the examination (including any conditions imposed). Normally the Chair will be the Faculty of Law’s Associate Dean, Graduate Studies. The Chair shall not be required to read or sign the thesis itself unless he or she is of the opinion that the circumstances of the examination process so warrant.
  • the members of the Supervisory Committee; and
  • an examiner who is a member of the Faculty of Law, is also a member of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and has not been a member of the Supervisory Committee nor involved in the supervision and/or direction of the thesis.

Examination of LLM theses shall be by submission of a final examination copy of the thesis to the Chair of the Master's Thesis Examination Committee. The Chair of the Master's Thesis Examination Committee shall circulate it to members of the Committee, if they have not already read it and given their final comments on it. Candidates shall be given an opportunity to make written response to the comments, criticisms or recommendations of the Master's Thesis Examination Committee and to make revisions deemed appropriate by the Committee. Members of the Master's Thesis Examination Committee shall submit written reports (dated and signed on forms available from the Administrative Secretary of the Graduate Studies Committee) which shall become part of the candidate's Law School file. Members of the Masters Thesis Examination Committee, other than the Chair, must sign the signature page of a thesis which has received final approval.

The Chair shall report the results of the examination in accordance with one of the following categories:

  • approved as submitted;
  • approved upon specified corrections being made (in accordance with a timetable to be presented to the student - normally to ensure completed revisions within a month of the results being made known to the student);
  • failed, but with permission to resubmit a revised thesis for re-examination (in accordance with a timetable to be presented to the student - normally to ensure re-submission within one year); or
  • failed outright.

2.                  Responsibilities of Supervisors

When faculty members accept the supervision of graduate students, they assume several responsibilities:

  • to provide reasonable access to their student(s) and to be available for consultation at relatively short notice;
  • to be as helpful as possible in suggesting research topics and in assisting students to define their theses;
  • to tell students approximately how long it will be before written work, such as drafts of chapters, can be returned with comments;
  • to be thorough in their examination of thesis chapters, supplying, where appropriate, detailed comments on such matters as literary form, structure, use of evidence, relation of the thesis to published work on the subject, footnoting, and bibliographical techniques, and making constructive suggestions for rewriting and improving the draft;
  • to provide feedback to the student on their detailed description of their thesis topic, research plan, and preliminary thesis outline;
  • to indicate clearly when a draft is in a satisfactory final form or, if it is clear to the supervisor that the thesis cannot be successfully completed, to advise the student accordingly;
  • to know the Faculty and University regulations and standards to which the writer of a thesis is required to conform, and to make sure that the student is aware of them;
  • to continue supervision when on leave, possibly with arrangements also being made for members of the supervisory committee to assist the student for the leave period;
  • to advise and help the student to approach other faculty members for assistance with specific problems or even to request the reading of a chapter or section of the thesis; and
  • to see that all ethics approvals, as appropriate, are secured.

3.                  Rights of Supervisors

Supervisors have the following rights:

  • to expect students to give serious and considered attention to their advice concerning what they regard as essential changes in the research and thesis;
  • to terminate supervision and advise the student to find another supervisor if the student does not heed advice and ignores recommendations for changes in the research and thesis, or if the student is not putting forth a reasonable effort;
  • to receive a copy of the methodological prospectus submitted for the Graduate Seminar
  • to have their thesis supervision properly credited by the department as an intrinsic part of their workload so that, in the assignment of duties, they are not overburdened to the point of having their effectiveness impaired as supervisors;
  • to have the thesis-writer acknowledge, by footnoting, all portions of the supervisor’s own research over which the supervisor wants to retain future rights of authorship; and
  • to have thesis-writers give permission for the results of their research to be used for the benefit of a larger project when they are working as assistants with their supervisor on research that is part of such a project — this is always with the understanding that students will retain scholarly credit for their own work and be given acknowledgment of their contribution to the larger project.

4.                  Responsibilities of Students

When graduate students undertake the writing of a thesis, they assume several responsibilities:

  • to choose a topic (with the supervisor’s aid and advice) and to produce a thesis that is essentially their own work;
  • to produce a detailed description of their thesis topic, a research plan and a preliminary thesis outline as soon as each of these are elaborated by the grad students in conjunction with their supervisor (the form of these to be determined by the supervisor) and to provide these documents to their Reader in a timely fashion.
  • to provide a copy of the methodological prospectus submitted for the Graduate Seminar to their supervisor (students are encouraged to discuss their methodological prospectus throughout the process of its development with their supervisor).
  • to produce a thesis which meets the standards of scholarship required by the University and the Faculty, including demonstration of their capacity for independent scholarship and research in their field;
  • to familiarize themselves with and meet the standards of intellectual honesty and integrity adopted by the University. (http://www.dal.ca/dept/university_secretariat/academic-integrity/academic-policies.html)
  • to realize that the supervisor has undergraduate or other duties which may at times delay the student’s access to the supervisor at short notice;
  • to give serious and considered attention to advice and direction from the supervisor;
  • to submit their work to the judgment of the department and to abide by its decision when any rights of appeal, if exercised, have been exhausted;
  • to know the Faculty and University regulations and standards to which the writer of a thesis is required to conform; and
  • to comply with all ethics requirements.

5.                  Rights of Students

Students have the following rights:

  • To have a clear understanding of what is expected in thesis-writing (expected length, acceptable methodology, validity of topic, notification of progress);
  • to expect help from their supervisor in establishing a feasible topic and in solving problems and assessing progress as the thesis is being written;
  • to receive a fair assessment of the completed thesis and explanations of negative criticism;
  • to be allowed to have a new supervisor when they can offer convincing reasons to the Graduate Studies Committee of the Law School for the change and the change can be reasonably accommodated by the Faculty;
  • to be protected from exploitation by their supervisor or other faculty members if the latter should:
    • intrude upon the student’s right of authorship or fail to give a student authorship credit for team research (where applicable, the Faculty’s protocols on authorship should be provided to students before they embark on research), or
    • divert the student’s efforts from the timely completion of the thesis; and
  • to submit a thesis even if the supervisor is not satisfied, although such action should be taken only in extreme cases and after full consultation with the Graduate Studies Committee of the Law School.

6.                  Responsibilities of the Faculty of Law

The Faculty of Law has certain responsibilities in supporting and maintaining its graduate programs:

  • to provide necessary facilities and supervision for each student admitted, and not to accept more candidates than can be offered effective supervision;
  • to consider carefully such matters as faculty retirements, sabbatical leaves, teaching loads, and library resources before admitting each student;
  • to uphold a high academic standard for theses;
  • to provide adequate supervision at all times, so that, when a supervisor leaves the University for another permanent position, substitute arrangements are made as soon as possible;
  • to allow students to change supervisors if their research interests shift or develop in a new direction and a change of supervisor will not deprive them of financial support and if the change can be reasonably accommodated by the Faculty of Law;
  • to provide procedures which assist and encourage students to complete the thesis, such as early review and approval of topic and methodology, guidelines on access and appeals, oversight of the students’ schedule, and a clearly stated system of thesis review and evaluation;
  • to regard supervision of graduate students as a major consideration in making replacement appointments for faculty;
  • to encourage students to give papers as they proceed, so that they can test their ideas on a wider audience than the supervisory committee;
  • to ensure that the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies acts as a general overseer of student progress;
  • to instruct all students (or see that they attend Faculty-level workshops) on research ethics; and
  • to explain to students the University’s policies on intellectual property rights.

7.                  Rights and Responsibilities of Thesis Readers

  • Readers shall be appointed by the Graduate Studies Committee of the Law School, in consultation with the supervisor and the graduate student concerned.
  • A reader may be appointed immediately after the elaboration of a detailed thesis topic by the graduate student and the supervisor.  At a minimum, readers shall be appointed at a reasonable period before the agreed upon thesis deadline, in order that a reader may have an opportunity to read the thesis and provide his or her assessment and comments in good time.
  • A reader ought to be provided with a detailed description of the thesis topic, a research plan and, eventually, a preliminary thesis outline, as soon as each of these are elaborated by the graduate student in conjunction with the supervisor (the form of these to be determined by the supervisor).
  • A reader may be provided with preliminary drafts of the thesis or parts thereof whenever the supervisor or the graduate student deem this to be advisable.
  • A reader has a duty to read and comment upon the material described in (3) and (4) within a reasonable period of time, and must promptly inform the supervisor and the graduate student of any matter arising therefrom which might lead the reader to withhold final approval of the thesis.
  • A reader shall make himself or herself available on a reasonable basis for meetings with the student and/or supervisor where either of the latter so request.

8.                  Role of Examiners

The role of the examiner is to approve or reject the thesis in final form and to complete the LLM Thesis Examination Committee Member’s Report.

Transfer to PhD without completing the LLM

In exceptional cases, a student already registered in the thesis-based LLM program at the Schulich School of Law may be allowed to transfer into the PhD program without first completing his or her LLM. Such applications will be considered where the applicant:

a) has completed all course work associated with the LLM and has received no grade lower than A-;

b) has demonstrated the ability to produce work of publishable quality, which will normally require that he or she has had more than one paper published or accepted for publication in a reputable journal; and

c) complies with all other requirements for applying for entry into the PhD program, including submission of a suitable thesis proposal.

Any such application must be made within the first five terms after initial registration, and must be made prior to the term in which the transfer is to take effect. Transfer into the PhD program is not automatic upon meeting these criteria, but the Graduate Studies Committee will consider applications where they are met.

PhD Program Information

PhD Requirements

A candidate must demonstrate the ability to carry out research of high quality leading to an advance of knowledge in a specific area of study. The candidate’s course of study will be initiated with the advice and direction of a supervisory committee. See section 9.3 for supervisory committee structure.

The course of study may include courses, seminars, comprehensive examinations, qualifying examinations, preparation of fields of study, demonstrations of foreign language proficiency, and any other requirements considered necessary for the clear demonstration of post-Master’s-level comprehension, scholarship, and ability in the candidate’s particular area of study. Comprehensive exams are only taken after all coursework is completed.

Maximum Time for Degree Completion and Extensions

Under exceptional and well documented circumstances, such as an approved Leave of Absence or Parental Leave extensions can be granted. However, under no circumstances can a student be registered in a program beyond 10 years, including leaves, from their initial registration in the program.

Residency

Applicants must spend at least one full academic year (12 months) in full-time residence at Dalhousie after registration for the PhD program. The Graduate Studies Committee of the Schulich School of Law reserves the right in certain cases to require the completion of a second year of residency. It is to be noted, however, that consistent with other doctoral programs at Dalhousie University, PhD candidates must pay fees at the full-time rate for two years regardless of whether they have been required to spend a second year in residence at Dalhousie.

PhD Pre-thesis requirements

Candidates in the PhD program must complete the following requirements:

1.  One directed reading course

The directed reading course is normally a one-on-one engagement with a faculty member, but may involve more than one faculty member. The area studied must be quite broad, e.g., 'modern legal theory' or 'international legal relations' or 'equality theory'. The syllabus is developed jointly by the student and the faculty member(s). The faculty member(s) and the student meet together once every two weeks for one term. The Directed Reading focuses on the broad understanding of the thesis area, it would allow the student to gain greater understanding of the subject area, and all writings would be geared towards internalization, understanding and reflection on the topics. There could be opportunity here for learning or preparing of empirical work/research. The form of evaluation (either one longer paper or several shorter papers) is to be determined between the supervisor and the candidate at the start of the semester, and should have a total length of no more than 50 pages. The purpose of the paper is not so much a test of knowledge acquired as an opportunity to engage critically with the field.

 

2.  One area exam

The area exam is a rather more self-directed exercise. It does not involve regular meetings between the faculty member and the student, though episodic meetings are encouraged. The student and the faculty member (who may or may not be the supervisor) agree on a syllabus, and the student independently analyzes the materials. The purpose of the area exam is to ensure mastery of a certain body of knowledge; it may be a body of theory, but it may also be a body of law or a combination of the two. The evaluation of the area exam takes the form of a (40-50 page) critical literature review with a narrow focus meant to gear up to the actual area of research and form the start of the student’s proposal.

Failure to pass will result in academic dismissal. However, on the recommendation of the Faculty of Law a student may be reinstated and permitted to repeat the examination (once) within twelve months of reinstatement. The Faculty of Graduate Studies must be notified immediately upon the successful completion of the examination process, and the result becomes part of the student’s official record.

3.  Thesis proposal defence

The purpose of the thesis proposal defence is to evaluate whether the proposal discloses a feasible doctoral project. It consists of a written proposal and an oral defence.  The main concerns are the definition of the issues to be addressed, the theoretical perspectives, the methodology, and a detailed outline of the structure of the thesis. The thesis proposal defence should normally take place at the end of the first year of studies, and not less than one year before submitting the thesis. Failure to successfully defend the thesis proposal may result in dismissal from the program. However, the student may be permitted to repeat the defence within the subsequent twelve months.

4.  Course work and other examinations as required by the Graduate Studies Committee

The reference to course work and other examinations is meant principally to cover the graduate seminar, which will be required of any PhD student who has not taken a similar course previously. It is possible that other courses in law or in other faculties may also be required to facilitate the proper execution of a thesis. Where necessary there will be time consideration given for the completion of these courses as they may affect the completion time of the program of study.

All requirements must be completed with no grade below B-. A student who fails to meet this requirement is automatically dropped from the program, but may apply for readmission.

5.  Program Timeline

To ensure a focused and reasonable completion of the program, a standard expectation of completion of the pre-thesis requirements would follow:

Fall – Year 1

Organize and begin Direct Reading

Winter – Year 1

Complete Directed Reading Course

Take any course/audit that may be necessary for degree

Start Area Exam

Summer – Year 1

Take any course/audit that may be necessary for degree

Continue Area Exam

Fall – Year 2

Complete Area Exam/Lit Review

Defend thesis proposal/outline

During the two first years of the program, a mandatory annual meeting will be held with the supervisor and the committee to discuss the progress made to date and the timeline until completion of the thesis; the Associate Dean may take part in the meeting if deemed appropriate. If, at the first or second annual meeting, it appears to the committee that insufficient progress has been made, the student would be given 6 months to correct the situation and satisfy the committee. Failure to make satisfactory progress would lead to a withdrawal from the program.

PhD Thesis requirements

After an applicant has been accepted, a thesis committee consisting of a supervisor and two advisors will be appointed by the Graduate Studies Committee of the Schulich School of Law. All candidates are required to comply with the decisions of their thesis committees.

The primary requirement for the PhD degree is the completion of a substantial thesis which should not only display original scholarship of a high standard, but also represent a significant contribution to the literature of the chosen subject. Normally, a PhD thesis should be between 300 and 400 typescript pages in length (double-spaced).

The Faculty of Graduate Studies requires that the completed PhD thesis be submitted to the Graduate Studies Committee within six years of the date of original registration in the program. Submission of the thesis must follow the rules and regulations laid down by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Each PhD candidate is required to defend the completed thesis in an oral examination. This defence shall be conducted in accordance with the Faculty of Graduate Studies Regulations for Oral Examination of a Doctoral Candidate.

Rights & Responsibilities

1.                  Responsibilities of Supervisors

When faculty members accept the supervision of graduate students, they assume several responsibilities:

  • to provide reasonable access to their student(s) and to be available for consultation at relatively short notice;
  • to provide feedback to the student on their detailed description of their thesis topic, research plan, and preliminary thesis outline;
  • to tell students approximately how long it will be before written work, such as drafts of chapters, can be returned with comments;
  • to be thorough in their examination of thesis chapters, supplying, where appropriate, detailed comments on such matters as literary form, structure, use of evidence, relation of the thesis to published work on the subject, footnoting, and bibliographical techniques, and making constructive suggestions for rewriting and improving the draft;
  • to indicate clearly when a draft is in a satisfactory final form or, if it is clear to the supervisor that the thesis cannot be successfully completed, to advise the student accordingly;
  • to know the Faculty and University regulations and standards to which the writer of a thesis is required to conform, and to make sure that the student is aware of them;
  • to continue supervision when on leave, possibly with arrangements also being made for members of the supervisory committee to assist the student for the leave period;
  • to advise and help the student to approach other faculty members for assistance with specific problems or even to request the reading of a chapter or section of the thesis;
  • to encourage them, and offer opportunity if available, to guest lecture and gain valuable teaching experience; and
  • to see that all ethics approvals, as appropriate, are secured.

2.                  Rights of Supervisors

Supervisors have the following rights:

  • to expect students to give serious and considered attention to their advice concerning what they regard as essential changes in the research and thesis;
  • to terminate supervision and advise the student to find another supervisor if the student does not heed advice and ignores recommendations for changes in the research and thesis, or if the student is not putting forth a reasonable effort;
  • to have their thesis supervision properly credited by the department as an intrinsic part of their workload so that, in the assignment of duties, they are not overburdened to the point of having their effectiveness impaired as supervisors; and

3.                  Responsibilities of Students

When graduate students undertake the writing of a thesis, they assume several responsibilities:

  • to choose a topic (with the supervisor’s aid and advice) and to produce a thesis that is essentially their own work;
  • to produce a detailed description of their thesis topic, a research plan and a preliminary thesis outline as soon as each of these are elaborated by the grad students in conjunction with their supervisor (the form of these to be determined by the supervisor) and to provide these documents to their thesis committee in a timely fashion;
  • to provide a copy of the methodological prospectus submitted for the Graduate Seminar to their supervisor and thesis committee (students are encouraged to discuss their methodological prospectus throughout the process of its development with their supervisor);
  • to produce a thesis which meets the standards of scholarship required by the University and the Faculty, including demonstration of their capacity for independent scholarship and research in their field;
  • to familiarize themselves with and meet the standards of intellectual honesty and integrity adopted by the University. (http://www.dal.ca/dept/university_secretariat/academic-integrity/academic-policies.html)
  • to realize that the supervisor has undergraduate or other duties which may at times delay the student’s access to the supervisor at short notice;
  • to give serious and considered attention to advice and direction from the supervisor and the thesis committee;
  • to submit their work to the judgment of the department and to abide by its decision when any rights of appeal, if exercised, have been exhausted;
  • to know the Faculty and University regulations and standards to which the writer of a thesis is required to conform; and
  • to comply with all ethics requirements.

4.                  Rights of Students

Students have the following rights:

  • To have a clear understanding of what is expected in thesis-writing (expected length, acceptable methodology, validity of topic, notification of progress);
  • to expect help from their supervisor in establishing a feasible topic and in solving problems and assessing progress as the thesis is being written;
  • to receive a fair assessment of the completed thesis and explanations of negative criticism;
  • to be allowed to have a new supervisor when they can offer convincing reasons to the Graduate Studies Committee of the Law School for the change and the change can be reasonably accommodated by the Faculty;
  • to be protected from exploitation by their supervisor or other faculty members if the latter should:
    • intrude upon the student’s right of authorship or fail to give a student authorship credit for team research (where applicable, the Faculty’s protocols on authorship should be provided to students before they embark on research), or
    • divert the student’s efforts from the timely completion of the thesis; and

5.                  Responsibilities of the Faculty of Law

The Faculty of Law has certain responsibilities in supporting and maintaining its graduate programs:

  • to provide necessary facilities and supervision for each student admitted, and not to accept more candidates than can be offered effective supervision;
  • to consider carefully such matters as faculty retirements, sabbatical leaves, teaching loads, and library resources before admitting each student;
  • to uphold a high academic standard for theses;
  • to provide adequate supervision at all times, so that, when a supervisor leaves the University for another permanent position, substitute arrangements are made as soon as possible;
  • to allow students to change supervisors if their research interests shift or develop in a new direction and a change of supervisor will not deprive them of financial support and if the change can be reasonably accommodated by the Faculty of Law;
  • to provide procedures which assist and encourage students to complete the thesis, such as early review and approval of topic and methodology, guidelines on access and appeals, oversight of the students’ schedule, and a clearly stated system of thesis review and evaluation;
  • to regard supervision of graduate students as a major consideration in making replacement appointments for faculty;
  • to encourage students to give papers as they proceed, so that they can test their ideas on a wider audience than the thesis committee;
  • to ensure that the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies acts as a general overseer of student progress;
  • to instruct all students (or see that they attend Faculty-level workshops) on research ethics; and
  • to explain to students the University’s policies on intellectual property rights.

General information for Schulich Graduate Students

Start of the Program

Students are expected to be in Halifax in time for full participation in the first day of classes. In exceptional circumstances, with prior approval of the Associate Dean Graduate Studies, a student may arrive as late as the official add/drop date.

The final registration deadline (add/drop date) is September 18.

Graduate Working Space- Grad Pad

Located on the 4th floor of the Sir James Dunn Law Library.

The area consists of flexible graduate space (11 person capacity) 6 graduate offices (16 person capacity) and study space. The Grad Pad is open 24/7 with access via the Law Library when it is open and via the Law School when the library is closed.

‘Flex’ Grad Space

All graduate students without assigned offices are encouraged to use the flexible graduate space:

-       Visit the Graduate Studies office (Rm. 441); place $10 key deposit; and obtain key;

-       Set pin code for out of library hours access by visiting the dal website and entering your Banner (B00) number and clicking on ‘Set/Reset your Pin’. Work through the instructions to receive a confirmation email that states your pin has been activated.  

Gaining Access to the Grad Pad

-       When the library is open, use the main library entrance to enter to and from the Grad Pad space. When the library is closed, use the Atrium door (L405) on the 4th floor of the building using your DalCard for access;

-       Gaining access after-hours: wave your DalCard over the access pad and when the light on the pad turns green, open the door.

Discussion Rooms

Three discussions rooms are available for graduate students, Faculty and Staff use. All bookings must be made via library staff by the followings means:

-       Book online

-       Contact: 902-494-2640

-       Email Anne Marie White: anne-marie.white@dal.ca

Assigned Space

-       Assigned space is available to graduate students. Please read the Grad Pad policy below before emailing gclaw@dal.ca with your request for assigned space. All requests will be reviewed by the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies.

Grad Pad Space Policy

The Graduate Studies program will normally provide office space for new full-time LLM students and PhD candidates for their exclusive use. Students use the assigned Grad Pad space as a privilege, which may be forfeited if conditions of use are violated. Students are deemed to have accepted the terms of this policy on accepting the key to the assigned Grad Pad space. Grad Pad space is normally provided for students for the following duration:

Coursework LLM students: from 15 September of the inception year until spring convocation in the following year

Thesis LLM students: from 15 September of the inception year until the deadline for submission of completed thesis to FGS in the following year

PhD students: from 15 September, and for a period of four calendar years, and upon availability for any additional time as needed.

Continuing students are not entitled to Grad Pad space outside the above periods. However, the Graduate Studies program may extend tenure of space for a limited period, only when that space is available and to enable the student to complete the thesis within a reasonable time. Continuing students on leave or not in residing in Halifax must clear out their Grad Pad and return the key to the Administrative Assistant, Graduate Studies when their leave starts or when they leave Halifax.

Conditions of use

Use of Grad Pad space is intended to assist LLM and PhD students in their pursuit of the requirements of the degree for which they enrolled. They are expected to use the assigned Grad Pad space with due regard to other users.

  1. Grad Pad space is allocated against signature and a refundable deposit. Students are required to take good care of the Grad Pad key. Loss of the key will result in forfeiture of the deposit.
  2. Lengthy conversations should be undertaken outside the Grad Pad area.
  3. While visitors for short periods and on an occasional basis are permitted, it is the responsibility of the student host to accompany them in the Grad Pad space and to ensure that they observe the conditions of use.
  4. Students are not permitted to store or consume food items in their Grad Pad space. The graduate lounge is available for this purpose. Covered drinks may be taken to the Grad Pad space.
  5. Cell phones should be configured to vibrate when in the Grad Pad space area.
  6. Lengthy calls should be taken outside the Grad Pad space area.
  7. Music, while permitted, should only be listened to with earphones.
  8. Smoking is prohibited within all University buildings.
  9. The University has a campus-wide scent-free environment policy.

Waste bins are available outside of the library area and waste separation containers are also available on the fourth floor next to the elevator. Garbage disposal and cleanliness within a Grad Pad space is the sole responsibility of the Grad Pad space holder.

On termination of the tenure of Grad Pad space, students are responsible for removing all personal materials and for tidying the space before they vacate the Grad Pad. Grad Pad keys should be returned to the Graduate Studies Office (Room 441), and failure of which will result in forfeiture of the deposit.

Dalhousie University does not assume any responsibility for the safety of personal belongings left in the Grad Pad.

Dalhousie Law Graduate Society (DLGS)

The DLGS is a community of graduate law students at the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University. The society includes Master of Laws (LLM) and doctorate (Ph.D.) students.

The need for the DLGS is underscored by the potentially ‘isolating’ tendency of a graduate programme, the importance of partnership to scholarship, and the need for representation and advocacy for our common interest both within and outside the school of law.

Further to the above, the DLGS has five cardinal objectives:

  1. To create a platform for (collaborative) research, peer review, and publication;
  2. To advocate for, among other things, the availability and standardization of paid teaching and research opportunities to graduate students;
  3. To provide a central portal for disclosure of research grant opportunities and peer application assistance;
  4. To organize and hold a monthly graduate students’ research café and an annual or biannual Dal Graduate Law Students Conference; and
  5. To, from time-to-time, organize social meetups and engagement with beneficial external platforms.

While the above objectives are central to the DLGS mandate, they are by no means exhaustive.

The society has various academic, social, and advocacy initiatives to actualise the above objectives. These initiatives are publicised through the Law Graduate Students online community platform on Brightspace. You can also access the Society’s constitution, minutes of meeting, and information about current opportunities on the platform.

The society is currently led by a 5-member executive committee made up of: Keith Macmaster – President, Laura Ellyson – Vice President, Bayo Majekolagbe – Treasurer, Sixiang Peng – Secretary, and Nenyo Kwasitsu – Vice President, Events.

We believe that we are better together. Together, we can help make graduate life an even more engaging and enjoyable experience.

Travel and Research Funding

Conference funding requests

To apply for conference funding, submit a letter to the Graduate Studies Committee along with notification of acceptance to speak at the conference or, in exceptional circumstances to participate in the conference, and a letter of support from your supervisor. In your letter, explain the link between the conference presentation and your current research. You must also confirm that you have also applied for Faculty of Graduate Studies funding and have provided a budget justification.

Research funding requests

To apply for research funding, submit a letter to the Graduate Studies Committee along with a letter from your supervisor/mentor, explaining why the expenditures are necessary for your research and providing a budget justification. Your supervisor/mentor must confirm necessity.

Funding limits

For speaking at conferences: LLM and PhD students, $500 maximum per student, max one award per student per year, must have applied for FGS funding.

For research: only PhD students, $1000 maximum per student, max one award per student per year, must have applied for FGS funding, must be necessary for thesis.

Program Progress

Program Requirements

Every graduate student must have an individually approved program of studies. The program of study for each graduate student must be approved by the Graduate Coordinator in each academic unit or program and submitted for final approval to the Faculty of Graduate Studies. By the end of the first term, the Graduate Academic Unit will enter the proposed program (with the total number of credits required, the names and numbers of all courses required, including ancillary courses and any other requirements and conditions) on the Graduate Student Information System (GSIS). The graduate program requirements must be approved electronically by the student, supervisor (where applicable), the Graduate Coordinator and the Faculty of Graduate Studies. At this stage, the student and academic unit are approving the requirements for the degree. Confirmation that the degree requirements have been met will be carried out in the Faculty of Graduates Studies as part of the degree audit for convocation. Once approved, the program requirements in GSIS constitutes an agreed contract between the student and the University and is used to audit the student's file for graduation. Any changes to the approved program requirement must be agreed to by the Graduate Coordinator and the Faculty of Graduate Studies by way of an update to the existing requirements already approved in GSIS.

Annual Progress Report

Every thesis-based graduate student is required to submit an Annual Progress Report on GSIS to the Faculty of Graduate Studies, through their Graduate Coordinator. This report is due on an annual basis, one month before the anniversary of the student’s admission date. Failure to submit this report will result in delays in registration and funding. Occasionally students are required to submit progress reports more than once a year.

Students who have external funding administered by the University are required to submit annual progress reports one month before the one year anniversary of the start date of their award. This report will also satisfy the Faculty of Graduate Studies progress report requirements.

Academic Accommodation for Students

 Requests for special accommodation for reasons such as illness, injury or family emergency will require an application to the Law School Graduate Studies Committee. Such requests (for example, for assignment extensions) must be made to Associate Dean, Graduate Studies Lucie Guibault as soon as possible, before a scheduled exam or a deadline for an assignment, and will generally require documentation.  Retroactive accommodation will not be provided.  Please note that individual professors cannot entertain accommodation requests. 

Students may request accommodation for either classroom participation or the writing of tests and exams due to barriers related to disability, religious obligation, or any characteristic under the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act. Students who require such accommodation must make their request to the Advising and Access Services Center (AASC) at the outset of the regular academic year. Please visit www.dal.ca/access for more information and to obtain the Request for Accommodation – Form A. Students may also contact the Advising and Access Services Centre directly at (902) 494-2836.

Plagiarism

Dalhousie University expects all students to be responsible learners

All students must read the University policies and regulations on plagiarism and academic honesty. Learn more about Dal's regulations regarding plagiarism from the University Secretariat's site on Academic Integrity.

The law school's policy on plagiarism

Any paper submitted by a student at the Schulich School of Law may be checked for originality to confirm that the student has not plagiarized from other sources. Plagiarism is considered a serious academic offence which may lead to loss of creditsuspension or expulsion from the law school, or even revocation of a degree. It is essential that there be correct attribution of authorities from which facts and opinions have been derived.

Prior to submitting any paper or other assignment, students should read and familiarize themselves with the policies referred to above and should consult with the instructor if they have any questions.

Ignorance of the policies on plagiarism will not excuse any violation of those policies.

Re-use of Material by Graduate Students

As a general principle, material written for a course by a graduate student should rarely be re‐used in the thesis. The requirements of both individual courses and the thesis itself call for the work produced to be an original piece of scholarship: simply put, the same written material cannot be original twice.

This is not to say that graduate students cannot explore the same issues in both a paper for a course and in the thesis: indeed, it is likely that this will happen. However, the topics should be different enough that a student is exploring separate aspects of a topic in the two pieces of work, or in the thesis is expanding and developing an analysis which was first undertaken in a paper. In either case it would be necessary to be writing something fresh.

This is not to say that there are no circumstances in which the same text could appear in two different works. A paper might, for example, have contained a short overview which does nothing more than set out another author’s opinion, summarize the effect of a piece of legislation, or otherwise simply describe something. In that event it would be formalistic to insist on the student re‐writing a new factual description for the thesis.

Any re‐use should be with the prior knowledge of the thesis supervisor, who must be shown the original work and told why re‐using the same material is appropriate. Second, a limited amount of such material can be re‐used. It should be rare to see more than three consecutive pages of re‐used material, and reused material ought not to amount in total to more than 10% of the thesis. If a supervisor feels that there are exceptional reasons to depart from this guideline, she/he should consult with the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies at as early a point as possible. This same rule applies to a thesis prepared for a different degree (e.g., a doctoral student using material from his/her LLM thesis).

Materials produced for a doctoral area exam or thesis proposal defence are exempted from the “three consecutive pages” and 10% rules. However, the requirement that the supervisor approve the re‐use will apply.

Important dates

September

Register your DalCard as a library Card.

Career Development Office, Schulich School of Law – Services for Graduate Students

The Career Development Office provides career services to law students and graduate students enrolled in the Schulich School of Law.  Career Advisors are available to meet with you to discuss your career goals and provide advice and resources to get you started on your job search.   Our services include:

  • Career counselling
  • Résumé and cover letter reviews
  • Interview preparation
  • Job application resources, including on-line resources on MySchulichLaw

MySchulichLaw is a secure, password-protected on-line platform provided by the Career Development Office to provide career related resources to our students, including sample résumés and cover letters, interview tips and networking advice.  To register for MySchulichLaw contact Julie Harnish at julie.harnish@dal.ca.

To book an appointment with one of our Career Advisors send your request to:  career.development@dal.ca.

November

Apply to graduate – If you intend to graduate in May you must submit an application via Dal Online. Further information on convocation can be found on the Faculty of Graduate Studies website.

December

Min month - Final Thesis due to FGS to graduate in the Spring without registering for the Winter term

February

Check out the Faculty of Graduate Studies website for details of the 3MT (Three minute thesis) competition.

April

Register for summer term (thesis students).

First week – Final Thesis due to FGS to graduate in the Spring convocation

June

If you intend to graduate in October you must submit an application via Dal Online. Further information on convocation can be found on the Faculty of Graduate Studies website.

Check out The Writing Centre

Offers support in all subjects—from academic assignments to dissertations—for both undergraduate and graduate students. Writing Centre advisors will meet with students individually to discuss work and also offer events and seminars. The Writing Centre is not a proofreading or editing service, rather the goal is to teach independent writing. Contact details and list of 2017/18 seminars can be found on their website.

July

Read FGS guidelines for thesis submission. Thesis must be format checked prior to uploading to DalSpace. This can take up to two business days so build this into your submission timeline.

Students who do not plan to graduate in October must contact the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies with degree completion plans.

August

Last week - Final Thesis due to FGS to graduate in the Fall convocation

Progress Reports: Every graduate thesis student continuing in the program after the initial academic year is required to submit an Annual Progress Report to the Faculty of Graduate Studies, one month prior to the anniversary of the student's admission date. This means that they are due August 1 for September admits.