MFA Handbook


Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts

Last revision: January 10, 2018

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 MFA Program offered by the School. Students, faulty and staff involved in the program should review the Graduate General Rules and Regulations.

The MFA degree offered by the School is a broad-based interdisciplinary degree. The degree encompasses a wide range of possible practices; variations in individual programs are possible if approved by the Student’s Supervisory Committee, the School’s Graduate Program Committee, and the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Prof. Greg Snider, Program Chair

Revised 1997
Prof. Iris Garland, Program Chair

Revised 1999 and 2000
Prof. David MacIntyre, Program Chair

Revised 2002
Prof. Chris Welsby, Program Chair

Revised 2003
Prof. Allyson Clay, Program Chair

Revised 2004 and 2006
Prof. David MacIntyre, Program Chair

Revised 2007 and 2008
Prof. Laura Marks, Program Chair

Revised 2010 and 2011
Prof. Judy Radul, Program Chair

Revised 2012 – 2018
Prof. Arne Eigenfeldt, Program Chair

This handbook is dedicated to the memory of Martin Bartlett, Graduate Program Chair 1990 – 1993.

Martin Bartlett designed and initiated the Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts at Simon Fraser University. His vision and hard work brought the program into existence.


1.1 Program Description

The program leading to the degree of Master of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts is designed to provide an advanced level of professional training for artists in the fields of music, dance, theatre, film, video and visual art. The goal of the program is to further cross-disciplinary research, technical skill, and artistic creativity and to develop a critical awareness of the historical perspective of art and its relationship to contemporary society.

Course offerings (see Section 4) are designed to accommodate individual differences in background and artistic goals, with the emphasis throughout the program being on the production of creative work in an interdisciplinary context.

The program enables students to pursue an interdisciplinary program of original research and studio work culminating in a Graduating Project, consisting of an artistic presentation, supported by a written statement (see Section 15.4.2), an academic essay written within the second year seminar (see Section 15.4.5), and appropriate documentation (see Section 15.4.3). The program was designed to be able to be completed within five to seven full-time semesters (see Section 3). Due to the nature of the artistic practice, students are required to be in residence for the duration of the program.

Within the integrated arts context of the School for the Contemporary Arts, the MFA accommodates a variety of ways of working. The majority of students follow a studio-based approach to art making and may focus their practice through a single discipline, fuse two or more disciplines in their work, or pursue a practice that articulates a challenge to the very notion of artistic discipline. Beyond the course requirements, students individually determine the balance of theory and practice in their work. Those who wish can integrate studio practice with intense critical and theoretical study.

Candidates enter in the Fall Semester. The student’s work in the first year should be exploratory and investigative. During this time, students engage in both creative and scholarly research, and develop the necessary skills and background required for the successful completion of their Graduating Project, which will be the focus of their work in the second year. With the help of their Senior Supervisor and Supervisory Committee (see Section 12), students will plan their Graduating Project and work out a timetable for the significant stages of its development with a suggested sequence of courses to allow for its expedient completion. This plan is submitted to the Graduate Program Chair as part of the first annual report at the end of the Spring Semester (see Section 12.7).

Presentations of Graduating Projects can be scheduled in or after the Spring Semester of the second year. The Defence of the Graduating Project (see Section 17) follows the presentation, usually within two to four weeks. Students planning summer semester presentations and Defences are encouraged to discuss this option with their supervisor, the Graduate Program Chair, and the School’s Technical Director (see Section 11), because the majority of the School’s student body and faculty are not available at that time to attend presentations and Defences, or serve on Examining Committees.

Students must register sequentially in each semester until the Defence and all of the degree requirements are completed (see Section 5).

From time to time, a student may wish to go on leave for a semester (see Section 13): leaves must be approved by your Senior Supervisor and Graduate Program Chair. Note there is a fee for on-leave status, except in the case of medical leave requests.


To complete the Master of Fine Arts degree, candidates must complete a minimum of 35 units: 25 units of course work and a 10 unit Graduating Project (see Section 15). In most cases, this Project will be the presentation of an artwork, accompanied by a Defence Statement and appropriate documentation. The MFA culminates in an Oral Defence, in which the student gives a descriptive presentation of their project, followed by questions from their committee and external (see Section 17).

The Graduating Project, plus the required Interdisciplinary Graduate seminars/studio, account for 30 units; the remaining 5 units will normally be taken from within the School

Students must complete all of:

  • CA 811-5 Interdisciplinary Graduate Seminar I
  • CA 812-5 Interdisciplinary Graduate Seminar II
  • CA 813-5 Interdisciplinary Graduate Studio
  • CA 883-5 Studio in Fine and Performing Arts I
  • CA 898-10 Graduating Project

Plus one of:

  • CA 885-5 Studio in Fine and Performing Arts II
  • CA 887-5 Selected Topics in Fine and Performing Arts
  • CA 889-5 Directed Study in Fine and Performing Arts

A graduate course from another department can substitute for CA 887 or 889 with the Supervisory Committee’s permission.


Fall Year 1 (10 Units)

  • CA 811-5 SEMINAR I

Spring Year 1 (10 Units)

  • CA 883-5 STUDIO I
  • CA 885-5 or CA 887 or CA 889-5

Summer Year 1 (10 Units)


Fall Year 2 (15 Units)

  • CA 812-5 SEMINAR II

Spring Year 2 (10 Units)

  • CA 898-10 DEFENCE OPTION 1**

Summer Year 2 (10 Units)


Fall Year 3 (10 Units)

  • CA 898-10 DEFENCE OPTION 2**


*Students with a visual art concentration/background, will take their CA 885-5 in the Fall of 2nd year as a joint studio with CA 462 Visual Art Honors Studio.
**Student must maintain enrollment in CA 898 until all degree requirements are completed.

3.1 Fall Semester, Year 1

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

  • CA 811-5 Interdisciplinary Graduate Seminar I
  • CA 813-5 Interdisciplinary Graduate Studio

3.2 Spring Semester, Year 1

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

  • CA 883-5 Studio in Fine and Performing Arts I and possibly:
    • CA 885-5 Studio in Fine and Performing Arts II
    • CA 887-5 Selected Topics in Fine and Performing Arts
    • CA 889-5 Directed Study in Fine and Performing Arts

Courses taken outside Contemporary Arts should be discussed first with a student's Senior Supervisor and the course's instructor.

3.3 Fall Semester, Year 2

In their second Fall semester, students register for:

  • CA 812-5 Interdisciplinary Graduate Seminar II 
  • CA 898-10 Graduating Project
  • and possibly:
    • CA 885-5 Visual Arts Studio*
    • CA 887-5 Selected Topics in Fine and Performing Arts* 
    • CA 889-5 Directed Study in Fine and Performing Arts*

* Visual Arts-based students will take CA 885-5 as a visual arts studio (a joint-studio class with CA 462). Other students who have arranged to take their elective at this time will take it as either CA 887-5 or CA 889-5.

3.4 Spring Semester, Year 2

In their second Spring semester, students register in: 

  • CA 898-10 Graduating Project.

Students will continue to be registered in CA 898-10 each semester while work continues on their Graduating Project and until requirements for graduation have been met.


CA 811-5 Interdisciplinary Graduate Seminar I
CA 812-5 Interdisciplinary Graduate Seminar II

These courses are offered each fall. For first-year students, 811 is a critical and theoretical seminar organized around issues of relevance to contemporary discourses about art practice and reception through lectures, selected readings and papers. For second-year students, 812 offers concentration on the preparation and presentation of the background research essay required for the completion of the degree. The CA 811 and 812 Graduate Seminars must be completed before the presentation and defence of the Graduating Project.

CA 813-5 Interdisciplinary Graduate Studio

This course is offered in the Spring Semester and is required for all first-year students. The purpose of the course is to give the first-year cohort an environment where they may collaborate with artists from other disciplines, broaden their skills and make connections for future projects. The course is sometimes paired with CA 489-5 Interdisciplinary Project in Fine and Performing Arts, which is composed of senior undergraduate artists from all disciplines.

CA 883-5 Studio in Fine and Performing Arts I

This course is taught as a group directed study studio class with all first year MFA students attending and producing work in this inter-arts studio setting.

CA 885-5 Studio in Fine and Performing Arts II

This course allows students to concentrate on the development of their studio practice in an interdisciplinary context under the guidance of a faculty member conversant with the issues being explored. Students are encouraged to undertake projects that extend their creative process in new directions, and to work with different faculty members in the School. Though it is normally taken by students with a visual arts focus, students from other disciplinary backgrounds may also find it useful.

CA 887-5 Selected Topics in Fine and Performing Arts

Individual faculty members may offer studio, seminar or lecture courses concentrating on specific subjects relevant to students in the program. These are not regular offerings. The course may be repeated for credit when different course content applies.

CA 889-5 Directed Study in Fine and Performing Arts

A Directed Study is an individualized course with a specific instructor, proposed by the student, in consultation with the faculty member. This course may be taken as a studio course, a reading course, or a combination of both.

For each Directed Study taken, the expectations of both the student and the instructor must be clearly declared at the outset and formalized on the Course Proposal Form. The student will fill in this form in consultation with the instructor (or instructors) and attach a statement of course expectations to the form. The Senior Supervisor signs the form, thereby approving the nature and scope of the work to be undertaken. The Course Proposal form is then submitted to the Graduate Program Assistant, and kept as part of the student’s records. Regular meetings between course instructors and students will be arranged to discuss progress, review work and suggest research directions.

Students may register in an undergraduate course as a Directed Study to improve their training outside their area of specialization; the course supervisor will assign extra work to make up the difference in units and the level of complexity between undergraduate and graduate expectations. This course may be repeated for credit when the course content is different.

Students may also register to audit a graduate or undergraduate class, with their Senior Supervisor and the Graduate Program Chair's permission. Audited courses will not count toward degree requirements.


CA 898-10 Graduating Project

This course represents the preparatory work and the presentation of the student’s Graduating Project. First-year students will be registered for this course in their first Summer Semester following the successful completion of two semesters in the Graduate Program. Students will continue to be registered in CA 898-10 each semester that work continues on the Graduating Project until requirements for graduation have been met, usually in the Spring Semester of the second year.

Students must continue to register in CA 898-10 until all degree requirements have been completed.


In consultation with his/her Interim Advisor (see Section 12.3) or Senior Supervisor (see Section 12.4), 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 Graduating Project preparation period, when they enroll in CA 898-10.

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. MFA students pay a per-term fee. Go here for more information.

After students have paid for six full semesters, graduate tuition is reduced to a continuing fee, which is half the term fee.

6.1 Registering during Project Submission Semester

A student must register for the semester in which their Graduating Project is submitted. This will normally be a continuing fee. However, if the Project is submitted prior to the “Early in Term” date (usually the last day of the first month in the term), the student may be eligible for a 75% refund of tuition.

Early submission dates are listed by term on the Thesis Submission: Deadline Dates webpage here.


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

Unfortunately, few government and private awards and fellowships are intended for artists. However, awards geared toward intelligent and innovative academic researchers – such as our MFA students – do exist. Be creative and work to explain how your project meets the criteria of a given award, even if it seems unlikely at first glance.

7.1 Government Awards

Many MFA students have successfully applied 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 MFA Program is granted a number of Graduate Fellowships each year, presently valued at $6500. These are awarded by the Graduate Program Committee on the basis of academic excellence. A minimum CGPA of 3.5 is required. Go here for more information.

7.2.2 Travel & Minor Research Awards

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 your student account in the first month of the following semester. Note that these applications require a faculty reference, so please discuss your project with a faculty member who can vouch for the relationship between your project and your work at the school.

These funds need to be adjudicated by the Graduate Program Committee, so please apply at least 6 weeks in advance of your travel, if possible. Go here for more information.

7.2.3 Private Internal Awards

Many external awards are listed on the Dean of 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 Open Access Award (GSOAA)

The Graduate Student Society Open Access Award acknowledges graduate students who have published work in gold open access journals. Go here for more information.

7.3.2 GSS Family Subsidy

Graduate students with children, in demonstrated financial need, are eligible to apply for up to $400 in funding. Go here for more information.

7.3.3 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 Aid, food 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 here.

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 financial assistant 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.


MFA 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 Assistant 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.

MFA 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.” MFA 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). Go here for more information.  

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.

If you are an SFU graduate student taking at least one course at SFU and have basic medical insurance, you will be automatically enrolled.

9.1.1. Opting Out of the GSS Health and Dental plan

You may opt out of the GSS extended health plan if you have existing secondary coverage in BC. To opt out, you 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 opt-ing out of the plan here.

9.1.2 Additional Benefits for TAs and TMs

TSSU members may opt-in to a group plan, to have their primary insurance and 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 enrol you. For international students, there is a three-month waiting period. These benefits extend to your spouse and dependents.

Cost Sharing Breakdown:

  • MSP (Primary Insurance): 100% of premiums are paid by the employer for duration of employment. Coverage commences the first of the month in which the application is submitted.
  • Extended Health (Secondary Insurance): 75% employer paid plan through Pacific Blue Cross that covers 80% of prescription drugs and minimal paramedical practioners. Coverage may be maintained for up to 2 semesters following employment as long as the form is submitted before employment ends. See the plan booklet for full details and 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.

Go here for more information for international students and go here for more information for out-of-province students.

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. However, all incoming international students are automatically enrolled in this expensive plan and must manually opt-out to prevent being automatically re-enrolled in subsequent semesters. The cost for this plan is $353.00/term and is included in your student fees.

For detailed information about how to opt-out, 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 ($459.54) 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 you are admitted and have paid your deposit, you will receive an email to activate your SFU Computing ID, which gives you access to email, the Student Information System, your payslip, web publishing facilities, eLearning systems such as Canvas, campus labs, and online Library services. Go here for more information.

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. Go here for more information.


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

This program 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. Go here for more information.

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, balanced lifestyle for our students studying in Vancouver.

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 ($73.94) 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; and
  • moderating the Graduating Project Defence.

In the event that the Graduate Program Chair is the Senior Supervisor of the student to be examined, a delegate Chair for the Defence must be chosen.

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;
  • vetting and approving the first-year project proposals and proposals for Graduating Projects;
  • determining the availability of travel funds and suitability of funding requests;
  • making recommendations to the Dean of Graduate Studies on formal requests by individual students for course waivers, course substitutions, or any deviation from the MFA Degree Requirement (all such requests must be approved by both the Senior 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 MFA Graduate Program.

12.3 Interim Advisor

For all students entering the program in the Fall, the Interim Advisor will be the Graduate Program Chair. The Interim Advisor is responsible for preliminary advising and overseeing the program of work for the student and assisting the student in the selection of an appropriate Supervisory Committee.

The Interim Advisor will assist the student in forming a Supervisory Committee and will advise, approve and sign the student’s course registration until such time as a Senior Supervisor is selected. (See the guidelines for Student–Supervisor relations in Appendix A of this Handbook.)

12.4 Senior Supervisor

The Senior Supervisor is the person most closely connected to the student’s program and has overall responsibility for the direction, advising and supervision of the student’s proposed course of study, including recommendations for areas of research. The Senior Supervisor will also supervise the student’s Graduating Project, which consists of a Presentation, Defence Statement, Project Documentation, and Essay.

The appointment of a Senior Supervisor should be made as soon as possible after a student’s admission into the program, preferably by the end of the first semester, but no later than the end of the second semester of full time enrollment.

The choice of a Senior Supervisor should be made by the student in consultation with the Interim Advisor and should reflect the student’s major interests and areas of concentration in the Program. The student should be familiar with the research interests and teaching strengths of the faculty in order to facilitate this selection. Students should discuss their intentions with potential Senior Supervisors to determine the faculty members’ appropriateness for the areas of concentration and their willingness to serve in this capacity.

As per University policy Graduate General Regulation 1.6.3, any faculty member in Contemporary Arts may serve as a Senior Supervisor. However, non-tenure track faculty members (i.e. Lecturers and Senior Lecturers) must be approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies. Contact the Graduate Program chair to discuss this matter if you are interested in having a non-tenure track faculty as your Senior Supervisor.

The Senior Supervisor should meet with the student at least once a month to discuss the student’s progress and to offer guidance. A proposed program of work and a timetable of anticipated completion dates should be established with the student soon after the Senior Supervisor is selected.

The Senior Supervisor will make every reasonable effort to ensure that the student’s program remains on track. The Senior Supervisor will submit an annual Progress Evaluation, including the plan of work and timetable, to the Graduate Program Assistant for the student’s permanent record by May 15.

For a more thorough description of the Senior Supervisor's responsibilities, please see the Guidelines of Supervisor-Graduate Student Relations in Appendix A. See also SFU's Supervision Policies here.

12.5 Supervisory Committee

The Supervisory Committee of an MFA student will be composed of two or three people; the Senior Supervisor, and one or two other faculty members recommended by the Senior Supervisor in consultation with the student. The makeup of the committee should reflect the disciplinary and critical interests of the student and should take advantage of the diversity of the faculty available in the School. One committee member (other than the Senior Supervisor) may be a faculty member from outside the School. Potential supervisors outside the faculty, including non-academic persons, will be required to provide a curriculum vitae to show that they are suitably qualified.

The Supervisory Committee will offer advice, approve the student’s proposal for Graduating Project, consult with the student during the development and realization of the Presentation and Essay, and serve as voting members on the Examining Committee at the Defence. The Committee may recommend outside courses that the student should take which would, in its view, complement the student’s interests and direction. The Supervisory Committee will meet with the student at least once a semester and more frequently when the Graduating Project process needs extra guidance. (See Appendix C: Graduate Time Line for more information).

The Supervisory Committee should be appointed no later than the end of the student’s fourth semester. As soon as the committee membership has been finalized, the “Approval of Supervisory Committee” form must be completed and returned to the Graduate Program Assistant to be forwarded to the Dean of Graduate Studies.

It is always possible to change supervisors, including the Senior Supervisor. Notification of changes to the Supervisory Committee must be approved by the Graduate Program Committee and the appropriate form submitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies. Should you make changes to your committee, the form “Change of Supervisory Committee" must be submitted to the Graduate Program Assistant, to be forwarded to the Dean of Graduate Studies.

12.6 Progress Reports

Students are required to submit an electronic Progress Report to their Senior Supervisor each May, unless they are planning to defend in the summer semester. The Progress Report form is completed and submitted online, and includes:

  • courses taken over the past year by semester;
  • work you have done for those courses;
  • studio work you have accomplished outside of those courses;
  • teaching assistant work in the past year;
  • teaching work outside of the School; and
  • outside artistic activities relevant to your progress.

Additionally, in consultation with their Senior Supervisor, the student is required to describe their plans for the upcoming year. The student’s Progress Report must be forwarded to the student’s Senior Supervisor at the beginning of the Summer Semester, May 1.

The Senior Supervisor will provide comments upon the student’s progress over the last year, and in the program as a whole. The comments should indicate whether the progress is satisfactory or unsatisfactory.

The student will receive a copy of the Evaluation. The Progress Evaluation becomes a permanent part of the student’s program record.

The excerpt below is from Dean of 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 a student’s progress appears to be unsatisfactory, the supervisory committee or the chair of the graduate program committee shall make a written report to the graduate program committee, and provide a copy to the student. That committee shall consider whether the student’s progress has been satisfactory. The graduate program committee, on consultation with the supervisory committee, if one has been appointed, may:

a) require the student to withdraw, or

b) inform the student of the unsatisfactory progress and require the student to improve in specific ways in a specific period of time.

The student concerned has the right to appear before the graduate program committee when the case is considered, and may submit any materials relevant to the case. A student who is required to withdraw shall be informed, in writing, with copies to the dean of graduate studies and the director, graduate admissions and records. If required to improve within a specific period of time, the student shall be informed in writing as to what precisely is required, with copies to the dean of graduate studies and the director, admissions and records.

Any decision of the graduate program committee under the provisions of this section may be appealed to the senate graduate studies committee through the dean of graduate studies. The student has the right to appear before the senate graduate studies committee when the case is heard. The decision of that committee shall be final.


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


The Graduate Program Assistant 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 and information on grades, course instructors, course outlines, project proposals, awards, and fellowships.


15.1 General

The Graduating Project consists of the following:

  • an artistic presentation,
  • documentation, and
  • a 2000-3000 word Defence Statement.

Note: although the Graduating Project is not considered a “thesis” by university policy, it serves the same purpose: a culmination of the student’s work within the program. Within this Handbook, the term “thesis” is not used. However, when dealing with the final library submission (see Section 15.4), you may come across the term “thesis”; in such cases, you should consider the Graduating Project as the same.

Graduate course work should be organized to provide conceptual, theoretical and practical background preparation for this project. Projects completed as part of the regular coursework requirements should not be duplicated in the Graduating Project, but rather be viewed as explorations into new directions in artistic practice. An exception here is the background research paper required for CA 812 (see Section 15.4.5), which should be included as an appendix with the Project documentation (see Section 15.4.3). The Graduating Project should be presented in a form consistent with the research direction undertaken by the student during his/her tenure in the program.

15.2 Artistic Presentation

The Graduating Project should be presented in an exhibition, performance, or other artistic presentation organized by the student. The student will ensure that the Project is publicized to the School community (see Section 15.3).

Whether admission is charged for the Graduating Project presentation is up to the student and their supervisor. Please see Section 16.4 for a more detailed discussion on this topic.

The external examiner should be confirmed by the Senior Supervisor and Graduate Program Assistant well before the presentation of the Graduating Project so that she or he can attend the event (see Section 17.2).

Project presentations are scheduled in consultation with the student’s Supervisory Committee and the school’s Technical Director, and are generally organized as part of a September festival that falls within students’ seventh semester. Students who opt to present outside of this period (earlier or later) cannot be guaranteed technical support from the School. Summer presentations are difficult to schedule due to faculty research commitments.

Proposed dates for the Project Presentation and Defence should be submitted to the Graduate Program Chair and Graduate Program Assistant after the preliminary Defence meeting of the student and their committee in January of the second year (see Section 17.5).

In preparing for your Project Presentation, it is absolutely essential not to make any assumptions about available space and/or resources. For performing artists, this means booking space early (at least six months in advance of the presentation), finding a technical director with which to work, and organizing necessary equipment (projectors, video cameras, monitors, speakers, computers, etc.). For gallery presentations, this means organizing the installation, vinyl lettering, booklet printing, catering, and gallery cleanup. Do not assume that spaces and resources will be automatically reserved for you; similarly, do not assume that there are unlimited resources: although every attempt will be made to provide you with your necessary equipment needs, please keep in mind that others, including fellow MFAs, will be making similar requests.

15.2.1 Graduating Project FAQ

  • Can I present my work outside of the school? Yes, but you will have less access to SCA resources, including equipment and production and design student labour.
  • Can I pay my collaborators? You can include honoraria for your collaborators in your budget. The maximum amount allowed for a single collaborator is $400. You cannot pay collaborators directly; instead, you must submit an expense claim to SCA Financial Assistant, including your collaborators’ names, e-mails, addresses, citizenship, and SIN numbers. The SCA will process and send payments directly to your collaborators.
  • What if my project changes? Graduating projects often do change. It is important to keep your supervisory committee informed, as well as the SCA Technical Director and the Audain Gallery (if required). To ensure smooth planning of your thesis defence, please also keep the Graduate Program Assistant informed of major changes to your presentation date.

15.3 Promoting your Graduating Project

It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that their Graduating Project Presentation is properly advertised, but the SCA's Communications Assistant ( can help with design and production for print and digital materials as well as with online promotion, including adding your event to the SCA's Events page. Please set up a meeting with Communications Assistant to find out more.

Advertising comes in many forms, including:

  • printed event cards and posters (and a brochure or program as necessary);
  • a listing on various events lists or promotional material being produced by the SCA;
  • a listing on the SCA web site;
  • a listing on the SFU Events calendar;
  • a Facebook event and other online PR;
  • a listing with the Dean of Graduate Studies website.

(Any of these methods are also suitable to public presentation of first-year projects.)

Your advertising should include essential information such as the name of the event, the date, location, who it is being presented by, if tickets are needed and where they are available, and where to get more information, such as a web site. The SCA's website must always be included, as well:

All School-related advertising material MUST include the official SFU School for the Contemporary Arts logo, available in digital form from the SCA Communications Assistant.

As well, the event listings for ALL public presentations of Graduating Projects must also include the words:

“Presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the Degree of Master of Fine Arts at Simon Fraser University.”

Our location should be described as:

“School for the Contemporary Arts at SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts.”

Please make sure to include all of the necessary location information for your venue. For example:

Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre
SFU Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
149 West Hastings Street, Vancouver

Minimum three weeks prior to your event, give all of the relevant (and complete) information and copies of all design files (packaged) to the SCA Communications Assistant. The Communication Assistant not only needs to review all materials before they're made public, but also must send all print jobs off to the SCA's preferred printer.

15.4 Components of the Graduating Project Library Submission

The final submission to the library of the Project should be formatted according to library thesis layout and specifications.

1. Title Page with Project Title
2. Approval Page
3. Abstract
4. Acknowledgements
5. Table of Contents
6. Defence Statement
7. Project Documentation
8. Appendix A: Research/background essay written in CA 812.

Previous MFA library submissions can be viewed online here.

15.4.1 Abstract

The Project Abstract is a short declaration of the aims and intentions of the Graduating Project and the research the student has undertaken. In compliance with the Library and Archives Canada, the maximum word limit for the Abstract is 150 words.* This statement will be included in the introductory pages of the Library Submission materials, distributed to participants of the Defence by the Chair and attached to the Recommendation of the Award of the Degree form. Go here for more information.

This statement is also required for the Graduate Program Assistant to fill in the “Approval of Examining Committee for a Master’s Student” form processed six weeks before the defence date. Therefore, this statement should be formulated early in the Project/Documentation/Defence process.

As the abstract is available to those searching the thesis database, care should be taken to make it both understandable and interesting: readers may make a decision as to whether they will read the Project Statement based upon the abstract.

* If necessary, a summary can be added: Thesis Librarian Penny Simpson wrote on 7/27/05 by e-mail: “When it is a complete outrage to try to describe the work in 150 words, the author can add a “reader’s summary” or “executive summary” immediately after the abstract, in which they can exercise much more freedom to write fully, gracefully and persuasively, and style it beyond the limits of plain text.”

15.4.2 Defence Statement

The Defence Statement is a concise articulation of the theoretical, methodological, artistic framework of the Graduating Project. The Statement, in conjunction with the oral presentation given during the Defence (see Section 17.3 below), will suggest an interpretive framework, references and/or set of terms which the student feels are most relevant to discussing the project.

Recognizing that the Defence Statement cannot express a complete framework of the Graduating Project, students should consider the following format:

  • briefly discuss the background of the work, in relation to their previous practice;
  • briefly contextualize the work in relationship to the field;
  • describe the work itself;
  • briefly reflect upon the process and how it influenced the final work.

It is the student’s responsibility to distribute the Statement to the Graduating Committee two weeks before the Defence date; the Graduate Program Assistant will ensure that a copy is provided to the External Examiner.

15.4.3 Project Documentation

The Project should be supported with documentation that articulates the nature of the actual work presented and indicates its character.

The Project Documentation should include what is appropriate from the list below, presented in file formats accepted by the library:

  • written description of the work, including a PDF of the presentation given at the Defence;
  • storyboard;
  • score;
  • script, and
  • documentation of the Project as it was performed and presented in the form of:
    • a series of photographs
    • an audio recording
    • a video recording
    • any other relevant material deemed significant by the student and his/her Committee.

The Project Documentation forms a significant part of the student’s library submission with the intention of providing as complete a record of the event as possible. While the Senior Supervisor should ensure that the Project Documentation is appropriate and representative of the Project, it is the student’s responsibility to ensure that the documentation is of a high quality.

It is advisable to check Library regulations regarding the format of documentation materials: the current preference is for DVDs.

15.4.4 Copyright Permission

Copyright permission must be obtained for all images and documentation included in the essay that were not produced by the author. You will need to obtain permission in writing. Go here for more information about copywrite at SFU.

To familiarize oneself with Canadian copyright law, the library provides some helpful liks and information here.

15.4.5 Essay

The essay written for CA 812 and formatted according to the library’s recommendations for written theses, is to be included as an appendix to the Project Documentation.

The essay is a reflection of the student’s research, and theoretical working process toward their Project, as it is written several months before the Project is complete: it acts as a background document and situates the student’s artistic practice in a theoretical or historical context. The essay is included as a part of the Project Documentation section to preserve an aspect of the academic preparation that went into the Project.

MFA students have approached the essay in many different ways: see the abstracts of former MFA students on the Contemporary Arts web site, and consult the bound volumes of their essays in the SFU library.

In general, the essay should be a document of approximately 3000-5000 words, not including footnotes and bibliography. The research direction and emphasis are to be worked out with the instructor in CA 812. The paper may include an appendix of visuals or any other materials that document the work’s process or development.

The Senior Supervisor should approve the essay prior to inclusion as an appendix to the Project Documentation. The Senior Supervisor is to be consulted during the writing of the essay, specifically in regards to its research direction, references, and scope.

15.5 Graduating Project Library Submission

The student must ensure that the Project Documentation and all components of the library submission meet the requirements set out in the current SFU Regulations and Guidelines for Theses/Projects/Extended Essay here.

As the submission to the library of the Project is unusual, in that the document is relatively short, and the much longer accompanying essay serves as an appendix, it is advisable to include the following information with the submission, as a separate page:

The author of this Project would like to reassure the reader that the Project Statement is substantially shorter in length than the accompanying appendix. The Master of Fine Arts degree undertaken at the School for the Contemporary Arts, Simon Fraser University, emphasizes artistic creation, which the Statement serves to describe, and the accompanying materials document. The appendix, undertaken as academic research during the tenure of this degree, serves to present the critical thought undergone prior to, and during, the creation of the artwork.

There are many helpful information resources on Library's website. For questions regarding formatting, please contact the Assistant for Theses at or 778-782-4747.


First-year projects are usually works that allow students to develop some aspect of the interests they will pursue the following year in the Graduating Project.

The Graduating Project represents the culmination of the student’s work in the program and is the focus of research and study during the period of residency. It is the major requirement for graduation. Projects are expected to be significant and substantial, reflecting the intense critical context the program provides. Students should make themselves familiar with the facilities and technical support resources the School and the University can provide toward this goal.

In most cases, admission should not be charged for the First-year or Graduating Project presentation. However, special permission may be given to students prior to the event if they can demonstrate that the costs of the project exceed the budget allocated to them (see Section 16.4).

16.1 Proposal Guidelines

Both the First-year and Graduating Project Proposals are formal proposals. For the first-year students, there is no form to be completed (however the template offered in Section 16.6 is a good guide).

Second-year students complete a “Graduating Project Proposal” form and submit it to the Graduate Program Committee for approval (see Section 18). The proposal must be comprehensible to a person outside of the student’s own artistic discipline. This proposal provides a useful template for students' applications for grants and fellowships.

The Graduate Program Committee has final approval of all projects.

The proposal consists of:

  • a cover page including Supervisor’s name, e-mail, and signature of approval (signature only required for 2nd year proposals), title, location and date of performance, name of the student and contact information and any collaborators;
  • a description of the formal modes or methods to be employed, content, materials, collaborators/performers involved, and working process;
  • a contextualization of the work within the historical framework of the relevant art discipline(s) and within the framework of the student’s own art practice: new challenges, risks, explorations, or investigations that will be undertaken in this project;
  • a description of where, when, and how the work will be shown (venue, gallery, public space, web space, etc.);
  • a description of the target audience for the work;
  • details about resources of the School for the Contemporary Arts or outside sources which will be needed (rehearsal space, installation space, performance and/or technical assistance, equipment needed, etc.);
  • a detailed budget on a separate page, including materials and supplies, from notebooks to equipment to food for crew or opening reception expenses; mileage; honoraria to professionals; rental of equipment; duplicating, for the printing of posters, postcards, programs or scripts; other promotion costs; and all other costs the project will incur, and
  • a research bibliography.

The student is responsible (with the help of their supervisor and other staff and faculty at the SCA) for coordinating the availability of resources (booking rooms, technical equipment, etc). Some spaces at the School For the Contemporary Arts need to be booked up to eighteen months in advance. Please give details, including names of who has been contacted, to ascertain the availability of the required resources. This application procedure is not to gain access to these resources: rather, planning for needs and coordinating resources are part of what is needed for a successful application.

If this is a First-Year Project, the proposal must also address whether this project is attached to a course number (e.g. CA 885) or not, and how the proposed project will contribute to the student’s development toward the Graduating Project (see Section 16.2). First-Year Project proposals should be approximately five to seven pages in length.

If this is a Graduating Project, the grant proposal must include an explanation of how the project synthesizes the research/explorations the student has undertaken thus far in his/her MFA work (see Section 16.3). Graduating Project Proposals should be approximately ten pages in length.

Note: Research Ethics approval is necessary for any projects involving human or animal subjects (i.e. interviews). If it applies to your work, attach this approval, so the Graduate Program Committee and your Supervisory Committee can see you have received approval or had clearance if approval is not necessary. Please note that adequate time for the Ethics Committee approval must be allowed prior to beginning work on your project. Go here for more information.

16.2 First-Year Students

First-year students are to submit the First-Year Project proposal by January 1 via email to the Graduate Program Chair. The actual project may or may not be a part of course work. Public presentation of a First-Year Project is optional, although highly recommended. It has become a tradition that the first-year students produce a “Spring Show”: this event offers a coordinated opportunity to present First-Year Projects.

It is understood that these are proposals: ideas for projects may not be fully formed and may change during the course of development. However, students are encouraged to develop as clear a vision as possible.

The entire First-Year Cohort will meet with the Graduate Program Chair and the School’s Technical Director in November to discuss their First-Year Projects. It is highly recommended that the cohort meet prior to this meeting to discuss the potential for a coordinated Spring Show.

Proposals will receive comments from members of the Graduate Committee in writing approximately one week after the deadline. If the proposal is not accepted, the student will be asked to resubmit the proposal by January 15, addressing comments made by the committee. Reasons for not accepting a proposal may range from issues arising from the budget (e.g. a request for a capital item already in the possession of the school), to lack of detail in the proposal itself in regards to context, content, or working methods.

16.3 Second-Year Students

The Graduating Project is the culmination of the MFA program. A draft proposal and budget should be submitted to the student’s Supervisory Committee in the Fall Semester of the second year. The proposal must be approved and signed by the student’s Senior Supervisor on behalf of the Supervisory Committee.

The Proposals will be presented to the Graduate Program Committee, in person by the student, in the first week of classes in their second spring Semester (i.e. their fifth semester in the program). The presentation should include contextual information as well as a detailed explanation of the proposal (expanded from the written proposal); the presentation will be followed by questions from the committee.

16.4 Budget

Proposals must include a complete budget that includes all costs associated with the project. Costs could include materials involved in the creation/presentation, as well as performer/crew honoraria.

Please be aware when preparing your budget that there may be costs associated with using specific spaces and with having technical support and equipment. It is the student’s responsibility in determining all costs associated with the Graduating Project. For visual artists, these costs must include all associated installation and de-installation costs in the Audain Gallery. For performing artists, these costs must include front of house costs. Early consultation with your supervisor and liaising with the School’s Technical Director and staff in the Cultural Unit will be important to a smooth process and accurate budget.

The School for the Contemporary Arts will provide up to $900 for Graduating Projects, and up to $450 for First-year Projects, for goods and services towards their projects.

The School will cover the following costs for Graduating Projects for individuals:

  • Front of House costs for up to three shows
  • costs for up to 40 posters and 200 postcards

In addition, the School will cover the costs of Graduating Projects for the entire 3rd year MFA cohort:

  • up to $500 for a catered opening for a presentation in the Audain Gallery;
  • up to $200 for the cost of vinyl lettering for the Audain Gallery;
  • up to $300 for the cost of installation at the Audain Gallery;
  • up to $300 for the cost of de-installation at the Audain Gallery;
  • up to $1000 for the cost of a single colour program.

The School will cover the following costs for individual First-year Projects for the entire 1st year MFA cohort:

  • up to $500 for one catered opening for presentation in the Audain Gallery;
  • up to $200 for the cost of vinyl lettering for the Audain Gallery;
  • up to $300 for the cost of de-installation at the Audain Gallery;
  • up to $1000 for the cost of a single colour program;
  • up to $100 for the cost of 40 posters and 200 postcards for performances;
  • Front of House costs for up to two performances per project.

Note that the above costs should be included as in-kind donations from the school, in the submitted budgets.

As mentioned in Section 15.2, in most cases, admission to Graduating Projects should not be charged. However, special permission may be given to students to charge admission if they can demonstrate that the costs of the project exceed the budget allocated to them. In such a case, a written request must be made to the Chair of the Graduating Committee prior to the event. Lastly, if there is an admission charge for the presentation, the student will ensure that complimentary tickets are available to members of the Examining Committee for all performances.

If admission is charged, all box office revenue will remain with the University until an expense claim, honorarium or invoice is submitted to the department’s Financial Assistant: Only expenses directly incurred in the Project, above the initial grant award, may be reimbursed. Please note: All Project expenses must comply with SFU's Business and Travel Expenses policy (AD 3.02). For a more detailed overview of the rules and processes of policy AD 3.02, see this PDF. Also, see Section 16.5, below, for information about claiming expenses, or email for more information about submitting honorariums or invoices. Any box office revenue above the requested expenses (i.e. the approved honoraria) will remain with the school to directly support future graduate student presentations. Additionally, all service charges related to ticket sales (i.e. GST, handling fees, etc.) will be deducted before any revenue is distributed for possible honoraria.  

16.5 Expense Claims

Expenses incurred for project presentations that have been approved in project proposals are eligible for reimbursement through expense claims. Students should retain all receipts for items purchased, and submit them as one expense claim.

Please note that honoraria cannot be claimed for reimbursement, due to university procedures. In other words, do not pay honoraria out of your own pocket, and then submit for reimbursement. In order to pay honoraria, you must submit the names, addresses, and social insurance numbers of persons who you wish to pay, together with requested amount of payment, to the Graduate Program Chair for approval. Once the list is approved, the Graduate Program Chair will forward to the Financial Assistant, who will arrange payment directly to those persons listed for the approved amounts. This procedure must also be followed for requests on box office revenues collected for performances. Please note that honoraria cannot be requested for fellow graduate students, or any student receiving course credit for working on the project.

If the student is a current employee of the university (i.e. cashier, teaching assistant, research assistant, or work-study employee), they will have access to Please contact the SCA's Financial Assistant,, for more information about submitting an Employee Expense Claim. Together with all receipts, the completed form should be given to the SCA's Financial Assistant, who will then initiate a direct deposit into the student’s bank account (which can take up to four weeks).

If the student is not an employee, contact the department’s Financial Assistant,, for more information about submitting a Non-Employee Expense Claim. If the student has not been an employee, please ask the budget clerk to print out a form, which can then be filled out and signed.

16.6 Template for Project Proposal (cover page)

Download here.

See Section 18.11 for a more complete form.


17.1 General

Following completion and presentation of the Graduating Project, students are required to make an Oral Defence. The purpose of the Defence is to create a critical dialogue around the Graduating Project. The committee will want to determine the student’s understanding of the practical, theoretical, critical and historical aspects of the Project. Discussion will centre on the student’s work and his/her response to questions posed in the Defence. The Defence focuses on the artistic presentation, and makes reference to the accompanying statement.

If a student passes their Defence with minor or major revisions, they may be asked to change something in the Defence Statement and/or documentation, to add a reflection statement, or to make changes the committee deems necessary. To ensure the student has time to reflect and prepare, it is suggested that Defences should be scheduled at least two weeks after the Graduating Project Presentation. Defences will not be scheduled less than two weeks before the library thesis submission dates.

The Chair of the Graduate Program, or a delegate chosen from the faculty, will Chair the Examining Committee. The role of this non-voting Committee Chair is to moderate the Defence according to the procedures outlined below and to attend to the signing of the documents pertaining to the Defence. The rest of the Examining Committee is composed of the members of the Supervisory Committee and an External Examiner. This committee will respond to the student’s Oral Presentation at the Defence.

17.2 External Examiner

An External Examiner with an appropriate artistic background for the Graduating Project and the Defence will be chosen by the Senior Supervisor, in consultation with the student and their Supervisory Committee.

The person chosen should be a working professional in an area of research similar to that of the student, and should be conversant with the issues raised by the student’s intended project.

The External Examiner should be drawn from the local community. The student must not communicate directly with the External Examiner. The External Examiner should attend the presentation of the student’s project and be prepared to address critical questions to the student and offer an assessment of his or her work and performance at the Defence. It is possible for the External Examiner to review documentation of the Graduating Project – for example, if the Project is a film – but it is much more desirable that she or he attend in person.

In some cases, the External Examiner may wish to be provided with the Research essay written in CA 812. If the candidate, in consultation with the Senior Supervisor, agree to this, the essay should be forwarded by the Senior Supervisor; however, it must be made clear that the essay is being provided solely for background information, and that the essay is not part of the Defence examination.

17.3 Defence Format

The candidate will first prepare and present an approximately twenty-minute summary outline of the content and the intention of the Graduating Project. Extracts from the presentation (slides, video, sound files) may be included for illustration. The purpose of this presentation is to give the examining committee a clear sense of the work and its theoretical and critical basis. The candidate should concentrate on presenting those aspects of the artistic work that constitute the core of his/her research activities and set a context for a substantial critical discussion of the Graduating Project. This presentation may be included, as documentation, for the candidate’s library submission (see Section 15.4).

The External Examiner will then ask specific questions of the candidate concerning the theoretical and critical assumptions and implications of the Graduating Project. The purpose is to determine the candidate’s success in realizing his/her expressed intentions. In the spirit of efficiency, this should be held to twenty minutes.

Members of the Supervisory Committee, ending with the Senior Supervisor, will then in turn continue the dialogue with the student. The committee is then asked, in the same order, if they would like to pose a second round of questions. After this, the discussion is opened to the floor and members of the audience are invited to pose questions.

At the end of this discussion, the candidate and audience is asked to withdraw while the committee considers the following:

  • the quality of the Graduating Project;
  • the strength of the Defence;
  • the candidate’s understanding and articulation of his/her work; and
  • the quality of the Defence Statement.

The committee composes its recommendation, and the candidate is then recalled to the room and advised of the outcomes of the deliberations. A schedule for the completion of the revisions and corrections, if any, will be set. The Chair will give the Senior Supervisor the “Results of the Defence” form to complete and return it to the Graduate Program Assistant for the student’s permanent record.

Following this step, the Examining Committee will sign the “Recommendation of the Award of the Degree” form. This form is to be returned along with the signed Approval pages to the Program Assistant.  The approval page becomes page ii of the bound project documentation.

For more information see "Degree Completion" on the Graduate Studies web site and the relevant sections of the Graduate General Regulations here.

17.4 Outcomes

There are four possible outcomes:

  • The Graduating Project, and its reflection in the Project Documentation and Defence Statement may be passed as submitted.
  • The Graduating Project, and its reflection in the Project Documentation and Defence Statement may be passed on the condition that minor revisions be completed to the satisfaction of the Senior Supervisor.
  • The Examining Committee may defer making judgment if it judges that all or any of the Graduating Project materials – including the Project itself, the Project Documentation, and Defence Statement – could pass after additional work by the candidate. A revised Defence Statement shall come forward for re-examination (see GGR 1.10.1). The Examining Committee may not defer judgment a second time.
  • The revised Defence Statement may be failed. In this case, the candidate is required to withdraw from the University.

17.5 Time Line for Defence Preparation

Up to EIGHTEEN MONTHS ahead of the Presentation:

  • Book space, including rehearsal space (see Appendix B). See Section 11 for the current staff liaison.

At least THREE MONTHS before the defence date:

  • The student submits a draft of the Defence Statement (see Section 15.4.2) to all members of the Supervisory Committee.
  • The Senior Supervisor and committee members provide comments and suggestions.
  • The candidate makes revisions according to these in the next draft.

At least SIX WEEKS before the defence date:

  • The student submits the next draft of the Defence Statement to all members of the Supervisory Committee.
  • Committee members provide comments and suggestions, which should be minor at this point, and the candidate makes corrections accordingly in the final draft.
  • The student confers with their Supervisor and the Committee about what format the documentation should take (see Section 15.4.3).
  • The Senior Supervisor submits the name, CV, and full contact information of the External Examiner to the Graduate Program Chair with the “Approval of the Examining Committee” form in order to schedule the Defence.
  • The candidate’s Supervisory Committee makes a recommendation concerning the date of the examination and the composition of the Examining Committee in conformity with Section 1.9.1 of the Graduate Regulations.
  • The Graduate Program Assistant confirms the availability of the External Examiner and prepares an official invitation to the External Examiner providing the date, time, and location of the student’s performance/exhibition, and the date, time, and location of the Defence.
  • The student provides the following information to the Graduate Program Assistant for inclusion on the form “Approval of Examining Committee”:
    • A maximum 150 word Abstract describing the areas of research (see Section 15.4.1)
    • Date, time, and desired location of the defence
    • List of equipment required for the defence (e.g. computer, projector, audio equipment, etc.)
  • The Graduate Program Assistant completes the form “Approval of Examining Committee for a Master's Student” and forwards it to the Senior Supervisor and Graduate Program Chair for Signatures. Once signed, this form, and the CV of the External Examiner are sent to the Director of Graduate Admissions and Records at the DGS.
  • The Graduate Program Assistant notifies the University community: Notice of the Defence date, time, and location is e-mailed to the School for the Contemporary Arts and the Faculty of Communication, Arts, and Technology, posted on the Graduate Studies calendar of Events, and sent to the Director of Graduate Studies for entry into the university’s records.
  • The Graduate Program Assistant books the location for the Defence and orders A/V equipment

At least TWO WEEKS prior to the defence date:

  • The Supervisory Committee approves a final draft of the Defence Statement and documentation.
  • The student distributes both print and electronic copies of Defence Statement and documentation to each member of the Examining Committee, including the Chair, and gives one copy to the Graduate Program Assistant for perusal by faculty and students.

At least TEN DAYS before the defence date:

  • The Graduate Program Assistant will prepare a memo from the Graduate Program Chair announcing the date, time, and location of the examination, and distribute it to the candidate, the members of the Examining Committee, the Dean of FCAT, and the Dean of Graduate Studies. The Dean of Graduate Studies will notify the University Community.


  • The Graduate Program Assistant will provide the following forms to the Chair who will distribute them to the appropriate individuals according to the instructions:
    • “Approval Page” to be signed by the Examining Committee and the External Examiner;
    • “Recommendations for the Award of the Degree” form;
    • “Results of Graduating Project Defence” form;
    • A copy of the Defence Statement; and
    • Copies of the abstract and Defence Statement for the audience (approx. 10 to 20 copies depending on anticipated audience size).
  • The Chair of the Examining Committee will conduct the Defence in accordance with GGR 1.10.
  • The Chair will deliver the outcome of the Defence to the candidate (see Section 17.4).

At least ONE WEEK prior to the semester deadline:

  • The student should have his/her revisions complete, the Library Approval Memo signed and the copyright forms filled out, and all other documentation ready to submit online to the Library.
  • When the Library Representative of the Dean of Graduate Studies has checked the Project and accepted the format, the representative will notify the Registrar. The Senate will not approve any degree until the Registrar has been so notified. If you do not meet this deadline, you may have to register and pay for part of the next semester.


Check for specific dates on the Academic Calendar of Events here.

  • The Senior Supervisor completes “Results of Graduating Project Defence” form and returns it to the Graduate Program Assistant. The Senior Supervisor also signs the Memo to the Thesis Assistant that the revisions have been completed and that the student can submit the essay and documentation to the Library.
  • The student must ensure that the essay and Project Documentation meet the requirements set out in the Current SFU Regulations and Guidelines for Theses/Projects/Extended Essay (see Section 15.4.5). When the Project Documentation and Defence Statement are ready for submission, the student registers to indicate she or he will be submitting them to the library via the Thesis Registration System. Thesis submission is now entirely online. Complete the submission steps described here. It is the student's responsibility to upload the thesis and all of the required documents as PDFs. Here's what the Library stipulates:
  • The Graduate Program Assistant sends to the Dean of FCAT by the semester deadline:
    • “Recommendation for the Award of the Degree” form,
    • Copy of signed Approval page.
  • The student applies to graduate. The student must indicate the term they will complete their program requirements and graduate via
  • An “Application for Graduation” will be sent to the student to be filled in and returned to Graduate Records in the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies.
  • The student should complete a “Convocation Awards” form so that any merit-based awards the student has received during the pursuit of their degree can be listed in the Convocation program. If you do not receive the forms to graduate, let the Graduate Program Assistant know.

17.6 Preparing For Your Defence

One of the best ways to prepare for your Defence is to attend as many Defences as you can during your time at the School for the Contemporary Arts.

Think about the questions and discussion topics that may arise from your Graduating Project presentation and your written statement. Be prepared to discuss these.

The format of the Defence is not conversational: the External Examiner will usually frame a question, and the student has to be prepared to interpret and engage with the question. In responding you should draw on the historical, theoretical, practical/studio based, individual knowledge of your work, its context within the field, and the decisions you made.

Don’t become argumentative or defensive. The point is not to refute all criticism of your work, but rather to show yourself as an informed author/producer/composer of the work.

Conversely, don’t give up and just capitulate to questions or criticisms, be prepared to express what you think is most important to convey about your decisions, your work, its implications, etc.



All of the forms below will need to be filled out during or after the defence:

  • Recommendation for the Award of Degree
  • Results of Defence
  • Approval page
  • Memo of Approval of Revisions to Thesis Librarian
  • SFU Non-Exclusive Copyright License (Library & Archives Canada)
  • SFU Ethics Approval Statement

18.1 Recommendation of Award of Degree

This form should be signed whether the student has revisions or not. Each supervisor must sign beside their name and the Graduate Program Chair signs at Section C. The Chair will return this form to the Graduate Program Assistant. The form and other necessary paperwork will be forwarded to the Dean of FCAT, either immediately or once the candidate has completed the revisions to his/her Project Documentation.

18.2 Results of Defence

This form is to be completed by the Senior Supervisor. A short description of what took place during the actual defence is written down and the appropriate result is circled. The Senior Supervisor then signs the form and returns it to the Graduate Program Assistant, who places it in the student's file and gives a copy to the student.

18.3 Approval Page

The Approval page forms a part of the documentation required for degree completion. Go here for more information, directions, and a downloadable template (Word DOC).

The title on the Approval page must match the title on the cover of the written project, otherwise the document will not be accepted at the library. The approval page must be signed by the examining committee members and the Chair. The document should be dated with the date of the defence or in the case of Outcome 3, deferred judgment, dated when the committee makes its final approval. The Chair of the defence is to return the Approval page and all other documents to the Graduate Program Assistant to hold until the revisions are complete. 

18.4 Library Approval Memo

This memo is given to the candidate to keep until he/she has completed any revisions to the Project Documentation. When the revisions are completed to the satisfaction of the Senior Supervisor, the candidate must have the Senior Supervisor sign and date this memo. Alternatively, the Senior Supervisor can sign the Library Approval Memo at the defence and give it to the Graduate Program Assistant to hold in the student's file until revisions are complete.

18.5 SFU Non-Exclusive Copyright License

Effective 1 May 2015, a single non-exclusive copyright license has replaced the former requirement for students to sign both a Partial Copyright License and a Theses Non-Exclusive License. The new license is required for graduate students submitting theses and dissertations in the Summer 2015 term forward. 

Print, complete, sign, scan as a PDF, and upload the Non-Exclusive Copyright License (NECL) to the Thesis Registration System. A hard copy is not required by the Library. Digital signatures are not accepted on the Non-Exclusive Copyright License.

  • Enter the full name of your degree, e.g. "Master of Arts," not "Master's" or "MA."
  • In the space provided for the "Date Defended/Approved," enter the date that appears on your signed Approval Page.

18.6 Library & Archives Canada

A digital copy of your thesis will be processed by SFU Library and made available in Summit, the Institutional Repository at SFU. A digital copy will also be sent to Library and Archives Canada and be accessible through the Theses Canada Portal.

18.7 SFU Ethics Approval Statement

If your thesis involves any work with humans or animals, as defined in SFU Policy R20.01 or R20.03, you are required to obtain Ethics Approval, an ethics exemption, or an Animal Care Protocol Approval form. Ethics approval for human research is granted through the SFU Office of Research Ethics. Ethics approval for animal research is granted by the University Animal Care Committee

Whether individual or collaborative research, you must have either applied in advance for individual ethics approval as the Principal Investigator (P.I.) or been included by name as a co-investigator, collaborator or research assistant in the P.I.'s approval letter. If you do not have an ethics approval listing your name as attached to the study, you may need to file an Amendment to Previously Approved Research

In addition, the university's Ethics statement must appear on page iii of your thesis. Approval letters and other documents do not have to be included in the thesis.

If the research for your thesis required ethics approval, an Ethics statement must appear on page iii of your thesis, immediately after the Approval page. The Ethics statement is included in the Word thesis template. If the statement needs to be replaced, follow the steps below:

  • Open the Ethics statement in Word, Select All and Copy
  • In your thesis document, place your cursor immediately before the "A" of the "Abstract" heading on your abstract's page
  • Paste the Ethics statement into your thesis
  • Once pasted into your thesis, click on the Ethics statement heading and ensure the Heading 1_Preliminary style is applied
  • Regenerate the table of contents

18.8 Library Requirements

The semester deadlines for having the material completed and into the Library are strict and affect graduation dates. Students are advised to check with both the Graduate Program Assistant and the Dean of Graduate Studies’ website regarding these deadlines. It is the student’s responsibility to meet this Library deadline. The degree will not be awarded until this Library requirement is met.

The student must ensure that the Project Documentation and all components of their submission meet the Library's requirements, as set out on the Library's Thesis Assistance website.

As well as having a resource-packed website, the Library also offers workshops on the formatting and submitting of your thesis to the library before your defence. Go here for more information. Students can also register and book an in-person or telephone Thesis Formatting or Submission appointment with the Assistant for Theses via their online booking system. Students may also call 778.782.4747 or email Do this early!

The library submission materials as described above constitute the archival record of the student’s work to be placed in the University Library. The copyright waiver and a memo from the Senior Supervisor certifying that all the required revisions have been made must be sent along with these two copies.

18.9 First Year Project Approval Form (Guideline only)

Download a template (Word DOC) here.

18.10  Graduating Project Proposal Form (Guideline only)

Download a template (Word DOC) here.

A student's Graduating Project Proposal should include this content:

  • Project Description: Approximately 2-3 paragraphs. Be brief and as specific as possible, and make the description readable by an educated audience, but one that may not be specialists in your field.
  • Context: Approximately 1-2 pages. Give background information on your proposal, and how it relates to historical and contemporary art practices in and outside your field.
  • Synthesis of previous and current MFA Work: Approximately two paragraphs. How does this proposal build upon the work you have already created during your tenure in the program?
  • Methodology: How do you plan to work on this proposal over the next few months? Where will you create it? If it is a performance, what is the proposed rehearsal period? Will you collaborate with anyone, and if so, how do you propose to do this? Any other information that will demonstrate to the committee that you have thought, in depth, about the working methods towards your creation.
  • Venue: Where your presentation will take place.
  • Target Audience: Who you believe will want to attend your presentation.
  • References: Approximately 1 page (but no more than 2 pages) – references used in formulating your concepts.
  • List of Required School Resources: Separate page – be as detailed and specific as possible.
  • Ethics approval: If your project requires Ethics approval (see Section 18.7), this must be included here.
  • Budget: Separate page – be as detailed and specific as possible, explaining each item and why it is needed (within reason).


Communication forms an integral part of successful advancement through the MFA degree. The student shares the responsibility of maintaining communication with their Supervisor and Supervisory Committee, the Graduate Program Chair, the Graduate Program Assistant, Faculty, and other students.

If you receive an email from one of your advisors, the Graduate Program Chair, or the Graduate Program Assistant, 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 MFA 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.


The following provides general information regarding the selection of a Senior Supervisor, expectations, progression, changes of committee, and conclusion of the program.

Please also consult the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website for Best Practices in Forming and Utilizing a Supervisory Committee as well as Section 1.6 on "Supervision" in the Graduate General Regulations.

Meant for both departments and students, these general guidelines are organized roughly into five phases of the relationship between Senior Supervisor and student:

  • Selection – initiation of graduate program and selection of the right Senior Supervisor and Supervisory Committee,
  • Initial Phase – establishment of the basis of the relationship,
  • Continuation – progression toward the degree,
  • Changes – possible changes to the Supervisory Committee,
  • Conclusion – preparation for defence.

There is necessarily some overlap among guidelines relevant to these phases so the separation into phases should not be taken too literally. There is also some redundancy among the guidelines to ensure that all aspects are fully covered.

Graduate programs at SFU vary widely in size, in orientation and in homogeneity of student programs. Therefore, the degree to which some of the guidelines are applicable will vary as well; e.g. the degree of formality in expressing expectations will typically not be as great in smaller, more homogeneous programs as in larger, more heterogeneous ones. Differences in the tradition and 'culture' between disciplines will also affect the degree to which some of the guidelines are applicable. Guidelines most strongly affected by these factors contain explicit reference to them, but they should be borne in mind when referring to all guidelines.

Selection of a Senior Supervisor

Selection of a Senior Supervisor is extremely important and should be a well-informed decision. University Regulations require that the committee be formed within the first year in program; some departments require immediate selection of a Supervisory Committee. Departments where a committee is not immediately selected should develop a system in which incoming graduate students are assigned an interim advisor for the first two semesters of their program. In the absence of this, the departmental Graduate Program Chair supervises and counsels the student.

Departments should prepare and provide information packages on potential Senior Supervisors including, for example, a mini-curriculum vitae, research interests, grant record, availability to supervise. This is especially important in large departments. These should be placed on a web site and updated regularly.

Departments should formulate a sample "list of questions" for use by incoming graduate students in interviews with prospective Senior Supervisors.

Faculty members should take on only as many graduate students as they can adequately supervise.

Selection of a Senior Supervisor and other members of the Supervisory Committee should occur as early as possible in a student's program, consistent with a clear definition of the student's research interests and an informed decision.


Expectations that are clear, explicit and mutually-accepted are the basis of a good supervisory relationship. These expectations should be discussed and agreed upon very early in the relationship. Written agreements are unambiguous, and are recommended.

With the participation of the Supervisory Committee, Senior Supervisors and students should, at the start of the supervisory relationship, agree on a plan of study for the student's degree program with clear 'milestones' denoting progress. The plan may be expressed in writing. In all cases, there should be an explicit understanding that it may be changed in light of future developments. Departments may wish to consider establishment of a general written agreement, stipulating the minimum requirements, rights and responsibilities of the student, Senior Supervisor and department, which could be revised to meet individual student/supervisor needs.

Students must be made aware of evaluation criteria for all work before work commences. If ambiguities remain, students should discuss them with the faculty member and resolve them before proceeding.

Senior Supervisors and members of Supervisory Committees should inform graduate students of their disciplinary orientation and views on controversial topics in the field and state their expectations of graduate students in relation to these.

It is the responsibility of Senior Supervisors to inform students in advance of evaluation procedures, the outcome(s) of those procedures (in written form) and the means available to students to respond to evaluation outcomes.

Whenever research is being planned, faculty members and graduate students should reach agreement on the ownership of any intellectual property that may result. This will include patents, licenses and the authorship of any publications which may arise from the research. The principle that all students who participate in research that leads to publication (or profit) should receive appropriate credit should be maintained. It is recommended that a written agreement be concluded. Similar discussions should occur between instructors and students in courses in which new data and ideas may be generated. In all cases, the agreements reached must be consistent with University policies on intellectual property.

When a faculty member funds a student from a research grant, the terms and conditions of such funding should be stated in writing.


Progression through the graduate program presents several areas where guidelines are helpful. These relate to academic and personal aspects of the relationship.

Advice, Resources and Evaluation

Faculty members should be familiar with department and University policies and procedures, and with sources of information on graduate student support. Similarly, students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the University Calendar, the Graduate Studies website and official departmental and University documentation pertaining to graduate education.

The essence of graduate education is development of research skill/professional competence. Senior Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that a student has access to intellectual resources and to research opportunities. Other members of the Supervisory Committee and the department share in these responsibilities. Graduate students are expected to take advantage of the resources and opportunities that are provided and to pursue actively support for their research and themselves.

To the extent possible, the Senior Supervisor should provide financial support for the student's research and for the student.

Faculty members should be available for regular consultation with students. Senior Supervisors, other committee members and course instructors should be available to students on a schedule appropriate to the needs of both parties.

Students should meet with their Senior Supervisors and/or full Supervisory Committees on a regular basis to set both short- and long-term goals (which may be modified from time to time) and to ensure continuation of common expectations. Normally, students should arrange the meetings (but see point 7 below).

The Senior Supervisor and the student share the responsibility of ensuring that examinations such as minor fields, qualifying or comprehensive examinations are arranged in a timely way.

The Senior Supervisor is responsible for ensuring that the student's progress is assessed on at least an annual basis as described in Section 1.8.1. This will often entail formal meetings of the Supervisory Committee and the student. The resultant report on the student's progress may be either written by the Senior Supervisor or drafted by the student and endorsed - possibly in modified form – by the Senior Supervisor. The Senior Supervisor is responsible for transmitting the report to the chair of the departmental Graduate Program Committee, with a copy to the student.

Senior Supervisors must inform their students of planned absences well in advance and make arrangements for an acting supervisor, who would normally be a member of the Supervisory Committee (see Section 1.6.3). Similarly, students should inform their Senior Supervisors of planned absences in advance. In cases of unplanned absences, notification should be as soon as possible.

The purposes of evaluation of students are to improve academic skills in research, writing, critical thinking, analysis, etc. and to assess the progress of the student toward the degree. Evaluation should be fair, sensitive and provided in a timely fashion. Criticism should be specific and constructively presented. Evaluation should include specific suggestions for improvement, when indicated. Students have the obligation to respond in a timely way to criticism and suggestions for improvement.

Faculty members who feel they cannot or can no longer, evaluate a student's work in an unbiased way should arrange to have another qualified person evaluate the work.

Evaluation of the student's work in one area should not be affected by evaluation in another area. Students who feel their work is not being evaluated fairly should notify the Graduate Program Chair in their department and seek resolution. If satisfactory resolution cannot be reached at this level, the Graduate Appeal Procedures may be applicable.

Interpersonal and Other Conflicts of Interest

The relationship between supervisors and students must be purely an academic one. Any deviations from this require cessation of any evaluative role for the supervisor.

Romantic, intimate relationships (including but not limited to sexual intimacy) are unacceptable between faculty members and graduate students because of the increased potential for coercion, favoritism and harassment and so should be avoided. The societal view of "consenting adults" does not apply in the faculty member-graduate student case, because of pre-existing imbalances in power. Faculty members are responsible for drawing a clear line of separation between their professional and their personal lives. A faculty member who enters into an intimate or close personal relationship with a graduate student who is, or will be, subject to the faculty member for any evaluation, supervision or employment should terminate or decline the evaluative/supervisory/employment role(s) and take all necessary steps to avoid any suggestion of bias, including informing the department chair of the situation.

Faculty members who are in a financial relationship with a student shall not be involved in any evaluative e with respect to the student. Such relationships may include business partnership or an employee-employer relationship outside the normal scope of research or teaching assistantships, but normally exclude situations where both faculty member and student are co-holders of the rights to intellectual property.

Faculty members who play more than one role with respect to the student should not take unfair advantage of this situation. One example is serving as both Senior Supervisor and course instructor in a course where the student is employed as a teaching assistant, which could result in undue pressure on the student to perform work beyond that specified under the TA terms of employment.

Faculty members must not permit personal conflict with a graduate student to impinge on that student's relationship with other faculty members. Similarly, faculty members should not allow personal animosities among colleagues to influence graduate students' relationships with those colleagues.


Senior Supervisors and students should discuss academic dishonesty and its consequences, with regard to both Project and course work. Neither party should assume that what constitutes academic dishonesty is "self-evident." Consult Policy R60.01.

Supervisors and students should become familiar with and govern their behaviour by the University Human Rights, which covers a range of harassment and discrimination issues, including sexual harassment. Consult Policy GP18.

Neither a graduate student nor a faculty member may present the work of the other as if it is his/her own work.

Faculty members should be sensitive to cultural differences regarding standard academic practice related to academic dishonesty and make every effort to inform and explain Canadian definitions.

Changes of Committee

Change in membership of the Supervisory Committee may be initiated by the student, any member of the Supervisory Committee or any member of the departmental Graduate Program Committee, as described in Section 1.6.6.

A graduate student may wish to change his or her Senior Supervisor and/or committee member(s) for any number of valid reasons. These reasons include, but are not limited to, change in direction of research, change of interests and irreconcilable academic or personal conflicts.

Intellectual debate is an important part of university activity. Occasionally, fundamental differences in substance, style or philosophy may render debate counter-productive. Every effort should be made by faculty members and graduate students to address such difficulties. Departments are encouraged to establish mechanisms to mediate or otherwise resolve such differences before they become irreconcilable. If it becomes apparent to either party that intellectual differences have become irreconcilable and that debate between them has become more negative than constructive, each has a responsibility to reconsider working together.

Students should be able to change Senior Supervisors without subsequent negative consequences. This involves faculty members disavowing proprietary attitudes regarding graduate students and ensuring that past conflicts do not color future relations with the student. If the faculty member is unable to detach him/herself, then he or she should remove him/herself from any further formal and informal evaluative functions regarding the student. See the section above under Supervisory Committee for further guidance about changes in committee.

Conclusion of the Program

Well in advance of University deadlines, the Supervisory Committee and student should consult to prepare for the culminating event. Time lines and procedures should be agreed upon for completion and approval of the project and for its examination. The same considerations apply to the writing of a final examination.

In most master's programs, there is one examiner to be selected; in doctoral programs, there are an external examiner and an 'internal' examiner. The choice of examiners should be made in consultation with the graduate student, who should be informed about the qualifications of the examiner(s).

The same considerations related to conflict of interest as affect the Senior Supervisor (see section C above) are relevant to selection of examiners: examiners should have no personal, financial or professional relationship with the student that would lead to any conflict of interest.

Normally, the Project is not sent to examiner(s) until it has the approval of the full Supervisory Committee.

Prior to the defence, all participants should acquaint themselves with the possible outcomes specified in Section 1.10.2.

The relationship between the Senior Supervisor and the student does not end upon degree completion. The Senior Supervisor, and other faculty members as appropriate, should be available to write letters of reference for the student and submit them in a timely manner.


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 Coordinator in the SFU Woodward's Cultural Unit.

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 SFU Woodward's Cultural Unit, SFU Woodward's Cultural Programs, SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement, SFU 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 SFU Woodward's Cultural Unit Manager, Audience & Event Services, to determine services to facilitate events in these venues.


In relation to the Presentation and Defence of the Graduating Thesis Project, this timeline is a general projection based on a graduation at the beginning of the 7th semester. It is intended to be useful for planning. However, your own timeline may differ.

Prior to 1st semester

End of July

  • TA applications. List of available courses will be sent to you.

1st semester


    • CA 811-5 – SEMINAR I

End of October

  • TA applications. List of available courses will be sent to you.

End of 3rd week of October

  • SSHRC Application draft to Supervisor/Interim supervisor for feedback.


  • First Year Project Proposals submitted to Supervisor/Interim for feedback.

December 1

  • Deadline for SSHRC Applications (Canadians and Permanent Residents with GPA of 3.67 or Higher).


  • Enroll in Spring Classes. If you are doing a “studio” or creation based directed study it should go under the number “CA 889” 5 credits.
  • Senior Supervisor declared (ideally, but no later than end of 2nd semester).
  • Confer with Technical Director to consider Graduating Project presentation spaces.

2nd semester

January 1

  • First Year Project Proposals submitted (PDF) to Graduate Program Chair.


    • CA 883-5 – STUDIO 1 and
    • CA 885-5 (if visual art see 4th Semester, or if you have made other arrangements for the timing of your elective class) or
    • CA 887-5 Selected Topics or 
    • CA 889-5 Directed Studies.

End of February

  • Student’s Graduate committee should be in place (ideally, but no later than end of 4th semester)


  • If you are a BC resident, consider applying for the 3,500 BC Arts Council Scholarship. Go here for more information.

Mid-April / Early May

  • The MFA Informal “Show” (organized and presented by the MFA students with support from the Audain Gallery and SCA staff).

3rd semester

May 1

  • Annual Progress Report due to Supervisor and Graduate Program Assistant (PDF).


  • Meet with your advisors and discuss summer work plans and goals.
    • CA 898-10 – GRAD PROJECT

End of July

  • TA applications.

4th semester


    • CA 812-5 – SEMINAR II
    • CA 898-10 - GRAD PROJECT
    • CA 885-5* VIS ART STUDIO (Students with a Visual Art Practice).

End of October

  • TA applications

End of 1st week of November

  • Graduating Project Proposals submitted to Supervisor for feedback.
  • Confirmation of Bookings of Graduating Project Presentation Spaces.

5th semester

January (1st day of classes)

  • Graduating Project Proposals submitted (in PDF form) to Graduate Program Chair.

January (end of first week of classes)

  • Present Graduating Project Proposal to the Graduate Program Committee in 20 minute audio/visual presentation.


    • CA 898-10 - GRAD PROJECT

Mid-April / Early May

  • The MFA Informal “Show" (organized and presented by the MFA students with support from the Audain Gallery and SCA staff).

6th semester

May 1

  • Annual Progress Report due to Supervisor and Graduate Program Assistant (PDF).


    • CA 898-10 - GRAD PROJECT
  • Meet with your advisors and discuss summer work plans and goals.

May-July (for September/October Thesis Presentations and Defences)

  • The student discusses their Thesis Presentation, its substance and practical aspects with all members of the Supervisory Committee.
  • All committee members provide comments and suggestions.
  • A first draft of the Thesis Defence statement is distributed to the committee.
  • The candidate makes corrections according to comments made by the committee Tentatively schedule a defence date: contact the Graduate Program Assistant.

August (for September/October Thesis Presentations and Defences)

The student submits the next draft of the Thesis Defence to all members of the Supervisory Committee.

  • Committee members provide comments and suggestions (which should be minor at this point) and the candidate makes corrections accordingly in the final draft.
  • Defence Date and Room booking is confirmed: contact Graduate Program Assistant.
  • The Senior Supervisor submits the name, CV, and full contact information of the external examiner to the Graduate Program Assistant.

7th semester


    • CA 898-10 DEFENCE
  • Thesis Presentations
  • Audain MFA Exhibitions

September 30

  • Thesis Early Submission deadline (to be eligible for 75% semester’s tuition reimbursement).


  • Defences

December 24

  • Library Thesis Deadline – this is the final date to submit graduate degree requirements for the Fall semester.


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 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 posses 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.


The MFA Spring Show is an opportunity for MFA students, particularly 1st year MFA students, to present their research to the SFU community and the public in a festival presentation. By showcasing projects created during the first year of graduate study, the Spring Festival allows students to test ideas, receive feedback, meet collaborators, and gain insight into the practical considerations of presenting work within the SCA. Students may wish to invite potential senior supervisors to their showings, as well as undergraduate students, community members, and other Vancouver artists.

By participating in the planning, production and execution of a small-scale interdisciplinary arts festival, MFAs gain hands-on experience in collaborative production within an institutional setting. Students are encouraged to see this process as part of the research and learning that will eventually lead to the creation of a Graduating Project.

MFA Spring Festival Production Format

  • The Audain Gallery will coordinate opening times with the run of shows in Studio D and T.
  • The First-Year cohort is responsible for the overall planning. Invitations to participate should be extended to the second-year cohort.

Format for Performances in Studio D and T

  • The performance schedule will be set by SCA Production & Design Faculty in coordination with SCA Technical Director, the Graduate Committee and the Audain Gallery.
  • Each show will have two performances (see this year’s schedule)

Each show in Studio D or T receives:

  • an assigned venue,
  • 6 hours of tech time,
  • Lighting: house hang + 4 specials each,
  • Sound: a general house speaker hang,
  • a dress rehearsal,
  • a stage manager, shared between two shows,
  • a lighting designer,
  • a technical director, shared between shows,
  • sound and lighting operators,
  • dance marley, if shared between two shows.

Format for Installations/Showings in Audain Gallery

See Appendix F: Audain Gallery Spring Show Critical Path

Technical Specifications for Studio D/T

  • End Stage seating,
  • Lighting: House Hang & 4 specials each,
  • Performances should be limited to 50 minutes max.,
  • Masking/Drapery: to be determined,
  • Dance Floor: Optional dance floor if ALL participants on the program coordinate,
  • Audio: Stereo speakers in grid,
  • Access to audio equipment as pre-arranged via technical rider,
  • Must be able to strike in 10 minutes max.

Technical Specifications for Audain Gallery

See Appendix F: Audain Gallery Spring Show Critical Path




Deadline: December TBD
Action: Mandatory venue walk-through with SCA TD
Who: MFAs interested in performing in SCA performance venues

Winter Break

2 weeks before Spring Show Proposal Deadline

Deadline: January 12
Action: Individual MFAs attend project scope meeting with SCA TD, Festival Production Manager and Undergraduate Supervisor
Who: SCA TD, Festival PM, Undergrad Supervisor, MFAs interested in performing in SCA performance venues

2 weeks before Spring Show Proposal

Deadline: January TBD
Action: Artists planning to show in the Audain Gallery receive gallery orientation, followed by feedback from Audain Gallery on technical scope of proposal Audain Gallery, MFAs planning to show in Gallery
Who: Audain Gallery, MFAs planning to show in Gallery

1 week before Spring Show Proposal Due

Deadline: January 19
Action: Individual MFAs submit draft proposal to SCA TD
Who: SCA TD, Performance Spaces MFAs

2 days before Spring Show Proposal Due

Deadline: January 24
Action: Receive feedback from Audain Gallery on revised proposal; receive signature
Who: Audain Gallery, Audain Gallery MFAs

2 days before Spring Show Proposal Due

Deadline: January 24
Action: Individual MFAs have revised proposal signed by SCA TD
Who: SCA TD, Performance Spaces MFAs

Spring Show Proposal Due

Deadline: January 26
Action: Submit Spring Show proposal to Graduate Program Committee (Spring Show Production Manager, Undergraduate Supervisor)
Who: Graduate Program Committee, Spring Show TD, Spring Show Production Manager


3.5 months before opening

Deadline: January 19
Action: Designate Audain Coordinator and Performance Coordinator
Who: Graduate Program Committee, Audain Gallery

Deadline: within two weeks of submission
Action: Project Proposal Approved by Graduate Program Committee, with suggested Revisions Who: Graduate Program Committee, individual MFAs

3 months before opening

Deadline: February 2
Action: Deadline for regular production meetings: group and individual
Who: Production Manager, Audain Coordinator, Performance Coordinator, Individual MFAs

3 months before opening

Deadline: February 9
Action: Production Deadline #1: Venue and time confirmed by Undergraduate Supervisor, SCA TD; technical and project scope confirmed
Who: Performance Coordinator, Audain Gallery Coordinator, SCA TD, Spring Show TD, Production Manager, Individual MFAs

2 months before opening

Deadline: March 9
Action: Production Deadline #2: Overall Spring Show vision confirmed
Who: Performance Coordinator, Audain Coordinator, SCA TD, Spring Show TD, Production Manager, Individual MFAs

2 months before opening

Deadline: March 12
Action: Final Drop Date Deadline: Last day to cancel individual participation in Spring Festival
Who: All MFAs

2 months before opening

Deadline: March 12
Action: Production Deadline #3: Individual technical riders, Performance schedule confirmed; Audain opening hours confirmed; rehearsal schedules and tech production\rehearsal times confirmed
Who: Audain Coordinator., Performance Coordinator, SCA TD, Spring Show TD, Production Manager, Individual MFAs

Seven weeks before opening

Deadline: March 14
Action: Promotion Deadline #1: General promo deadline (see detailed list)
Who: Audain Coordinator, Performance Coordinator, Audain Coordinator, SCA Communications Assistant, Production Manager, Individual MFAs

Six weeks before opening

Deadline: March 21
Action: Production Deadline #4: Event Forms submitted to SCA TD
Who: Audain Coordinator, Performance Coordinator, SCA TD, Spring Show TD, Production Manager, Individual MFAs

Four weeks before opening

Deadline: April 4
Action: Promotion Deadline #2: Additional Promo Deadlines
Who: SCA Communications Assistant, Individual MFAs

Four weeks before opening

Deadline: April 4
Action: Promotion Deadline #3: Print Deadline: Audain Catalogue, Poster
Action: Production Deadline #5: SCA Venues: Final Technical Rider Due
Who: Audain Coordinator, Performance Coordinator, SCA Communications Assistant, Audain Gallery, Production Manager, Individual MFAs

Three weeks before opening

Deadline: April 11
Action: Production Deadline #6: Vinyl (Audain), Event Request Form (FOH, MECS)
Who: Audain Coordinator, Performance Coordinator, Audain Gallery, Production Manager, SCA TD, SCA Office Manager

One week before opening

Deadline: April 25
Action: Production Deadline #7: volunteers confirmed (gallery sitters, ushers, opening bar)
Who: Audain Coordinator, Performance Coordinator, Audain Gallery, Production Manager, Individual MFAs


Deadline: When project budget is spent
Action: Submit approved expenses and honoraria requests to Financial Assistant
Who: Individual MFAs, SCA Financial Assistant

Deadline: As scheduled by Graduate Program Chair
Action: Group Debrief
Who: All MFAs, Graduate Program Chair

Deadline: As scheduled by Graduate Program Chair
Action: Individual Debriefs with Graduate Program Chair
Who: All MFAs, Graduate Program Chair

Deadline: As scheduled by Audain Gallery
Action: Audain Gallery Clean Up
Who: MFAs showing in Audain Gallery, Audain Gallery

Deadline: As scheduled by SCA Technical Director
Action: Performance Spaces Clean up
Who: MFAs showing in performance venues, SCA TD

Deadline: As scheduled by Graduate Program Chair
Action: Ticket Revenue Claims
Who: Individual MFAs, SCA Financial Assistant



1. Meet with the SCA Technical Director to discuss the scope of your proposed Spring Project.

  • Discussion should include:
    • Project’s technical elements (eg. projection, amplified sound, dance floor, theatrical lighting, gallery install, etc.)
    • Your level of skill/experience in the proposed technical elements
    • Your level of skill/experience in event production\promotion
    • Proposed personnel

2. Obtain SCA Technical Director’s Signature

  • Your Spring Project proposal must include the signature of the SCA Technical Director. To receive the signature, your proposal should include:
    • A summary of the project’s technical and production requirements, incorporating feedback provided by SCA Technical Director.
    • A realistic technical work plan, detailing the areas where you need support as well as the areas where you can be more self-sufficient.

Important Note:

While it is expected that your projects will evolve from your initial proposals, any expansion of your project scope will be difficult to accommodate as the event approaches. Providing early information about your technical requests greatly increases the technical team’s ability to support your work, as does your participation in regular technical and production meetings.


1. General Planning & Visioning (Cohort)

  • Early on, meet as a cohort to establish a regular production meeting schedule for the performance venues, the Audain gallery, and overall festival. Meet the student coordinators, and agree to guidelines around communications.
  • Establish volunteer positions:
    • Volunteer coordination (front of house ushers, gallery sitters, drink ticket sales for opening reception)
    • Promotions (design of image; postering, social media invites, additional listings)
    • Documentation
  • Expect to attend monthly to bi-monthly production meetings in the early stages of the process, and weekly production meetings leading up to the festival.
  • Important Note: It is expected that organizational labour will be shared by all participants in the Spring Show. However, the lead contacts will be responsible for communicating group decisions to SCA and Audain staff, and for facilitating the decision-making process.

2. Production Deadline #1: Confirmed Technical Scope (Individuals)

  • Please send the following information to the undergraduate student Technical Director and Production Coordinator. This information will be compiled and sent to the SCA Technical Director.
    • Confirm location of presentation:
      • A. SCA venue or space
      • B. DIY/Off-Site (note that the SCA has extremely limited ability to support outside performances)
      • C. Audain Gallery
    • Number of performers
    • Confirmed technical scope

3. Production Deadline #2: Event Vision (Cohort)

  • The cohort should agree to an event vision:
    • Is there a theme\concept behind how you will present the works?
    • What kind of audience experience are you hoping to create for the overall festival?
    • Thinking of event flow: how do individual events relate to each other? Is there an emcee? Is there a standard pre-show speech? How do you encourage audiences to support all of the work?
    • How will you represent the event to the public? Is there a promo ‘concept’ or aesthetic?
    • What is the title of the show?
    • How will you spend the opening reception budget?
    • Etc.

4. Production Deadline #3: Confirmed Schedules and Technical Riders (Individual)

  • Please send the following information to the undergraduate Student Technical Director and Production Coordinator:
    • Confirm technical rider and proposed technical/rehearsal schedule
  • Please work with the Student Technical Director, Audain Coordinator and Performance Coordinator to:
    • Confirm all dates, times and run-times of all performances
    • Confirm Audain gallery opening hours

5. Promotions Deadline #1: General Promotion (Cohort & Individual)

  • Individual MFAs submit Event Advance Forms to either Performance Coordinator or Audain Coordinator. Completed forms are signed off by SCA Technical Director
  • Individual MFAs submit Print and Press Materials to either Performance Liaison or Audain Liaison. This information is compiled and submitted to SCA Communications Assistant and Audain Gallery
  • Required Information - Individuals
    • Show/work title(s)
    • Concise description (long and short): individual works
    • Artist(s) name(s) and contact information
    • High resolution image(s) and image credit(s) - individual works
    • Online links and media
  • Required Information – Cohort
    • Festival Title
    • Festival/Exhibition run dates
    • Opening reception time
    • Performances/talks/workshops/tours dates and times
    • High resolution image(s) and image credit(s) - overall festival
    • Online links and media
  • The SCA Communications Assistant will use this information to create:
    • A Facebook Event Page
    • Event Listing on SCA website
    • Online Listings for internal SFU Calendars
    • Public Listings (newspapers, arts orgs., etc.)
    • SCA Monitors
    • Weekly internal e-mail

6. Promotions Deadline #2: Print Deadlines (cohort)

  • Contact the SCA Communications Assistant for a template of the SCA exhibition poster.
  • Send poster to Audain Gallery for review. The printing and final approval will be done by the SCA Communications Assistant.

6. Promotions Deadline #3: Student Promotion (individual and group)

  • Invite friends on Facebook event and share promotional materials with personal networks
  • Distribute poster: at school, local galleries, performance spaces, educational institutions, etc.
  • Update SCA Communications Assistant with promotional activities (news, interviews, photos, etc.)

7. Production Deadline #4: Event Requests

  • Artists Showing the Audain
  • Individual MFAs submit material list, equipment list and proposed installation schedule and vinyl text to Audain Coordinator. These will be compiled and sent to Andrew Curtis, Cassidy Miller
  • Artists Performing in SCA Venues
  • Individual MFAs work with Performance Coordinator to submit Event Request Forms/FOH scheduling
  • Collectively
  • Designate an individual who will submit MECs request to SCA Academic and Administrative Services Manager (Kristen Schiefke)

8. Production Deadline #6: Schedule Event Volunteers

  • Schedule volunteers:
    • Gallery sitters
    • Ushers (to assist with audience flow)
    • Ticket Sellers for Opening Bar
    • Documentation


Performance Spaces Clean Up

All MFAs who have shown work in the SCA performance spaces are expected to participate in the end-of-term venue strike and clean up. These work sessions will be organized by the SCA Technical Director and the Spring Show Production Coordinator. No special technical experience is required. 


Student Positions

Audain Gallery Coordinator (MFA position, with honorarium): Acts as liaison between Audain Gallery, MFA students showing in gallery, and other staff as needed. Collects material from all MFAs for inclusion in brochure. Work with Audain Gallery Coordinator to edit/organize brochure materials. Uses template (provided by Audain Gallery) to design brochure and send to print. Coordinates meetings between MFA’s showing in Audain and the Audain Gallery Coordinator. Calls and leads meetings related to organizing work within Audain Gallery.

Performance Coordinator: (MFA position, with honorarium) Collects and shares information from production meetings, keeping necessary people informed. Ensures production and print deadlines are met. Leads event visioning sessions and organizes volunteers. Calls and leads meetings related to organizing work within SCA performance venues.

Production and Design Undergraduate Team – Performance Spaces

Technical Director (1 per venue): Production and Design Student. Venue Technical Director will be responsible for implementing production plan and schedule during tech week and shows; coordinating and implementing all technical requirements of productions during tech week and performances; ensure correct and safe use of venue and equipment; ensure schedule is maintained.

Spring Show Production Manager: Production and Design Student. Spring Show Production Manager will be responsible for coordinating all technical and production related requirements for the shows; creating, distributing, collecting and analyzing a technical rider; coordinating with SCA Technical Director, Production and Design Faculty, and MFA Performance Coordinator on equipment and technical needs; troubleshoot production related issues as they arise; coordinate with SCA Technical Director on safety; create technical schedules and coordinate venue access with other users.Alerts Graduate Program Chair, SCA Technical Director, and Audain Coordinator of emerging issues, as needed.

2 Lighting Designers (1 per program): Designers will work with MFAs to develop an aesthetic vision for the lighting of the pieces; attend rehearsals and runs as necessary; coordinate with the Production Manager about inventory; create and execute a festival house hang. Lighting Designer will attend all technical rehearsals; maintain appropriate paperwork; program and run for each others shows

2 Sound Operators (1 per program): Sound operator will attend technical rehearsals and shows; help with audio installation; operate sound for each program

2 Stage Managers (1 per program): Stage Managers will view rehearsal video and attend at least one rehearsal; create and maintain appropriate calling script; maintain wardrobe during the run; ensure safe working environment for performers; learn and call the show.

SCA Faculty\Staff

Go here for a current list of Faculty and here for a current list of Staff.

Graduate Program Chair/Committee: Approves or denies project proposals and requests to SCA budget (group and individual). Oversees overall project direction. Coordinates with SCA faculty and staff to provide support to MFA projects.

SCA Technical Director: Provides feedback on technical scope of projects and coordinates technical support. Oversees overall coordination between MFA spring show, other SCA events and Cultural Unit. Responsible for ensuring safe use of SCA technical resources and venues.

Audain Gallery Coordinator: Responsible for safety and security of MFA exhibitions in Audain Gallery, and for ensuring that gallery protocols are followed. Coordinates technical support for gallery installation and de-installation. Works with MFA students to produce brochure and gallery vinyl. Manages MFA material promo on Audain gallery website and other promotional materials.

Undergraduate Supervisor: Oversees undergraduate involvement in Spring Show in coordination with SCA technical director and Graduate Program Chair. Assigns grades to Production and Design Students for their work.

SCA Communications Assistant: Provides communications support for events organized by the SCA. Publishes promotional materials to SCA website, newsletter, and social media channels. Provides poster templates and ensures printed promotional materials meet SFU branding guidelines.

Graduate Program Assistant: Provides information about graduate program activities and resources. Coordinates with other staff and students to track essential deadlines. Helps gather feedback from students, staff, and faculty.

SCA Academic and Administrative Services Manager: Coordinates MFA requests to MECs.

SCA Financial Assistant: Provides information about process for expense claims and honoraria claims and submits approved requests. Receives reports from Box Office and cultural unit (front of house expenses, ticket revenues).

Film and Video Resource Specialist: Manages student use of technical resources (film, video, audio) that are available for loan.

Resource Specialist, Visual Art: Supports installation and de-installation of student work in Audain Gallery.

Computer and New Media Support: Provides support for SCA’s computer and new media resources.

Undergraduate Program Assistant: Books fourth floor studio and rehearsal space.


Print and Press Materials

The content of all press materials will be produced by SCA students and faculty and reviewed by Audain Gallery and then the SCA Communication Assistant before they go public. Press will be handled by Cassidy Richardson (Audain Gallery), and the SCA Communication Assistant.

PR elements : 6 weeks prior to exhibition

  • Concise description (long and short)
  • Title
  • Exhibition run dates
  • Opening reception time
  • Talks/events/workshops/tours dates and times
  • Artist(s) name(s) and contact information
  • High resolution image(s) and image credit(s)
  • Online links and media

The content of the basic press package will be used for all press, including the Audain Gallery’s website, Facebook, HTML mail out (for BFA and MFA Graduating Exhibitions only), online listings, SCA website, press release, and all SFU-related internal media.

Poster : 4 weeks prior to exhibition

Contact the SCA Communications Assistant for a template of the SCA exhibition poster. Audain Gallery must review the poster before it goes to print. These two people will layout and coordinate the printing of the poster (printing paid for by the SCA). Audain Gallery can provide a spreadsheet of postering locations around the city, if SCA students want to put up posters.

Brochure : 4 weeks prior to exhibition

Contact the SCA Communications Assistant for a template of the SCA exhibition brochure. The brochure’s content will be produced by SCA students and faculty. Audain Gallery must review the brochure before it goes to print. The SCA will layout and coordinate the printing of the brochure (paid for by the SCA), with the support of the Publicity Coordinator.

Vinyl : 2 weeks prior to exhibition

The Audain Gallery will layout and produce the exhibition vinyl for the title wall, Hastings street window, and entrance vitrine (paid for by the SCA).

Installation and Technical Equipment

Students should contact the SCA Technical Director for all technical and equipment needs. Contact the Visual Arts Technician to organize transport artwork to and from Alexander Studios to the Audain Gallery. If budget allows and permission is given by the SCA, Audain Gallery’s head preparator can also be hired for hands-on installation assistance, and he can hire additional assistance as needed. All expenditures must be reviewed by the SCA. Contact the Graduate Program Chair for all MFA related expenses and appropriate SCA Faculty for BFA expenses. Audain Gallery will book a preparator to do the repair work and painting of the gallery after the installation.

Tech Timeline

1 Month

  • Material list
  • Equipment list
  • Schedule with internal departments
  • External help (as needed)

2 Weeks

  • Floor plan (shared with and reviewed by Audain Gallery)

1 weeks

  • Delivery schedule
  • Gallery cleaning (schedule and instructions for cleaners)
  • Material purchase
  • Provide the gallery a list of the names, phone numbers, 1 week and email addresses of everyone involved in the installation process, for security.


  • Equipment procurement
  • Equipment rental
  • Lighting


Talks/Workshops/Tours: 4 weeks prior to exhibition

SCA students are responsible for organizing and coordinating all events, other than the opening reception, related to their exhibition. Venues other than the Audain Gallery, technical requirements, tables and chairs can be booked through SCA’s Undergraduate Assistant. All events planned to be in the space of the gallery must be first reviewed by Audain Gallery. All information about events must be included in the press materials.

  • Book venue *as far in advance as possible.
  • Send technical requirements
  • Order chairs and tables
  • Order equipment
  • Produce and distribute additional promotional media
  • Photo documentation

Opening Reception: 1 week prior to exhibition

Audain Gallery will order catering for the opening reception through MECS (paid for by SCA) and book use of the lobby (subject to availability). SCA students must provide:

  • Cash float ($150 in $1s, $2s, and $5s)
  • Two colours of “drink tickets”
  • Volunteers to be bar ticket sellers
  • Volunteers to help clean and close the gallery at the end opening
  • Photo documentation

Gallery Sitters

The gallery’s normal hours are Tuesday to Saturday, from 12-5PM. A sitter must be on duty while the gallery is open. Students can also have extended hours to accommodate events or tours the students choose to organize in support of their exhibition. Please inform the gallery about any planned extended hours. SCA Students are their own gallery sitters. Students are responsible for organizing and scheduling a team of sitters, including fill-in sitters. Any issues with the schedule, such as missed shifts, are to be resolved by the students themselves.

Gallery Sitter Contact Sheet and Guide: 1 week prior to exhibition

A contact sheet with all of the sitters’ names, phone numbers, and email addresses must be shared with the entire set of sitters, the relevant SCA faculty contact, and the Audain Gallery.

Sitter’s jobs include:

  • Asking security to open and close the gallery
  • Turning on all media-based works in the exhibition
  • Keeping track of the number of visitors to the gallery
  • Answering questions as needed
  • Watching over the works in the exhibition
  • Keeping the gallery tidy

SCA Students must produce a comprehensive instruction guide for the sitters. Audain Gallery can provide templates, and review the binder with an SCA representative to insure it is complete.

The guide will include:

  • Sitter schedule and sign-in sheets
  • A clear set of instructions to turn on and off any media-based works in the exhibition
  • Instruction for turning on and off the lights in the gallery
  • Instruction regarding security protocol (unlocking and locking the gallery, locking the doors during breaks, etc.)
  • Information describing the responsibilities of the sitters
  • Information describing staffing protocol
  • A copy of the sitter contact list
  • A list of contacts for the artists in the exhibition
  • A copy of the texts included in the exhibition brochure and used as the press release, as well as any other exhibition-related supplementary material


2 weeks prior to exhibition

Students must organize high quality documentation of their exhibition (each work individually plus exhibition images) as well as for all events, including the opening reception. These images must be shared with the SCA and Audain Gallery.


Students are responsible for de-installing their work and taking it out of the gallery as soon as possible after the end of their exhibition. Please consult with Andrew Curtis in advance for possible transportation of works to 611 Alexander. Students must also organize to return all media technology and computers used during the exhibition. Please also consult with relevant faculty regarding the SCA’s expectations regarding the timely and complete de-installation of works.

All repair work to the gallery, such as filling holes and painting, is to be completed by an Audain Gallery technician. The cost of his work is covered by the SCA. The Audain Gallery will book their technician based on the installation/deinstallation schedule.


Here are some of the options for creating a Directed Study:

Option 1: Add work to an existing undergraduate course

  • Contact the undergraduate course instructor and secure their approval to enroll in the course. Forward the approval to the Graduate Program Assistant, who will then enroll you as a graded student.
  • Find a Directed Study course supervisor and propose the extra work you will do within the course to bring it up to Graduate level.
    • If the course is taught by faculty within the School for the Contemporary Arts, the Directed Study supervisor may be the course instructor. If the school is not taught by our faculty, you will need to find a supervisor from within the SCA.
  • The extra work could happen within the course (a longer essay, a secondary research project, etc.), or it could happen adjacent to the course (an artistic project that explores the course content through your practice).
  • Incorporate the Directed Study course supervisor's suggestions/revisions to your proposal, and get their signature on Directed Study proposal form.
  • Submit the signed Directed Study course form to the Graduate Program Assistant, who will then enroll you in CA 889.

Option 2: Audit a course (or courses), and complete a significant artistic project

  • Contact the course instructor(s) and secure their permission to audit. Forward the permission to the Graduate Program Assistant, who will then enroll you as an auditing student.
  • The steps following this are the same as in Option 1.

Option 3: Independent Reading List, with Supervision

  • Propose a reading list, and incorporate additional suggestions and feedback from your course supervisor.
  • Create your proposal, describing the readings and the types of responses you will do.
  • The steps following this would be the same as in Option 1.

Option 4: A Completely Different Option

Your proposed course may not fall under any of the previous options. The most important factors are:

  • You have the supervision of a faculty member, and an agreement on how you will be graded.
  • The supervisor is from within the SCA.
  • The work you undertake is worth 5 graduate credits, as confirmed by your Directed Study course supervisor.
  • The work doesn't replicate work you are doing in any other course.
  • The work is rigorous and supports your research, as confirmed by your Directed Study course supervisor.
  • The work incorporates feedback and support from SCA faculty. You would not be permitted to do an artistic project, with no relation to a faculty member. There needs to be a clear "study" element, as well as direction.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I fill out _____ on the form?

The form is quite general because it is meant to accommodate a wide variety of situations. If something doesn't apply to you, don't worry about filling it out. The non-negotiable parts are:

You must include a description of the work/project that is detailed enough for:

  • Your course supervisor to know how to give you a grade at the end of the semester.
  • Your course supervisor and the Graduate Chair to deduce any potential problems. For example: your project requires resources that the school can't support; your project isn't rigorous enough to merit 5 credits; your project raises concerns from a research-ethics standpoint.
  • We need to know that your course supervisor has agreed to the proposal, and that they are aware of what you will be doing.
  • Include your transcript, with your GPA.

Note: a clear project proposal will help you, and your supervisor, stay on track during the semester when things (inevitably) get busy.

Will _____ be approved?

If you have incorporated feedback from a faculty member, it is likely that the course will be approved. The Graduate Program Assistant can enroll you in a Directed Study until the second week of classes, though ideally, these will be completed during regular registration at the end of the previous term. Please create your proposals with enough time to receive feedback and approval from your course supervisor.

When should I take a Directed Study?

It is completely up to you. If an interesting special topics course is being offered, you may want to take the Directed Study during that semester, because these courses don't come along often. If you are an MFA, you might consider that the first and second semesters of your first year are generally busy, with course work and the Spring Festival. Summer semesters are generally the most open.  


All ticket sales for shows produced at the SCA must go through the Box Office, which is operated by the Woodwards Cultural Unit. The process for claiming ticket sales is outlined below. Please note that Box Office ticket fees are automatically deducted from the sales total.

  1. Student makes inquiry to the SCA Manager of Academic and Administrative Services, cc'ing Graduate Program Assistant.
  2. Woodwards Cultural Unit (WCU) & MECS send final figures to the Manager of Academic and Administrative Services (3-4 weeks). the Graduate Program Chair informs the Manager of Academic and Administrative Services of any special circumstances (ex. WCU or MECS expenses being covered by grad program).
  3. The Manager of Academic and Administrative Services informs the student of the maximum amount for which they can apply: Ticket revenue minus any WCU & MECS expenses not covered by grad program.
  4. Students then send an email request to the Graduate Program Chair listing every honoraria expense with all required information, copying the SCA Financial Assistant. The Graduate Program Chair MUST approve it.
  5. Student submits honoraria and approved expenses w./ receipts to
    the SCA Financial Assistant.
  6. SFU financial processing takes 4-6 weeks. Reimbursements are direct deposited to current employees (TAs), or mailed or made available for pick-up by the student. Honoraria are mailed directly to collaborators.


Required Information for Payment of Honoraria

Please note that you may not pay collaborators directly. Instead, please submit the following information to the Financial Assistant. Cheques will be mailed directly to collaborators within 4-6 weeks of your submission.

  • Name (First & Last)
  • Address & Postal Code/Zip Code
  • How you would like the cheque delivered (please highlight desired option):
    • i.  Mail
    • ii.  Campus Mail
    • iii. Picked Up at 149 W. Hastings Street Vancouver, BC V6B 1H4
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • Are they an SFU Employee (include ID#)
  • Canadian Resident (include SIN)
  • Non-Resident (If US Resident, include SSN)
  • Provide details as to why this honorarium is being issued (Max 30 characters)
  • What is the Total Amount for the Cheque
  • Are these CND/USD/Other Funds: CND
  • Dept. that will be charged (i.e. Theatre): GRAD