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Guidelines for Writing a Successful MSc Thesis Proposal

Dept. of Computer Science University of Manitoba

(Tuesday, February 27, 2007)

  • 1.

    Why are thesis proposals necessary? The purpose of having thesis proposals is threefold. First, it is to ensure that you are prepared to undertake the work that you are proposing. Second, it is to ensure that the work being proposed is of appropriate scope for an MSc degree and has value to the computing community. These first two points are designed to prevent catastrophic problems late in a student’s degree. Your proposal must ensure that these two points are clearly addressed so that the committee can approve your proposal. The third purpose of the submission and review of thesis proposals is to help guarantee the quality of the MSc program as a whole and, thus, the reputation of the department. It is this reputation that, in large part, determines the “value” of the degree you receive and this has an impact on your future options (e.g. employment and PhD program choices).

  • 2.

    What is the role of the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC)? In the MSc program, students do not have advisory committees as they do in the PhD program. In essence, the GSC acts as your advisory committee at the MSc level. This is done both to ensure uniformity of treatment between MSc students and to avoid the logistical problems associated with having to form many advisory committees (since there are many more MSc students than there are PhD students). The GSC is charged with ensuring that the three purposes of MSc proposals are met. That is, they must verify that your topic is sound and of appropriate scale, that you are prepared to do the work and that the work seems to be of interest to the Computer Science community and therefore reflects well on the Department of Computer Science as a whole. To ensure this, members of the GSC carefully read and review your proposal making comments intended to help you to address any perceived deficiencies in your proposal and/or proposed studies.

  • 3.

    What is the role of your advisor and of you, the student? The role of your advisor in the development of your thesis proposal is primarily to advise and proofread. Your advisor should, of course, guide you to a specific, well-defined thesis topic and will typically also suggest some initial background reading you should do. Your advisor may also suggest a structure to follow in writing your thesis proposal (if not, a structure suggested by the GSC is provided later in this document) and, at the MSc level, your advisor may also propose one or more potential solution strategies/methodologies for the work you will propose.

Last modified: 27/02/2007

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