Contemporary Studies Program honours requirement and honours application process

The CSP honours requirement can be fulfilled in either of the two honours subjects (normally the subject in which you have taken more classes, i.e., your primary subject). The honours requirement in CSP is satisfied by writing an honours thesis, which is defended at an oral examination. The first part of the honours seminar, CTMP 0456, is a “non-credit” class, but it is still mandatory that you attend it and fulfill all the requirements. The second part of the honours seminar, CTMP 4456 is a 3-credit class, which will count toward the number of credits required for your combined-honours degree.[1]

If you intend to complete an honours thesis in CSP, you must have your honours application approved by the CSP Director and the Chair of the Dalhousie Department. Honours applications should be completed on-line as follows:

  • obtain a fillable pdf “Honours Application Form” from the CSP office (
  • fill out the application: include ALL 20 credits required for your degree, i.e., list the classes you have taken so far (e.g., KING 1000.12; CTMP 2002.03; CLAS 3361.03, etc.) and add the classes you are still planning to take (e.g., CTMP 3XXX.03). If you are planning to write your honours thesis in CSP, include both parts of the Honours Thesis Seminar (CTMP 0456.00 and CTMP 4456.03)
  • forward the form to the Director or Undergraduate Advisor of your primary program (normally the program in which you have more credits) – they will sign the form and return it to you
  • forward the form to the other department for signature – they will sign the form and return it to you
  • forward the form to the Dal Registrar’s office (

If you are planning to write your honours thesis in CSP, once your honours application is approved, please contact the CSP Director, Dr. Stephen Boos (, for permission to register in both parts of the Honours Thesis Seminar (CTMP 0456.00 and CTMP 4456.03). If you would like to register in the Honours Thesis Seminar prior to having your form approved by both departments, you should email Dr. Boos and request a waiver of this requirement.

Your approved honours application must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office by September 19.

Honours Thesis Seminar (CTMP 0456.00 and CTMP 4456.03)

Students who are fulfilling their honours requirement in CSP must take both parts of the honours thesis seminar. The seminar will be offered in person, and the course content will be posted on Brightspace.[2] Please note that the second half of the Honours Thesis Seminar, CTMP 4456.03, will be activated in the Winter term and the content migrated from CTMP 0456.00. Registered students who later decide not to write the thesis must withdraw from CTMP 0456.00 and CTMP 4456.03 by November 2. 

CTMP 0456.00 will consist of FIVE meetings, which will take place on the following days: September 12, September 26, October 10, November 7, and November 21. Attendance at the meetings is mandatory.

September 12, 11:30 – 1:00 p.m. Archibald Room

  • requirements for fulfilling the honours credit in Contemporary Studies
  • general procedures (selecting and working with your supervisor; revisions; thesis defence; procedures for appeal)

September 26, 11:30 – 1:00 p.m. Archibald Room

October 10, 11:30 – 12:30 p.m. Writing Workshop 1

A CSP Writing Coach will offer the first of the three honours thesis Writing Workshops, designed especially for the CSP thesis students. The topics will include general tips for writing a longer research paper; strategies for finding research resources and documenting your research; writing a thesis proposal and creating a bibliography, and others.

November 7, 11:30 – 1:00 p.m.

The seminar will be divided into several small groups, with two faculty members per group to provide feedback and advice. The list of members of each group and their assigned classrooms will be circulated in advance and posted on Brightspace. Please bring a copy of your one-page description of the project and preliminary bibliography.

  • each group member delivers a 5-7-minute oral presentation of the thesis proposal and bibliography
  • the presentation is followed by a 5-8-minute discussion among group members

November 21, 11:30 – 12:30 p.m. Writing Workshop 2

A CSP Writing Coach will offer the second of the three honours thesis Writing Workshops, designed especially for the CSP thesis students. The topics will include: efficient ways to develop a complex and cohesive argument, integrating theory with case studies, using footnotes and creating a “Works Cited” document, and others.

CTMP 4456.03/0457.00 will consist of THREE meetings, which will take place on the following days: January 23, February 6, and February 27. Attendance at the meetings is mandatory for all students completing a thesis (credit and non-credit options).

January 23, 11:30­–1:00 p.m. Peer Editing Workshop  

Please bring a hard copy of the first draft of your thesis (or portion that you have written so far)

  • Theses progress reports
  • The seminar will be divided into two-person teams for the purpose of discussion, constructive feedback, and peer-editing

February 6, 11:30­–12:30 p.m. Writing Workshop 3

A CSP Writing Coach will offer the third of the honours thesis Writing Workshops, designed especially for CSP thesis students. The topics will include: editing your thesis for clarity and cohesion, eliminating grammatical and syntactical errors, writing a thesis abstract, identifying key words, and others.

  • February 27, 11:30 – 1:00 p.m.

Please bring a complete draft of the thesis to the meeting.

  • Theses progress reports
  • Preparation for the thesis defence



At any point in the thesis-writing process, you can request one-on-one assistance of the CSP Writing Coach. This a free service offered to all CSP Honours Thesis writers.


Description of the Honours Thesis

Important deadlines:

  • November 7, 11.30 a.m.: One-page summary of the project and preliminary bibliography
  • February 27, 11.30 a.m.: Complete draft (to be submitted to the supervisor for final feedback; revisions to be completed within two weeks)
  • March 19@ midnight: Final copy, with bibliography, abstract and key words (no revisions possible after that date)


No extensions will be offered for the above deadlines (except in special circumstances; documentation might be required).


The honours thesis is a substantial piece of intellectual work on a subject chosen by the student and agreed to by the supervisor.  It can be a serious revision of an essay already submitted in one of your CSP courses. The quality of work is expected to approximate the requirements at the graduate level, and the emphasis will be on original, critical thinking. Interdisciplinary approaches are encouraged.

The minimum length is twenty-five pages, while thirty-five pages will be considered long. Students must use both primary and secondary sources, and provide a bibliography, an abstract, and a list of key words.

The complete draft of your thesis must be uploaded on Brightspace and an electronic version submitted to your supervisor on or before February 27.

Your final thesis must be uploaded on Brightspace on or before March 19, 2024, at midnight, and emailed to your supervisor and to the administrative secretary (Sharon Brown).

Working with the honours thesis supervisor

Begin with identifying potential supervisors and contacting them by e-mail to determine who might be best suited to work with you on the topic you are interested in (see below the list of CSP faculty available for thesis supervision in 2023/2024 with their areas of expertise and email addresses). Please be advised that particular instructors’ ability to supervise theses is limited. Please keep in mind that CSP part-time instructors can be approached as potential supervisors, and so can the instructors who are on leave in the academic year 2023/2024 (with limited availability). You are encouraged to contact potential supervisors before the beginning of term (via email). Should you wish to work with a King’s or Dalhousie instructor who is not a member of the CSP teaching staff (or with an instructor from another academic institution in Halifax), arrangements must still be made with a primary supervisor who is a member of the CSP teaching staff. The two will serve as your thesis co-supervisors.

In the Fall term, you should meet with your supervisor at least twice. In the Winter Term, you should meet with your supervisor at least bi-weekly.

You should develop your topic and have it approved by the supervisor before the meeting on November 7. After that date, individual schedules for producing the work will be established in consultation with the supervisor, although the general deadlines must be observed.

Thesis defence and evaluation

You will defend your thesis at a thirty-minute oral exam during the week of April 1-5. During the exam, you will be expected to provide a five-minute summary of your thesis and then answer questions about the substance and method of your work posed by the examining committee. The examining committee will consist of the supervisor (co-supervisors) and an external reader, with the supervisor acting as Chair.

Examining committees will evaluate the theses according to the Dalhousie/King’s grading scale. Before the end of April, you will receive a written evaluation of the thesis, which will include a letter mark, agreed upon by your committee. Your grade will be based on the quality of the thesis, your performance during the thesis defence, as well as the quality of your participation in the thesis-writing process and your ability to meet the partial deadlines.

The CSP Honours Thesis Prize for 2023-2024 will be awarded to the highest-ranked thesis during the CSP end-of-year review and celebration in the first week of May.


Plagiarism is the presentation of the work of another author in such a way as to give one’s reader reason to think it to be one’s own. A student who is in any doubt as to what constitutes plagiarism is urged to discuss the matter with the thesis supervisor. Plagiarism may constitute grounds for expulsion – see the statement on discipline in the University Calendar (University Regulations).

Ouriginal plagiarism detection software will be used in this seminar. You are free to choose an alternative method of attesting to the authenticity of your work. You must inform Dr. Boos no later than

November 7 (due date for the proposal) of your intent to choose an alternate method.

List of Contemporary Studies instructors available to supervise honours theses in 2023/2024 and their primary interests

Dr. Hamza Karam Ally: 19th- and 20th-century literature; postcolonial theory and literature; phenomenology.

Email address:

Dr. Michael Bennett: 19th- and 20th-century European philosophy; poststructuralism and postmodernism; science studies and philosophy of science; gender, sex, and sexuality; biopolitics and bioethics; new materialisms; philosophy and ecology; contemporary use and abuse of the history of philosophy (especially ancient Greek and Roman); language and logic (especially jokes and paradoxes).

Email address:

Dr. Stephen Boos: German Idealism, Nietzsche, phenomenology, existentialism, Foucault, Frankfurt School (Social and Political Thought), art aesthetics, environmental history, ethics and aesthetics, animal studies.

Email address:

Dr. Daniel Brandes: contemporary Jewish thought, phenomenology, existentialism, modernism, Arendt, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Agamben.

Email address:

Dr. Sarah Clift: social and political thought (19th/20th/21st Centuries); Freudian psychoanalysis; memory and trauma studies (public/collective memory; psychologies of memory; trauma theory; post-holocaust ethics; politics of memory; truth and reconciliation); continental philosophy (aesthetics/ethics/politics); the philosophy of Hannah Arendt; philosophies and politics of recognition (limited availability due to administrative duties).

Email address:

Dr. Susan Dodd: political philosophy, law and society, disasters, history of Western thought, public inquiries (including TRC and MMIWG), literary theory, apocalypse.

Email address:

Dr. Dorota Glowacka: theories of gender and feminist theory and literature; philosophy of race; Holocaust and genocide studies, including histories and representations of settler colonial violence in North America (testimony, literature, art; gender and mass atrocity); continental philosophy (Derrida, Levinas, Irigaray, Kofman); contemporary visual art.

Email address:

Dr. Kenneth Kierans: Kant, German Idealism (Fichte, Schelling, Hegel), Marx, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Sartre.

Email address:

Dr. Neil Robertson: political philosophy, Canadian political philosophy, Leo Strauss, George Grant, accounts/critiques of modernity, modern theology, continental philosophy (especially German).

Email address: 


Please be advised that you can have two co-supervisors, one of which must be a member of the CSP teaching staff. The other co-supervisor can be an instructor in another program at King’s (FYP, EMSP, HOST, or School of Journalism), or a full-time instructor at Dalhousie or another university in Halifax (e.g., SMU, MSVU, or NSCAD).

Do not hesitate to approach several instructors and have preliminary conversations if you are not sure who would like to write your thesis with (or on what subject). Please keep in mind that the capacity of each instructor to supervise theses is limited.

[1] Please keep in mind that you have an option of taking the second half (Winter Term) of the Honours Thesis Seminar as a non-credit option (CTMP 0457.03) and receiving the grade of “Pass” rather than a letter grade for the thesis, in accordance with the “grandfathered” Honours Theses requirement. If you choose a non-credit option, you will still have to satisfy all of the other Honours Thesis Requirements, as outlined in this memo.

[2] Some or all of the Writing Workshops may be offered remotely.  If so, recordings will be posted on Brightspace.