In Pharmacy, the MSc thesis proposal and the PhD thesis proposal are required courses. Pharm 601 is the MSc Thesis Proposal course and Pharm 616 (A and B) are the PhD Thesis Proposal courses. Requirements for these courses are in the graduate studies academic calendar. Link to the Pharmacy graduate course subject descriptions for requirements and other course information.
The Administrative Coordinator for Graduate Studies and Research will communicate dates for the scientific writing workshop and for thesis proposal presentations to students via email, attendance at which are required components of the proposal courses and should be attended in term 1. Students do not need to be registered in PHARM 601 or PHARM 616 to attend the scientific writing workshop or thesis proposals of other students.
Students should enrol in the course only once throughout their program, in the term during which they will complete their thesis proposal examination.
- MSc students must take their thesis proposal examination before the end of their second term, or (infrequently and with permission of the graduate officer) no later than the middle of the third term.
- PhD students must complete their thesis proposal examination within their first year of the PhD program.
Thesis proposal guidelines
The thesis proposal 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.
Generally, a report of 30-40 pages is required, not including figures, legends, or references. Excess pages may be removed or disregarded.
Additional material including raw data may be included in appendices if there is a need for it to be included.
The completed thesis proposal should be double-spaced with 1-inch margins and size 12 font.
The style of the report should follow conventions familiar to the area of research of the student. At minimum, the written thesis proposal report should include the following:
- Title page – including student name, student number, title of research and names of supervisor and advisory committee members.
- Abstract - approximately 200 words in length.
- Table of contents - may also include a separate list of figures and tables.
- Table of abbreviations - defining frequently used abbreviations. Note, all abbreviations should also be explicitly defined in the text when they are first introduced.
- Introduction - the introduction should include an up-to-date and properly referenced review of the relevant literature and clearly delineate the nature of the problem(s) to be addressed by the proposal. Discuss why the proposed research should be done, and the expected implications for the field.
- Objectives and hypothesis - include short- and long-term objectives and testable hypotheses appropriate to the MSc or PhD program.
- Preliminary data – if this is appropriate (more the case for laboratory research than studies involving populations or patients) show preliminary data collected to date. If the work was not done by you or if you had help collecting the preliminary data you must assign credit to those individuals.
- Proposed projects - a majority of your proposal should be devoted to a careful description of your research objectives and the methodology by which these objectives will be achieved. You should at least know how you are going to start out and have some ideas for future options. You should describe alternative avenues if the proposed studies do not work out. You should be able to address the feasibility of your proposed studies. You must also include a clear description of the statistical methods you will use to analyze your data. Any limitations of the proposed studies should be identified and possible alternate strategies should be discussed.
- Significance - discuss the significance of the proposed studies.
- Timeline - provide a term by term list of objectives for your planned graduate program, including coursework, important goals for your research, data analysis, and writing and defence of the thesis.
- Figures, tables, other diagrams - should be presented on additional pages with legends. Only show figures that are referred to in the text. All figures and tables should be numbered and referred to by number in the text, and the source of material taken from the literature should be clearly identified in the legend. Figures and associated labels should be clear and legible.
- References - should be presented in full (no abbreviations other than initials and journal titles) and in a consistent format similar to a journal in your field of study. References should be identified in the text and presented in the list of references.
Scheduling and preparing for the thesis proposal examination
When a student anticipates readiness to submit and present their proposal to their thesis advisory committee, they should:
- Survey members of the thesis advisory committee for a suitable date and time, at least 6 weeks in advance of the planned examination.
- Complete the Pharmacy graduate studies meeting request form and submit to the administrative coordinator for graduate studies and research* at least 4 weeks ahead of the proposed date; if you did not sign up for the appropriate course (Pharm 601 or Pharm 616) during the course enrolment period, you should also complete and submit the Graduate Studies course drop/add form at this time.
- Create an IT ticket for day-of tech setup and support and to set up a training and testing session, at least 2 weeks prior to the proposal examination.
- Submit an electronic copy of the (written) thesis proposal to each member of the examination committee (normally the thesis advisory committee) and to the graduate coordinator, at least 10 business days ahead of the date of the proposal examination.
What to expect at the thesis proposal examination
The oral examination will take approximately 2 hours and should consist of a 25-30 minute PowerPoint presentation, followed by questions from the examination committee. Due to time limitations for the oral examination, it may not be possible to cover all aspects of the proposal in the presentation.
The question period will involve a first round of questions from the committee lasting 10-15 minutes per committee member, followed by a second round of questions in the same format but usually only 5-10 minutes each. Questions may be taken from the audience and the student's response to questions from the audience may be considered in the evaluation of the student.
Thesis proposal examinations are not ‘public’ in the same sense that thesis defences are and are not announced throughout the Faculty of Science. The administrative coordinator will inform pharmacy graduate students of upcoming proposal presentations so they may attend toward fulfillment of the thesis proposal course requirements. External friends and relatives are not permitted to attend.
Assessment of the thesis proposal
Assessment of the thesis proposal is twofold. The thesis proposal grading sheet is used to assess the written and oral components of the thesis proposal for the thesis proposal courses PHARM 601 (MSc) and PHARM 616 (PhD). The assessment of whether or not the standards of the proposal and of student progress in general are met is recorded on the thesis proposal examination report and reported to the Faculty of Science.
Thesis proposal grading sheet
The written proposal report and the oral presentation and discussion are each marked separately and independently by three or more committee members using the thesis proposal grading sheet. The final course grade is calculated by the averaging the total scores (total 100 marks) recorded by all examining committee members.
Thesis proposal grading scheme
|Written Proposal||50 marks|
|Oral Examination||50 marks|
Graduate thesis proposal examination report
The decision as to whether standards for the proposal and progress to date are met is made by the Committee, recorded by the Chair, and reported to the Faculty of Science on the graduate thesis proposal examination report. Committee members assesses the student's position by indicating 'excellent', 'satisfactory', or 'unsatisfactory', in the following areas:
- Understanding of the material: Candidate shows adequate depth and scope of knowledge for the current stage of the project.
- Ability to handle discussion: Candidate is able to understand the pitfalls and interpretation of the project.
- Research progress: Student demonstrates a general level of progress considering the complexity of the work and practical difficulties
Performance and standards of research concerning expectations for the degree level as well as they pertain to timely completion of the degree are indicated with a yes/no response. Any questions, concerns, difficulties or corrective measures required by the student must be recorded in the comments sections of the report; the committee must specify an action plan outlining what the student is expected to do by a specified date.