Field of Curriculum Studies

PhD | Field of Curriculum Studies

Our PhD program in the field of Curriculum Studies challenges students to engage with foundational theories and focused areas of educational research. Through developing expertise in a specified field, candidates will also contribute to existing bodies of knowledge and extend the reach of research to influence theory, policy, and practice.


Our onsite program is designed to help students to succeed in their areas of interest by supporting them with top-tier researchers and academics and extensive library services.


Comprehensive Examination

  1. A comprehensive exam will be implemented in the PhD program to meet requirements for the depth and breadth outcomes from the Graduate Degree Level Expectations document. The goal of the exam is for students to demonstrate a depth of information concerning their specific program of research and a breath of knowledge of their focus within the field (e.g., mathematics curriculum; ESL/EFL).

i. Format: One written question that asks students to discuss their program of research and how it relates to their focus within the field.

ii. Length: 8,000-10,000 words.

iii. Curriculum field: Demonstrating knowledge of the history and contemporary state of your focus within curriculum studies (e.g., mathematics in curriculum studies), describe your proposed program of research and how it relates to said focus.  Considerations discussed may include: what is the state of knowledge in your focus relative to your research? Where is your research positioned within the focus? How does it mobilize (or not) historical traditions and/or contemporary practices in the area? How will it advance knowledge in the area?  Students are encouraged to discuss their papers with anyone, including supervisors, but not show them drafts.

iv. Timeframe: As soon as you have completed your coursework, you will start your Comprehensive Exam process and must be completed in one term.  Comprehensive Exams are a Milestone and will not show up as a course in your Student Centre.  Once you have passed your Comprehensive Exam, it will appear at the end of your transcript under the Milestones area.

v. Administration: Students must submit the following to the Graduate Programs Office at least four weeks prior to the end of the term of registration: 1 electronic copy of comprehensive examination and Request for Administration of Qualifying Examination form.

vi. Reviewers: The student’s supervisor and one committee member or alternative that has knowledge of the field shall be completed. Each reader will independently determine whether the paper is satisfactory or not and notify the Graduate Programs Office within two weeks after the submission date. The Graduate Programs Office will then notify the Supervisor who will share the results with the student.

vii. Grading: Grading will be satisfactory or unsatisfactory. The paper must be judged satisfactory by both reviewers in order to be marked “Pass”. If a student’s paper does not pass, the student will be permitted to resubmit a revised version of the paper within two weeks of its return. The revised paper will be re-read by the same reader(s) who had marked it unsatisfactory. If the revised paper is not assigned a “Pass”, the student will be asked to withdraw from the program. If the paper is assigned a “Pass”, the student may proceed in the program to complete degree requirements.


When the thesis has been completed and approved by the Supervisor and the Thesis Advisory Committee, the candidate may submit the thesis for examination. The candidate submits the Application for Thesis Examination and the Doctoral Thesis Supervisor Approval forms to the Graduate Programs Office. The forms have to be submitted a minimum of seven weeks prior to the defence date. The thesis is uploaded to Scholarship@Western, Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository, a minimum of six weeks prior to the defence date.

The examination includes a Public Lecture which provides both a valuable means of disseminating research findings within the academic community, and an opportunity for all graduate students of education to participate in and contribute to the scholarly discourse of the university. In accordance with the appropriate regulations, the public lecture will be advertised in the University's Western News and on the University's web site, and be open to all members of the community. The examination normally follows within 24 hours of the lecture.

Details of the examination process are located in Section 8 of Graduate Regulations.


Below is the typical program of study for a full time student:

Term Course/Milestone
Fall Year 1 ED 9715 Ph.D. Seminar and two electives
Winter Year 1 ED 9715 Ph.D. Seminar (continued from Fall)
1 of:
  • A strongly recommended graduate level research course, such as :
    • 9705 - Quantitative Research Methods
    • 9711 - Qualitative Research in Education
  • OR Elective
9730 - Advanced Topics in Curriculum
Summer Year 1 ED 9789 Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination (1-2 terms to complete)
Fall Year 2 ED 9789 Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination (1-2 terms to complete)
Winter Year 2 ED 9790 Ph.D. Thesis
Thesis Proposal Presentation; submit Proposal and ethics, if applicable for approval
Summer Year 2 ED 9790 Ph.D. Thesis
Thesis Proposal Presentation; submit Proposal and ethics, if applicable for approval
Fall Year 3 ED 9790 Ph.D. Thesis
Winter Year 3 ED 9790 Ph.D. Thesis
Summer Year 3 ED 9790 Ph.D. Thesis
Fall Year 4 ED 9790 Ph.D. Thesis
Winter Year 4 ED 9790 Ph.D. Thesis
Summer Year 4 ED 9790 Ph.D. Thesis


Curriculum Studies: Students may focus in one or more of the following within: 1) Early Childhood Education; 2) Multiliteracies; 3) Mathematics Education; 4) Curriculum and Pedagogy.

Details for those who are in the area of Curriculum Studies, you will be required to complete:

  • 6 half courses
    • 2 required courses
      • PhD Seminar in CSSAL - An apprenticeship to doctoral studies and academe with a mixture of methodological, theoretical, and practical content based in the fields. Learning opportunities related to research design and implementation (from conceptualizing problems to writing dissertation), dissemination (e.g., publications and presentations), and writing grant proposals. Students will reflect critically on diverse forms of research, research resources, and their roles and responsibilities as researchers as they plan their own doctoral research.
      • Advanced Topics in Curriculum - A critical study of key concepts in contemporary curricular discourse, beginning with a focus on definitions and conceptions of curriculum ideologies, curricular language, and alternative approaches to curricular research and design. The writings of a variety of Canadian international scholars provide the basis for discussion and critique.
    • 2 Elective Courses, such as:
      • Teaching in a Virtual World
      • Language and Literacy Curriculum, Pedagogy, and Learning in a Changing World
      • Multiliteracies: Texts and Contexts
      • Multilingualism and Multiliteracies: Teaching Language and Literacy in a Globalized World
      • Adolescent Literacy: Curriculum, Pedagogy, and Learning
      • Teaching & Learning in Mathematics
      • Mathematics Curriculum: A Critical Appraisal
      • Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education: Policy and Society
      • Learning in Science
      • Science & Science Teaching
      • Talking About Teaching: Forms of Pedagogic Discourse & Practice
      • The Analysis of Teaching: Bridging Theory & Practice
      • Narrative Inquiry: Teachers, Stories & Critical Pedagogy
      • Action Research: Teachers as Researchers
      • The Education of Teachers
      • Early Literacy Curriculum, Pedagogy, and Learning
      • Adult Education & Lifelong Learning
      • Critical Issues in Language & Literacy Education
      • Assessing and Evaluating Student Learning
      • Curriculum, School & Society
      • Quantitative Research Methods
      • Qualitative Research in Education
      • Special Topics in Curriculum: Inclusive and International Mathematics
      • Special Topics in Curriculum: Understanding the Young Child
    • 1 or more of the following strongly recommended courses
      • Elective research methodology courses (eg Qualitative Research, Advanced Statistics)
  • Comprehensive Exam
  • Dissertation

Potential Supervisor


Isha DeCoitoView Profile

George GadanidisView Profile

Rachel HeydonView Profile

Kathryn HibbertView Profile

Mi Song KimView Profile

Immaculate Kizito NamukasaView Profile

Veronica Pacini-KetchabawView Profile

Anton PuvirajahView Profile

Zheng ZhangView Profile


Please visit this link for Admission Requirements.


Tuition amounts are set each year by Senate and then published on the Office of the Registrar's Fees Schedules web page. Fees are assessed once each term (Fall, Winter, Summer) according to the full or part time status of students (not by course).

Current students can access fee information by logging into the Student Centre (use your Western email log in and password). Students are notified each term once fee amounts have been posted in the Student Centre; it is each student's responsibility to log into the Student Centre and pay fees by the due date indicated. Failure to do so may result in a late payment fee or deregistration.

For questions about fees, including how to pay fees and the methods of payment that are accepted, students should go to the Student Financial Services pages of the Office of the Registrar's web site or contact Student Financial Services (Office of the Registrar) at 519-661-2100.

Please note: Fall term ancillary fees are proportionately higher for domestic students because part of this fee is the SOGS (Society of Graduate Students) Health & Dental Plan. Health & Dental Plan fees provide coverage from September through August and are collected from graduate students in September. Students who are admitted and have their own coverage will be provided information on how to "opt out" of the SOGS Health Plan.


PhD students receive a funding package that includes the cost of annual tuition plus an additional $12,000. A portion of the funding package involves either a Research Assistantship (RA) or Departmental Teaching Assistantship (DTA) requiring 10 hours of work per week for 28 weeks (September to April) in the Faculty of Education. Details of the assignments are determined in consultation with students after they have formally accepted the offer of admission from the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Taking on the role of RA or DTA provides students with crucial experience for their academic career after completion of the Ph.D. The maximum term for funding is 4 (four) years or 12 (twelve) terms. Please note that those who win major financial awards (OGS, Tri-Council or other awards valued at $15,000 or more) will be responsible for their own tuition and ancillary fees.


Instructors of onsite courses use the Sakai OWL platform, although it is not required. Access to a course in Sakai OWL is typically opened the first business day of each term. Please note that although your own access may be granted prior to the first business day, course content may not be posted until closer to the scheduled term start. Your Western University login and password is required to access the course (your Western email without the and its accompanying password). Access to Sakai OWL.

For online courses, students are required to have access to the following:

  • High speed Internet access
  • Access to a computer that enables connection to outside websites (flexible firewall restrictions)
  • Multimedia playback capabilities (video/audio)
  • WebCam
  • Computer capable of running a recent version of Internet Explorer, Safari, or Firefox; and/or Cisco MOVI client for PC or Mac
  • Audio headset and microphone for computer