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Athabasca University

2. Thesis Route

All candidates in a thesis route shall present a document embodying the results of their research. The thesis should reveal that the student is able to work in a scholarly manner, and is acquainted with the principal works published on the subject of the thesis. The thesis research should make a contribution to knowledge in the field, or a significant contribution to a problem in a particular area.

The thesis proposal and the final thesis must be written according to a standard style acknowledged by a particular field of study and recommended by the academic unit. Refer to “Format  for Theses and Dissertations ”.

For a diagrammatic overview of the Master’s program and of the Final Thesis and Oral Examination, see Figure 1 and Figure 2.

An overview of the timelines for the completion of the forms can be found at Timelines for Forms for Master’s Thesis Route Program (PDF - 104KB).

2.1 Thesis Proposal

Each student is required to develop a written thesis proposal in their chosen field of study. The thesis proposal is developed under the mentorship of the supervisor and the supervisory committee.

2.2 Thesis Proposal Oral Examination

The supervisor and the supervisory committee must formally approve the thesis proposal at an oral examination. The supervisor chairs the oral examination. An email from the supervisor notifying FGS of the oral examination and that all committee members have indicated the proposal is ready for the oral examination is normally sufficient. FGS can then provide the supervisor with the necessary materials for the conduct of the oral examination. If a Proctor is needed, then FGS will make those arrangements.

The student conducts a formal presentation of the proposal to the committee within a closed session (no one besides the student, the supervisory committee, and the Dean, FGS are allowed to be present). The presentation is followed by an oral examination, in which the committee will ask questions related to the proposal, raise questions or issues the student may anticipate in conducting the research, and determine whether the student is adequately knowledgeable in the proposed research area to proceed with the thesis research. The conduct of the oral examination component must follow the guidelines for Oral Examinations for “Master’s Thesis Route and Doctoral Programs”.

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2.3 Adjudication of the Proposal and Oral Examinations

The decision shall be that of the majority. Each committee member, including each co-supervisor holds one vote. If a decision cannot be reached, the supervisor’s report should record the recommendation of each committee member on the “Master’s Thesis Proposal Oral Examination Report, which is submitted to the FGS, who will determine an appropriate course of action. Normally, one of the following outcomes of the examination must be recorded on the form: Pass; Resubmit with Revisions; Fail; Adjourned, Repeat Oral.

In the case where the examination committee recommends an adjournment or resubmission, the student is given a second opportunity for the oral examination or review of the revisions. At the second attempt, the oral examination and proposal must be rated as a Pass or Fail. Under extraordinary circumstances, the student may obtain an Adjourned, Repeat Oral on the second attempt.

If the recommendation is a Fail, consultation with the FGS will be required. Depending upon the reason for the Fail, the committee may recommend to FGS that the student be allowed a second attempt at the oral examination or proposal. If the FGS agrees with this recommendation, at the second attempt the examination committee must select one of two adjudication categories, Pass or Fail. Any student who receives a Fail at the second attempt is required to withdraw from the program with a Fail appearing on the transcript. Under extraordinary circumstances, the student may obtain an Adjourned, Repeat Oral on the second attempt of an oral examination.

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2.4 Adjudication Categories and Procedures for the Proposal and Oral Examination

Pass

The oral examination and proposal are approved. The proposal may or may not require minor revisions or modifications.

Procedure:

All committee members indicate their decision on theMaster’s Thesis Proposal Final Report form.

The supervisor may decide to withhold their signature until the revisions/modifications have been made, and should indicate that on the form.

Resubmit with Revisions

The revisions to the proposal are sufficiently substantial; e.g., major revisions of sections are required.

Procedure:

  • Specify in writing to the student, with as much precision as possible, the nature of the deficiencies and the extent of the revisions required. It must be clear to the student what will be required to obtain a Pass.
  • Decide upon a date by which resubmission of the proposal to the committee must occur. The final date set for resubmission shall be no later than three months from the date of the initial examination.
  • Specify the supervision and assistance the student may expect from the committee members while performing the required revisions.
  • The Master’s Thesis Proposal Oral Examination Report” should be submitted to the FGS, with the results of the adjudication, reasons for the resubmission, and recommendations for further action.

Fail

The student did not demonstrate an adequate knowledge in their proposed research area during the presentation and/or oral examination. The proposal itself is unacceptable; e.g., poorly written, does not adequately address the literature in the research area, or contains other significant omissions.

Procedure:

  • The supervisor verbally provides the student with the reasons for the Fail immediately after deliberations.
  • The supervisor shall provide written reasons for the Fail to the student within two working days. The nature of the deficiencies must be specified with as much precision as possible in the written report.
  • Depending upon the reason for the Fail, the supervisor and committee may recommend to FGS that the student be allowed a second attempt on the oral presentation, or a final resubmission of the proposal. It must be made clear to the student what will be required to achieve a Pass, and the supervision and assistance the student may expect from the committee members in performing the required revisions.
  • The “Master’s Thesis Proposal Oral Examination Report should be submitted to the FGS as soon as possible after the deliberations, containing the signatures of the members, the distribution of the votes, the reasons for the Fail, and recommendations for further action.
  • The Dean, FGS, may arrange to meet with the student and the committee before acting upon the committee’s recommendation.

Adjourned, Repeat Oral

The presentation and examination should be adjourned in compelling, extraordinary circumstances.

Procedure:

  • The supervisor will confer with the student, the supervisory committee members, and FGS to determine an appropriate course of action.
  • The “Master’s Thesis Proposal Oral Examination Report should be submitted to the FGS, outlining the outcome of the oral examination and tentative plans for a second attempt.

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Updated July 19 2017 by Student & Academic Services

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