Capstone Project Proposal

In Year 3, all students will start working on their doctoral dissertation proposal, which will serve as a blueprint for the research work that the candidate intends to undertake for their PhD dissertation.

The proposal should:

  • Be 20-25 pages
  • Reflect the interdisciplinary nature of the program
  • Reflect on-going work with the supervisor
  • By the end of their third year (roughly early April in an academic year) students will submit their final, revised, capstone project proposal and bibliography to the Supervisory Committee and the GPD for approval
  • Roughly a month later the proposal should be approved by the Supervisory Committee and the GPD
  • Should be in accordance with, the Faculty Handbook section 3B:9.2: Graduate Research Proposals, as well as any additional procedures set by the graduate program.

The contents of the written proposal are to be determined by the committee. Minimally, it should include an introduction, literature review, outline of research questions and objectives, description of methodology and theoretical framework, and references. A supervisory committee may request that other elements be included as relevant to the project. The rationale for the project and hypothesis should be clearly stated.

During the composition of the capstone project proposal students are encouraged to meet informally with members of their Supervisory Committee to discuss and refine their ideas.  Students should expect to complete revisions on the proposal.  It is therefore advised that students circulate an early draft of the proposal in January of Year 3. When students have completed a final draft of their written proposal, the Committee will have an official proposal meeting with the student.

More than one official meeting of the Supervisory Committee may be required before a capstone project  proposal is approved. The student will make a short presentation and answer queries from committee members. The Supervisory Committee will then decide whether to approve the proposal or request revisions.

All committee members will read the proposal and discuss potential revisions in argumentation, required documentation or methodology with the student. When committee members are satisfied that the proposed project is viable, they will sign the Proposal Approval Form.  The Thesis Supervisor will then forward it to the GPD and the process delineated above will be followed for final approval. The student must inform the Supervisory Committee of any substantive changes to the project after the original proposal is approved.

In cases where the Supervisory Committee approves a proposal but the GPD has concerns about the quality of the proposal, the GPD will discuss those concerns with the student supervisor. If disagreement persists or if the GPD is concerned that there is no plan in place to address the shortcomings of the proposal, the GPD will consult with the Program Committee and assess whether to approve the proposal or not. The Program Committee may opt to

  • Approve the proposal as submitted
  • Approve the proposal as submitted and offer recommendations on how to address the concerns and successfully complete the project
  • Request revisions prior to approval
  • Not approve the proposal

The Programme Committee will notify the student and the supervisory committee of its decision in writing. The letter will delineate the reasons for the decision, provide suggestions for revisions if appropriate, and will set a reasonable deadline for the proposal’s resubmission for approval if appropriate. The revised proposal will be submitted to the Supervisory Committee and GPD who shall assess the proposal anew and in light of the requests for revisions. The process of approval/non-approval is the same as for the first submission of the capstone project proposal.