Ph.D. Thesis Proposal

Ph.D. Thesis Proposal (BIOC 702)


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The Ph.D. Thesis Proposal is essentially a summary of the previous work and the future research that the student expects to carry out and eventually incorporate into a Ph.D. thesis. It is assumed that the Ph.D. Thesis Proposal will be a joint effort on the part of the student and the research supervisor, but that the student plays the major role in the writing and organization of the Proposal. The Ph.D. Thesis Proposal is to be presented before the GAC midway through the third year of graduate studies (normally held in May for those students admitted in September and December for those admitted in January).

Before a student’s proposal presentation is scheduled, it must be established that (a) the student has satisfactorily completed all course work required as part of his/her graduate program; (b) the Research Seminar 1 (BIOC 701) has been satisfactorily completed; and (c) a Research Advisory Committee (RAC) has been established for the student, its membership recorded in the student’s file, and a meeting has been held with the report on file showing approval to present.

The Research Proposal presentation includes both submission of a written proposal, and an oral presentation to the GAC, which includes an extensive discussion. The title of the proposal must be submitted to the Student Affairs Officer (SAO) five weeks prior to the oral presentation. The complete written proposal must be submitted to the SAO, a minimum of three weeks prior to the oral presentation, for distribution to the GAC.  The written proposal should not be more than five (5) single spaced pages describing the research progress to date, and proposed research for the Ph.D. thesis. An optional extra page indicating additional work in the research project not in the main proposal may be added to the written section, and must be clearly marked. It is recommended that the written proposal present the background, rationale, central hypothesis, specific aims and significance, and include short and long term objectives. A structure with three results chapters is common, but not required.

The oral presentation should be of not more than 20 minutes duration, and should summarize the written proposal. It is followed by extensive questioning of the candidate about the design, background and potential of the project. During their discussion, the student will be questioned about his/her general knowledge in areas of biochemistry and molecular biology that constitute the broad background for the research project.

In contrast to the presentation of Research Seminar I, the Ph.D. Thesis Proposal must include substantial preliminary experimental work. Students will be expected to be knowledgeable in the area of their research as well as related areas of biochemistry.

The GAC's evaluation will depend upon the student's performance during the examination and will be based on:

  1. Presentation, background knowledge and insight into the proposed research;
  2. Knowledge in related areas of biochemistry;
  3. Response to criticisms raised during the Research Seminar 1;
  4. Feasibility of the proposed experiments.

The research supervisor must be available for consultation after the examination. If the student's performance is judged unsatisfactory in point (4), or unsatisfactory overall, the research supervisor will be consulted. If the proposal is unsatisfactory overall, then the student will be asked to repeat the Research Proposal within six months. After a second unsatisfactory evaluation, the student will be asked either:

  1. To submit a Master's thesis and terminate graduate studies at this level.
  2. To withdraw from the program.


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