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Note: The full syllabus will be distributed in class and available on the Canvas site.

Course Goals and Outcomes

This proseminar introduces skills and knowledge to help graduate students advance through the doctoral program and toward a career in academia or related fields. It is intended for, and required of, PhD students in Asian Studies before their advancement to candidacy. It is also open (for audit) to PhD candidates and (for credit or audit) to graduate students in other fields in the humanities and humanistic social sciences. Each student will produce a draft dossier of material for academic and other employment and for grant applications: a curriculum vitae, a cover letter, sample syllabi and course proposals, and statements on teaching and research. They will also develop planning and record-keeping skills to define and meet professional goals and to keep their dossier up to date. The course will also help students shape and contextualize their career plans by introducing the formal and informal structures of the academy: the doctoral program; the dissertation-writing process; writing and publishing; conferences and networking; grants and fellowships; and the job application and hiring process. The seminar begins from the assumption that other classes and activities teach disciplinary skills and prepare students to function as independent teachers and researchers, but these may not prepare them for other tasks central to their careers. To this end, students will learn about the workings of academic and related institutions in order to navigate a successful career path. They will also develop the important skill of effectively communicating their expertise to a range of audiences, including peers in their specialty, colleagues in other fields, students, administrators, and broader publics, using appropriate language and formats. The broad objective of the course is to introduce the trajectories through the doctoral program and into a scholarly or alternative career, with particular attention to strategies for long-term success and minimal time to completion.

Readings and Course Materials

All required and supplementary material will be posted on the Canvas site, available via the class wiki, or distributed in class.

Seminar Structure and Activities

Each class meeting will have homework which must be completed and brought to class in the form of three hard copies. Instructions for completing each homework assignment will be found on the syllabus. (For some assignments example versions or templates will also be provided on the Canvas site.) The class will generally begin with lecture and discussion about the topic for the day, and then the homework—for example, a draft CV—will be workshopped. One copy will go to the instructor, to be returned later with comments. The other two copies will go to other students, so that, working in small groups, they can read and provide feedback on each other’s materials.


Students are expected to attend all classes, prepare all assignments, and participate in a productive manner by providing feedback to classmates on their work. After receiving feedback on each element of the portfolio from the instructor and classmates, students are expected to revise their work, to be submitted at the end of the term as a complete portfolio. Regular attendance is expected. Be sure to notify the instructor if you will not be able to attend. Participation includes questions and comments during class sessions, feedback to peers, and contributions to the Canvas discussion forum (questions, comments information and links you share). Your participation will be evaluated for attention, constructiveness, frequency, and engagement. Most assignments are intended to be drafts and will be assessed as such, not as final documents, but they should be complete and must be handed in on time, for distribution to classmates and to the instructor. It is important to bring the assignments for discussion at each class meeting. In order to workshop the homework with classmates, bring three hard copies of each assignment, unless instructed otherwise. Incomplete assignments will be penalized, and late assignments, which are to be submitted only to the instructor, will be penalized at least 10% per day without prior agreement. Everyone will also contribute to the course wiki: be sure to check this page for resources related to each week’s themes, but also to add and/or comment on material listed there. NB: Be sure to log in with your UBC CWL before making any edits to the wiki, to ensure that your contributions are tracked. There will be time in class to introduce your findings and assessments. The final portfolio is due on Friday, April 19. It will consist of polished versions of a set of weekly assignments, revised to reflect comments from peers and the instructor. It will be evaluated for completeness, quality (of the documents as documents, not for the information they record), and response to feedback.

Component Weight
Attendance & Participation 30%
Assignments 25%
Wiki 5%
Final Portfolio 40%

Weekly Schedule (subject to change)

Date Topic Themes Homework
01/02 Introduction Purposes of the course

Student introductions

01/09 How to PhD? Why PhD? What is a PhD? What is a PhD in Asian Studies?

Structure of the PhD program: stages, roles of supervisor and committee, timelines

Sources of guidance and support

Career possibilities and challenges

List of courses & language requirements

Draft timeline

01/16 Grants & Scholarships Types of grants and scholarships/fellowships

How are they advertised? Adjudicated?

Strategizing the application process

The SSHRC/AF process at UBC

One-page program of study
01/23 Conferencing Types of conferences, panels, workshops, and other presentations

When and where to present, how to apply; the evaluation process

Value of presentations on a CV

Publications from conference papers

Beyond the panel: What else happens at conferences?

Panel proposal + paper proposal
1/30 Writing & Publishing How does scholarly publishing work?

Venues and types of publication; non-traditional media

When, where, and how to submit a manuscript—and how it will be assessed

How publications are valued by job committees

02/06 Job Search Basics

The CV

Types of institutions, programs, and positions: postdocs, professorships, para-academics

Finding and interpreting postings: What kind of job is this? Is it for me?

The hiring process; what do they want?

What application material to provide

What does and doesn’t belong on a CV? Keeping up to date

Draft CV
02/13 Better CVs Written and unwritten standards of formatting and contents

Balancing standardization and individuality

Standard formats (SSHRC, etc.)

Dealing with complicated issues: non-academic work, gaps, non-traditional background

Polished CV
Reading Week— No Class Meeting
02/27 Designing Syllabi Understanding the ecosystem of courses: undergraduate vs graduate, introductory vs advanced, lecture vs seminar, etc.

What is the purpose of a course? How does it fit into a program?

What goes on the syllabus? What doesn’t?

How students read syllabi; how professors read syllabi

Draft syllabus
03/06 Planning & Explaining Your Teaching Different kinds of institutions, programs, and positions; different expectations (and guessing what they are)

Turning a topic or idea into a class

What does a course proposal look like? How will it be assessed and evaluated?

What is a teaching philosophy statement? Why do employers want them? Opportunities and pitfalls

Course proposal
03/13 Philosophy Statements

(for non-philosophers)

Teaching and research philosophy statements

Finding your scholarly (and non-scholarly) identity

Teaching philosophy statement
AAS — No Class Meeting
03/27 Summing It Up What does the cover letter do? How should it look?

What goes in the letter, the cv, the statements?

Fitting in and standing out.

Cover letter
04/03 Conclusion Your overall presence and presentation: Who you—and Google—think you are Bioblurb
04/19 Portfolio due: email to instructor or hardcopy to Asian Studies office (Asian Centre Rm. 604)