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Thesis Proposals and Theses

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  1. Thesis Proposals and Theses Steve Whitmore and Michael Sjoerdsma, October 2003 Aphorism for the Week I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it. -Jack Handy, Deep Thoughts Thesis Proposals and Theses

  2. Learning Objectives By the end of this module, you will understand the following about thesis proposals and theses: • Scheduling • Administrative Processes • Organizational Requirements • Format Requirements • Style Requirements • The Thesis Defense Thesis Proposals and Theses

  3. Why? • If you hope to continue your studies, most graduate schools expect that you will have completed an undergraduate thesis. Most graduate schools also require a CGPA > 3.0. • Some companies are more likely to hire those who have completed an undergraduate thesis than those who have not. This may especially be the case given the current state of the economy. Thesis Proposals and Theses

  4. Why Not? • 1 Semester hour = $136.10 • Thesis proposal + Thesis = 12 semester hours • Total for thesis = $1633.20 • Assume a job that pays $45,000 per year • Every 2 weeks pay cheque = $1730.00 • Thesis paid for in 2 weeks Thesis Proposals and Theses

  5. When? • Semester 7 – Thesis Proposal (3 credits) • Semester 8 – Thesis (9 credits) • Can combine thesis and proposal into a single semester if very organized (ask Jackie Briggs about this) • Criteria: 115 credit hours and 3 work terms (exemptions can be obtained if over 100 credit hours/2 work terms – see the UCC Chair). CGPA & UDGPA > 3.0 • If aiming to graduate in semester immediately after defending thesis, timing is critical: • Defence can be difficult to arrange in April or August • Revisionsmust be completed 3 weeks before convocation Thesis Proposals and Theses

  6. Where? • Theses are usually completed as part of a 4th coop term (contemporary economic conditions may pose problems) • Can be done internally with a faculty project (faculty with suitable projects: Ash, Marek, John Bird, Shahram, Glenn or profs. in Kinesiology and Gerontology) • Can also do an entrepreneurial/340 project (Andrew, John Dill, George, and Patrick are good bets for Academic Supervisors) • Be cautious with doing a thesis while on an international coop as the work may not qualify (e,g., Coop Japan tends to be theoretical work rather than project-oriented) Thesis Proposals and Theses

  7. Who? • Choice of Academic Supervisor critical: • Project must be related to their expertise and interests (see list of faculty interests in handbook – out of date) • Should be someone you get along with reasonably well • They ensure project meets academic requirements • Must be an SFU Faculty member • Technical Supervisor: • Someone with a high level of technical expertise in topic (can be Academic Supervisor) • Generally an engineer, scientist or equivalent • Will have relevant university degree, work experience, professional qualifications Thesis Proposals and Theses

  8. Who (cont’d)? • Committee Member: • Someone with an interest in topic and usually has some expertise • May be faculty/staff at SFU or may be someone at a company or other academic institution • Communication Faculty (see Me): • Review thesis when required by Academic Supervisor • Troubleshooting administrative problems • We DO NOT edit theses (I can provide a list of senior undergraduates willing to do so for $20.00/hr.) Thesis Proposals and Theses

  9. Who (cont’d)? • Undergraduate Secretary (Jackie Briggs) • Deals with the administrative issues surrounding the thesis and proposal (registration, confidentiality, defence bookings, receives copies of proposal and thesis) • A very important person if you expect to graduate, so DO NOT piss her off Thesis Proposals and Theses

  10. How (Proposal)? • Find a suitable project • Identify potential committee members • Contact committee members with a brief description of project • Contact Jackie for 498 registration form • Have technical supervisor sign thesis proposal form • Return form to Jackie • Write proposal • Submit proposal to committee members • Make revisions and resubmit • Submit signed proposal to Jackie Thesis Proposals and Theses

  11. How (Thesis)? • See Jackie to register for 499 • Do the work • Confirm when committee members are available for defence • Write draft of thesis • Submit draft to committee members (Academic Supervisor also receives a completed copy of the “Thesis Defence Approval Form” – available outside Steve’s office) • Submit draft to Communication Faculty if required by Academic Supervisor (along with the “Thesis Defence Approval Form” and a completed copy of the “Thesis Checklist”) – assume 1 to 2 weeks turn around Thesis Proposals and Theses

  12. How (Thesis cont’d)? • Make appropriate revisions • Resubmit revised thesis to Academic Supervisor (and Communication Faculty if required) • Determine what times committee members are available for your defence • Submit signed “Thesis Defence Approval Form” to Jackie and arrange for a room for your defence • Prepare a PowerPoint presentation for your defence • Defend your thesis • Make necessary revisions • Submit revised thesis to committee members Thesis Proposals and Theses

  13. How (Thesis cont’d)? • Obtain committee members’ signatures on Approval Page • Submit signed Approval Page and 1 copy of thesis to Jackie (she will obtain the Director’s signature) • Submit 2 or 3 copies of thesis to Jackie (pay $20.00 if you would like a hardbound copy) • Graduation stuff Thesis Proposals and Theses

  14. What (Proposal)? • Proposals are usually 8-12 pages in length with the following sections: • Title page • Approval form • Abstract • Table of contents • List of figures and tables (if required) • Introduction (problem, background, block diagram) • Description of tasks (includes a Gantt chart – may include budget) • Conclusion • References (if applicable) • Appendices (if applicable) Thesis Proposals and Theses

  15. What (Thesis)? • Title page • Approval form • Abstract • Acknowledgements • Table of contents • List of figures and tables • List of acronyms or technical terms • Introductory chapter (problem, background, organization) • Central chapters • Concluding chapter (summary, what was accomplished, current status of project, what was learned) • References • Appendices Thesis Proposals and Theses

  16. What (Defence)? • A formal 20 minute presentation that outlines the problem, your research, and your solution/results • Following the presentation, audience will ask questions • Then the audience will be asked to leave • Then your committee may ask some additional questions • Then you will be asked to leave while the committee deliberates • Possible outcomes: • Passed with distinction – no revisions (very rare) • Passed with minor changes (most common) • Deferred – major revisions needed (very rare) • Fail (extremely rare) Thesis Proposals and Theses

  17. A Few Other Issues • If your thesis deals with a confidential topic, you must clear this with all your committee members. Note that theses will only be kept confidential for a maximum of 2 years. • If you need to defer the completion of your thesis or your proposal, you are responsible for contacting your Academic Supervisor prior to the deadline for grade submission, and asking him or her to submit a deferral form. If you fail to do so, an “F” will be recorded on your transcripts. Thesis Proposals and Theses

  18. Sources of Information • Note that the thesis webpage is at the following URL: It provides the following info: • Example thesis proposal • Example theses • Example PowerPoint slides for the defense • Thesis handbook (out of date – will be updated in the Summer of 2004) • Thesis checklist • “Thesis Defence Approval Forms” are available outside my office Thesis Proposals and Theses

  19. Another Aphorism If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea. -Antoine de Saint Exupery Thesis Proposals and Theses