Why choose an Honours Research Essay in your program

The Honours Research Essay (HRE) provides Honours students with an opportunity to conceptualize and execute an independent research project, under the supervision of a faculty member. The project will result in a major essay that is assessed by both the supervisor and an appointed second reader.

Course details

PSCI 4908 (1.0 credit) is available to Honours students in Political Science; GPOL 4908 (1.0 credit) to Honours students in Global Politics. In both programs, the HRE runs over two academic terms. If the project is not completed after these two terms, there is a possibility of re-registration (see below). It is strongly recommended to register for the HRE in the regular academic year (fall and winter term). While it is also possible to write an HRE over the summer, students often find that the summer term does not give them sufficient time to complete a high-quality essay.

Course requirements

An HRE is a long-term project that requires careful planning, continuous attention over two or more academic terms, and regular interaction with the supervisor. After registering in PSCI/GPOL 4908, students are required to submit a work plan, signed off by their supervisor. After the first term, they must submit a progress report, again signed off by the supervisor. The final product is an essay of approximately 50-70 pages (double spaced, ca. 10,000 words). The grade for the HRE is based entirely on the quality of this essay, as assessed by the supervisor and the second reader. A minimum passing grade of B- is required to gain credit for PSCI/GPOL 4908.


Students must independently identify a regular faculty member in the Department of Political Science to supervise the HRE. The second reader will be appointed by the Undergraduate Supervisor later in the process, in consultation with the essay supervisor. Faculty from other disciplines may supervise the HRE if approved by the Undergraduate Supervisor; in this case, the second reader must be from the Political Science Department. No faculty member is required to supervise any particular HRE. Note that it may be difficult to find a faculty member available for supervision over the summer.


The HRE is available to Honours students in Political Science (PSCI 4908) or Global Politics (GPOL 4908) with fourth-year standing and a major CGPA of 9.0 or higher (or permission from the department). Beyond these formal requirements, an HRE is recommended only for students who are strongly self-motivated and possess excellent time management skills. Please note that while writing an HRE will greatly expand your research skills, it does not improve your chances of being admitted to a graduate program.

Registration and re-registration

PSCI/GPOL 4908 is offered in the regular academic year (fall/winter) and over the summer term. Registration requires departmental permission. Permission will be given to students who (a) meet the eligibility requirements, and (b) have identified a faculty member willing to supervise the project. Unlike other undergraduate courses, students are permitted up to two re-registrations in PSCI/GPOL 4908.

For more information on registration and re-registration procedures, please contact the Undergraduate Program Administrator.