Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies Doctoral Candidacy Assessment Guidelines
CMSS ad hoc Candidacy Committee
Approved January 6, 2015
These assessment guidelines are part of the doctoral candidacy requirements for the PhD in Strategic Studies at the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary. For the full requirements of the program please see:https://cmss.ucalgary.ca/program/PhD
High quality research is grounded in a solid command of the literature. The candidacy examination is intended to establish that the student is sufficiently well prepared in his or her major fields to go on to dissertation research and writing and can demonstrate competence to use such preparation. The Faculty of Graduate Studies Handbook states that
The candidacy examination should focus on the background knowledge of students in their discipline, as well as their preparedness to conduct research of high quality in their particular fields of study.
Students should recognize that merely taking appropriate core and elective courses should not be regarded as sufficient in itself as preparation for the candidacy examination.
Our expectation is that the student should be able to succeed on the following components of the exam.
1. Identify, display knowledge of, and make appropriate use of, key literature as specified by the strategic studies and second field reading lists. To be considered a pass on the candidacy exam, a student’s answer should be able to adequately describe the main argument(s) of the particular key text in question and adequately explain how the author supports his or her argument. These answers must go beyond a superficial level of analysis.
2. Show a sound understanding of major debates and controversies. That is, the student must go beyond isolated explanations of individual texts to explain how the ideas of the various authors under consideration relate to each other. To be considered a pass, such an explanation must identify the main themes and debates within the literature.
3. Demonstrate an overall grasp of all sections of both reading lists. It is understood that the entirety of both reading lists constitutes the foundation of the examination. That is, a lack of adequate knowledge of any section of the two reading lists has the same consequences for determining a pass or fail as any other section of the lists. Students must read every title on the strategic studies and second field reading lists.
4. Demonstrate an ability to assess and critique the relevant literature in respect to specific issues or themes, to exercise a critical judgment with respect to it, and to analyze and present plausible positions on an issue. Critical judgment includes a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of specific ideas, texts, and themes that address the examiner(s)’ line of questioning. The student will support his or her critique by logically and coherently evaluating the idea under consideration.
5. Answers must be as coherent as possible and supported by reference to the appropriate literature.
The student should provide a direct answer. To the extent that a student seeks to draw on material not covered on the reading lists, he or she will directly relate that material to the question at hand and connect it to the relevant literature under consideration.
If asked about a practical historical or present-day case the student will provide an adequate answer grounded in the relevant literature from the two reading lists. It is understood that examiners may ask students about such empirical cases as long as they are related to the student’s preparation as defined by the examination committee.