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It is your responsibility to do the necessary background reading to be able to clearly and concisely summarize the work related to your proposal. You must ensure that this summary is complete and that all work discussed in it is relevant to your proposal. Your proposal should be written by you (with your advisor’s input if you want it). Your advisor should proofread what you write and may suggest changes in everything from structure to grammar and spelling. It is your responsibility to make these changes. Typically, the process of refinement and review is iterative. Your goal is to take your advisor’s advice and incorporate it to ensure that your proposal document is as close to perfect as possible. Please resist the urge to submit a proposal before it has been carefully reviewed by your advisor. Remember that review by your advisor is always faster than review by the GSC, which typically takes up to a month from time of submission until you have the report returned to you. Multiple reviews of your proposal by your advisor prior to submission is the norm.

Ultimately, what goes in your proposal is your decision and responsibility though your advisor should assist you in putting it together. Do a good job and take pride in your proposal document. Remember that the quality of your proposal reflects on both you and your advisor and that the GSC will not hesitate to reject a poorly prepared or incomplete proposal and certainly will not accept a proposal until they feel that it is complete, clear and free of presentation problems.

4. What should be in your proposal?

According to the rules of the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS), your thesis must show “mastery” of your selected area of study. (Note that, at the MSc level, it is not necessary to do any original research, though doing some is normal practice within the Department of Computer Science.) Above all else, the topic you describe in your proposal, as well as your presentation of that topic, should also reflect such mastery. The most immediate effect of this is that your proposal must be a complete, self-contained description of your proposed work. Any important details omitted will argue to the GSC against your having mastery of the area. Having said this, the committee realizes that, at the stage of a thesis proposal, it is not possible to have reviewed all background material (and thus have perfect mastery) nor is it possible to be able to present all the details of your proposed work. The GSC will, however, look to see that you have covered reasonable breadth in your review of the area, that your solution methodology is clear and well thought out and that you therefore give the committee confidence that you will have mastery by the time you complete your thesis.

Key components of your thesis proposal include:

  • An abstract of the proposed work

  • A clearly specified problem statement (where “problem” is taken in the broadest sense)

  • An introduction to the problem and your proposed solution

  • A review of related work describing how it relates to your proposed work (this review is not intended to be exhaustive but rather representative of existing work in the area)

  • A statement of how you propose to solve your problem including sufficient methodology to convince the committee that your proposed solution is likely to be successful

  • A description of precisely how you will evaluate the success of your work

Last modified: 27/02/2007

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