- International Students
- Partners of Incoming Philosophy Students
- Cost of Living
- Renting in London
- Neighbourhoods in London Information
- Avoiding the London Hydro Deposit
- What are all these acronyms?
- Picking Courses
- Active Reading Groups
- Graduate Student Mentors
- Office Assignments
- Welcoming Gatherings
- Department Colloquia
- Interactive Map about places to go in London
- A-Z Resto Tour London Food Blog/Reviews
Tuition, Funding, and Scholarships
The following table is a rough guess of what tuition (including fees) will be like over the next couple years, as well as what the breakdown is for each term. Keep in mind that this is only an estimate and the exact tuition will likely be a different. Note that you must pay tuition in the summer. The tuition payments are structured such that you pay once per term, at the beginning of the term (September, January and May), regardless of whether you are taking classes or not. September tuition tends to be higher as there are some fees that you will only pay in September.
Tuition + Fees Distribution (estimate)
|Domestic Student Tuition||Fall||Winter||Summer|
|International Student Tuition||Fall||Winter||Summer|
* Projected Tuition, based on 4% increase for domestic; 6% for international
The basic funding package Western offers is made up of a Western Graduate Research Scholarship (WGRS), and a Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA). Your exact funding distribution will depend on the type of student you are (MA, PhD), citizenship, and any external funding you receive (SSHRC, OGS). Keep in mind that funding is usually a case-by-case basis, and each student receives a different kind of funding. This being said, again, use this only as a guide to give you an idea of what kind of funding you will receive.
WGRS: The WGRS will be what, under normal circumstances, pays for your tuition (for example, if you do not receive any other scholarships which pay for tuition). The WGRS is spread across our 3 semesters. We receive 35% of it in the Fall, 30% in the Winter, and 35% in the Spring. This is a set, unchangeable distribution. All internal funding, including your WGRS, and external funding that goes through the university (SSHRC, e.g.), will be applied to your account at the beginning of September, and the beginning of each term thereafter (usually the end of the first week of the term). The WGRS for our MA and PhD students are roughly as,
Canadian/Canadian Permanent Resident 2015-16: $4,336/academic year (MA) to $10,036/academic year (PhD), subject to change.
International 2015-16: $14,336/academic year (MA) to $20,536/academic year (PhD), subject to change.
*WGRS figure is the total for 3 terms; departments decide how to divide it up per term, in our case it is 35% in the fall, 30% in the winter, and 35% in the summer.
GTA: The department typically gives PhD graduate students a “tutorial leader” assignment for each term, and your GTA is the payment for your work. If you are a Masters student, the department typically gives you a grading assignment for each semester, and your GTA is the payment for your work. Occasionally, PhD students will be assigned grading positions, and Masters students a tutorial position.
As a tutorial leader, you will be responsible for leading one 1-hour long section of about 25 students once a week, grading, office hours, TA meetings, etc. Our position is represented by a union, and as such the department can only require us work 140 hours each semester (about 10 hrs a week).
As a grader, you will be responsible for grading papers and assignments for an undergraduate course. Depending on class size, more than one grader may be assigned. Typically, as a grader you will be responsible for 40-50 students and possibly required to hold office hours. This position is also represented by the same union, and as such the department can only require us work 140 hours each semester.
Both tutorial leaders and graders also have a portion of their 140 hours (usually 10 hours) reserved for acting as a proctor (i.e. exam supervisor) during exams at the end of term.
Something to keep in mind is that if you have or are awarded a SSHRC CGS Doctoral Scholarship, you can only TA for one term during the year, not two, as is the default case.
Payment: We are paid once a month, on the second last business day of each month from Sept – April (this pay schedule is the same for any contract work, i.e. any work with respect to which you are considered an employee of the university). Next year, our total GTA funding for the two terms will be, roughly, $12,210, with each GTA paycheck being just a bit more than $1,300. Keep in mind that we do not receive any paychecks for May-August, and the department does not provide summer funding. You will have to be responsible for budgeting, and/or finding a research appointment or other job. For those who may be interested in learning the nitty-gritty of the GTA funding make-up, please contact a department steward.
Again, you only have a TA salary for the two terms that you are working, so you will receive no paychecks over the summer. The only money you might receive over the summer is whatever funding you have as applied to your student account. If it happens to be more than the amount of tuition (because you have an external scholarship), you will receive that refund at the beginning of the summer.
Also, note that the money that you are paid as a TA (or RA) is paid monthly, at the end of the month, so you will not receive your first paycheck until the end of September. Other funding (like external scholarships, or internal funding) is applied directly to your student account at the beginning of the term. If there is an outstanding balance, you have to pay it. If there is extra money, you get it back, but it usually takes a few weeks.
Come September, all PhD students who do not have external funding for the following school year (in your case the 2017-2018 academic year) are required to apply for external scholarships. Even MA students who are merely considering applying to a PhD programs are strongly encouraged to apply but not required.
The internal deadline for the SSHRC scholarship application is usually mid-October, which means that being told in September that you have to complete these applications often brings on a mad rush of trying to contact old professors and get hold of transcripts while you’re still trying to get used to a new program. Hopefully, letting you know what will be required of you now will give you time to prepare if you so choose.
What is required for external scholarship applications:
- All Canadian students must apply for a SSHRC (Social Science and Humanities Research Council) Doctoral Award. This requires 1) Two letters of reference, 2) One official transcript from each of your previous university institutions, and 3) A two-page research proposal, or program of study.
- Students may also apply for an Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS), commonly referred to as the OGS. The philosophy department no longer requires students to apply for the OGS, so it is recommended that you discuss whether you should apply with your advisor and/or the graduate chair. If applying, the OGS requires 1) Two letters of reference, 2) One official transcript from each of your previous university institutions, and 3) A one-page research proposal. OGS applications are due early winter term.
For those of you who are applying for the first time and have questions, or who would like someone to look at their proposal, there will be some grad students available to help you out in September. Proposals are often much improved by going through multiple drafts and having others look at them.
Mia Loebach-Readings is the current international student coordinator for July 2017-June 2018. If you have any questions specific to being an international student, please contact her. She has also created a helpful blog with information that pertains specifically to you: http://studyphilosophyincanada.wordpress.com/
Moving to London
Below you will find information about various neighbourhoods in London, their pros and cons, with average rental prices, and a bunch of other websites.
If you are planning to come to town to look for an apartment and need a place to stay, there are almost always graduate students willing to put someone up for a few days. Please contact the Welcoming Committee if you would like us to find you somewhere to stay. Also, come moving time, if you need some help moving, again contact the Welcoming Committee and they will do their best to round up some grad students willing to help out (however it is customary to pay those helpers with pizza and/or beverages).
Partners of Incoming Philosophy Students
If you have someone (i.e. non-student) joining you on your move to London, a few of the other partners of philosophy graduate students have set up a social/welcoming group to serve as an extra point-of-contact for them and are happy to help them get settled in any way they can. Please e-mail the Welcoming Committee for the point-of-contact’s e-mail address.
Cost of Living
Here are some helpful links with information about the cost of living in London, Ontario.
- Local estimates: http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/city_result.jsp?country=Canada&city=London
- UWO estimates: http://grad.uwo.ca/prospective_students/finances/financial_planning.html
Renting in London
When looking for housing, keep in mind that Ontario law requires renters to give a minimum of 60 days notice before moving out, therefore rental properties will likely not be advertised more than 60 days before your desired move in date. If you want to look for a place and hope to move in August 1st, for example, we recommend you start looking around May/ June.
Many graduate students have found their apartments either on Kijiji or the UWO off campus housing listings.
- Kijiji London
- UWO Off Campus Listing
- London Student Rentals Home
- London Ontario Rentals | UWO Off Campus | Fanshawe Off Campus
Others have found their apartments through apartment building rental companies:
- The Apartment Shoppe
- Timbercreek Asset Management
- Oxford Centre
- Cherryhill Minto Apartments
- Vantage Property Management Ltd.
- York Property Management
If you drive around near campus, these are the rental company signs you will tend to see (i.e., these rental companies tend to be popular with the undergraduates):
Our Off-campus housing office keeps a list of average rental prices for different areas in London. The average rental prices here are obviously rough, and will vary depending on how nice the apartment is and how many rooms there are. One-bedroom apartments tend to be quite expensive in comparison to apartments with more bedrooms that can be shared.
Cars: One thing to keep in mind if you have a car is to make sure there is parking available where you live because in London, it’s illegal to park your car on the street overnight and you will get ticketed. Western does have onsite parking, however it tends to be rather expensive. Check out Western’s Parking site for more information about the price.
Buses: SOGS provides a bus pass for its members who are full-time students. Students cannot opt-out of the bus pass as it is a mandatory student fee. Your WesternOne (Student) card functions as your bus pass. When using the LTC bus, you must “tap” your student card on the machine. To retrieve your student card, you must visit the Registrar’s office. Should you lose your student card, you must pay a $28 fee to replace it at the Registrar’s office. As a new student, your card will not register with the LTC until September 1. If you arrive in London earlier than this date and wish to use the bus, you must pay $2.75 (CAD) per trip. For more information about the bus pass, please contact the SOGS Office: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 2, 6, 9c, 10, 13, 31, 32, 33 and 34 bus routes all go to school regularly. See the London Transit Site for more information about London buses as well as the Ride Guide pdf and PDFs of routes to see if a prospective place to live is on a bus route that goes to campus.
Bikes: Lots of our faculty and students bike to campus. Some say London is bike commuter friendly, some vehemently disagree. On the City of London’s Bike Route and Multi-Use site you can find more information on biking in London, and as well as a bike route map.
Neighbourhoods in London Information
This tends to be the most expensive area. Downtown is on Richmond and spreads outward west to the Thames and east to Adelaide, south of Oxford, north of York. Along Richmond tends to get really loud on weekends and crazy during Homecoming and St. Patrick’s Day, because that’s where all the bars are. Mill Street, John Street, and Central Avenue near Richmond are very undergrad student-heavy; lots of parties, frat houses, etc. Many grad students live downtown, but most are several blocks from Richmond, as it gets much quieter as you walk away from the center, and there are many great century homes. Rent tends to also get a bit cheaper as you move farther from Richmond. If you can walk to Richmond here, this is one of the best routes to catch buses – there are two bus routes that go straight to the University, and they send extras during the school year. You can walk to many things here, but it is a bit hard to get to a supermarket without a car.
Old North refers roughly to north of Oxford, south of Huron Rd, between Richmond and Adelaide. Keep in mind, however, that there are a lot of students close to the University Gates (around Huron, west of Richmond, see Student Ghetto section for details on this area). The houses tend to be the old Victorian kind. Much of the rest of this neighbourhood is residential and peaceful (again, as long as you get a couple blocks from Richmond).
The Masonville area around Masonville Mall has a lot of condos and apartments for rent, which can be good options. They’re generally cheaper than downtown, and very close to a Loblaws. It’s also quite easy to get to school from here, either on foot or by bus. However, there are fewer places (like coffee shops, etc.) that are within walking distance, and only one bus downtown.
Wortley Village is around Wortley Road, south of the river. This area has a very nice atmosphere with more cafes and little shops. Many grad students and faculty live here. Unfortunately, a lot of the area is not terribly convenient for busing to school, so be prepared to walk a ways to the bus, or find other ways of getting to school. The rent here is cheaper than downtown.
West of UWO
Anything west of the university tends to be much cheaper in rent than a comparable place downtown. A lot of grad students live along Sarnia or Wonderland Road in an area called Whitehills. The buses are quite good to school, and it’s quite quiet. There are also several grocery stores along Wonderland. The downside of this area, especially if you live around Sarnia or further north, is that it’s difficult to get downtown. However, if you live near Oxford and Wonderland, (in the Cherryhill area) there is a bus that goes directly downtown, and a Metro grocery store.
There are many students (though fewer graduate students, it seems) who live along Western Road and Wharncliffe Road just south of the university. The rent tends to be comparable to downtown, perhaps a bit cheaper. It is easy to get to both school and downtown from here, though it is closer to the former than the latter.
East of Adelaide
There are a couple of distinct areas that are east of Adelaide. These areas are allegedly a bit sketchier, though really, they’re probably just a bit less affluent than much of the rest of London. (To be fair, there have been concerns about crime on Kipps Lane just east of Adelaide, though there are also several students who have lived in this area without any problems.) This area is quite cheap, and grocery stores are reasonably accessible, but it is more difficult to get to school and downtown without a car. Further south (closer to downtown) and east of Adelaide is referred to as Old East. Again, the rent tends to be cheap. It’s further from the university, but there is a frequent bus route on Dundas that goes straight to UWO.
Aka, South of Horton, but north of the river. This neighborhood has a similar environment as east of Adelaide, however a couple students have lived in this neighborhood without any problems. This area has few students, but cheaper rent. The 13 and the 6 run through this neighborhood south on their way to Wortley, or north directly to campus. Neighborhood is very close to downtown, and on bus routes to supermarkets.
The “Student Ghetto” (Primarily Huron St. west of Richmond, Near Western Rd. and Platt’s Lane)
There are a lot of homes for rent right by campus and this neighborhood is affectionately referred to as the ‘student ghetto.’ For the most part this neighborhood has earned that title because a lot of students rent there, and then proceed to trash the homes prior to moving out (or so it seems to some of us). There are a lot undergrads who live here and, consequently, there is a lot of partying that goes on there. But, rent is cheap and they owners usually rent by the room. Additionally, this neighborhood is as close to school as you could probably get without actually living on campus.
An on-campus, “mature student housing option” (mainly graduate students). Several philosophy graduate students have chosen to live in this complex. Be aware that applications for this apartment building are in the very early spring. More information can be found on their website: http://www.has.uwo.ca/housing/glenmore/applicationprocess.htm
Avoiding the London Hydro Deposit
If you have good credit you can have the London Hydro deposit waived by sending London Hydro a copy of your credit report. Here are instructions for getting out of the London Hydro security deposit:
If you are Canadian you can get your credit report mailed to you for free by calling equifax at 1-800-465-7166. You need to have your SIN number and other ID handy. It is an automated process that will take between five and ten minutes. You do not need to purchase your equifax credit score (they will ask you if you want it), the credit report alone will suffice. You should receive your credit report within n 5-10 days, which you can then fax or email to London Hydro.
If you are American, you can find instruction on how to get a free copy of your credit report from the FTC website (http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports)
For other international students, we have no idea, sorry!
You should aim to get your credit report to London hydro at least 5 days before you want service to begin. If you do not get your credit report in on time, they may charge you the deposit but should refund it once they receive evidence of good credit. If you are in a hurry, you can get instant access to your credit report online from Equifax’s website (equifax.ca), but they charge for that service.
Once in London…
What are all these acronyms?
Some students have found all the acronyms we use overwhelming when seeing for the first time. This is just a brief overview of the different parts of the university that will be important to you.
- SGPS is the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. We are part of this in virtue of being graduate students. This is where a lot of administrative and funding decisions get made, and they handle our scholarship applications.
- SOGS is the Society of Graduate Students, Any full-time or part-time graduate student (except those in Ivey Business) is a member of the Society of Graduate Students (SOGS), which is the graduate student government at Western. SOGS provides a number of services, benefits, and programs to its members, and plays a large role in advocating on behalf of graduate students. Some of the services that are particularly relevant to graduate students are the bus pass, the Extended Health Care Plan, and financial assistance services: Bus Pass (London Transit Commission – LTC), Extended Health Care Plan (Studentcare), Financial Assistance.
- The PSAC Local 610 (formally the “GTA Union”) is the Graduate Teaching Assistants’ Union, Public Service Alliance of Canada, Local 610. It protects our rights as employees of the university. The union will represent members during meetings related to a teaching assistant’s employment and file grievances on a member’s behalf as the situation requires. In addition, the union promotes occupational health and safety and provides a number of services for its members, including scholarships, bursaries, and extended health benefits. A variety of training opportunities and services are also available through our parent organization, the Public Service Alliance of Canada. Department stewards (philosophy has two) are elected from among our graduate students who are TAs and act as liaisons between the employer and members of each department and will bring members’ issues through the proper channels to the employer or to the union’s local Executive Committee. In semesters where you hold a TA contract, you are a member of this union. There is extra money for health coverage that you can get from GTA if you run out of SOGS insurance money.
- PGSA refers to the Philosophy Graduate Students Association which, of course, you will all be members of in virtue of being graduate students in the department of philosophy. The PGSA has an elected executive committee, which will be determined for the academic year during your welcome week. Please, please consider getting involved with the PGSA. The time commitment is generally not large at all (usually one or two meetings per semester), and it’s very important for students to be involved so that the department hears our concerns. More information about the first meeting for next year will be sent out towards the end of summer.
Keep in mind the following when picking courses:
- Be sure to check out the syllabi for all your courses, available in the graduate section of the department website.
- Your courses have to satisfy various distribution requirements. Please refer to the newest version of the program’s progression requirements and keep in mind the distribution requirement when picking courses.
- You are allowed to and are encouraged to ‘shop around’ when choosing courses, i.e. feel free to attend all the courses that sound interesting and wait to decide to stick with a course until you’ve seen the syllabus, reading list and get a feel for the professor, the course, etc. Many graduate students have personally found ‘shopping around’ very helpful (especially if one is new to a university) so by all means do this in September.
- Up to two (2) courses from other disciplines may also count toward your degree if they are relevant to your proposed area of study and fit with your distribution requirements. For example, if you came to Western to study philosophy of physics or feminist philosophy, graduate courses in physics and astronomy or in feminist research may be appropriate for you to take. Permission to take these courses must be verified with the philosophy graduate chair, as well as the professor teaching the course. In general, it is best to get advice from the graduate chair or your advisor before officially deciding to take a course in another department.
Active Reading Groups
There are a number of active reading groups in the department. By all means get involved in these reading groups but keep in mind that you will be very busy (especially in your first term) so don’t take on too much. Contact the reading group organizers directly to be placed on the mailing list for the particular reading group you would like to join. Typically during the first few weeks of September, all reading groups will send out a call for new members.
The department assigns all new incoming students an advisor. For PhD students, you will be initially assigned to a faculty member in the area you proposed to work in your application to UWO. For MA students, you will initially be assigned to the graduate chair, and will select your MA summer thesis project advisor at a later point. You can discuss aspects of the graduate program with your advisor such as what courses to choose, advice about how to progress properly through the program, etc. In general, don’t wait for your advisor to contact you. You should take the initiative to make first contact with your advisor and make an effort to develop a relationship with them. Philosophy faculty tend to get very busy later in the term, thus it is wise to e-mail your stipulated advisor within the first few weeks of your arrival to schedule a brief meeting. You should find out who your advisor is during orientation.
Graduate Student Mentors
All incoming MA and PhD students will be assigned an “older” graduate student mentor by the PGSA Welcoming Committee. Your mentor will serve as a point of contact for when you first arrive in London, and is someone you can talk to regarding course choices, research interests, and all sorts of topics relevant to the academic life of a graduate student.
You will receive an e-mail from a department assistant sometime before classes start (likely sometime after August 15th) with your office assignment. Offices are assigned by the department and there usually isn’t much flexibility when it comes to choosing an office. MA students and first year PhD students typically are all in the same one or two large offices. The rest of the department’s Ph.D. students are spread throughout Stevenson Hall. Office space in the Rotman Institute on the second floor is by application only.
In addition to department orientation (held typically the week before classes start), keep your eyes open for more information regarding a social event hosted by your fellow grad students/welcoming committee. Welcoming gatherings will be great ways for you to meet your fellow students before classes start and become integrated in the department.
The PGSA organizes a graduate student speaker series that usually takes place every Wednesday (in the past at 5:30pm) at which a graduate student presents a paper and gets feedback. You are all encouraged to submit a paper to the speaker series (especially MA students) so keep an eye out for the call for papers via e-mail. There will be a schedule distributed and posted online once the final list is settled, that way you can keep track of the upcoming talk. Faculty and students attend these and afterwards many students go out for a drink and open mic at The Grad Club pub on campus. Many of our own grad students perform at open mic and this is usually a good chance to chat informally with your peers.
There is usually a department talk every Friday, at which a guest speaker invited by either the Rotman Institute or the department. Be sure to attend these as there are usually very good speakers who come in and it offers you a chance to meet some scholars from different universities.