Honours Thesis Project (BIOC 4907/4908)

The Honors thesis project is an innovative aspect of the Biochemistry Honors Program that aim to further develop your critical thinking and independent research skills. A basic outline of the process to undertake your honors thesis.

Please find the Thesis Application Form in the link below:

Helpful Information and Tips:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a BIOC 4908 and how does it differ from a regular course?

BIOC 4908 Honours Research Thesis differs from other courses in several respects. It is a full credit course and therefore spans two academic terms (fall and winter or summer I and summer II). There are no required lectures, seminars, textbooks, tests, etc. Instead, you work under the supervision of a faculty member to select an area of research to study, design your study, carry out experiments, collect your data, analyze your data, and write up your results.  You should expect to spend several hours in the lab each week and at the end you will be required to produce a written thesis as well as a poster that you will present at the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

What is a BIOC 4907 and how does it differ from BIOC 4908?

BIOC 4907 Honours Essay and Research Proposal is similar to BIOC 4908 in that it is a full credit course and there are no required lectures, seminars, textbooks, tests etc.  The main difference between the BIOC 4908 and BIOC 4907 is that the BIOC 4907 does not involve lab work.  Instead you are expected to conduct an extensive literature review on a topic agreed upon with your Honours Thesis Advisor, write a comprehensive essay on this topic and write a research proposal discussing what question(s) should be researched next, why they are of theoretical importance, and what methodology you would follow to address the question(s). As with the BIOC 4908, you will meet with your thesis supervisor at each phase of your project to select a topic, examine key papers from the literature review and discuss the writing of your essay and research proposal.  Similar to a BIOC 4908 you will produce a comprehensive written document as well as a poster that you present at the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Should I take BIOC 4908 or BIOC 4907?

Students who are planning to go to graduate school should plan to take BIOC 4908.  Students who do not wish to carry out a lab based project or who cannot find a thesis supervisor for a BIOC 4908 should register for BIOC 4907.

When should I start looking for an Honours Thesis Supervisor?

You should start looking in the fall of 3rd year.  Spaces will fill quickly throughout the fall term and become scarce in the winter term.

Who can be an Honours Thesis Supervisor?

Thesis supervisors can be any member of the Institute of Biochemistry including both faculty and adjunct faculty members.  The list of eligible professors and adjunct professors can be found on the Institute’s web site.  Individuals outside the Institute of Biochemistry at Carleton, may act as supervisor, however, you must find a faculty member within the Institute to co-supervise.

How do I find a Supervisor?

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

  • Do your homework. Most faculty are looking for students who can work on some aspect of on-going research projects in their lab.  It is therefore best to be familiar with a professor’s research interests before you approach them. You can access faculty’s research websites through the link provided above.
  • Be flexible. Your interests are important but you will dramatically increase your chances of landing a supervisor if you are willing to be flexible in terms of your thesis project.
  • Write an informative email. Be sensitive to the fact that professors may be busy when you first approach them and include a subject heading in your email (e.g., Conduct an honours thesis research in your laboratory?). In your email, you should briefly describe yourself, your research interests, discuss relevant courses you have taken or will take that will provide you with a strong background in this research area, a brief overview of your grades to date, and ask whether they would be willing to meet to discuss honours thesis possibilities. Be sure to state the terms and year that you plan to conduct your thesis (i.e., summer 2017 or fall/winter 2017/18).
  • Go prepared. When meeting with potential advisors, make sure to bring a copy of your academic audit and come prepared with questions about their research program and how they mentor honours thesis students.

What do I do once I find a Thesis Supervisor?

As soon as you have confirmed a faculty supervisor, you should fill out the Undergraduate Project Proposal Form. The completed form should be submitted to the Undergraduate Administrator for Biology and Biochemistry via email (Biochem@carleton.ca) or in person in Biology/Biochemistry main office (Rm 209 Nesbitt Building).

How do I make a scientific poster?

A poster can be a great tool at a conference for drawing people into conversation and give the audience a visual representation of your work. It is important to have a well put together poster that is easy to read and can be eye catching. See the following link to view the dos and don’ts on making a scientific poster; do’s and don’ts of making a poster

Further Questions

Please contact the Institute of Biochemistry

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