Theses and Directed Reading courses

The only students who should take the thesis or directed reading options are those who plan to go to graduate school after completing their Brock degree, or those who have a very keen interest in a particular topic and wish to do detailed research in that area.

You must be able to work independently and diligently in order to complete these courses. The upside of the thesis course is that you learn a good deal about your topic and you learn to produce a longer, more detailed piece of written work – usually around 50 pages. The Directed Reading course usually consists of shorter papers or another kind of project to be worked out with your supervisor.

The potential downside is that if you do not finish the Thesis or Directed Reading by the April deadline you may not graduate in June – often a problem for those who wish to enter graduate school in the Fall or be considered for Brock Scholarships. Because there are no formally scheduled classes for either of these options it is essential that you set aside time each week to work on the thesis. Schedule regular meetings with your supervisor, and make sure to be prepared for those meetings. Set deadlines with your supervisor and stick to them.

The thesis should be an original piece of research. It may be based on library research (e.g. a synthesis of a variety of approaches and ideas about a particular area or focus) or may involve the collection or generation of data (either quantitative or qualitative) and its subsequent analysis or interpretation.

The thesis must include:

  • a review of the relevant literature in the field (i.e. you must situate your research with respect to work that has already been done);
  • some discussion of methodology (i.e. the approach that you are taking and why); and
  • an evaluation/critical analysis of your own research contribution.

A major average of 80% is normally required before a thesis can be undertaken.

The student is responsible for all financial implications of the research and the preparation of the thesis.

Before you leave Brock at the end of your third year, you should set the thesis process in motion. Approach faculty members who you know to be interested in your topic and ask them to supervise your work. If you do not know who to ask, consult the Chair or Academic Advisor.

Remember that most faculty cannot supervise more than two students at a time, so get things going in the Spring.

Set up the grading scheme with the supervisor. There is some flexibility in allotting a percentage of the grade for the process and for the final piece of work itself. Make sure that you are clear on what is expected of you.

The department requires students planning to write a thesis or take a directed reading course to submit a proposal through their supervisor to the Academic Advisor for approval. Students may be asked to modify their proposal at that time. Students will not be able to register in these courses until the proposal has been approved. All proposals which involve dealing with human subjects must also pass a University Ethics Committee review before the project may proceed. This review process can take between 4 and 6 weeks, so the proper documents should be completed as soon as possible.

The completed thesis must be read by a second faculty member who recommends a grade and possibly some revisions to the supervisor who will then pass them on to the student. Normally the supervisor will choose the second reader in consultation with the student.

When the thesis is complete and marked by both the supervisor and second reader, the student will do revisions or corrections as necessary. The CPCF administrative assistant has a sheet explaining how the thesis should be formatted before it is submitted for binding. Clean copies should be given to the Administrative Assistant who will forward them to the Library to be bound. One bound copy must be submitted to the Department Chair. Binding is done by the library at a very reasonable cost, usually about $7.00 per copy.