For students who want to consider doing a thesis, the first step is to meet a range of faculty members to discuss the student’s own interests, the faculty members’ research, and the potential for doing a thesis.
Once the student has decided on a topic, s/he will need to ensure that a faculty member has agreed to be the thesis supervisor. The student should discuss financial support and establish an agreement with the supervisor about how this will be achieved; this should be detailed in writing and copied to the student’s file.
The decision to choose the thesis option should be made as soon as possible and no later than March 31 of the student’s first year of study. Note that funding (via scholarships, etc.) usually requires a minimum of 8-12 months between application and receipt of funding.
The below sections have a wealth of information on what you can expect from a thesis option program. The Faculty of Graduate Studies Handbook of Graduate Supervision is also an excellent resource for thesis students.
Thesis Supervisor and Committee
The thesis supervisor must be a full-time faculty member of the School of Population and Public Health.
The student and thesis committee members share responsibility to ensure that the student's program meets the requirements of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and the School, though final responsibility rests with the student. The thesis committee is comprised of a minimum of 3 members:
- thesis supervisor (chair), who must be a full-time faculty member of the School of Population and Public Health, and
- two other UBC faculty members (chosen in consultation with supervisor).
Thesis students who would like an Associate, Clinical or Adjunct Faculty member as a supervisor must have a co-supervisor who is a SPPH full-time faculty member. The full-time faculty member has the final decision-making power.
Course selection should be carried out in consultation with your supervisor, and your committee.
The thesis committee should meet at least twice a year to review the student's progress. Scheduling is the responsibility of the student. The student should provide a brief progress report to committee members one week prior to each meeting. The student should establish more frequent meetings with the thesis supervisor.
A student may change research supervisor and/or members of his/her research committee; notification of changes should be made to the MSc Program Director.
Thesis Research Proposal
The proposal is prepared by the student and submitted to the thesis committee for approval prior to the start of any substantial research work. Students are strongly advised to submit the research proposal by March 31 of the first year of study, in order to make graduation within 24 to 28 months feasible.
The proposal is typically 5-10 pages in length, with Introduction, Literature Review, Rationale, Objectives / Hypotheses, Methodology, and References. The proposal also can form an outline for the thesis and funding applications.
The thesis committee should meet as soon as possible, ideally before March 31 and no later than August 31 of the first year of study to approve the research proposal. A draft proposal is to be distributed to thesis committee members prior to its initial meeting. Once the proposal is approved, a written report, including a list of the committee membership, is prepared for inclusion in the student's file.
Thesis Annual Progress Report
At the end of each school year, all thesis students are required to complete the Thesis Annual Progress Report form. Please review the student-thesis supervisor checklist each year, to ensure you are on track.
For a printable version of the Progress Report form please click here
After completion of research work and prior to beginning to write the final thesis, the student must meet with the thesis committee to review the proposed contents and obtain the committee's agreement that the research phase is complete.
Consult the instructions for Masters Thesis Preparation and Submission, available from the Faculty of Graduate Studies to ensure that the thesis format meets University requirements.
MSc Thesis Oral Examination
- Members of the examining committee are normally proposed by the supervisor, and the final selection is approved by the MSc Program Director.
- The committee consists of a minimum of three members, with a minimum of two members of the supervisory committee, including the research supervisor, and an external Chair, who is a "core" SPPH faculty member.
- The student is responsible for scheduling defense in consultation with examining committee, and must inform the MSc Program Manager at least one week in advance, so that the time can be announced.
- If possible, the examination will be scheduled at a time that does not conflict with courses. This will allow interested SPPH faculty, staff, and students to attend.
- The time and location will be posted by the School, by email and on the home page of the website.
- The defense is public.
- It begins with a 20-minute presentation by the student, summarizing the research.
- This is followed by questioning for up to 1.5 hours, with the following order of questioning: examining committee, other faculty, students and others.
- The maximum duration is 2 hours.
Examination Grading and Conclusion
- After the examination, all but the examining committee members will leave the room.
- The examiners will grade the thesis on a pass/fail basis. The following items will be taken into consideration (note that interpretation is flexible - to recognize the wide range in topics and methods used in SPPH theses): complexity of work involved; contribution of thesis to the literature; the extent to which the work was the student's own vs. the supervisor's; logic, clarity of thesis; logic, clarity of presentation; ability to address breadth and depth questions during defence.
- The committee will accept and sign the thesis as is, or reach a consensus as to what further revisions are required prior to acceptance and signature.
- After completion of the thesis examination, the student must ensure that required examiners and committee members sign the final version.
- The Masters Thesis Approval Form must be signed by all committee members and the supervisor upon successfully passing. Form can be found here
- The student will supply one bound copy of the thesis to the thesis supervisor and the department. Check the Faculty of Graduate Studies Masters Thesis Preparation and Submission for the University requirements.
- For thesis submission deadlines for each term's graduation, see the Faculty of Graduate Studies Deadlines.
Recommended Time Line - Thesis Program
Year 1, Term 1:
- meet with faculty advisor and other faculty to choose supervisor
- begin searching for funding
- review Student-Supervisor Annual Progress Report and Ground Rules Checklist
Year 1, Term 2:
- finalize choice of thesis supervisor, supervisory committee
- develop research proposal [Students are strongly advised to submit the research proposal by March 31 of the first year of study]
Year 1, summer term:
- regular meetings with supervisor and thesis committee
- significant portion of research completed
Year 2, Terms 1 and 2:
- complete remaining courses
- regular meetings with supervisor and thesis committee; complete research
- meet Thesis Committee to review data and discuss draft of thesis
Year 2, summer term:
- draft of thesis submitted to Supervisor, normally returned in two weeks, iterative process until draft approved
- draft submitted to Thesis Committee
- meet with Thesis Committee to review draft of thesis
- examining Committee selected and exam scheduled
- examination copy prepared and sent to Examining Committee by student
- thesis defense
- signing of final thesis by Examining Committee
- submission of final thesis
UBC rules stipulate a 5-year time limit for completion of the MSc (including the time required for departmental defense revisions, and submission to the library).