MA Handbook


Master of Arts in Contemporary Arts

Last revision: August, 2022

This handbook has been prepared by the Graduate Program Chair and the Graduate Program Committee for students, faculty, and staff of the School for the Contemporary Arts, with the purpose of providing information about the policies, procedures, and opportunities in the MA Program offered by the School. Students, faculty, and staff involved in the program should review SFU's Graduate General Rules and Regulations here.

The Master of Arts (MA) degree program in Contemporary Arts trains students to think across the media arts in a comparative perspective that synthesizes the historical and theoretical approaches of art history, cinema studies, performance studies, and studies of computer-based arts.

Created September 2013

Prof. Arne Eigenfeldt
Graduate Program Chair, 2012-18

Prof. Laura Marks
MA Program Coordinator

Revised October, 2022

Prof. Peter Dickinson
Graduate Program Chair, 2019-

Prof. Laura Marks
MA Program Coordinator


1.1 Outcomes

  • A degree that prepares you for work in the arts and for arts-related PhD programs, including practice-based PhDs.
  • One publishable essay or other work (e.g. video, curated exhibition) that will help launch you professionally post-MA.

1.2 The SCA’s Graduate Programs: MA vs. MFA

Though the School for Contemporary Arts encourages interaction between all of its students, there are important differences between the MA and MFA that limit direct crossover between the two programs.

The MA is a scholarly, research-based program. Though students accepted into the MA program often have a background in artistic practice, their work during the MA is focused on scholarly research related to a primary object of study. The MFA is a practiced-based creative research program, in which an artistic creation project is the main focus of the program.

In some cases, MA students incorporate their artistic practice into individual research conducted during a practicum. However, the overall focus of the MA remains on scholarly research, and students accepted into the MA program are not able to enroll in studio classes offered through the MFA.

The use of SCA studio facilities and technical equipment is reserved for activities directly related to course work and associated research; thus, it is not anticipated that MA’s will access these resources.

MA and MFA students may choose to coordinate events related to their respective programs through the collectively run SCA Graduate Caucus. MA and MFA seminar courses may be taken by students in either program.


To complete the Master of Arts degree, candidates must complete a minimum of 30 units.

Seven courses for a total of 35 credits, including:

  • CA 821-5 – Research Methods in Contemporary Arts
  • CA 822-5 – Research Colloquium in Contemporary Arts
  • CA 829-5 – Extended Essay in Contemporary Arts
  • CA 890-0 – Professional Practices Seminar I
  • CA 891-0 – Professional Practices Seminar II

And at least three core options:*

  • CA 823-5 – New approaches in visual art and culture
  • CA 824-5 – New approaches in moving-image studies
  • CA 825-5 – New approaches in digital art studies
  • CA 826-5 – New approaches in performance studies
  • CA 827-5 – Practicum in Contemporary Arts
  • CA 828-5 – New approaches in sound and the arts
  • CA 830-5 – Internship in Contemporary Arts

And one elective graduate course relevant to the student’s research, either within the School for the Contemporary Arts or from another department, with permission of the MA Program Coordinator and the faculty member teaching the course.

* Core courses may be substituted in consultation with the MA Program Coordinator or Graduate Program Chair. 


3.1 Fall Semester, Year 1

In their first semester in the program, students should register in the following courses:

  • CA 821-5 – Research Methods
  • Core option or elective.

3.2 Spring Semester, Year 1

In their second semester in the program, students will register in the following courses:

  • Two core options and/or elective.

3.3 Summer Semester, Year 1

In their third semester, students register for:

  • CA 829-5 – Extended essay*
  • Core option and/or elective (if core or elective requirements still needed)

* Students are required to complete their Extended Essay course before taking CA822-5 Research Colloquium. 

3.4 Fall Semester, Year 2

In their final semester, students should register in the following courses:

  • CA 822-5 – Research Colloquium
  • Core option and/or elective (if core or elective requirements still needed)

3.5 MA Symposium

The MA culminates in the MA Symposium, a public event for students to professionally present their work to friends, colleagues, and the public. It usually takes place in the first week of December in the Mowafaghian World Art Centre. At the symposium students present extracts from their extended essay that they have prepared as public talks in CA 822, the Research Colloquium. Students collectively undertake every aspect of planning the event, including scheduling, space booking, publicity, catering, booking audio-visual equipment, and designating a master of ceremonies. The budget for the MA Symposium is $1200, allocated from the Graduate Studies area budget.

Please read Appendix B: Guidelines for Selling Alcohol at Events.


CA 821-5 – Research Methods in Contemporary Arts

This course presents methods in graduate-level research skills, including interdisciplinary research methods. Prepares students to develop research questions for particular objects of study in the media arts through the study of philosophies of emergence, newness, and durability. Enrolment in MA in Contemporary Arts or permission of the instructor.

CA 822-5 – Research Colloquium in Contemporary Arts

This course prepares students in research presentation and other aspects of professional development through the development of the extended research essay and its public presentation. Prerequisite: CA (or FPA) 829. Students with credit for FPA 822 may not take this course for further credit. Enrolment in MA in Contemporary Arts or permission of the instructor.

CA 823-5 – New Approaches in Art and Visual Culture

This seminar course explores visual art and culture and its historical discourses and practices. Prerequisite: Enrolment in MA in Contemporary Arts or permission of the instructor.

CA 824-5 – New Approaches in Moving-Image Studies

This seminar course examines the arts of the moving image, including film, video, and other time-based audiovisual media. Prerequisite: Enrolment in MA in Contemporary Arts or permission of the instructor.

CA 825-5 – New Approaches in Digital Art Studies

This seminar course examines the history and practice of digital art, with an emphasis upon the artistic outcomes of the new methodologies and practices within this field. Prerequisite: Enrolment in MA in Contemporary Arts or permission of the instructor.

CA 826-5 – New Approaches in Performance Studies

This seminar course traces the interdisciplinary origins of performance studies and brings its concepts and methods to bear on dance, music and sound arts, theatre and performance arts, and media performance while introducing cross-disciplinary ideas from emergent areas such as neuroscience, cognitive science, and gaming. Prerequisite: Enrolment in MA in Contemporary Arts or permission of the instructor.

CA 827-5 – Practicum in Contemporary Arts

A term of part-time advanced and intensive practicum experience coordinated by SCA’s Professional Development Coordinator and supervised by arts organization personnel. Students have the opportunity to apply with a cover letter and resume to any of the internships posted or can create a self-directed internship placement.  Once a student has been placed with an organization, they work closely with a site supervisor at the organization to complete a minimum of 140 hours over the course of the semester, participate in a midway site visit and complete a final work report. Prerequisite: Permission of the MA Program Coordinator.

CA 828-5  New Approaches to Sound and the Arts

Scholarly research on sound ranges from studies on listening, more-than-human soundscapes, audio media archaeology, sound art, and sonic cultures. These works question and expand upon longstanding issues concerning the onto-epistemologies of sound, the status of the voice, the role of music in everyday life, the politics of sound, and sound's relationship to the imagination and other sensory domains. This seminar entails an examination of current debates and changing methodologies in sound studies, especially as they pertain to the contemporary arts. Prerequisite: Enrolment in MA in Contemporary Arts or permission of the instructor.

CA 829-5 – Extended Essay in Contemporary Arts

The composition of two essays serving as the final project of the MA, building upon the knowledge gained in coursework within the program. Prerequisite: CA 821-5, Research Methods, two electives in the MA in Contemporary Arts, and permission of the instructor.

CA 830-5 – Internship in Contemporary Arts

An elective in the MA program. The internship provides students with hands-on, practical experience in a work-related setting relevant to their studies through part-time, paid positions supporting organizations in the arts and culture sector in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. The course enables students to apply their academic training in a professional context, build community connections, and establish the foundations of an arts-related career post-graduation. Enrollment in the course is contingent on individual students being matched with an appropriate organization. Learning objectives are established at the start of the internship in consultation with the MA program coordinator, who also oversees final evaluation of the course. Students complete a maximum of 120 work-related hours over the course of a term, which includes a site visit and the completion of site visit form. Students submit a short reflection paper at the end of their placement. Internships may not require the supervision of a registered or licensed professional, and the completed work experience hours are not required for professional certification. This course is graded satisfactory/unsatisfactory. Students with credit for CA 827 may not take this course for further credit. Prerequisite: Enrolment in MA in Contemporary Arts and Permission of the MA Program Coordinator.

CA 890-0 – Professional Practices Seminar – I

CA 891-0 – Professional Practices Seminar – II

These non-credit professional development courses are required of all students in SCA’s graduate programs (MA, MFA, and PhD). In addition to building a sense of community through the peer discussion of questions relating to students’ research and teaching, different skills-based sessions will be devoted to academic writing, pedagogy, proposal and grant writing, the public dissemination of work, and so on. Students will have a chance to share work in progress with each other and the School, and guest workshops by professionals in the field (including SCA faculty) will occur regularly.

Recommended Elective Courses:

CA 811-5 – Interdisciplinary Graduate Seminar I
CA 812-5 – Interdisciplinary Graduate Seminar II
CA 877-5 – Selected Topics in Contemporary

CA 887-5 – Selected Topics in Contemporary
CA 889-5 – Directed Study in Contemporary Arts

CMNS 855-5 – Selected Topics in Communication Studies
CMNS 857-5 – Selected Topics in Communication Studies

ENGL 811-4 – Studies in Theory II: Performance and/in the City
ENGL 820-4 – Studies in Print Culture Theory
ENGL 821-4 – Studies in Manuscript, Print and Media Culture

GSWS 822-5 – Graduate Seminar in Feminist Art/Literary Criticism

HUM 802-5 – Themes in the Humanities
HUM 805-5 – Special Topics

IAT 831-3 – Encoding Media Practice

SA 875-5 – Ethnographic Methodology: Social/Cultural Anthropology

For the elective, you may take another graduate course, or reading-intensive version of an undergrad course as a CA889 Directed Study, with Program Coordinator's approval.

Students who choose an elective that is less than 5-credits will need to enroll in the course as CA889 Directed Study in order to increase the course credit to 5 units.


In consultation with MA Program Coordinator, the student considers course load and selects courses for the semester. Students normally take two courses a semester, with the exception of the Summer Semester and the final semester.

New students must have a credit balance on their account before they will be able to enroll in classes. This is done by paying the deposit to accept the offer of admission. Go here for more information.

Note that if you have outstanding fees on your student account, you cannot enroll in a subsequent term, and other penalties will be applied. Go here for more information.

Registration timetables are posted on the Dean of Graduate Studies web site and in the academic Calendar of Events. It is the student’s responsibility to check deadlines, pay their deposits, and keep their accounts current. Go here for more information.

Students register through the Student Information System. Log into the Student Information System with your computing ID and password here.


Students are required to pay tuition fees as well as other fees each term. MA students pay a per-term fee. Go here for more information.

Please note that MA students must register for at least one course per term, otherwise they will be dropped from the program by the Department of Graduate Studies.

For a rundown of the approximate tuition and fees for this program, please see the FAQs section of the MA website here

Students not wishing to take a class during any semester are required to request a leave of absence. Go here for more information.


We aim to provide all students with financial support at least once during their MA careers, in the form of awards, fellowships, teaching assistantships, and research assistantships.

The Graduate Program Coordinator will notify students of approaching deadlines for government and internal awards. Please prepare well in advance and keep in mind that you may need transcripts and reference letters.

7.1 Government Awards

It is possible to apply for funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS) is presently a one-year grant of $17,500.

To be eligible, a student must:

  • be a citizen or permanent resident of Canada;
  • not have completed more than 12 months of full-time graduate study at the proposed start date of the award;
  • have achieved a first-class average (i.e. a CGPA of at least 3.67), as determined by your university, in each of the last two years of full-time study or equivalent;
  • not have already received an award for master's-level study from SSHRC, NSERC, or CIHR.

Competition is strong and you need an original, compelling application. Go here for more information.

Prospective applicants are encouraged to take the grant-application workshops offered by the Department of Graduate Studies early in the fall semester. Go here for more information.

Students holding a CGS may apply for the CGS Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplement.

Other federal and provincial awards are listed on the Department of Graduate Studies web site. Go here for more information.

7.2 SFU internal awards

Internal SFU awards are available through the Grad Awards and Adjudication System (GA3S or GA3). Students can use the system to apply for merit based graduate awards and scholarships that are administered by the Department of Graduate Studies.

Students begin by completing a profile, which will populate each of their award applications. Students can also receive their status on submitted applications, accept or decline awards, and review their financial profile.

The system will only show awards that are currently open for application; students are encouraged to browse the website to see all the awards that will be available over the course of their degree program(s). Go here for more information.

7.2.1 Graduate Fellowship

The SCA Graduate Program is granted a number of Graduate Fellowships (GF) each year, presently valued at $3500 for a partial GF and $7000 for a full GF. These are awarded by the Graduate Program Committee to members of our MA, MFA, and PhD cohorts on the basis of academic excellence. A minimum CGPA of 3.5 is required (more information is available here).

7.2.2 Travel & Research Awards TARA

These are smaller amounts administered by the School for the Contemporary Arts on a “first come” basis, usually awarded for travel for research purposes (such as attending festivals or conferences) in the amount of (up to) $1500 per academic year. These awards can be applied for three times per year: November, March, and July, and are payable into the student’s account in the first month of the following semester. Note that these applications require a faculty reference, so students should discuss their project with a faculty member who can vouch for the relationship between their project and their work at the School.

These funds need to be adjudicated by the Graduate Program Committee, so students should apply at least 6 weeks in advance of their travel, if possible (more information is available here).

7.2.3 Private Internal Awards

Many external awards are listed on the Graduate Studies web site. Consider creatively how you might be eligible for these. Go here for more information.

7.3 Graduate Student Society, Financial Support

7.3.1 GSS Family Subsidy

The GSS is proud to continue its Family Subsidy program to assist graduate students. Graduate students in demonstrated financial need are eligible to apply to receive funding. Please note that subsidy amounts vary due to funding. Priority will be given to applicants with dependents under the age of 22 years. Go here for more information.

7.3.2 GSS Professional Development Grants

The GSS is proud to provide a source of funding to graduate students presenting at conferences or engaging in field research. Graduate students taking part in these professional development activities may apply for a grant of $499. Grants are distributed by lottery to top-scoring applications coded according to an objective system established by the GSS Grants Allocation Committee. Go here for more information.

7.4 Emergency Funding

7.4.1 GSS Emergency Grocery Card Program

The Emergency Grocery Card Program has been established by the GSS to provide temporary assistance to graduate students in urgent financial need. It is not meant to replace the services of SFU Financial Aidfood banks, or long-term remedies for graduate students’ financial needs. Go here for more information.

7.4.2 Quest Food Exchange Program

Quest is BC’s largest not-for-profit food exchange program. The GSS has partnered with Quest Food Exchange in order to help support people facing financial hardship to access affordable, healthy food. Go here for more information.

7.4.3 SFU Student Emergency Loan Fund

  • Short term emergency funds are available to students who urgently need money while awaiting receipt of other sources of funding.
  • Emergency loans are not available for outstanding fees owed to the University.
  • Students must have a demonstrated financial need and a secured source of repayment.
  • Graduate students must be enrolled for residence credit in an approved full-time program.
  • Students must meet with a financial aid and awards advisor. It is the student’s responsibility to supply all requested documentation. Incomplete applications may be rejected.

Simon Fraser University emergency loans are tenable only at Simon Fraser University and only for the term indicated on the notice.

7.4.4 Further Resources

For further assistance, check out this comprehensive list of other local resources, compiled by the Graduate Student Society: Community Resource here.

7.5 Student Loans, Bursaries, and Work-Study Positions

7.5.1 Student Loans

Students enrolled in eligible programs can apply for a variety of government assistance, including student loans and grants. Student lines of credit offered through financial institutions are also available. These forms of funding are offered to both full-time and part-time students. Go here for more information.

7.5.2 Bursaries

Bursaries are a supplemental source of funding for students with demonstrated financial need; that is, they should not be treated as your primary source of funding. Bursaries are available to Canadian and International students. You should be aware that you may not be awarded a bursary every term. Due to the high volume of applications received each term, payment of funds may not occur until the middle of the term of application. Go here for more information.

7.5.3 Work-Study Program

The Work-Study Program is an opportunity to participate in research-based projects and earn a supplemental income. You will also gain valuable experience connecting with various members of the SFU community and build your co-curricular record. Because a student’s first commitment is to his/her studies, Work-Study hours are flexible, on campus and supervised. Work-Study positions are available during the Fall, Spring and Summer terms. Successful applicants will be awarded 140 Work-Study hours for a term.

To qualify and maintain your eligibility for a Work-Study placement you must:

  • have a minimum CGPA of 3.00 at SFU (waived for students in their first term at SFU).
  • be enrolled full-time in an approved program, unless otherwise stipulated.
  • have a demonstrated financial need (as assessed by SFU).

Go here for more information.

7.6 Research Assistantships (RAs)

Faculty members holding research grants often have research-assistant jobs for graduate students, which require a variety of practical research. Such faculty members will often hire students as research assistants. The Graduate Program Chair will attempt to liaise between faculty members needing RAs, and students looking for RA positions. Alternatively, you may simply familiarize yourself with faculty members' funded research projects and approach them to propose your services as a research assistant.

7.7 Funding for international students

Unlike at many other universities, tuition cost for international students is the same as for Canadian students. At SFU, international students are eligible for university awards and fellowships, work-study jobs, and bursaries. However, many government awards are available only to Canadians or permanent residents. We encourage you to secure some funding from your home country.

Information about Scholarships and Awards available to international students is available by searching the Office of Graduate Studies’ Awards and Funding database.

International students can legally work in Canada under certain conditions. Go here for more information about 'on campus' work and go here for more information about 'off campus' work.

In some cases, loans are available to International students. Go here for more information.

General information for international students can be found online here.

Specific financial aid is also available to U.S. students. Go here for more information.


7.8.1 When will I receive my award?

It depends on the award, and on when you accept it in the system. For the schedule, go here.

7.8.2 Why is the award amount in my account less than what I was awarded?

Your award will first be applied to any outstanding payments you need to make to SFU. After this is done, your award will show up in your account as a ‘refund’ for the remaining amount.

7.8.3 Why have I not received my award yet?

You may need to apply for your award as a reimbursement for expenses. Go here to find out. Make a note of which awards are received as up-front payments, and which require an expense claim. Keep all receipts and make an appointment with the SCA's Administrative Coordinator ( to file your claim.

7.8.4 How do I track the status of my award?

You can check the status of your award through Go here for more information.

7.8.5 How can I maximize my chances of receiving grants\awards?

  • Make a schedule of award deadlines, using the awards timeline provided by the Department of Graduate Studies here.
  • Prepare some basic materials that you will likely re-use:
    • A concise and engaging description of your research, which would be comprehensible to someone without direct expertise in your field.
    • A description of the project you are working toward, with thought given to how it might be relevant or exciting to a broader research community.
    • An up-to-date list of your public presentations\publishing.
    • An up-to-date CV.
      • Be aware that for some awards, your GPA is a major consideration.


MA students are encouraged to work as Teaching Assistants (TAs) or Tutor Markers (TMs) at least once. SCA graduate students have priority in the hiring of TA and TM in School for Contemporary Arts. Their duties include preparation, attending lectures, leading discussion groups, studio consultation, and marking essays and exams.

TAs are paid according to a multiple of base units, according to the number of hours per week a TA is expected to work. Slightly different rules apply to Tutor Markers.

Approximately two months before the beginning of each semester, the Graduate Program Coordinator will inform all graduate students when the application process has opened. Applications are processed using SFU’s online system here.

Students are encouraged to apply for all positions for which they are qualified, ranking them by preference. Selection is made by the course instructors in consultation with the Graduate Program Chair. All TA and TM positions are conditional on enrollment.

The application for TA and TM positions should be professional and well written, and outline your experience and suitability for the course. By agreeing to TA or TM, you are making a time commitment; be sure that you will be available for the time and duration of the course and notify the instructor in the application of any anticipated absences. TAing is an important learning and financial opportunity; however, students should be cautious about taking on multiple positions. A balance between studies and the TA commitments needs to be maintained.

MA students can also apply for TA and TM positions in other departments. Keep in mind that graduate students in those departments have priority.

TAs and TMs fill out a Time Use Guideline with the instructor at the beginning of the semester, which includes a breakdown of the hours the TA/TM is expected to devote to various tasks. Take care to keep track of your hours weekly; do not work beyond contract hours, and do not work for free. If you find yourself working too many hours per week, let the instructor know immediately so that she or he can redistribute the workload; alternatively, you may request a workload review. Information on Time Use Guidelines (TUGs) is available on the online FAQ here.

TAs and TMs, as well as Sessional Instructors and Research Assistants, are represented by the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU), which, in its own words, “secures our wages, limits class size, provides health and dental benefits, protects us from discrimination and harassment, and generally makes our working conditions better.” MA students choose their representative to the TSSU.

Students who are TAs and TMs may choose to pay for their tuition under the “Payroll Deduction Process.” The benefit is they are not charged interest on the outstanding balance. Go here for more information.

All TSSU Members as defined by the TSSU bylaws with children under the age of 13, or those with children requiring additional care due to a physical or developmental disability up to the age of 18, are eligible to apply for childcare. Go here for more information.


Graduate students pay mandatory Student Society fees, which gives them access to a number of benefits, which are described here.

9.1 Health and Dental Benefits

You must have medical insurance for the entire duration of your studies. Without insurance, you could pay thousands of dollars per day for a hospital stay or even be refused certain services. In Canada, there are two types of insurance: primary and secondary. Both primary and secondary insurance are required for graduate students.

Primary Medical Insurance covers medically-required services, such as visits to doctors, hospital stays and diagnostic medical testing. Primary medical insurance is legally required for all residents of British Columbia (including international students) and is provided through the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP).  Effective January 1, 2020, the BC MSP premium has been eliminated for Canadians and permanent residents; however, each study permit holder is required to pay a health fee of $75 per month.

For Out of Province and International Students who are members of the TSSU:

From April 1, 2020 onwards those still being charged premiums for MSP will be able to enroll in a group plan through SFU, who will pay their bills just like under the older system.

More details are available here.

Secondary Medical Insurance generally covers vision care, prescription drugs and dental care. Eligible SFU students receive secondary medical insurance through the SFSS/GSS Extended Health and Dental Plan. Graduate students working as TAs may receive additional coverage through another provider as part of their employment contract. Go here for more information.

All SFU graduate students who are taking at least one course at SFU who have basic medical insurance will be automatically enrolled in the SFSS/GSS Extended Health and Dental Plan.

9.1.1. Opting Out of the GSS Health and Dental plan

Students that have existing secondary coverage in BC may opt out of the GSS extended health plan. To opt out, they will be required to upload proof of coverage on the GSS Health and Dental website (here) during the Change-of-Coverage Period (this will be during the first two weeks of each term).

The GSS has compiled information about the procedures, as well as potential benefits\drawbacks to opting out of the plan here.

9.1.2 Additional Benefits for TAs and TMs

TSSU members who are BC residents may opt-in to a group plan, to have part of their secondary insurance premiums paid by the employer (SFU). TAs, TMs, and Sessional Instructors must apply for all benefits by deadline. The employer (SFU) will not automatically enrol them. For international students, there is a three-month waiting period. These benefits extend to spouses and dependents.

Cost Sharing Breakdown:

  • Extended Health (Secondary Insurance): 75% employer-paid plan through Pacific Blue Cross that covers 80% of prescription drugs and minimal paramedical practitioners. Coverage may be maintained for up to 2 semesters following employment as long as the form is submitted before employment ends. Students can see the plan booklet for full details and can enroll via the form on SFU’s HR website here.

9.1.3 Coverage for International and Out-of-Province students

International and out-of-province students should apply for British Columbia Medical Services Plan (BC MSP) as soon as they enter the province, as the application takes 90 days to process. During this waiting period, international students are automatically enrolled in a short-term plan called Students from another Canadian province should maintain their out-of-province insurance until they obtain their BC MSP card.

More information for international students is available here, and more information for out-of-province students is available here.

9.1.4 Opting out of is a private insurance plan contracted by SFU that can provide coverage before international students are eligible for BC MSP. All incoming international students are automatically enrolled in this plan for the first semester of their program, but must still register for BC MSP. 

For detailed information about how to opt-out, students should see the TSSU’s guide here.

9.1.5 Adding your spouse or your kids to the plan

Students can opt-in family members/spouses for an additional cost (not tied to tuition or fees) during the change-of-coverage periods online at Studentcare.

9.1.6 GSS Benefit Plan Bursary

The annual GSS Benefit Plan Bursary is intended to offset the costs of the extended Health & Dental Benefit Plan ($465) for graduate students in demonstrated financial need. Download an application form here.

9.2 Health Clinics and Counseling Services

Students have access to SFU's health clinics, counseling services, health promotion, and physical therapy. Most fees are covered by BC MSP. Go here for more information.

9.3 SFU Computing ID

As soon as students are admitted to SFU and have paid their deposit, they will receive an email to activate their SFU Computing ID, which gives them access to email, the Student Information System, their payslip, web publishing facilities, eLearning systems such as Canvas, campus labs, and online Library services (more information is available here).

9.4 Library/ID card

Your library/ID card gives you access to SFU's library, semester loans of books, electronic databases, interlibrary loan, free workshops, and other services.

Additional Library Services:

9.4.1 Library Research Commons

SFU Library's Research Commons supports the research endeavours of the University community, with particular focus on graduate students during all stages of the research lifecycle (more information is available here).


9.4.2 Your Liaison Librarian

Liaison Liberians are a very helpful resource for student research. Sylvia Roberts is the liaison librarian for the School for Contemporary Arts.

A liaison librarian:

  • Knows the information sources relevant to the subjects taught in the department,
  • Is available by appointment for research consultations,
  • Provides library instruction or web-based research guides on request for courses offered by the department,
  • Leads library instruction classes for undergraduate students. If you are a TA and think this would benefit your class or tutorial, discuss it with the course instructor to make arrangements.

9.5 U-Pass

SFU students can take advantage of U-Pass, a program that provides unlimited, all zone access to public transit in Metro Vancouver (the GVRD) at one-third to one-fifth the cost of a regular monthly transit pass (more information is available here).

9.6 Parking permits

Downtown: The parking lot at 400 West Cordova Street offers reduced rates after 4:00pm for students, faculty, and staff with a valid SFU library card or a parking pass available from Continuing Studies.

Burnaby and Surrey: Graduate students can buy parking permits valid for one semester. Go here for more information.

9.7 Vancouver Parks & Recreation Membership

SFU Recreation, in partnership with the Vancouver Park Board, provides recreational opportunities to eligible SFU Vancouver students to promote a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Eligible SFU Vancouver students will be issued a Vancouver Parks & Recreation Membership, which allows access to Vancouver Park Board operated fitness centres, public skating, and public swimming sessions during operating hours.

Graduate students are eligible for a Vancouver Parks & Recreation Membership if the following criteria are met:

  • The Graduate student is assessed the full Recreation & Athletics fee ($81.64) AND
  • Is either:
    • Registered in a minimum of 3 credits at the SFU Vancouver Campus OR
    • Is registered ‘per term’ at the SFU Vancouver Campus

If preferred, an SFU Vancouver graduate student can choose to obtain an SFU Burnaby Membership, instead of an SFU Vancouver Membership. Students must select their preferred campus and may not hold multiple campus memberships at the same time. Go here for more information.


Go here for biographies of SCA Faculty. 


Go here for contact information for SCA Staff.


12.1 Graduate Program Chair

The Chair of the Graduate Program has the overall responsibility for the Graduate Program Committee. The Chair’s responsibilities include:

  • recommending and vetting policy with the Graduate Program Committee;
  • informing students about policy and opportunities;
  • advising students who do not yet have supervisors;
  • chairing the Examining Committee

12.2 Graduate Program Committee

The Graduate Program Committee is responsible for the overall administration of the graduate program on behalf of the School. Their responsibilities include:

  • overseeing the curriculum of the Graduate Program;
  • making recommendations to the Dean of Graduate Studies on admissions, fellowships, scholarships, awards and the granting of the degree;
  • determining the availability of travel funds and suitability of funding requests;
  • making recommendations to the Office of Graduate Studies on formal requests by individual students for course waivers, course substitutions, or any deviation from the MA Degree Requirement (all such requests must be approved by both the Supervisor and the Supervisory Committee);
  • reviewing progress reports of individual students when such progress appears unsatisfactory, and
  • monitoring the standards and equity for all students in the MA Graduate Program.

12.3 MA Program Coordinator

The MA Program  Coordinator, in consultation with the Graduate Program Committee, is responsible for issues specific to the MA program. The MA Program Coordinator advises MA students on courses, evaluates students' progress, and manages other matters specific to the MA.

12.4 Supervision of Extended Essay

In their third (summer) term in the MA program, students enrol  in CA 829-5 Extended Essay in Contemporary Arts. In this course, students revise an essay that they have completed in one of their previous courses. In most instances, the essay is supervised by a faculty member who taught the class in which the original essay was written and an additional faculty member. These faculty members act as co-supervisors and advise the student on the writing in process and evaluate successive drafts (usually 2-3) of the Extended Essay. In order to take CA 822-5, the Research Colloquium, students must finish their CA 829-5 Essay first, so it is highly recommended that students set a firm timeline for submission of their drafts with their committee members in May, at the start of the course. They then polish the essay in CA822 for possible publication, while also presenting on their research in the December MA Symposium, a publicly advertised event (See 3.5) Essays are graded as Satisfactory (SA)/Unsatisfactory (UN).

12.5 Progress Reports

Students are required to submit a Graduate Progress Report online at the end of the spring semester to the MA Program coordinator. This progress report should:

  • be at least 500 words long;
  • list courses taken over the past year by semester;
  • discuss work you have done for those courses;
  • list teaching assistant work in the past year;
  • describe outside professional activities relevant to your progress, and
  • outline the plans you have made for the summer and fall (courses and their content, including the Practicum or Internship).

The report is due at the end of the spring semester and will become part of the student’s permanent record. The Progress Report will aid the MA Program coordinator in preparation of the Progress Evaluation.

12.6 Progress Evaluation

The Progress Evaluation is submitted online by the MA Program coordinator to the Graduate Program Chair at the beginning of May. It should include:

  • a summary and assessment of the student’s accomplishment in the program (course work, projects, awards, etc.);
  • an assessment of both satisfactory or unsatisfactory progress;
  • any recommendations for improvements in future performance;
  • course work the student intends to take to complete the degree.

Note that a satisfactory progress evaluation will require the student to have successfully completed CA 821 and three additional courses, including at least two core options, by the end of the second term.

This report will be submitted only after consultation with course instructors and the student. The student will receive an electronic copy of the Evaluation. The Progress Evaluation becomes a permanent part of the student’s program record.

The excerpt below is from the Graduate Studies website, Graduate General Regulations:

1.8.1 Progress Evaluation

For master’s and doctoral students, the supervisory committee shall report on the student’s progress at least once each year. This report will be sent, in writing, to the graduate program committee with a copy to the student. The evaluation of student progress in course work will rely in part on their maintenance of a CGPA of 3.0, as required by graduate regulation 1.5.4.

For graduate diploma students, a progress review will be initiated if the CGPA drops below 2.5.

1.8.2 Review of Unsatisfactory Progress

If unsatisfactory progress is identified by the supervisory committee, the supervisory committee shall make a written report to the graduate program committee, and provide a copy to the student. The student concerned has the right to appear before the graduate program committee when the case is considered and is permitted to bring a support person. The student may submit any materials relevant to the case. The decision of the graduate program committee must be one of three options:

1.    If the student's progress is assessed satisfactory despite the supervisory committee's report, inform the student of satisfactory progress with a letter, and meet with the supervisory committee to review the areas of concern. This option is unavailable if the student's CGPA is below the University minimum.

2.    If the student's progress is assessed unsatisfactory, and/or if the student's CGPA is below the University minimum, inform the student with a letter that includes a remediation plan to attain University minimums within three terms.

3.    If the student's progress is assessed unsatisfactory, inform the student with a letter that requires the student to withdraw from the University.

Letters documenting any outcomes must be copied to the dean of graduate studies and the associate director, graduate admissions, records and registration.

In the event there are allegations of academic dishonesty, falsified documents, or misconduct, the graduate program committee may not withdraw a student from their program under this policy. A separate process must be followed as outlined in Policy S10 (Academic Honesty and Student Conduct).

Any decision of the graduate program committee may be appealed to the appeals subcommittee of the senate graduate studies committee, by submission of an appeal to the dean of graduate studies. The decision of the appeals subcommittee shall be final.


For information on how to go on leave or withdraw from a course, see the Graduate Studies website, Section 1.8.


The Graduate Program Coordinator keeps an ongoing record of the student’s progress in the Program. This record lists all courses completed and in progress. The record also includes Progress Reports, Progress Evaluations and information on grades, course instructors, course outlines, project proposals, awards, fellowships, activities, productions, and presentations.


Communication forms an integral part of successful advancement through the MA degree. The student shares the responsibility of maintaining communication with their Readers/Co-Supervisors, the MA Program Coordinator, the Graduate Program Chair, the Graduate Program Coordinator, Faculty, and other students.

If you receive an email from one of your advisors, the Graduate Program Chair, or the Graduate Program Coordinator, it is good practice to respond to it promptly. Even if you don’t have time for a full reply, it is important for you to acknowledge that you have received and read the message. Having to resend requests for information (about awards, progress reports or other information) to students becomes a frustrating task.

You will find yourself emailing professors (the ones you have now and the ones you had in the past) and staff at the university regularly, requesting references and information on various university events and practices. Effective emails get the quickest and most thorough response.

The following suggestions will help you get your message across, but also, ask your supervisor and correspondents what type of practices they prefer:

  • Read your message before you send it.
  • Make your subject line descriptive, such as “can we book a meeting this week” or “need more information about SSHRC process”.
  • Change the subject of the message if the topic of the conversation changes.
  • Keep threads going, but restate important information in your email. Different email programs link related email differently, don’t assume your receiver can find all related email, keep a thread going in the message, but restate the important information (general topic, dates under discussion, etc) so they don’t have to go digging through the thread.
  • Don’t assume the reader remembers previous conversations, or knows about the topic, include all the information about timelines, deadlines, institutional rules related to the topic, and particularly information for reference letters.
  • Reference Letters: To request a reference letter first send a short email asking if the person would be willing to supply you with a letter for a specific purpose by a specific date. If they say yes then send them a fuller description of what is needed. Include a draft of your application statements so they can refer specifically to your application proposal in their letter. Even if you are emailing someone whom you think knows the terms of the award (such as the Graduate Program Chair) offer a friendly reminder by restating the terms of evaluation which will be used by the granting body that way your reviewer will be sure to address these in the letter. Include information on how the letter is to be disseminated, be clear if is there a form, an online link, if the letter is to be sent directly, include the address, etc. Many people will appreciate a polite reminder a few days before a letter is due.
  • Consider bolding important information.
  • Put action items or questions on separate lines so that they stand out and get noticed.
  • Feel free to email to the SCA Graduate Student list but if the topic is not concerning everyone, then limit the number of people to whom you send a message to those who need to read it.
  • Put people who need to be informed on the "Cc" line.
  • Put people who need to respond or take action on the "To" line.
  • Don’t count on an immediate response; however if there has been no answer after approximately a week, send a polite follow up. It is better to send a follow up than assume a reason (too busy, not interested) that the person isn’t answering. It is possible they would love to communicate with you but have lost your previous email.
  • Use your SFU email consistently. If you email from other email addresses, ensure that your name appears the same, so that the recipient can search and organize all messages from you.
  • Acknowledge messages and respond as promptly as possible. If you are unable to respond with a full answer right away, let the sender know that you are looking into the issue and will respond by a certain time or date.
  • Regarding attachments, make sure your surname is part of the name of the attachment. Your receiver may have to search for it in their attachments folder, or save it to their computer. If your email has a generic name, such as “Award”, they will have to rename the file or loose it on their computer.
  • Try to empathize with the receiver of the message. Although it may be quick to write the message, think about what you are actually asking that person to do, or the info you are asking them to provide. Is your email clear, is your subject line meaningful, and are your attachments well named?
  • Don't send a message when you are angry. Better to write it, save it to your drafts folder, and come back to it later. Often by the time you return to the email, the problem has resolved or improved.


This Appendix provides guidelines for the allocation of the spaces within SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts.

Accessible and equitable use of space is essential to the School’s operation. In order to support the variety of demands on the spaces, a policy has been devised that allows for the greatest flexibility on behalf of our student and faculty needs, while insuring that classes, production, graduate student and faculty research requirements remain a priority. In all cases, space will be used in a manner which best serves the interest of the SCA.

Simon Fraser University has articulated multiple objectives for the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. After teaching needs are accommodated, the SCA has the opportunity to generate income from rentals to artists and artistic organizations. These requests are made to the Director, School for the Contemporary Arts.

Priority for space

Teaching semesters

  • School for the Contemporary Arts classes (actual class time & exam)
  • Booking outside of class times for class assignments, projects and rehearsals for school productions
  • Faculty and Teaching Assistant course preparation
  • SCA faculty research
  • SCA or SFU Woodward’s projects or partnerships involving rehearsal requests
  • Other requests from:
    • FCAT Office and Units
    • other faculties within SFU and
    • outside artistic groups

Summer semester

  • Contemporary Arts classes, Summer Workshops/Programs
  • Booking outside of class times for class assignments, projects and rehearsals for school productions
  • faculty research and course preparation
  • graduate student preparation for graduating project to be presented in the Fall semester
  • graduate student research
  • SCA student use of space for projects not related to a course

Regardless of whether a student is registered or not, the student would have to rent the space in one of the following scenarios:

  • On their own as a third party. In this scenario, the student would need to purchase facility liability insurance ($3million), such as from a company called Special Risk Insurance Brokers in Langley.
  • Have the space booked as part of an SFU course by an SFU department representative. The SFU professor responsible for the course under which the space is booked should be prepared to provide a written document showing how the use of the space is related to a specific SFU course that the student needs to complete or is planning to take. In this case, the space rental could be deemed to be an SFU activity.
  • Have the space booked through some other body such as the SFSS. The SFSS's liability insurance would then be relied upon if there was damage.
  • Requests from outside artistic groups.

Faculty and graduate student requests for the Summer semester should be submitted during the Fall semester to insure availability.

Booking Policy

  • The Manager of the SCA Academic and Administrative Unit, in consultation with the Space and Scheduling Committee, will allocate space to courses within the yearly course scheduling process and resolve space conflicts.
  • All booking requests are made with the Undergraduate Assistant. When booking space for classes or class related use, include the class number with the request.
  • Space must be booked with the Undergraduate Assistant before equipment can be requested through IT Services.
  • IT services not related to a class and outside of the public venues is booked with the SCA Technical Director.
  • Students may book space for a maximum of two consecutive weeks at a time (the current week plus the following week), including the weekend.
  • Students should be aware of the needs of their fellow students and not overbook. Generally, we consider 3 hours of extra time per week as a reasonable amount. If additional time is requested, the student may be required to get faculty permission. Conflicts over space may have to be referred to the Associate Director, SCA.
  • If plans change and space is not required, the Undergraduate Assistant must be notified. Note: if space has not been claimed ½ hour after the beginning of the booked time, the space is forfeited.
  • The space must be returned to its original condition. Chairs and tables must be returned to their appropriate positions. Props and other materials must be cleaned up and the booker must remove everything brought into the space. Transgressions may result in the loss of booking privileges.
  • Shoes and Food policy for rooms 2210 (Studio T), 2270 (Studio D), 4210 (theatre studio), 4270 (theatre studio), 4525 (Courtyard Dance Studio), 4650 (Blonde Dance Studio [barefoot floor only]), and 4750 (Hastings Dance Studio):
    • No outdoor shoes, no dance shoes with screws (tap shoes) are permitted. Pointe shoes are fine but no rosin.
    • Props that could damage the floor are not allowed in these studios.
  • Food and drinks are not allowed in teaching spaces, studios, or computer labs, except water in plastic or metal containers, no glass.
  • Each space has been allocated a number of tables and chairs through Facilities Services. A request for additional furniture for a class for an entire semester should be sent to Facilities Services, with room numbers and configurations. If additional furniture is needed for a single class, that request goes to the SCA Undergraduate Assistant. Additional furniture requests in Performance venues goes to the SCA Production Coordinator.

Performance Venues

The School for the Contemporary Arts shares the Performance Venues, cultural spaces, and amenities in SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts with the GCA Production and Event Services, SFU Woodward's Cultural ProgramsSFU's Vancity Office of Community EngagementSFU Galleries, as well as with other SFU-related and external events facilitated by SFU Meeting, Event and Conference Services (MECS).

The School for the Contemporary Arts confirms Performance Venue usage in SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts 18 months in advance. SCA bookings are primarily for performances (including preparation for performances), film showings, and visual art exhibitions.

Performance Venues in SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts include:

  • Fei & Milton Wong Experimental Theatre (B2290)
  • Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema (3200)
  • Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre (2555)
  • Studio D (2210)
  • Studio T (2270)

Contact the SCA Production Coordinator to determine services to facilitate events in these venues.


The sale of liquor/ alcohol at SFU is regulated by SFU Administrative Policy AD 1.12 and the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch of the Ministry of Justice. You must comply with all the stipulated regulations.

If you are holding an event in any of the fourth floor spaces at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, you may sell alcohol under a Special Event Permit (SEP). The catering company Lazy Gourmet holds the license for the basement, ground floor, and second floor spaces at the Centre (on the third floor, only The Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema is under the Lazy Gourmet License). To sell alcohol in these locations, you must operate under the Lazy Gourmet License, administered through SFU Meeting, Events and Conference Services (MECS) for a cost. Before arranging a bar, you must confirm a venue for your event through the SCA Production Coordinator and SCA Technical Director.

Special Event Permit

Individuals or groups are allowed up to 3 special occasion licenses per month, and 24 per year. The steps for applying for a Special Event Permit (SEP) for a location on the fourth floor (only) of the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts are as follows:

  • Vote at the SCA Graduate Student Caucus to officially host the event through caucus.
  • All individuals hosting or serving liquor at an SEP event are required to complete a Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) training program. A Special Event Server (SES) certificate is required for all events under 500 guests. A Serving it Right (SIR) certificate is required for events over 500 guests. The Primary Event Organizer (an individual) needs to possess SES or SIR certification. If no one in your caucus has an SES or SIR certificate, you can obtain SES certification online here ($20), and SIR certification here ($35).
  • Events hosted by SFU Graduate Caucuses are covered under the Graduate Student Society (GSS) insurance policy. Obtain proof of insurance coverage through the GSS.
  • Contact Student Services and complete this form to seek approval to apply for a Special Event Permit at SFU.
  • Once approved, you must then apply for a Special Event Permit, which you can do online.
  • Follow the SFU instructions outlined on the form in step 4 including: obtaining approval from the Responsible Officer, notifying campus security of your event with completed documentation, and posting your Special Event Permit in a visible location in the bar or serving area during the hours the licence is in effect.
  • You will need to provide the alcohol, cash float, as well as non-alcoholic beverages, food and server. Only persons with an SES or SIR certificate may serve alcohol at your event. You will need one server for every seventy-five attendees.
  • Special Event Permit Terms and Conditions can be read here.

MECS/Lazy Gourmet

MECS /Lazy Gourmet offers two bar options: a cash bar and a host bar. To arrange a bar through MECS do the following:

  • Determine which bar option you want and how many attendees you expect. While a cash bar may ultimately appear more expensive, students should weigh carefully the organizational and human resources cost of selling their own tickets, tracking sales, and reconciling post-event.
  • Contact Kristen Schiefke (, Manager of Academic & Administrative Services, with your request and include the following information: date of event, venue, event title, type of bar, expected number of attendees, food choices, projected budget, and contact information.

Cash Bar

Costs to the event organizer are as follows:

  • There is a minimum of $200 of sales required (otherwise the difference will be charged to your event).
  • A ticket seller for your event at $25/hour for a minimum of 4 hours.
  • Taxes and Service charges are included in the standard sale price. Standard prices for attendees are $6 for beer, $8 for wine and $2.50 for non-alcoholic beverages (all prices are for non-premium products).
  • Lazy Gourmet will provide a float and ticket seller to conduct cash sales. The minimum cost to the event organizer is $100. The maximum cost to the organizer is $300 if no sales are made.

Example 1: There are ten bottles of beer and seven glasses of wine sold at the event.

Beer 10 x $6 = $60
Wine 7 x $8 = 56
Gross Sales = $116
Minimum Sales difference $200 – $116 (Gross) = $84
Ticket Seller = $100
Total Cost to Event Organizer = $184

Example 2: There are twenty bottles of beer and fourteen glasses of wine sold at the event.

Beer 20 x $6 = $120
Wine 14 x $8 = 112
Gross Sales = $232
Minimum Sales difference $200 – $232 (Gross) = –$32 or 0
Ticket Seller = $100
Total Cost to Event Organizer = $100

Host Bar

Costs to the event organizer are as follows (all prices are for non-premium products):

  • $5 per bottle of beer.
  • $35 per bottle of wine (a 5 oz pour is approx. 5 glasses per bottle). It is important to take the number of bottles opened into consideration when setting your prices. You can set a time when no further bottles of wine should be opened.
  • $2 per non-alcoholic beverage including bottled water BC Liquor tax at 10% on top of sales.
  • Service charge at 15% on top of sales.
  • Cost to the attendees is set by the event organizer.

Due to the potential for beverage count/ ticket count discrepancies when you are running a host bar, it is recommended that you use the Discrepancy Prevention Form (PDF) to help track your counts in collaboration with the Lazy Gourmet catering staff. It is also advisable that you ask the staff to stop opening wine bottles after a certain point in the evening, so that you do not get charged for bottles that are opening for a single pour.

Example 3: You set your prices as follows: $6 for beer, $8 for wine, and $2.50 for non-alcoholic beverages. There are ten bottles of beer and seven glasses of red wine sold at the event. You will take in the following cash sales:

Beer 10 x $6 = $60
Wine 7 x $8 = 56
Gross Sales = $116

You will be charged the following:

Beer 10 x $5 = $50
Wine 2 bottles x $35 = $70
Subtotal = $120
Service Charges 15% x Subtotal = $18
Tax 10% x Subtotal = $12
Total owing = $150
Total Cost to Event Organizer = $34

Example 4: You set your prices as follows: $6 for beer, $8 for wine, and $2.50 for non-alcoholic beverages. There are twenty bottles of beer and seven glasses of white and seven glasses of red wine sold at the event.
You will take in the following cash sales:

Beer 20 x $6 = $120
Wine 7 x $8 = 112
Gross Sales = $232

You will be charged the following:

Beer 20 x $5 = $100
Wine 4 bottles x $35 = $140
Subtotal = $240
Service Charges 15% x Subtotal = $36
Tax 10% x Subtotal = $24
Total owing = $300
Total Cost to Event Organizer = $68


With all bar options, you are obligated by law to make food available to the attendees. For a Lazy Gourmet bar, you must purchase catering options and provide them to your patrons for free. (The exception is in the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre, where Lazy Gourmet can operate a cash concession for $160 flat rate.) SFU Policy AD 1.12 states "that a wide variety and generous supply of food and non-alcoholic beverages be made available for consumption during events".

The Lazy Gourmet catering license requires that, if they provide any bar service, they must also provide the food service *. You will not be able to operate a Lazy Gourmet bar without purchasing requisite food for each attendee **. There is an additional 15% service charge on all food sales.

Taking our bar examples from above and adding a minimum purchase of food to each, you would have a total cost of the following:

Example 1:

Bar Total: $184
Food Total: $276
TOTAL: $460

Example 3:

Bar Total: $34
Food Total: $276
TOTAL: $310

* It is possible for specific Cultural and/or Community Events to provide types of food that may not be available from the caterer. This is offered on a case by case basis and must meet certain Cultural requirements, along with liability insurance and Vancouver Coastal Health regulations. These requests come from the Community Engagement office or the Cultural Unit at GCA.

** Cheapest catering options are $60 for 30 people if you order the 'savory mousse,' $75 for 30 people if you order the 'torta,' or $85 for 30 people if you order the 'vegetable platter.' Assuming you have an audience of 120 at your event, you will spend a minimum of $276 ($240 + 15% service charge) on food.