MA Thesis Proposal Guidelines

MA Thesis Proposal

Working closely with the supervisor, the student formulates a tentative set of research questions relevant to a specific topic within the chosen field and writes a thesis proposal (7-10 pages maximum, double-spaced).  These are general recommendations.  Each thesis is unique; hence this model is flexible.
The prinicpal aim of the thesis proposal is to articulate and refine the research questions from the student's working hypothesise: i.e. the tentative answers to the research questions.  The working hypotheses will later be confirmed or modified or replaced in light of the evidence collected during the research process.

The thesis proposal must contain the following sections:

  1. Introduction: defining the topic within the field
  2. Literature Review: charting previous scholarship on the topic
  3. Research Questions: establishing the originality of the thesis project
  4. Theoretical framework: analysis of the main theoretical concepts in relation to topic
  5. Methodological Approach: outlining the specific ways in which the materials will be chosen and analyzed
  6. Chapter Outline: describing the way the thesis will be organized in terms of its chapters
  7. Bibliography: listing the main primary and secondary sources
  8. Tentative Calendar: timeline showing how the student will proceed to the actual necessary research, data collecting, analysis and writing of the thesis
  9. Status of Ethics Approval: if you plan to work with human subjects (even if this only involves interviews) you must provide a statement regarding the status of your ethics application.

NOTE: The thesis proposal is not an actual excerpt from the thesis.  It is an informative "pitch" designed to convince the supervisor and members of the Graduate Committee
(1) that the thesis project is feasible in the allowed time;
(2) that the structure of the argument is logical; and
(3) that the MA candidate is prepared to produce a solid work of scholarship in the chosen field.

The recommended time for completing of the thesis proposal is the end of the second term.  After revisions for form and content have been completed to the satisfaction of the supervisor, the student submits a Word document of the thesis proposal to the Graduate Chair.  Approval of the thesis proposal by the Graduate Committee must be obtained before the student embarks on the writing of the thesis. 
The Graduate Chair will appoint two faculty members who will have a month to read and comment on the proposal.  They will read through the proposal to provide the student with constructive critical feedback on the thesis project.  The committee might consider to comment on the strenghts of the proposal, point out problems in the argument, seek clarification of murky terms, question the aptness of the methodology, express doubts about the projected conclusions, suggest additions to the bibliography, etc.  The committee sends their comments back to the Graduate Chair who will communicate with the student.
If this scheduling advice is followed, the student will have a good stretch of time in which to write, revise, and defend the MA thesis.