Finding a Supervisor | Prospectus | Sample Chapter | Writing Tips | Formatting | Submitting the Thesis

So you’re ready to write the dissertation! Now what? Writing the dissertation can seem like a complicated process but we’re here to help with all the information you’ll need to make your way through the steps.

Finding a Supervisor

Step one is to find a supervisor and second reader in your area of research who are willing to supervise you. It’s recommended that you meet with them before asking them to supervise to get a sense of whether or not you will work well together. Supervisor relationships are very important, so consider carefully. You may want to get in contact with your potential supervisor’s other/previous students to find out what they are like as a supervisor, what their feedback is like, how long they take to read things, etc. Once they agree to supervise, you will need to make the relationship official. Talk to Leanne about how to do this.

From SGPS: Graduate Supervision Handbook


Now that you have a supervisor, the next step is to complete your prospectus. The prospectus a short document (750 words) outlining what you project will be. It should be completed in close consultation with your supervisor and it will be submitted to the Committee on Graduate Studies via the Graduate Assistant (Leanne) by June 25 of your second year. This comes up quickly after your comps (which are usually in May), so it is best to start thinking about your project early. Don’t panic though if you don’t have everything figured out. Your supervisor will be a lot of help, and once comps are over deadlines become more like guidelines to keep you on track.

From the department: Prospectus guidelines

Sample Chapter

The next step is the “sample chapter.” The sample chapter needs to be at least 25 pages long (do yourself a favour and stick close to that) that will demonstrate what your dissertation will be like and is due 6 months after your qualifying exams (probably October of year 3). Again, this is a guideline to keep you on track. You should work closely with your supervisor to see where they think you should start. But remember, it doesn’t need to be a fully-realized chapter, just a 25-page sample of one. Some context: the sample chapter replaced the earlier requirement of a “field study” which was an overview of your chosen topic and could help to later form part of the introduction of your dissertation. Some students decide to start with part of their introduction to similarly get a feel for their field, but this is no longer a requirement. You can start wherever you like as long as your supervisor agrees.

From the department: Sample Chapter guidelines