What is an HRE?

Are you eligible?

What will be expected of you?

The Honours Research Essay (HRE) provides eligible students with an opportunity to complete an independent research essay (40-50 pages) under the supervision of a faculty member. The HRE must be completed over two consecutive academic terms, beginning in the fall term. The HRE counts towards the student’s degree as a full credit (1.0) course. You are eligible to register in the HRE if you have fourth year standing in B. CoMS and a GPA of 10.0 or higher (major and overall). The HRE entails a substantial time commitment. Typically, an HRE will require you to dedicate about one full day a week to it, over the course of two semesters. You will also be expected to be self-driven, able to meet deadlines, and capable of delivering high-quality work.

Should you pursue an HRE in COMS?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I self-directed?
  • Am I motivated and committed to academic excellence?
  • Am I good at being organized and managing my time?
  • Do I work well independently?
  • Do I like doing research?
  • Do I enjoy learning about research methods and theory in COMS?
  • Do I like writing? Is my writing style well-developed?
  • Do I meet deadlines?
  • Do I accept feedback well and can I act on scholarly advice?

If you can confidently answer yes to all of the above questions, you may be in a good position to pursue an HRE.

Please see the HRE guidelines for students.

Please see the HRE guidelines for supervisors.

What are the timelines?

Early September Statement of Research Interest. You will need to first meet with the HRE coordinator in early September. For this meeting, you will need to prepare a brief draft statement of research interest.
End of September Identify supervisor
You will need to select and confirm your supervisor by the end of September. Students can find more information about faculty members’ expertise and contact information on the faculty profile page.
Late November Research Proposal You will next complete a research proposal with guidance from your supervisor. For the proposal, you will do some background reading, synthesize relevant literature, and develop a research plan (with methods and timelines). The proposal is normally due in late November.
February Progress Report In between the proposal and the final HRE, you will submit at least one progress report to your supervisor (typically due in early February). Depending on the work plan that you develop with your supervisor, the HRE process may entail additional reporting or meetings.
Early April Completed HRE and Research Presentation Your completed HRE will be due during the last week of classes in the winter term. Following the completion of your HRE, you will present your research at a public event in the School with other HRE students.

What is the role of the supervisor?

The supervisor’s role is to provide advice and feedback on your work. The supervisor will help you choose research methods and approaches appropriate for your topic. They will offer feedback on the drafts of your proposal and the final essay. The supervisor will also identify the appropriate second reader to assist them in evaluating your essay.

What is the role of the second reader?

The second reader is another faculty member who has relevant expertise and has agreed to read and help evaluate your final essay. In addition to providing input to the assessment of your final HRE grade, they may also provide feedback to help inform your future work.

Examples of recent HREs in COMS

COMS students can choose from a variety of topics and approaches to research. Some recent examples of COMS HRE titles include:

  • “Forgive My Laughter. I Have a Condition”: The Portrayal of Neurological Difference in Joker (2019)
  • To Vaccinate or not to Vaccinate: Canadian Public Health Messaging towards Vaccinating Youth Ages 12-17 Years Old against Covid-19
  • TikTok’s Impact on the Acceleration of Fashion Trend Cycles: Mapping the Trajectory of the Green House of Sunny Hockney Dress
  • Of Performativity and Pioneers: A Critical Media Analysis of Gender and National Identity as Constructed by The Pioneer Woman