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MLWS Major Project
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SOIL 548
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SOIL 548 - Major Project


SOIL 548 (Major Project, 6 credits) is the capstone course for the professional Master of Land and Water Systems (MLWS) program. The academic expectation of SOIL 548 is a demonstration by the candidates that they can formulate and articulate a water or land resource concern or issue and develop a framework that analyzes the issue, provides a synthesis of how the issue may be addressed and provides recommendations for the resolve of the concern or issue. The analysis will consist largely but not exclusively of existing (published) information and integration with relevant field experience.

Each student enrolled in SOIL 548 will be co-supervised by both a UBC faculty member, and an approved adjunct or professional (drawn from the MLWS Professional Advisor Group). In all cases there will be a minimum of two supervisors/reviewers. The final mark will be set by the two reviewers and will be approved by the Director of the MLWS program.

The topic of the Major Project will be agreed upon by the Academic Coordinator and Director of the MLWS program, the student and the proposed supervisor(s). The SOIL 548 Major Project may be conducted at the site of the adjunct/professional supervisor’s employment/business location. If the project is off campus, the MLWS Academic Coordinator, Director, or designate, will ensure that the goals of the Major Project can be adequately conducted on-site.

Guidelines and Assessment

The Major Project will involve a final report and an oral presentation to fellow students and to members of the instructional staff of the MLWS Program. The report guidelines include the following sections:

1) Introduction, stating the subject matter of concern and a context of the issue,

2) a pertinent literature analysis and synthesis,

3) a problem statement and an outline of the approach taken to address the stated problem/issue,

4) results, analysis and synthesis,

5) discussion/summary and recommendations, followed by

6) pertinent references and literature cited.

Important: Students are encouraged to utilize online and digital technologies to present their final reports in creative, interactive ways. Examples include: creation of a website or blog and allowing comments/feedback from colleagues, using photo series/video to introduce different concepts, digital mapping, moving graphs, etc.

Evaluation Guidelines

Final Report (90%)

1. Context/Rationale/Significance 10
2. Goals and Objectives - definitions and explanation 10
3. Approach 20
a) Methods
b) Assumptions
c) Justification and explanations
4. Outcomes/Discussion 35
a) Depth (understanding of topic)
b) Accuracy
c) Limitations/Uncertainty
5. Conclusions and Recommendations 15
6. Overall presentation and Creativity 10

Oral Presentation (10%)

1. Clarity and Organization 15
2. Audience Attention (appropriateness) 10
3. Presentation Style (timing, voice, visual aids) 30
4. Originality/Creativity 25
5. Handling of Questions 20

Note: As we embark on a new venture in terms of both a requirement for a Major Project (Professional) and not a traditional thesis, as well as experimenting with untested formats, we will be encouraging innovations in the delivery of the final document. We wish to balance some general formatting requirements while still accommodating creativity. The final mark will be determined by the Supervisory Committee and recommended to the MLWS Program Director.

Timeline for Completion of SOIL 548

  • The title and issue/problem will be presented by the student in Term 1 (September-December) to the Director and Academic Coordinator of the MLWS program; appropriate co-supervisors will be assigned to and approve the project concept.
  • The candidate will prepare a draft outline of the project and a tentative time schedule for approval by project co-supervisors (cc MLWS Academic Coordinator and Director).
  • Upon completion of the project the candidate will, in consultation with the co-supervisors, prepare a draft project report as outlined above (Term 2, January-April).
  • Once approved by the co-supervisors, the candidate will prepare the final document for approval and oral presentation (Term 3, April-August).
  • The grade for the Major Project will be determined by the co-supervisors and approved by the Director of the MLWS program.
  • Potential communication or MLWS program problems will be considered by a specially appointed committee consisting of the Director, two UBC Faculty members agreed to by both the student and the co-supervisors.

Completed Student Projects