Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs
Affiliations to Research Centres, Institutes & Clusters
Complete these steps before you reach out to a faculty member!
- Familiarize yourself with program requirements. You want to learn as much as possible from the information available to you before you reach out to a faculty member. Be sure to visit the graduate degree program listing and program-specific websites.
- Check whether the program requires you to seek commitment from a supervisor prior to submitting an application. For some programs this is an essential step while others match successful applicants with faculty members within the first year of study. This is either indicated in the program profile under "Admission Information & Requirements" - "Prepare Application" - "Supervision" or on the program website.
- Identify specific faculty members who are conducting research in your specific area of interest.
- Establish that your research interests align with the faculty member’s research interests.
- Read up on the faculty members in the program and the research being conducted in the department.
- Familiarize yourself with their work, read their recent publications and past theses/dissertations that they supervised. Be certain that their research is indeed what you are hoping to study.
- Compose an error-free and grammatically correct email addressed to your specifically targeted faculty member, and remember to use their correct titles.
- Do not send non-specific, mass emails to everyone in the department hoping for a match.
- Address the faculty members by name. Your contact should be genuine rather than generic.
- Include a brief outline of your academic background, why you are interested in working with the faculty member, and what experience you could bring to the department. The supervision enquiry form guides you with targeted questions. Ensure to craft compelling answers to these questions.
- Highlight your achievements and why you are a top student. Faculty members receive dozens of requests from prospective students and you may have less than 30 seconds to pique someone’s interest.
- Demonstrate that you are familiar with their research:
- Convey the specific ways you are a good fit for the program.
- Convey the specific ways the program/lab/faculty member is a good fit for the research you are interested in/already conducting.
- Be enthusiastic, but don’t overdo it.
G+PS regularly provides virtual sessions that focus on admission requirements and procedures and tips how to improve your application.
ADVICE AND INSIGHTS FROM UBC FACULTY ON REACHING OUT TO SUPERVISORS
These videos contain some general advice from faculty across UBC on finding and reaching out to a potential thesis supervisor.
Graduate Student Supervision
Doctoral Student Supervision
Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.
While there exists a considerable amount of extant theoretical work that studies the phenomenon of substate nationalism and independence-seeking movements, empirical work on the topic remains relatively nascent. Moreover, we know little about what make secessionist parties successful and even less about what causes these parties to emerge.This dissertation focuses on both the emergence and success of secessionist movements in Western democracies. Concerning emergence, I deploy a unique application of time-to-event modelling in order to determine what increases the likelihood of a secessionist party emerging in both subnational and national elections. To model success, I rely on time-series cross-sectional regression analyses of secessionist party vote shares from 1945 to the present day.I argue that what influences both the emergence and subsequent support of secessionist parties differs based on the electoral arena in which the parties compete—that is, the effects of emergence/success vary based on the arena in which the party is entering/competing.I find that secessionist parties have become increasingly successful in the contemporary era, that these parties viably compete for—and form—government, and that their success means that these parties are no longer small, peripheral parties that can be ignored.I complement the quantitative analysis with a series of case studies that allows me to further explore how the identified mechanisms have influenced the emergence and success in Catalonia, Québec, and Scotland. In sum, the case studies show how and why secessionist parties are encouraged by the electoral system subnationally but not nationally, that the effects of immigration are idiosyncratic to the specific case, and that the central government’s response to subnational demands for autonomy greatly influence the emergence and success of secessionist parties.
Do candidates' ethnic backgrounds matter in elections? More precisely, do they change voters' perceptions about the candidates, and ultimately change their vote choice? If so, in what way and how much? And perhaps more importantly, why? This doctoral thesis attempts to answer these questions using experimental and observational election surveys in Japan and Canada. In the experiments, I aim to estimate causal effects of candidates' ethnic minority status on vote choice, test three relevant theories by examining three moderated effects, and propose two causal mechanisms. With a Canadian Federal election survey merged with candidate background data, I examine whether the findings in the experiments hold in real electoral contexts. This research points to three major findings. First, the estimated average causal effects of candidates' ethnic minority backgrounds were negative. The experiments suggest an approximately 6 percentage point drop when the ethnicity of the target candidate changes from majority to minority backgrounds. Second, two important voter heterogeneities for this effect are repeatedly found. As implied by the two relevant theories, voters who have negative affect and attitudes towards ethnic minorities, and those who oppose ethnically relevant policies that benefit ethnic minority groups, were much less likely to vote for an ethnic minority candidate. Third, in the experiments, some evidence for a trait or affect-driven mechanism was found, while more consistent support for a relevant policy preference cue mechanism was observed in both countries. The former mechanism highlights the importance of multiple candidate contests in the experiments, as voters improved their candidate impressions and affective reactions to the opponent(s) rather than devaluing the ethnic minority candidate. The latter mechanism identifies specifically what the candidates' ethnic minority status means to voters. It suggests that some voters do not vote for an ethnic minority candidate because they use ethnicity to estimate the policy preference of the candidate on the ethnically relevant policy dimension. Thus overall, candidates' ethnicity influences vote choice at a modest level, but its effect size varies across voters with different affective orientations and attitudes, and so the process is more complex than straightforward.
Western liberal democracies are grappling with the issue of ethnic diversity. Canada, with its shifting immigration patterns from ‘traditional’ to ‘non-traditional’ sender countries, is no exception. Since 1971, Canada’s federal government has pursued a policy of multiculturalism in its approach to interethnic relations. The normative assumption behind the approach is that ethnic diversity is good and that affirming ethnic minority cultures is the best way to achieve a strong, cohesive society for all Canadians. This dissertation investigates the behavioural aspect of the multicultural assumption. That is, how do people actually behave in a multicultural society? What factors determine the shape of the attitudinal terrain? How do citizens really perceive their neighbors and what are the consequences? This dissertation is interested not just in what people say about ethnic diversity, but why people say it. In a series of four articles, it looks at a range of issues, including the attitudinal determinants of comfort with intergroup contact, the marginal effects of individual and contextual factors of attitudes toward immigrant integration for whites and non-whites, and the interaction between political values and personality in overcoming negative reactions to ethnic stereotypes. I draw on political science theories of behaviour, as well as social psychological and personality psychological theories of attitude and identity formation. I employ recent public opinion data from various sources to test hypotheses with descriptive statistics and regression analysis. Given the dissertation’s article structure, there are numerous conclusions to be drawn. For instance, I highlight the relative importance of prejudice, rooted in an individual’s social identity, in shaping attitudes about ethnic outgroups. I also show the analytic dangers of conflating value differences with physical differences when assessing the perceptions of minority groups. Along the same lines, I show the importance of investigating minority opinion separately from majority opinion: key attitudinal determinants impact these groups quite differently. I illustrate the power of political values in overriding potent negative stereotypes. Finally, I uncover evidence that supports the assumptions behind Canada’s multiculturalism policy, namely, that ethnic minorities confident in their own culture will be more willing to contribute to a strong Canadian society.
Master's Student Supervision
Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.
This thesis builds on previous work in dual process theory. Dual process theory argues that decisions are made based on two systems: one that is fast and one that is automatic. Based on evidence from psychological research, I argue that contextual cues such as the way voting is framed and the information available to voters should affect the way these two systems are used. When voters have more developed affective feelings or are manipulated to feel as if vote choice is an affective decision, they should be less likely to engage in cognitive reasoning.Using experimental and observational data from an experimental dataset, I demonstrate that the nature of online tallies (as proposed by Lodge, Stroh, and McGraw 1989) has a strong effect on how rational strategies are employed and that the framing of a decision as affective causes voters to make their vote choice more quickly.This work contributes two main pieces to the literature. First, using a novel design to demonstrate the two processes acting concurrently adds weight to the generalizability of dual process theory as previous research has been criticized for it’s lack of realism. Second, it demonstrates that the dual processes are dynamic and their role in vote choice depends on contextual clues.
This paper examines whether shifts in a party’s ideological positioning affect their own partisans’ left-right self-placements. When faced with a change in their party’s position, partisans are likely to adapt to this change, either through switching partisanship to another party, or updating their own ideology to match that of the party. Together, this process of partisan sorting leads to greater ideological alignment between parties and partisans. This paper examines whether there is evidence of partisan sorting in 23 contemporary democracies from 1996 to 2015. Using the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems and Manifesto Project data, the analysis finds evidence that partisan sorting may be occurring, but only in polarized party systems.
This study examines the manners in which third parties’ electoral results and shifts in policy have affected major parties’ policy positioning. I respond to the work of Adams and Merrill (2006) and of Nagel and Wlezien (2010) by analyzing two-and-a-half-party systems that contain a centrist or a non-centrist third party. The cases include parties elected by a variety of voting systems and with various political traditions. Ultimately, I find that, over the past half-century, third parties in Austria, Canada, Germany, Ireland, and Luxembourg have regularly undermined the policy objectives most commonly associated with the these parties.A modified version of Nagel and Wlezien’s occupied-centre effect, which I call the occupied-position effect, has been present in the five examined national party systems. This finding, however, is only applicable with respect to shifts in policies that have principally been associated with third parties, what I call “key policies”, as opposed shifts in general left-right positions. The evidence presented in this study shows that the major parties in two-and-a-half-party systems have consistently responded to third-party electoral gains by becoming less supportive of third parties’ key policies. Three such policy areas are examined: welfare spending, market liberalization, and ethnonationalism.I also show that there are effects from third parties changing their own policy positions, independent of how well they do at the polls. Exacerbating the dilemma that the analyzed third parties have faced, a key-policy version of Adams and Merrill’s reverse-shift effect appears to have been present in the examined party systems. This means that the major parties have followed shifts in third parties’ policy positions by shifting their positions in the opposite directions. Thus, third parties have undermined their own policy objectives when they have expressed (and shifted to) strong key-policy positions during election campaigns. Though third parties do have a strategic option pertaining to this effect – expressing insincere, moderated policy preferences – the long-term applicability of this tactic appears limited, especially in conjunction with the problems third parties have faced regarding the occupied-position effect.
With the rise of the Tea Party movement, conservative women are yet again in the spotlight in America. Prominent, influential, and strong-willed women have become the public face of the Tea Party nationwide, and a substantial portion of the movement’s grassroots support is among women. This thesis argues that female Tea Party elites have constructed a gendered narrative in order to mobilize their socially conservative women into supporting their primarily economic movement by infusing the otherwise autonomous and atomized individual at the center of their economic conservatism with the gendered identities of “family,” “mother,” and “woman,” effectively narrowing the gap between social and economic conservatism. The results of logit regression analyses using survey data offer limited support for the effectiveness of this strategy in increasing grassroots support. Differences in men’s and women’s support for the Tea Party based on family concerns and gender awareness do not emerge; but among those who have children, women – and especially socially conservative women – are more likely to support the Tea Party than their male counterparts. Ultimately, I suggest that the higher level of involvement of socially conservative women in an economically conservative movement raises the possibility of a broader and more inclusive women’s agenda in the U.S.
A public debate about obesity has emerged in America since this pressing public health issue moved into the political arena. Using survey data, this study showed that attitudes about the causes of obesity, or causal explanations, are central in individuals‘ decision-making on this topic. Public support for the different causal explanations was not influenced by media frames, but rather, public opinion on the causes of obesity is congruent with prominent political values in media coverage. Specifically, an increase in conservative values in media coverage of obesity likely contributed to the public sentiment that ones lifestyle causes obesity. It is suitable to think of the obesity debate in terms of competing causal explanations.
In the past decade, British Columbians were twice given the option of replacingthe province’s first-past-the-post method of electing Members of the LegislativeAssembly with the single-transferable vote system designed by the Citizens’ Assembly.The central inquiry of this paper is: Did partisanship affect British Columbians’intentions to vote for or against the 2005 and 2009 BC-STy referenda?Employing the 2005 and 2009 B.C. Referendum Studies, this paper investigateswhether partisanship, combined knowledge about the Citizens’ Assembly and the BCSTV proposal itself, and/or predisposition towards electoral system reform influencedindividuals’ referendum vote intentions. This paper also seeks to identify the specificmechanisms via which party interests came to be, and subsequently operated, as a keyfactor in partisans’ decision-making processes.Regression analysis reveals that in both 2005 and 2009, individuals who plannedto vote for different parties in the general election exhibited noticeably differentprobabilities of supporting BC-STy. On average, supporters of the Green Party of B.C.were the most likely to vote in favour of BC-STy, followed by supporters the NewDemocratic Party ofBC voters and then supporters of the B.C. Liberal Party.Partisanship, knowledge and predisposition all played a significant role inbringing about these different vote intentions. Partisanship affected voters increasinglyover time via two processes. When party leader cues were given, partisans respondedaccordingly. Absent such cues, however, voters were nevertheless able to determine ontheir own, likely through mental calculation, how best to vote given their partypreferences. Both the progression of the referendum campaigns and increased knowledgehelped individuals become more accurate and more confident at matching their partisaninterests to their vote intention. Predisposition affected voters steadily over time, thoughdifferent levels of predisposition had a greater effect on BC-STy vote intentions in thetwo referendum years.
- Satisfaction with Democracy: The Impact of Institutions, Contexts and Attitudes (2023)
Canadian Journal of Political Science, 56 (1), 1-25
- Why Bother? Supporters of Locally Weaker Parties Are Less Likely to Vote or to Vote Sincerely (2022)
Canadian Journal of Political Science, 55 (1), 208-225
- Having their say: Authority, voice, and satisfaction with democracy (2019)
Journal of Politics, 81 (3), 848-861
- Political Conditions for Electoral Accountability in Federalism (2017)
Canadian Journal of Political Science, 50 (4), 1037-1059
- Telephone versus Online Survey Modes for Election Studies: Comparing Canadian Public Opinion and Vote Choice in the 2015 Federal Election (2017)
Canadian Journal of Political Science, 50 (4), 1005-1036
- Patient-reported confidence in primary healthcare: Are there disparities by ethnicity or language? (2014)
BMJ Open, 4 (2)
- Erratum: Riding the orange wave: Leadership, values, issues, and the 2011 canadian election (2013)
Canadian Journal of Political Science, 46 (4), 999
- Riding the orange wave: Leadership, values, issues, and the 2011 canadian election (2013)
Canadian Journal of Political Science, 46 (4), 863-897
- The mediated horserace: Campaign polls and poll reporting (2012)
Canadian Journal of Political Science, 45 (2), 261-287
- The Space between Worlds: Federalism, Public Issues and Election Issues (2010)
Regional and Federal Studies, 20 (4-5), 487-514
- Deliberation, information, and trust: The British Columbia citizens’ assembly as agenda setter (2008)
Designing Deliberative Democracy: The British Columbia Citizens Assembly, 166-191
- One voter, two first-order elections? (2008)
Electoral Studies, 27 (3), 492-504
- Whodunnit? Voters and responsibility in Canadian federalism (2008)
Canadian Journal of Political Science, 41 (3), 627-654
- Context and attitude formation: Social interaction, default information, or local interests? (2007)
Political Geography, 26 (5), 575-600
- The challenge of municipal voting: Vancouver 2002 (2005)
Canadian Journal of Political Science, 38 (2), 359-382
- Government responsibility and electoral accountability in federations (2004)
Publius: The Journal of Federalism, 34 (2), 19-38
- Local economies, local policy impacts and federal electoral behaviour in Canada (2002)
Canadian Journal of Political Science, 35 (2), 347-382
- The simplest shortcut of all: Sociodemographic characteristics and electoral choice (2002)
Journal of Politics, 64 (2), 466-490
- The Effect of Referendums on Democratic Citizens: Information, Politicization, Efficacy and Tolerance (2000)
British Journal of Political Science, 30 (4), 669-698
- Jeremy Bentham and the public opinion tribunal (1999)
Public Opinion Quarterly, 63 (3), 321-346
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