What are capstone courses?

Capstone courses are final-year research experiences. They are sometimes called Honours Thesis Courses or Honours Research Projects. Capstone courses consolidate knowledge and skills gained during your degree and challenge you to apply them to a specific area of research.

Other key features:

  • Worth 1.0 credit 
  • Two terms long (Fall + Winter OR Early + Late Summer)  
  • Should be completed in the final year of study  
  • Involve research with a faculty member in the Institute of Biochemistry 
  • Requires at least 8 hours of work per week 
  • Course assessment centres on a thesis and poster presentation 
  • No lectures, seminars, textbooks or tests 

There are two capstone courses to choose from:
BIOC 4907 Honours Essay and Research Proposal
BIOC 4908 Research Project

How is research different in BIOC 4908 and BIOC 4907?

In BIOC 4908, your research is conducted in a wet or computational lab setting. You carry out experiments to collect data, analyze and interpret data, and consider their meaning in the context of existing literature.

In BIOC 4907, your research setting is wherever your computer is. Your research is similar to the work that your professors do before  is entirely driven by published literature rather than collecting new data in the laboratory. You conduct an extensive literature review to identify research gaps in a particular field and propose new research to address those gaps in knowledge.

In both courses, you must describe your research in a thesis and poster presentation. If you enjoy being in the lab, you should register for BIOC 4908.

When should I start planning for my capstone course?

Planning your capstone course starts in the Fall term of 3rd year. Follow these steps and timeline.

Fall Term

  1. Explore research areas of faculty members in the Institute of Biochemistry
  2. Attend the Thesis Night Information organized by our student society
  3. Request meetings with faculty members to discuss opportunities in their lab

Winter Term

  1. Finalize arrangements with a supervisor
  2. Submit the Undergraduate Research Courses for Credit form
  3. If starting in Summer: register for BIOC 4907 or BIOC 4908 during the March registration period

Summer Term

  1. If starting in Fall: Register for BIOC 4907 or BIOC 4908 during the July registration period

Who can be a capstone course supervisor?

Supervisors can be any faculty member in the Institute of Biochemistry.  Adjunct professors in the Department of Biology and the Department of Chemistry may also act as supervisors. Working with adjunct professors may enable you to conduct research in labs outside Carleton University. You must, however, identify a faculty member within the Institute to act as your co-supervisor.

How do I secure a supervisor?

Students must show a good deal of initiative and persistence in finding a capstone supervisor. Your prospects for securing a supervisor will be enhanced if you follow the tips listed below:

  • Do your homework. Most faculty members are looking for students who can work on aspects of on-going research in their lab. Be familiar with a professor’s research before approaching them.
  • Be flexible. Your interests are important, but being flexible in your choice of lab will increase your chances of securing a supervisor.
  • Write an informative email. Professors may receive hundreds of emails per day. For your request to stand out:
    • Use a clear subject heading; e.g., Conducting a capstone project in your laboratory in [academic year]
    • Briefly describe your research interests, relevant courses you have taken related to this research area, and your performance in those courses
    • Ask for willingness to meet to discuss capstone course possibilities
  • Go prepared. When meeting with prospective supervisors, ask prepared questions about their research program, their lab group, and mentoring approaches. Bring a copy of your academic audit.

I secured a capstone supervisor. Now what?

As soon as you have confirmed a faculty supervisor, please submit the Undergraduate Research Courses for Credit form to confirm your interest. The completed form should be submitted to the Institute of Biochemistry Undergraduate Administrator via email (Biochem@carleton.ca) or in person in 209 Nesbitt Building.

Further Questions

Please contact the Institute of Biochemistry

Office: 209 NB
(613) 520 – 2600 Ext. 2478
Email: Biochem@carleton.ca