The main component of your MSc studies is your dissertation. During your research, you, together with your supervisor will come up with a thesis. The end result of your program is then a dissertation that substantiates your thesis. You will also need to defend your thesis orally in front of an examination committee.

Graduate Seminars (CS 597 and CS 598)

The requirement of CS 597 (Graduate Seminar I) is a thesis proposal. The requirement of CS 598 (Graduate Seminar II) is a research report outlining your progress toward implementing your proposal. You choose when to write a proposal by choosing (in consultation with your supervisor) when you enroll in CS 597. We expect you to be ready for this pursuit in your third term in the program. CS 598 is normally taken in the term immediately following CS 597.

The thesis proposal is the first step towards your dissertation. Such a proposal should should lay the ground work for your thesis research by providing convincing arguments that the problem is worth solving and can be solved. It also provides a good yardstick against which you can measure your own progress or lack of it, and it helps you focus your energy when you feel you are waffling.

A thesis proposal in computer science should address at least the following six points:

  • Your thesis i.e., a statement of the problem and why it should be solved.
  • Reference to and comments upon relevant work by others on the same or similar problems.
  • Your ideas and insights for solving the problem and any preliminary results you may have obtained.
  • A statement or characterization of what kind of solution is being sought.
  • A plan of action for the remainder of the research.
  • A rough outline of the dissertation itself.

Naturally, neither your supervisor, nor the university, nor your examiners are going to hold you to the details presented in the proposal. The nature of research is that it provides the biggest surprises to those who are most strongly convinced of some fact or idea. Nevertheless, a candidate who is unable to answer the six points above is not ready to embark on the work, let alone follow it, control it, adapt it and force it to some kind of conclusion.

The progress report is a small document that provides a brief outline of the investigation you just started. The role of this report is to make sure that you have started your graduate research on the right foot.

Production and submission of proposals and reports

Both the thesis proposal and the progress report must be typeset in LaTeX using the bureport document class. Refer to the bureport.cls file itself for documentation on how to use this document class and to our LaTeX resource page for more help with LaTeX. Do not use ornate type styles anywhere in your documents. Italics may be used only for emphasis or where appropriate (e.g. scientific names).

Your proposal should be a technical document. It should include a problem statement (what is your research question and why is it worth answering), a literature review (a survey of the related work performed by other people), and your methodology (how do you plan to approach a solution to your research question). Your proposal would be typically 10 pages long excluding references. You should approach the proposal strategically so that you can reuse the vast majority of this manuscript in your thesis.

The progress report is a brief outline of the progress in your graduate research. Include a description of the challenges encountered and the deviations from your proposal if any.

Submit your proposal and progress report typeset to PDF to the graduate coordinator. The proposal must be submitted by the last day of classes (before the exam period) of the term in which you are taking CS 597, and the progress report must be submitted by the last day of classes of the term in which you are taking CS 598. Failure to submit either document in time will result in a failure in CS 597 or CS 598 (as the case might be), which in turn may result in you being asked to withdraw from the program.

Dissertation (CS 599)

The end result of your program is a thesis, which must be appropriately defended in your dissertation. While not as original as a PhD dissertation or journal paper, your dissertation must include nonetheless a reasonable original contribution to the body of knowledge. Additionally, the dissertation is a paper that presents a coherent account of a unified research project rather than a collection of results. Therefore your dissertation must present your original research along with the context of that research, including a critical review of previous work and an extensive literature review. A dissertation must be expressed in a satisfactory literary form consistent with the discipline and display a scholarly approach to the subject and a thorough knowledge of it. You are the sole author of the paper.

A Master’s dissertation may be organized in a variety of ways. While the optimal organizational form differs depending upon the author and the nature of the project, it should follow the following general structure:

  • Abstract (not more than 350 words)
  • Co-Authorship (if applicable)
  • Acknowledgments
  • Table of Contents (including bibliography, appendices, etc.)
  • List of Tables (if applicable)
  • List of Figures and Illustrations (if applicable)
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Literature Review
  • Chapter 3 to n: Body of Dissertation
  • Chapter n+1: Summary, Conclusions
  • Bibliography or References
  • Appendices

Publication or acceptance for publication of research results before presentation of the dissertation in no way supersedes the University’s judgment of the work at a thesis defense.

Production and submission of dissertations

Dissertations must be typeset in LaTeX using the buthesis document class. Refer to our sample thesis (typeset to PDF) to start your manuscript, or to the document class file itself. Also, check out our LaTeX resource page for more help with LaTeX. Do not use ornate type styles anywhere in your manuscript. Italics may be used only for emphasis or where appropriate (e.g. scientific names).

Dissertations must be carefully proofread so as to eliminate all typographical errors and mistakes in spelling or grammar before submission for examination. Dissertations that are rendered obscure or difficult to read because of such errors are unacceptable for examination and may be returned to the candidate for correction and resubmission.

The dissertations must be submitted to the graduate coordinator typeset to PDF. The graduate coordinator together with your supervisor will set up an examining committee. The committee will let you know what are the next steps.