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Undergraduate Thesis in
Food, Nutrition, and Health
FNH 499
Instructor: variable
Office Hours:
Class Schedule:
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion

Course Description

This course provides a means for individual students to undertake customized projects designed to provide an opportunity for students to develop and strengthen their research skills and to accommodate special research interests that cannot be met through other FNH courses. With prior approval, credit for FNH 499 may be accepted in lieu of equivalent credit for FNH 425 in majors where this course is required. Admission to FNH 499 is arranged through the undergraduate program advisor for the relevant major, and must be recommended by the faculty member who will be supervising the work that the student is to undertake. Students interested in FNH 499 should contact the undergraduate advisor for their major and the individual faculty member(s) with whom they are interested in conducting a project well in advance of the beginning of the academic term. For example, students should approach potential supervisors in summer regarding thesis projects to start in September. Opportunities for conducting projects are limited.

The work plan is arranged and agreed to by the student and the faculty member and should be set out in writing with a copy to the undergraduate advisor, as described in the "FNH 499 Thesis Proposal Assignment". The work will consist of a definable project requiring literature research, laboratory or field research, and a written thesis. A thesis proposal is due two weeks after the start of the term, and a brief progress report (1-2 pages) is expected from the student when approximately half of the experimental work has been conducted. Further details on the deadlines and requirements of the course are given below.


Students will be expected to spend approximately 40 hours of work per credit, or approximately 240 hours to this course. This includes time spent on literature search, design of experiments, experimental work, and the write up. A regular schedule of consultations should be pre-arranged between the supervisor and the student in order to monitor and discuss progress and time spent by the student on the project. The meeting time should form a regular entry on the timetables of both the student and the supervisor.

If the project is to be conducted totally, or in part, at a location other than UBC, the supervising faculty member will make appropriate arrangements for regular monitoring of progress and time. This may entail appointment of an onsite co-supervisor.

If the project is associated with a summer or part-time paid or volunteer position held by the student, care must be taken to ensure that any hours of work of the directed studies project are over and above those required of the related position. The supervisor must be satisfied that this requirement has been met. Normally, a minimum of 50% of the work required for the course must be conducted during the session in which the student is enrolled in the course. Exception to this requirement may be requested in advance where its application would result in a course overload, unnecessary delay in time to graduation, or the imposition of extra fees.

Deadlines for the Course

The following deadlines are suggested for students enrolled in FHN 499. The student and their supervisor must discuss and come to an agreement on deadlines at the start of the project.

Milestones May-Aug Schedule Sept - April Schedule
Submission of project title and name of supervisor to undergraduate advisor May 1 September 15
Thesis proposal May 15 October 1
Thesis progress report June 30 January 15
Experimental work completed August 1 February 15
Submission of thesis draft to supervisor August 14 March 15
Submission of final thesis copy to supervisor August 21 April 7
Oral presentation of thesis work Arranged with supervisor Arranged with supervisor

Responsibilities of the Supervisor

  • Selection of appropriate research project in conjunction with the student
  • Provision of suitable laboratory supplies and equipment to perform work
  • Providing guidance on experimental design, data analysis, and presentation of results
  • Scheduling of regular/weekly meetings with the student
  • Giving feedback on the thesis draft in a timely manner
  • Arranging for a second thesis evaluator and evaluating the student lab work and thesis write-up
  • Note: the role of the supervisor in the written report should be restricted to:
    1. Provide general recommendations regarding structure, development, and progression of ideas;
    2. Provide advice on the general format of the report, according to the guidelines, and the use of correct grammar, spelling, and sentence structure. The involvement of the supervisor should be limited to the first draft of the report.

Responsibilities of the Student

  • Make arrangements well in advance to work under the guidance of a faculty member as a thesis supervisor
  • Strict adherence to deadlines and guidelines for the course, as stated in this document and arranged with your supervisor
  • Submit copies of your project proposal to your project supervisor and the Undergraduate Advisor within two weeks after the start of the term via the course Connect website. The thesis proposal (2-4 pages) will consist of the following information:
    1. The aim or hypothesis of your project (the idea that you are testing)
    2. The significance of your project (why is it interesting or important), supported by relevant background information and literature
    3. The experimental approach you will use to test the project (the general procedures to be used)
    4. The potential problems or difficulties you might encounter in the project
    5. The timeline for the work (the date when specific steps or milestones will be completed, including the date of submission of the written thesis). The thesis proposal must be approved by the Undergraduate Advisor within the agreed upon date or you will be removed from the course.
  • Allocate appropriate time to this course over the two terms
  • Submit a brief (1 or 2 pages) progress report to the project supervisor and the Undergraduate Advisor. This report should state:
    1. Major accomplishments in the work to that time
    2. Major problems in the project
    3. Significant changes in the aim or approach for the project
    4. Remaining experiments that you expect to complete before writing up the final project report
  • Submission of two bound copies of the final thesis for evaluation.

Course Evaluation

For the purposes of determining a grade for the written thesis, evaluation will be conducted by the supervisor and at least one other faculty member selected from the program. Where feasible and necessary, a common standing review committee will be struck. Evaluation of the course will be based on the organization and conduct of the project work and the written report.

One suggestion for an evaluation scheme is given below. This scheme may be modified by the supervisor, and should be distributed to the student at the beginning of the project.

Lab Work: (45% weighting of final mark)

Evaluation Component Percent of grade
Initiative 20%
Technique 20%
Comprehension 20%
Organization, work habits, attention to safety/proper protocols 20%
Dedication and Perseverance 20%

Oral Presentation: (10% weighting of final mark)

Final Report: (45% weighting of final mark)

Evaluation Component Percent of grade
  • A concise summary of the report
  • No abbreviations used
Introduction, Statement of Objectives
  • Introduction of the research topic
  • Clear outline of the hypothesis, rationale, objective, and specific aims of the project
Literature Review
  • Showing depth and scope of the pertinent literature
Materials and Methods
  • Concise and explicit description of the experimental methods used
  • Detailed description of newly developed methods
  • Citation of appropriate references for methods not performed by the student themselves
  • Source of materials and chemicals used
  • Methods used for data analysis, if appropriate
  • Presentation of figures, tables, appendices where applicable, in a manner that is commonly used in research publications for the area
  • Inclusion of statistical significance of the data
  • Presentation of data solely generated by the student during the project
  • Demonstrating critical analysis of results and comprehension of subject area
Conclusions 5%
  • Citation of all literature referred to in the report
  • Consistent and appropriate format used
Clarity, grammar
  • Sentence structure, spelling
  • Overall organization

Thesis Write-up Guidelines

The following items are suggested as to the write-up of theses. For specific items, the Research Supervisor should be consulted. Also available for your consultation are copies of theses of previous classes.

Each thesis should contain, in the order given, the following sections:

  • Title Page: This page contains the title, author's name, a statement as follows: "A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in the Department of Food Science", and the date.
  • Abstract: This is a condensation of the contents of the thesis, usually 200 words or less, giving significant information in the report. It serves as a quick reference to determine if the thesis contains information a person is looking for.
  • Table of Contents: This should list all major and subheadings accompanied by the page on which they are found.
  • List of Tables: The table number, caption, and page on which it is found are listed.
  • List of Figures: The figure number, legend, and page on which it is found are listed.
  • Acknowledgements: This section expresses thanks and appreciation to individuals, institutions, or organizations that were particularly helpful in the carrying out of the thesis work. This section is optional.
  • Introduction: The introduction outlines to the reader the thesis subject, its importance, presents the specific problem of the thesis and indicates the nature of the investigation carried out.
  • Literature Review: This section generally outlines or discusses findings reported by others in books and journals, relating to and leading to the proposed investigation as related in the thesis.
  • Materials and Methods: This section should describe the experimental procedures employed and the equipment and facilities used, in a manner which would allow others to duplicate the work.
  • Results and Discussions: This section can be written as a combination of the two or as separate entities. The section relates the information, experimental data or observations resulting from the study, and describes the findings and what they mean are described logically, leading up to a set of conclusions. The format of tables and figures should be as in the Journal of Food Science.
  • Conclusions: This section reports the conclusions reached on the basis of evidence presented in the discussion. This may often be combined with a concise summation of results reported in the previous section.
  • References: This should be an alphabetical listing of authors of literature cited in the thesis. The format to be used for citing in the thesis body and listing at the end should be that of the Journal of Food Science.
  • Appendix: Appendices are repositories for details that must be recorded because they may be needed, but would slow the reader down unnecessarily if placed in the body of the thesis. Appendix materials must be referred to in the body of the thesis. Calculations, detailed analyses, and test figures are typically found in this section.

The thesis should be legibly typed or printed on good quality bond paper. The two copies to be submitted to the thesis advisor may be good quality photocopies. The copies submitted should be bound in suitable binders such as Duo-tang or Acco-press binders, or coil bound.

Grading Rubric for Thesis Oral Presentation

Please see course:FNH499/oralpresentation.