Research Project

CHEM 4902/4903

If you are interested in the Honours Program or would just like more information, please contact your regular chemistry advisor. Information about the Honours research project (CHEM 4902/4903) can be obtained by contacting the project coordinator:

Fran Cozens
Room 410, Chem Bldg

Honours and Chemistry Major Research Project.

Students registered in the BSc Chemistry Honours program are required to engage in a full year research project (CHEM 4902/4903) under the supervision of a member of faculty in the Department of Chemistry at Dalhousie University. A list of participating faculty and their projects is published annually. CHEM 4902/4903 is also accessible to students registered in a Combined Honours program involving Chemistry, as well as students registered in the BSc Chemistry 20 credit major program.  The 4902/4903 research project must begin in September and end in April of the school year. Students registered in a research project class are expected to commit time equivalent to “other advanced, laboratory-based courses in chemistry”. This translates into a minimum of 8 hours per week devoted to the project. However, most students will dedicate more time, exceeding 10 hours per week.


All students engaged in either the Honours and Major Research Project (CHEM 4902/4903) must first identify a research supervisor who is a faculty member of the Department of Chemistry and who normally works on campus. Students may also identify a supervisor elsewhere, though they must also identify a resident faculty member in the Department of Chemistry who is prepared to co- supervise the project. Selection of project supervisors is normally performed in the spring preceding the beginning of the project, and involves interviewing various faculty members of the department. The choice of supervisor selection is left to the student, though the supervisor must also agree to accept the student. It should be noted that the number of available spots for a given faculty member may be limited.

Click here for the Supervisor Selection Form [PDF - 266 kB]


CHEM 4902/4903 students are primarily graded through the submission of written reports, as well as an oral presentation and defence of their research, taking place at the end of the fall and winter terms (plus an initial research proposal at the onset of the project). Project supervisors also evaluate the student’s research performance, based on their industry, contribution, and initiative. These evaluations occur on three separate occasions throughout the academic year. A detailed breakdown of the grading assessment is as follows:

Fall Grading Scheme

Initial research proposal   5%

Supervisor midterm evaluation  


Supervisor fall evaluation  


Fall report  


Fall oral presentation & defence 10%

Winter Grading Scheme


Supervisor final evaluation


Final report  


Final oral presentation & defence  


Initial Research Proposal

This constitutes a 4-page (max) summary of the project to be conducted. The proposal contains a brief description of the area of study, including citation of relevant literature (5-10 references max, outside the page limit), a statement of the research objectives, general summary of methods, and anticipated significance of the work. The proposal is to be written by the student, with comments and edits provided by the supervisor, and communicated at a level appropriate to the knowledge of other 4902/4903 students.

Fall Research Report and Oral Presentation

Students registered in CHEM 4902/4903 are required to prepare a written report based on their research thus far, to be submitted at the end of the fall term followed by an oral presentation open to the Department of Chemistry near the last days of fall term.

The fall report generally takes on the form of a research manuscript, appropriate to the field of study in which the research was conducted. The main body of the report shall be no longer than 20 pages in length (double- spaced; 6 lines/inch (12 point); one inch margins all round), including diagrams/ tables/ schemes which are embedded within the main body of the text (full page diagrams/ tables extra). The main body of the report

presents an introduction to the topic of the project, the proposed research project and objectives, an explanation of methods chosen to achieve the objectives, a detailed experimental section, and a presentation of the research results with discussion. Appropriate references must be included at the end of the report, with format consistent to the field of study. In addition to the main body, the report also includes a title page, abstract, acknowledgements, and table of contents, including lists of figures, tables, equations and schemes, as well as a glossary of terms which may be unfamiliar to the general chemist.

A sample research report is provided to the students at beginning of term, which assists with the proper formatting. Supervisors are encouraged to take an active part in the preparation of this preliminary research report in order to show the students how such reports are prepared and written, and should convey any deadlines for submission of ‘draft’ reports to the respective students. A PDF of the report should be submitted electronically to the Honours/Majors coordinator by the indicated deadline. The oral presentation will normally be of 12 minutes duration with 8 minutes for questions. The designated reader of the report will ask the first question(s).

Grading of the Fall Research Proposal Defence

The preliminary report will be examined by at least two designated faculty members from the Department of Chemistry, acting as readers and members of the examining committee. The readers will identify corrections and make comments, which are returned to the student. Furthermore, the committee will ask the student questions during a defined question period (i.e. defence) which follows the oral presentation of the student’s research. The oral presentation is graded by all faculty members in attendance at the fall presentation.

Final Report, Presentation and Defence

Students registered in Chemistry 4902/4903 are required to submit a final report in March and to defend their research through a formal presentation and defence open to the Department of Chemistry. Writing of the final report is expected to be entirely the student’s own work. However, supervisors are again encouraged to read the thesis and comment on passages that are not clear or that need re-writing. Supervisors or other members of the research group may not provide direct edits of the report, or write any part of the thesis. The format of the final report follows identically with the fall report, with exception that the page limitation is increased to 30 pages for the main body.

The results presented in the fall and final reports, as well as the presentations must have been obtained between September and April of the year of enrolment in the research project. Research performed by the student during the summer before the project started should not be presented among the results, but may be presented as part of an introduction. In these circumstances these results must be clearly identified as previous work, and all those who worked to produce the results must be cited.

The final report is read and evaluated by two independent faculty member. Students may request to the project coordinator (in writing, to remain confidential) not to send their report to a particular faculty member for grading). If requested, the report will not be given to that person.

Each student is allocated 15 minutes for their oral presentation with 15 minutes for questions.

The Grading of Presentations

The presentation and defence is graded by all members of the faculty present in the audience. Each member of the examining committee provides a score for each student presentation/ defence, assigned according to one of four categories:

1 - Clarity and quality of the presentation.

2 - Quality/ quantity of the research.

3 - Depth of knowledge covered during presentation.

4 - Student's level of understanding.

The individual examiner scores are averaged resulting in the student’s grade. The course coordinator will convey the score average to the students, and associated grade. If requested, the coordinator will also convey the distribution of scores, but will not reveal who gave which score. Students will be informed of their fall term and of their final grade by the Honours/Majors Coordinator, which will include a breakdown of the grading for each assessment component.