COMP 5905: Masters Thesis

According to the Carleton Graduate Calendar, the Master’s Thesis should exhibit competence in the research process by applying an existing body of knowledge in the critical analysis of a new question or a specific problem or issue in a new setting. On the basis of that conceptual understanding and methodological competence, it should demonstrate at least one of the following: the development and support of a sustained argument in written form or originality in the application of knowledge. All contributions must be clearly identified in the initial chapter of the thesis (and ideally summarized in the Abstract and in the conclusions of the thesis). Any form of plagiarism makes the thesis unacceptable. All claims, particularly those pertaining to the originality, significance, correctness, and validation of the results, must be supported (through proper argumentation, formal proofs, references, etc.). Scholarship, that is an in-depth understanding of the published state-of-the-art in the relevant research field, must also be demonstrated. For this purpose, a section or chapter summarizing and discussing the state-of-the-art and a detailed bibliography are recommended. Throughout the thesis, all writings and works of others must be properly identified and referenced. Plagiarism of any sort (e.g., in the form of unreferenced paraphrasing or quoting) constitutes a serious academic offense. The Thesis Supervisor(s) have the right to refuse a thesis that does not meet the standard of quality discussed above or is poorly written (i.e. formatting or English grammar and spelling). It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that a well-written and grammatically correct thesis is submitted on time.

Full-time students should have the Selecting an MCS Thesis Supervisor form completed no later than the end of the second term of registration, part-time students no later than the end of the fourth term.

A thesis must be submitted and successfully defended at an oral examination within the time limits of the program. The expected completion time for the Master’s program is six terms from the initial registration (eight for the Co-op Option). A thesis can only be submitted after all the other program requirements are satisfied. Each student is responsible for ensuring that they have satisfied all the other program requirements. Once registered in COMP 5905, a student must maintain continuous registration until completion. Failure to do so may result in a loss of status as a graduate student.

There are numerous links to follow to grasp various aspects of a Master’s Thesis. The SCS follows the rules, guidelines, procedures, requirements, deadlines, academic integrity, formatting instructions of theses, including citations, illustrations, title page, abstract, summary, etc., as set out by the FGPA. These can be easily found by following the appropriate links on the FGPA websites under Thesis Requirements. Please bookmark that link – you must visit it and keep doing so until you defend your thesis! There are some additional sets of procedures followed in our school, and they will be detailed here. There are many relevant and very popular workshops which are organized by FGPA to assist you in writing and presentation of research. Please make use of these workshops.

For details on the Thesis Examination, it is best to consult the Thesis Examination Policy and Thesis Policy Forms on the FGPA website. The material here is adapted from these documents in the context of our school.

Note that in Computer Science, it is often the case that the Thesis will include some published articles by the student, and there may be co-authors associated with these publications. Carleton has a fairly detailed Integrated Thesis Policy, and if your Thesis may have such content, it is best to refer to Section 12.4 of General Regulations of the Graduate Calendar.

Thesis Submission: The candidate informs the Thesis Supervisor(s), Graduate Director, Graduate Administrator, and the SCS Director of the date they intend to submit their thesis. This notice shall be given two weeks in advance of the submission date. The student is expected to submit an electronic copy (and hard copies depending on the requirements of the Examination Board members) of the Thesis at least four weeks in advance of the actual date of the examination of the thesis. Students are also required to agree to the Academic Integrity Statement when uploading their thesis. The candidate submits an electronic copy of their thesis to their Thesis Supervisor(s) at least 4 weeks before the date of the defence. Very recently, FGPA has started a pilot project to automate some of these steps. Therefore, please consult Electronic Thesis Deposit. The student must upload the examination copy of the thesis and some relevant forms, and then the Thesis Supervisor, Graduate Director, SCS Director, and the Dean of FGPA are asked to sign off electronically.

Constitution of the Thesis Examination Board: Membership of the Examination Board includes

  • Preferably an OCICS Member from the University of Ottawa. This may be substituted by a faculty member from Carleton outside the School of Computer Science (justification is required)
  • An SCS OCICS Member
  • Thesis Supervisor(s)
  • A Chair (SCS-OCICS faculty member familiar with rules and regulation of FGPA)

The Thesis Supervisor(s) schedules the examination and recommends membership of the thesis examination board using the Scheduling an MCS Thesis Defence form. The Thesis Supervisor submits this form, along with an electronic copy of the Thesis to the Graduate Administrator, at least four weeks prior to the date of defence.

Examination Preparation:
Upon receiving the Thesis, the Academic Integrity Statement, and the Scheduling of the MCS Defence form, the Graduate Administrator seeks the approval of the Thesis Examination Board from the Graduate Director and the Director (SCS). Once approved, the Notice of the Examination indicating the membership of the board, time, date, and location of the Examination is prepared by the Graduate Administrator, and the Examination is formally scheduled. The Graduate Administrator circulates the electronic copy (and hard copies, if required) of the Thesis to the members of the board, a copy of the Committee Member Thesis Defence Authorization Form, and a copy of the Notice of the Examination. All members of the Board must receive the Thesis and other documents at least three weeks in advance of the date of the examination. Furthermore, an electronic copy of the Thesis along with the Notice of Examination is also forwarded to Dean FGPA. The Dean must receive a copy of the Thesis and the Notice of Examination at least two weeks in advance of the date of examination.

The Examination: Please consult the document on Thesis Examination Policy for a very detailed overview of how the whole examination runs. This includes an in-camera session, the oral presentation, two rounds of questioning on the thesis, closing statements by the student, deliberations on the grades for Thesis and Oral Examination, and the outcome. Note that the outcome of this examination is whether the Oral Defence is Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory; whether the Thesis is Accepted, Acceptable after minor revisions, Acceptable after major modifications, or Rejected; and whether the Thesis grade is Pass with Distinction, Satisfactory, or Unsatisfactory. Please consult the Thesis Examination Policy document to understand what these grades mean.

Final Submission: Thesis and Oral grades have further implications in terms of the submission of the final copy of the Thesis. Eventually, when the Thesis is ready after addressing all the minor and/or major changes, as required by the Examination Board, the student uploads the Thesis to Carleton Central for approval by the Thesis Supervisor(s). Once the Supervisor(s) approves the Thesis, it is forwarded to FGPA. If FGPA determines that the student has fulfilled all the requirements of MCS, FGPA transfers the Thesis to the Carleton Library and recommends to the Senate through the Faculty Board of Graduate Studies that the degree be awarded to the student. Please do refer to the document on Thesis Examination Policy for all the logistics.