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To view the Fall 2017 Academic Calendar go to http://www.sfu.ca/students/calendar/2017/fall.html

School for International Studies Simon Fraser University Calendar | Spring 2018

International Studies

Master of Arts

This full-time 12 to 24 month program, leading to a master of arts (MA) in international studies, consists of seven courses that are completed over three consecutive terms. The duration of the program may be extended with the approval of the senior supervisor and graduate chair/director. In addition, students can earn a regional concentration by completing two courses and writing their thesis (IS 898) or extended essay (IS 880) on their region of expertise.

The available concentrations are:

  • Latin American Studies
  • Middle Eastern Studies

Admission Requirements

Applicants must satisfy the University admission requirements as stated in Graduate General Regulations 1.3 in the SFU Calendar. Normally, to be considered for admission, applicants must have a bachelor's degree with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5 from a recognized university, preferably in an arts or social sciences discipline. In addition, the School also requires a statement of research interest. Those admitted with other credentials or those with arts degrees who in the judgment of the graduate chair are without adequate foundation in the social sciences may be required to make up any deficiency without receiving graduate credit for those courses.

Students are admitted for commencement of studies in the fall semester only. Please consult the school for international studies website for application requirements.

Accelerated Master's

The minimum requirements for this Accelerated Master's is as per Graduate General Regulation 1.3.8a. In addition, the School also requires a statement of research interest. Students may be admitted for commencement of studies in the fall and spring terms. Please note that this program is only available to current Simon Fraser University declared international studies major or honours undergraduate students. 

Please consult the school for international studies website. Applicants are encouraged to apply as soon as they have completed 90 units for their bachelor's requirements.

Students will be awarded a bachelor of arts (with major/honours) and will be offered conditional admission into the master of arts in international studies commencing in the fall term. Students may complete a portion of graduate units towards their bachelor's and master's requirements concurrently.

Program Requirements

Extended Essays Option

This program consists of course work and two extended essays for a minimum of 30 units.

Students must complete

IS 800 - Problems of International Policy and Practice (4)

An inter-disciplinary course which aims to bring to bear different perspectives on problems of International policy and practice. The particular problems taken up will change over time in light of global developments and current events. Prerequisite: Graduate students enrolled in the MA in International Studies, or permission of the instructor.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G100 Elizabeth Cooper
We 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
HCC 1525, Vancouver
IS 801 - Institutions, Policies and Development (4)

'The quality of institutions' is now said to exercise a crucial influence on the prospects for development, and the course interrogates this claim both through analysis of different paths of economic growth and change across the developing world, and in regard to public administration and development management. It examines development policies and institutional theories, the politics of institutions and state formation, and the relationships between political systems, institutions and patterns of development. Prerequisite: Graduate students enrolled in the MA in International Studies, or permission of the instructor.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G100 Leslie Armijo
Th 8:30 AM – 12:20 PM
HCC 2235, Vancouver
IS 806 - State Failure and Reconstruction: Comparative Perspectives (4)

The challenges posed by the 'new wars' and by state failure, and their consequences, the needs of humanitarian intervention, and the tasks of reconstructing or building viable states, involve critical security dimensions that are of both a military and non-military nature. It will explore the extensive body of literature on state formation and decay, and on intervention, in various regional settings with an emphasis on the causes of state failure, and the prospects of state rebuilding.

IS 830 - Analytic Approaches for International Studies (4)

Introduces key methods in international studies, critically assessing them as concepts and as tools for helping understand the world around us. Prerequisite: Acceptance into the MA in International Studies Program. Undergraduate course work in methods is highly recommended.


and two elective graduate courses for a minimum of eight units (subject to approval of the graduate chair or director)
and two extended essays

IS 880 - MA Extended Essays (6)

Extended Essays. Prerequisite: Enrollment in the MA in International Studies program.


Each extended essay should be approximately 8,000 words. Submission to the library is not required. The options are writing a policy briefing (or policy briefings), a review essay (or review essays), or some other type of writing focused on synthesis and analysis, rather than original research.

Thesis Option

This program consists of course work, a thesis prospectus, and a thesis for a minimum of 30 units. Students pursuing an optional regional concentration complete an additional four units of course work for a minimum of 34 units. Approved courses for each regional concentration can be found in the relevant section below.

Students must complete the following required courses:

IS 800 - Problems of International Policy and Practice (4)

An inter-disciplinary course which aims to bring to bear different perspectives on problems of International policy and practice. The particular problems taken up will change over time in light of global developments and current events. Prerequisite: Graduate students enrolled in the MA in International Studies, or permission of the instructor.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G100 Elizabeth Cooper
We 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
HCC 1525, Vancouver
IS 801 - Institutions, Policies and Development (4)

'The quality of institutions' is now said to exercise a crucial influence on the prospects for development, and the course interrogates this claim both through analysis of different paths of economic growth and change across the developing world, and in regard to public administration and development management. It examines development policies and institutional theories, the politics of institutions and state formation, and the relationships between political systems, institutions and patterns of development. Prerequisite: Graduate students enrolled in the MA in International Studies, or permission of the instructor.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G100 Leslie Armijo
Th 8:30 AM – 12:20 PM
HCC 2235, Vancouver
IS 806 - State Failure and Reconstruction: Comparative Perspectives (4)

The challenges posed by the 'new wars' and by state failure, and their consequences, the needs of humanitarian intervention, and the tasks of reconstructing or building viable states, involve critical security dimensions that are of both a military and non-military nature. It will explore the extensive body of literature on state formation and decay, and on intervention, in various regional settings with an emphasis on the causes of state failure, and the prospects of state rebuilding.

IS 830 - Analytic Approaches for International Studies (4)

Introduces key methods in international studies, critically assessing them as concepts and as tools for helping understand the world around us. Prerequisite: Acceptance into the MA in International Studies Program. Undergraduate course work in methods is highly recommended.


In addition, students are required to take one elective graduate course for a minimum of four units (subject to approval of the graduate chair or director) and a sign up for the thesis prospectus and MA thesis:

IS 886 - Thesis Prospectus (2)

Thesis Prospectus. Graded on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. Prerequisite: Enrollment in the MA in International Studies program.

IS 898 - MA Thesis (8)

MA Thesis. Prerequisite: Enrollment in the MA in International Studies program.


The thesis prospectus should be comprised of 3,000 words and should lay out a research question, the relevant scholarly literature and propose a method for conducting the research. Students will then research and write a thesis of between 14,000 and 16,000 words. The thesis will be the result of original research and will be designed with the goal of producing a publishable article.

Regional Concentrations

The available regional concentration areas are Latin American Studies (LAS) and Middle Eastern Studies (MES).

Latin American Studies (LAS)

Students must complete two of the following

IS 815 - Theories of Latin American Development (4)

A synthetic introduction to historical and contemporary theories of development in Latin America. Topics include political economy of development, sociological theories of development, an introduction to neoliberalism, and the contemporary experience of globalization and development in Latin America. Students who have taken LAS 815 or SA 815 for credit may not take this course for further credit.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G100 Christopher Gibson
Th 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
HCC 2235, Vancouver
IS 835 - Social and Political Change in Latin America (4)

A general overview of social and political change in Latin America, including revolutions, independence, transition to democracy, and contemporary social movements. Theoretical approaches may include social-movement theory, democratic theory, etc. Students who have taken LAS 835 or SA 835 for credit may not take this course for further credit.


or an elective course with significant LAS content subject to the approval of the graduate chair or director

Middle Eastern Studies (MES)

Students must complete two of the following

IS 814 - Special Topics on the Middle East (4)

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G100 Tamir Moustafa
We 9:30 AM – 1:20 PM
HCC 2235, Vancouver

or an elective course with significant MES content subject to the approval of the graduate chair or director

Program Length

Students pursuing the extended essays option will be able to complete the program requirements in three terms. Students pursuing the thesis option will also be able to complete the program requirements in three terms, however this option usually requires at least four terms of study.

Academic Requirements within the Graduate General Regulations

All graduate students must satisfy the academic requirements that are specified in the Graduate General Regulations, as well as the specific requirements for the program in which they are enrolled.