Graduate Student Life

In the Department

The graduate student community in Political Science at SFU typically consists of 40 to 50 students who are taking classes or working on their program requirements. Graduate classes are small, allowing all students to participate fully and to receive time and attention from their instructors.

All of our PhD students and all of our TAs are assigned or have access to shared offices in the Department, a feature that contributes to a high level of interaction among students and with faculty. We have also established a graduate student computer lab and lounge in the Department that is available for all graduate students. All students are provided email access.

The Department sponsors a regular speakers seminar where scholars from outside and inside SFU present their research and discuss contemporary academic issues. It also hosts regular professional development workshops for graduate studetns. Our graduate students are encouraged to attend these seminars and to participate in the discussions that follow. Students are also encouraged to take part in the Graduate caucus, the decision-making body for our grad students. Graduate student representatives participate in faculty meetings and the administrative committees of the Department.

Most of our graduate students also have the opportunity to be teaching assistants. As teaching assistants they conduct weekly tutorials with two to three different groups. TAs help their students with essays, grade essays, exams and presentations, and help students prepare for midterms and finals. Our graduates are highly enthusiastic about their work as teaching assistants which, they say, provides them with an excellent learning experience. They not only learn about the teaching enterprise and about working with post-secondary students, they also gain a greater understanding of their discipline.

In addition to having a broad range of intellectual and disciplinary interests, multiple academic links, and strong research and publication records, our faculty has notable success in securing major research grants. Recent external grant success has been achieved in projects such as as the Canadian Election Study, Canadian Social Democracy, Climate Change Adaptation, Deliberative Democracy in Canadian Public Policy,  Economic Security in BC, Engaging Diasporas in Development,  Government Responsiveness, International Forestry Policy,  Policy Analytical Capacity, Polls, the Media, and Elections,  Transportation Policy, and Wine Genomics. Such major external grants provide considerable funding and diverse research opportunities for our graduate students.

Major external grants provide considerable funding and diverse research opportunities for our graduate students. Our faculty also give a high priority to effective and challenging teaching. This combination makes our department an exciting place for academic study


The Political Science Department is part of a vibrant and complex university community comprising some 20,000 full and part-time students, and nearly one thousand instructors offering more than 100 programs in five different Faculties. First opened in 1965, the university prides itself on innovation, its record of world class research and its reputation as an excellent teaching university. With a trimester system that allows students to take courses year round, or to take semesters off other than the usual summer break, SFU provides full facilities for its students throughout the academic year.

The Library facilities at SFU are kept up to date with strong new acquisitions policies and extensive on-line services. The Library was one of the first Canadian research libraries to provide an online catalogue for its entire collection, and to provide Library Web pages. Now, the book and journal collections are augmented by a variety of online full text sources, and by online request forms for materials from Western Canadian University Libraries.

Computer facilities, including email accounts, on-campus and home access to all Internet services and a number of micro-computer labs are available to students. As well, consultants are on hand to help graduate students on all Internet services, how to get connected from home, and on a wide variety of topics including statistics, numerical analysis, database usage and computer purchases.

Burnaby Campus

Positioned on the top of Burnaby Mountain at the northern end of the suburb of Burnaby, the university overlooks Burrard Inlet. With spectacular views in all directions, the campus is situated in a picture postcard location. To the north, the ski hills of Seymour, Grouse and Cypress Mountains are situated just across Burrard Inlet. To the west the Gulf Islands and the mountains of Vancouver Island are visible, and to the south and east the San Juan Islands, the Olympic Peninsula range and Mount Baker can be seen.

At the University, outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy biking, hiking and running on the forest trails that surround the university buildings. The university also provides a track, tennis courts and a sports field as well as indoor facilities for activities such as aerobics, judo, squash and weight training. In addition, there is an Olympic-sized swimming pool with a separate dive pool,  and numerous competitive sports teams and leagues are available for students to join. For those who appreciate urban attractions, the main campus of SFU is a short distance from downtown Vancouver, where the University has a satellite campus at Harbour centre.

For more information on SFU, go to:

In the City

Burnaby, where SFU is located, is a suburb bordering the eastern boundary of the City of Vancouver. The Vancouver region is one of stunning natural beauty. Situated on the Pacific Ocean, surrounded by the West Coast mountains, it offers a physical environment with everything from sandy beaches to rugged mountains, from rainforest to the densely urban West End. Just two hours north of the city is the town of Whistler, a world famous destination ski resort.

The Vancouver region contains a richly diverse and growing group of communities, composed of people from many different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. With a plethora of eating establishments reflecting its intensely multicultural character and an excellent variety of public festivals, performing arts activities, theatres, film houses, music concerts, and sporting events, the Vancouver area offers students a wide range of choice for extra-curricular activities as well as resources for cultural enrichment. The Vancouver region also houses a number of other post-secondary education institutions which have facilities SFU graduate students can access.

For more information on British Columbia and the Vancouver regional area see:
Tourism Vancouver
Super, Natural British Columbia

Grad Student Resources

Political Science Graduate Student Caucus

Our graduate programme typically admits under 20 new students yearly, from across Canada and internationally. Our graduate cohort is an important community within the Department and participates actively in Departmental affairs, as well as conducting its own affairs via the Graduate Caucus.

Chair: Maggie Hall
Vice Chair: Kayla Phillips
Secretary/Treasurer: Marcus Macauley
Graduate Student Society Representative: Layton Ramsey
TSSU Representative: Steven Nuss
Departmental MA Representative: Vanna Lodders
Departmental PhD Representative: Alex Beyer (Alternate: Vince Hopkins)

Having a smaller graduate programme than the larger universities, we can provide more opportunities for our students to gain experience as Teaching and Research Assistants and more chances to develop close working relationships with faculty.

Resources Beyond the Department 

A number of faculty members have close connections to other programmes at SFU, including Gender, Sexuality and Women's StudiesLatin American StudiesUrban StudiesPublic Policy, the Asia-Canada ProgrammeDevelopment Studies and the School for International Studies. Two research centres play particularly important roles as hubs for graduate student research: the Centre for Public Opinion and Political Representation and the Institute for Diaspora Research & Engagement.

Other resrouces available to our graduate students include the Advanced Professional Engagement eXploration (APEX) program, the Teaching and Learning CentreCo-operative Education,  Research Commons, and  Thesis Assistance.