Thesis/Capstone Courses – BIOL4905, 4907, and 4908

What are Thesis/Capstone courses, and how do these courses differ from a regular course?

On graduating with a B.Sc. Honour designation, you are expected to be a critical thinker (quantitatively, analytically, and in argument) and to be an effective oral and written science communicator.  Thesis/Capstone courses (BIOL4905, 4907, and 4908) are the ‘final assignment’, designed to prepare you for the B.Sc. Honours degree.

Thesis/Capstone courses are two-term courses (Fall & Winter, or Summer I and II).  As an Honours Biology student, you can register and complete only one of these capstone courses.  Independent to which capstone course you choose, you should plan on average 10 hrs/week towards your capstone course.  But which capstone course is right for you?

BIOL4905 Honours Workshop

  • BIOL4905 Honours Workshop is one of three capstone courses offered by the Biology Dept. BIOL4905 teaches critical thinking and effective oral and written communication skills through a series of class-based (i.e. Instructor-led) weekly, biweekly, and/or term-based assignments. These assignments explore the core elements of scientific writing, peer-review critiques, experimental design and statistics, oral/visual presentations, and media releases.  Some assignments are specifically skill-based; other assignments allow you to apply these skills to biological topics of your choosing.
  • Honours students should consider enrolling in this BIOL4905 Honours Workshop if you wish to focus on the process (thus more cross-disciplinary applicable) as compared to the topic. However, if you wish to focus singularly within a biological topic and gain transferrable hands-on literature-searching, field, or bench skills (important for Graduate school) then you should consider BIOL4907 or BIOL4908 instead.
  • Honours students who plan to take BIOL4905 need only to enroll through the normal university Registration Process – no further application forms are necessary.

BIOL4907 Honours Project

  • BIOL4907 Honours Project is a second capstone course offered by the Biology Dept. This BIOL4907 course approaches critical thinking and effective oral and written communication skills through an independent one-on-one (supervised by a faculty mentor) critical review and research proposal, using mostly library resources or pre-existing data.
  • Honours students should consider enrolling in this BIOL4907 Honours Project course if you wish to focus within a singular biological topic but without the hands-on field/lab experience.
  • Honours students interested in this BIOL4907 capstone course must first reach an agreement with a potential Supervisor (see below) and then complete the Project Proposal Form.

BIOL4908 Honours Thesis

  • BIOL4908 Honours Thesis is a third capstone course offered by the Biology Dept. This BIOL4908 course approaches critical thinking and effective oral and written communication skills through independent one-on-one (supervised by a faculty mentor) research undertaken in the field and/or the laboratory.
  • Students aiming for Graduate School should consider taking this capstone course as BIOL4908 embraces the research process from developing the research question, to planning the experimental design, collecting and analyzing data, writing a final paper, and presenting research findings.
  • Honours students interested in this BIOL4908 capstone course must first reach an agreement with a potential Supervisor (see below) and then complete the Project Proposal Form.

Finding a Supervisor (BIOL 4907/08)

To find a Supervisor for your BIOL 4907 or 4908 you need to start early (Supervisors are not required for BIOL 4905):

Who can Supervise – check the list!

  • Any Faculty member from the Department of Biology may supervise an Honours Biology student enrolled in BIOL4907 or 4908.
  • All Adjunct Professors may supervise an Honours Biology student enrolled in BIOL4907 or 4908.  Co-Supervision by a Biology Faculty is additionally required (discussed between you and your Supervisor).
  • Students may also approach external Faculty (non-Biology) or professionals outside Carleton, as a thesis supervisor, dependent on Departmental approval. Co-Supervision by a Biology Faculty is additionally required (discussed between you and your Supervisor).

Do your homework – start early!

  • We strongly recommend that you research Biology Faculty and Adjunct Professor profiles from the above list to identify potential Supervisors that similarly match your interests.
  • Reach out to your favourite/top-3 potential Supervisors. Introduce yourself, have an open and frank discussion about the possibility of you working under their Supervision for a BIOL 4907/08.  Identify what courses you should take to help you with the BIOL 4907/08, whether summer field work will be required, in short – overall expectations.  Potential Supervisors may request a copy of your transcript (unofficial copy).
  • Supervisory acceptance depends on several factors including availability (e.g., maternity/ paternity leaves, sabbatical), congruency between you and your Supervisor’s research interests, and for BIOL 4908 physical space availability, day-to-day oversight, and availability of necessary resources/specimens.
  • If a Supervisor agrees to supervise you for the BIOL 4907/08 then you need to complete and submit a Project Proposal Form.

If you are unable to find a Supervisor:

  • Expand your list from your top-3 potential Supervisors to include a top-10 (or more). Reach out to these potential Supervisors as well.
  • Consider enrolling in BIOL4905 instead.

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

Helpful Information and Tips:

Further Questions

Please contact the Biology Department

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