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The MAAPPS program is suspended for admissions in September 2015 and will be transitioning to a new professional MPP program. Read here for more details.


The thesis is first and foremost intended as an opportunity for MAAPPS students to deepen their understanding of a specific topic in a framework that they will find useful for their future development. If you are considering a research career and are planning to apply to PhD programs, we would strongly urge you to write a thesis. Writing a thesis is not only an opportunity to complete an independent research project, but also to show evidence for your aptitude and preparation for research in any further graduate program applications.

THesis registration

Once you have confirmed you are writing a thesis, you need to be registered in IAR 520.  To register in IAR 520, please download a form from the Resources tab and fill it out.  Then, send it to your supervisor and ask that it's sent onto the Graduate Program Advisor for approval.  The act of forwarding signals approval.  The Program Assistant will register you in the course.

Your supervisor will be the primary reader of your thesis but you must also have at least one additional faculty member on your committee.  It is your responsibility to work with your supervisor to find the appropriate  faculty member(s) (IAR or other faculty) to be on your committee.

Thesis Topics

While the precise format and content of theses should conform to your needs, the theses should be written within the general substantive framework of the MAAPPS program and adhere to common standards in terms of the presentation and quality of academic research.

You will facilitate your thesis plans by selecting a topic that falls broadly within an area of research by an IAR faculty member. That does not mean you are narrowly limited to faculty members' expertise in selecting your topic, but you should keep these areas of expertise in mind.

Note that one common element in students' progression through the thesis writing process is that the topic selected typically gets narrowed and more specific as a stundent progresses along this path. Often, you will start with a very general area of interest and will struggle (yes, this is a struggle and it is time-consuming) to focus on a more specific and thus more manageable question. It is a process that is common to dissertation writers as much as it is to thesis writers.

While there is no formal requirement to include policy recommendations in a thesis, your selection of a topic from within Asia Pacific Policy Studies offers an opportunity for a closer linkage with policy-analysis and policy-making to be pursued in this thesis than in many other contexts. You should thus feel free to include a section specifically discussing related policies even if your thesis is not focused spefically on policy-making.

Recent thesis titles:

  • States and societies in the digitial arena: ICT, state capacticy, and political change in Asia
  • Small Power: Mongolia's Democratization and Foreign Policy Objectives
  • South Korea's Developmentalism and Contemporary Telecommunications Industry (1990s to the Present): What changed, What remained the Same and Why?
  • Anti-Chinese Attitudes in Post-Communist Mongolia: The Lingering Negatives of Schemas of the Past
  • The Broken PrBarrier: Mobility, Political Unionism and Economic Informality in India
  • Basic Decision-Making Theory: A Case Study on the Oyu Tolgoi Mine Project in Mongolia
  • Fragmented Decision-Making Processes in a Global Economy: Sovereign Wealth Funds and Policy Coalitions in China
  • Dealing with Past Violations of Human Rights: The Politics of Indonesia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Thesis Format

Format requirements for the MAAPPS thesis are guided by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies' specifications for theses. Please refer back to the information offered on the Grad Studies webpage at all stages in writing the thesis. The information there is not only authoratative when it comes to formatting, but it also offers many further resources and suggestions.

There are no specific guidelines on the appropriate length of a thesis. However, most thesis writers generally find it more of a struggle to reduce the number of pages than to fill pages. By contrast, committee members will appreciate a more concise format. Perhaps a rough estimate could be 60 pages of text to aim for.

Thesis Committee

The first reader of your thesis committee must be an IAR faculty member.  Remaining members of your committe may be comprised of IAR and/or non-IAR faculty.  There must be at least 2 faculty members on your committee.


Writing a thesis generally takes longer than writing a practicum report.  Creating a timeline with your supervisor at the beginning of the year will help you stay on track for a successful and timely completion of the program.  This timeline should include milestones such as;

  • picking a topic,
  • creating a thesis proposal,
  • first draft,
  • second draft,
  • final draft.

Thesis Defense

A defense of the thesis prior to submission is not required. However, following discussion of this topic between you and your committee members, a defense can be set up. This is often a wonderful opportunity to celebrate your accomplishments in completing the thesis.


Upon final approval from the supervisor and thesis committee, It is the student's responsibility to submit the thesis to UBC's cIRcle repository AND the MAAPPS Program Office.  cIRcle requires electronic submission and MAAPPS requires a bound copy.  The bound copy and electronic deposit must happen or the grade is not posted and the program is not closed.


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