CHEM 794 course requirements

The Master's Seminar (CHEM 794) is a 0.50 grade credit requirement. Students must complete this requirement within the first two terms of their entry into the MSc program. The objectives of the CHEM 794 (Master's Seminar) requirement are to encourage MSc students to stimulate in-depth thinking about the basis of their thesis research and to encourage development of the public speaking skills so essential for scientists. It involves the preparation of a written summary of their proposed research, building on their CHEM 784 research literature review, and the presentation and defence of their proposal in a public seminar, together with attendance at and participation in the critical evaluation of analogous seminars presented by their peers. While most often based on the theme of their MSc research project – subject to the approval of their supervisor – the proposal may be on any topic of the student's choice. It should outline the reasons for undertaking the project, concisely survey the relevant literature, present a detailed description of the methodology to be used, and outline any preliminary results.

Course requirements

  • Within the first weeks of a student's second term in the MSc program, they are required to arrange a suitable date for their seminar, which accommodates other commitments of their supervisor, their advisory committee members, and the seminar chair – all of who must attend. A completed CHEM 794 Seminar Booking Form must be returned to Details regarding these procedures will be distributed to students at the beginning of that term.
  • At least two weeks prior to the seminar presentation, students should submit a rough draft of their proposed research (written summary and slides) to their supervisor for review.
  • Students are required to submit an electronic PDF version (emailed) of their written Summar of Proposed Research to the Administrative Coordinator for Graduate Studies in Chemistry by noon of the day one week prior to the date of the seminar, and slides (including safety slide) of the presentation a minimum of two working days prior. Examples are available on the Chemistry Grad Team (MS Teams) under Files. Penalties of 2 percent for each day late will be imposed for late submission of the proposal. This proposal will be evaluated by members of the Examining Committee according to the six categories:
    1. Written Summary of Proposed Research, consisting of 1) Outline of Proposed Research (maximum of one page) and 2) Bibliography and citations (maximum of one page). Refer to Summary of Proposed Research Instructions section below.
    2. Seminar preparation and organization, and safety slide.
    3. Seminar presentation (audibility, pace, enthusiasm).
    4. Understanding of the material (depth, coherence, applications, literature).
    5. Ability to handle discussion.
    6. Comprehensibility of the proposal to a non-expert.

    Numerical grades will be given by each examiner based on the below categories:

    • 90–100 percent: Outstanding
    • 80–89 percent: Excellent
    • 70–79 percent: Good/Acceptable
    • Less than 70 percent: Significant deficiencies; resubmission required by this reader, whose final report grade will be the average of the initial and later marks.
  • On the scheduled date, the student will give a public seminar presentation of the proposal, approximately 30 minutes in length, and respond to questions from members of the general audience and the examiners.
  • If the grade on the written proposal is less than 70 percent, corrections should be made to take account of comments by the examiners and one copy of the final version of the written summary and presentation slides, with corrections approved by the supervisor, must be submitted to the Administrative Coordinator for Graduate Studies in Chemistry within one week of the date of the seminar.
  • If the grade on CHEM 794 is less than 70 percent, but the overall grade is a pass (greater than 65 percent), copies for each examiner of an appropriately revised version of the written summary and slides must be submitted to the Administrative Coordinator for Graduate Studies in Chemistry within one week of the date of the seminar along with the annotated original copy from that reader.
  • If the overall grade of the CHEM 794 presentation is less than 65 percent, a student has one opportunity to repeat the requirement. In this case, a date for the repeated seminar must be scheduled within one month of the initial seminar, the rewritten Summary of Proposed Research must be submitted by noon of the day one week prior to the date of the seminar, and the revised slides submitted a minimum of two days prior.
  • A student is expected to participate in the assessment of at least eight CHEM 794 or CHEM 795 seminars other than their own. It is recommended you attend as many seminars as possible prior to your own. The participation must be completed by the time of graduation and will include completing a brief synopsis for at least eight seminars other than their own. A maximum of 4 (MSc) / 3 (PhD) alternate seminars may be attended. These may be comprised of Chemistry Departmental seminars for non-collaborative programs MSc/PhD graduate students, or for collaborative program graduate students the corresponding Quantum Information (QI) or Nanotechnology seminars, as well as GWC2, WIN, or departmental seminars. The remaining must be chemistry master's or doctoral seminars, in order to meet the seminar course requirements.

    The Seminar Assessment is based on five criteria:

    1. Preparation and organization.
    2. Presentation (audibility, speech, grammar).
    3. Apparent understanding of the material.
    4. Ability to handle discussion.
    5. Comprehensibility of the presentation to a non-expert.

Evaluation, grades, and penalties

The examining committee for each student will consist of their research advisor, at least two other faculty members, and the associate graduate officer (or their delegate). The final mark will be an average of the grades given by members of this committee. If the proposal is judged by the committee to be unsatisfactory (less than 70 percent), the student will have one opportunity to revise and re-present the proposal, and the final grade will be based on an average of independent assessments of the two submissions/presentations.

When preparing your CHEM 794 proposal, you should consult the following websites regarding academic integrity and plagiarism:

Infringements will not be tolerated!

If your chemistry report if found to contain plagiarized material, it will receive a grade of zero (0).

If a student is late in submitting either the original or final corrected version of their proposal, a penalty will be assessed, which consists of 2 percent less on the final grade for each day late.

Credit for CHEM 794 will not be assigned until corrections to the written proposal (if required) are made and any necessary penalties are completed.

Advice regarding the seminar presentation and defence

It is important to remember that the seminar is presented to a more general audience and often includes graduate students from all other areas of chemistry. The presentation should take this into account and minimize the use of acronyms and technical jargon. It is essential that the fundamental scientific context and motivation of the work be presented in an accessible manner. Do not forget that one of the main criteria in which the seminar presentation is being evaluated is the comprehensibility of the presentation to a non-expert.

Advice regarding the seminar evaluation

Note that you are not evaluating the speaker as a person or as a scientist or for their overall intelligence or knowledge; you are only evaluating the quality of this presentation of this proposal. If they do not convey to you the essential objectives and content of the work, it means they did not present it well and should be evaluated accordingly.

Course organization and administration

The CHEM 794 will be coordinated by the associate graduate officer, Dr. S. Lee, and by the Administrative Coordinator for Graduate Studies in Chemistry. Further information and advice on any aspects of these requirements may be obtained from either of them.

Summary of Proposed Research Instructions

Your written Summary of Proposed Research consists of two separate sections: 1) Outline of Proposed Research and 2) Bibliography and citations. Each of these sections must be a maximum of one page. Examples are available on the Chemistry Grad Teams site under Files.

Outline of Proposed Research (maximum one page)

Write a detailed description of your proposed research project. Be as specific as possible. Provide background information to position your proposed research within the context of current knowledge in the field. State the objectives and hypothesis, and outline the experimental or theoretical approach to be taken (citing literature pertinent to the proposal), and the methods and procedures to be used. State the significance of the proposed research to a field or fields in the health sciences, natural sciences, and/or engineering, or social sciences and/or humanities, as appropriate.

If you have not yet decided on a specific project, you must still provide a detailed description of a proposed research project. You may change your research direction or activities during the course of your studies, subject to the approval of your supervisor.

In addition:

  • Students are expected to write their outline of proposed research independently. Ideas and text belonging to others must be properly referenced.
  • Include all relevant information in the outline. Do not refer reviewers to website links or other publications for supplemental information.
  • In the Outline of Proposed Research, provide the requested information according to the guidelines and format standards outlined in the Presentation Standards below.

Bibliography and citations (maximum of one page)

Provide a bibliography that includes citations for all works referenced in the research proposal. These citations should be in a format used by the primary discipline of the proposed research. You must ensure that all citations are clear and complete, to allow reviewers to easily locate the sources.

Presentation Standards

Prepare your Summary of Proposed Research following the requirements below. All text, including references (where applicable), must conform to these standards:

  • Acronyms and abbreviations must be spelled out completely on initial appearance in text.
  • Pages must be 8 1/2" x 11" (216mm x 279mm).
  • Pages must be single-spaced, with no more than six lines of type per inch.
  • All text must be in 12pt Times New Roman font.
  • Condensed fonts will be accepted.
  • Colour imagery is acceptable*, but the text should be in black.
  • All margins must be set at a minimum of 3/4" (1.87 cm).
  • Do not introduce hyperlinks in your documents.

* Be mindful that colour may not always be easily viewable by readers of your proposal and may contribute to prohibitively large file size for your proposal.