Honours Thesis (BIOL 4000)


Updated January 2014

Course Director: Dr. Samuel Benchimol
246 Farquharson Building


SC BIOL 4000 3.0

The 3.0 credit course is an in-depth critical literature review and/or research proposal that demonstrates the student’s knowledge and understanding of a topic. The thesis reviews the literature in a particular field or area of interest, identifies gaps or inconsistencies, and develops a specific hypothesis, argument or model. Students are encouraged to propose an experimental strategy to test the hypothesis (with clearly articulated possible outcomes and limitations). The thesis involves considerable self-directed work and must reflect critical thinking and analytical skills and an understanding of the scientific method. A strong thesis is built on carefully reviewing and analyzing the literature, and communicating clearly and professionally. The course concludes with an oral defense of the thesis. Typically students spend 4-6 hours/week preparing the thesis. (Some weeks you will need to put in more hours.) The 3.0 credit course is completed in a single term (Fall, Winter or Summer) under the supervision of a faculty member in Biology. There are no formal lectures.

SC BIOL 4000 8.0

The 8.0 credit course is a hands-on original research project (laboratory- or field-based) that includes a practical and written component as well as an oral thesis defense. This course provides 4th year undergraduate students with research experience in the Biological Sciences and provides an opportunity to enhance critical thinking, analytical and communication skills. The written component should describe the background relevant to the research project, the question(s) being addressed, specific aims, the methodology used, the results obtained, conclusions and a critical discussion and interpretation of the findings and their significance. Students are required to write clearly and concisely (with correct and appropriate grammar, spelling and referencing of materials), and to prepare accurate and clear figures/tables. The research project involves a significant investment of time and effort in the laboratory or field. Typically students spend 10-12 hours/week (although this is likely to depend on the nature and stage of the work). The 8.0 credit course is completed over two consecutive terms (i.e., Fall-Winter, Winter- Summer, or Summer-Fall) under the supervision of a faculty member in Biology. There are no formal lectures in this course.

Scheduling: BIOL 4000 3.0 is offered in Su, F and W terms and BIOL 4000 8.0 is offered in F/W terms, W/S terms and S/F terms.


Students in the Specialized Honours Program (Biology, Biomedical Science Stream, Biotechnology Stream) need to satisfy their degree requirements by completing BIOL 4000 3.0 or BIOL 4000 8.0.

BIOL 3100 2.0 is a prerequisite course for all students enroling in BIOL 4000 3.0 or BIOL 4000 8.0 in 2014 Fall. Students wishing to enrol in BIOL 4000 3.0/8.0 in the Fall 2014 semester must have completed BIOL 3100 2.0. There will be no exceptions.

The 3.0 and 8.0 credit courses are open to eligible Honours Biology students in their final year, with a BIOL GPA of at least 6.0. Eligibility is determined by the Biology Undergraduate Program Director (UGPD) who will confirm eligibility by signing the attached registration form. The form should be signed by the student, supervisor and advisor prior to submitting to the Biology UGPD.

To enrol:
1. Download and print the BIOL 4000 Honours Thesis Information Package 2014 here.
2. Find a supervisor and fill out the registration form (which is part of the information package) in consultation with the supervisor. You will need to have an advisor and a thesis topic listed on the registration form.
3. Bring registration form to UG office to be signed by the UGPD.