Honours Project FAQ

When should I begin the application process?

If you are applying to NEUR 4908 and haven’t yet made connections through volunteer positions or internships, you can use the presentation given in your 3rd year neuroscience class (typically mid-to-late September) as a benchmark. DEFINITELY start reaching out before the fall examination period because December is a short month at school and trying to secure meetings with professors in January could prove difficult and unrealistic in terms of meeting the application deadline.

Students applying to NEUR 4907 don’t need to meet with potential supervisors, so just ensure you give yourself enough time to complete the application without being rushed.

The online application can be initiated at any time and saved for future submission. Remember, just because there is a deadline date doesn’t mean you have to wait until then to submit! As long as your fall grades have been posted and you know you meet the prerequisites, you can submit your application. Just keep in mind that no matter how early you submit your application, decisions will not be made until after the deadline, when the committee meets in early February.

If I do not meet the minimum grade requirement, can I still apply?

No. You must satisfy this prerequisite at the time of application. If you do not, contact the Undergraduate Office to arrange a meeting with the Undergraduate Chair to discuss your options.

Should I repeat courses to meet the minimum grade requirement for NEUR 4908?

No. This is not recommended.

What kind of time commitment is required for each project?

You can expect to spend about 15 hours per week on either project, but due to the nature of the lab-based NEUR 4908, the hours are much less flexible. Students doing NEUR 4908 are often working under a graduate student, or along with other undergraduate students and volunteers, and the schedule of the experiments will ultimately determine time spent in the lab. Most lab work occurs between 9am and 6pm to comply with lab safety procedures, for which you must complete training, and you must follow the timeline of the research which can vary greatly from project to project. Outside of the lab is when you’ll be writing your thesis in successive drafts, to be reviewed by your supervisor prior to the final submission deadline.

If you have a job, are involved in extra-curricular activities, or have a very full and heavy course load and other commitments in your fourth year, you may want to consider NEUR 4907 because there is no lab training involved, and overall there is more flexibility as you are working on your own schedule even though you have to adhere to checkpoint deadlines as listed in your syllabus.

How are the projects evaluated?

NEUR 4905 has a variety of assessments, from group work to oral presentations and online projects.

For NEUR 4907, each student must write an original paper summarizing the findings of the literature review. This paper should be written in the Trends in Neuroscience’s format and be approximately 15-20 pages not including the abstract, references, tables or figure legends. To assure the highest quality work, you should plan to write your essay in successive drafts that are reviewed by your instructor. You will also be evaluated on multiple small written assignments throughout the year.

The main assessment for NEUR 4908 is the written thesis, however supervisors will also assess students on their performance in the lab, including the active participation in all aspects of the thesis process, including intellectual contributions into the design of the study, conducting a thorough literature review of relevant previous research, participation in collecting and analyzing data, assisting in statistical analyses, and considering the implications of the results. Finally, most students are expected to produce a poster for Undergraduate Research Day and supervisors may also evaluate students on the poster production and presentation.

To assure the highest quality work, you should plan to write your thesis in successive drafts that are reviewed by your supervisor. Writing quality of the thesis, as well as your supervisor’s assessment of the overall process of thesis completion, will be an important element in the evaluation of your final product.

The body of most lab-based theses (abstract, introduction, method, results & discussion sections) is usually 50 pages.

Who is eligible to supervise a NEUR 4908?

A supervisor can be a faculty member in the Department of Neuroscience, a faculty member affiliated with the Department, an Adjunct Professor or a researcher external to the University, as long as they/thesis topic are approved by the Department’s Undergraduate Chair. The topic of your project must be neuroscience, so if you’re looking outside the Department for supervisors and unsure if potential projects will be suitable, don’t hesitate to contact the Undergraduate Office for confirmation.

What is the best way to get a reference letter for post-grad education?

Professors of your second, third and fourth year courses of which you have an established rapport are an excellent starting place. Supervisors in volunteer or paid positions are also useful since many post-grad institutions require non-academic reference letters as well as academic ones. Keep in mind the best person to write a letter of reference in someone who has sound knowledge of your academic and personal abilities.

“Rumour has it…I heard from a friend…”

The Department of Neuroscience strongly urges all students to get information straight from the source – either the Undergraduate Administrator or the Undergraduate Chair. This also applies to other program information. Rules change from year to year and false information spreads quickly! Always speak directly to the unit offering the program/service to ensure the advice you get is accurate. There can be serious implications that impact graduation, and as much as the Department does what they can to assist students that have veered off course, there are some University regulations that cannot be changed.