Undergraduate Honours Thesis Guidelines (IDEV*4100/IDEV*4150)

Undergraduate Honours Thesis in International Development Studies Guidelines

The undergraduate thesis courses, IDEV*4100 and IDEV*4150,  provide an opportunity for undergraduate students in the IDS Honours Major to complete an undergraduate thesis on a topic related to international development. The thesis is an independent research project that takes place across two successive semesters, supervised by a faculty member. In IDEV*4100 students are required to undertake a literature review as well as plan develop and write a research proposal. In IDEV*4150, students will conduct research, write a thesis and defend their thesis in an oral presentation. The topic of the thesis will be selected in consultation with the student's faculty supervisor (see more below on finding a research topic and faculty supervisor). Read through the thesis course guidelines and registration information outlined below and contact the IDS Academic Advisor if you have questions.

Course Descriptions

IDEV*4100  Thesis in International Development Studies I  

Supervised by a faculty member, students will undertake a literature review and plan, develop and write a research proposal. The topic of thesis will be selected in consultation with the supervisory faculty member prior to registration for the course. Students are advised to contact the IDS Academic Advisor for further information.

Restriction(s): Registration in BA.IDS with a minimum average of 80% in all IDS major course attempts. 

Prerequisite(s)14.00 credits including IDEV*3000IDEV*3100 

Offered: Summer, Fall and Winter

Credits: 0.50

IDEV*4150  Thesis in International Development Studies II 

Students conduct, write and present an undergraduate thesis under the supervision of a faculty member.

Restriction(s): Restricted to students in BAH.IDS


Offered: Summer, Fall and Winter

Credits: 0.50

Use of these Courses

  1. IDEV*4100 and IDEV*4150 must be completed in sequence over two consecutive semesters. A different sequence is only possible if it is approved by the faculty supervisor.
  2. IDEV*4100 (0.50 credits) and IDEV*4150 (0.50 credits) are restricted electives in the IDS program's Areas of Emphasis, and the courses together will count towards 1.0 credits in a student's Area of Emphasis.

Finding a faculty supervisor and research topic

  1. It’s important to begin discussions with potential supervisors at least one semester before your registering in IDEV*4100. You are responsible for finding a supervisor.
  2. Your supervisor must be a faculty member at the University of Guelph.
  3. Before contacting potential supervisors, you should think carefully about what it is you want learn and research for the Honours thesis.
  4. Start with the GIDS faculty page for information on associated/affiliated GIDS faculty and their research interests. Determine which faculty have research interests that are similar to the topic you’re interested in researching for your project.
  5. Familiarize yourself with the faculty member’s work before you contact them so that you understand their research interests, their research and their published work.
  6. Contact potential supervisors to set up a time during to discuss the possibility of supervision and research topics.
  7. Once you've conformed a faculty supervisor, you will decide on a specific research topic for the research project, deadlines and method of evaluation.  You will use this information to complete the IDS Honours Thesis Agreement for both IDEV*4100 and IDEV*4150.

IDEV*4100 and IDEV*4150 Course Registration

Submit a copy of the signed IDS Honours Thesis Agreement to the IDS Academic Advisor for both IDEV*4100 and IDEV*4150 prior to course selection for the semester in which you plan to register in each of the courses. Once the agreement has been submitted, the IDS Academic Advisor will provide a signed course waiver that will enable you to register in the course through Enrolment Services.

Course Outlines and Regulations

IDEV*4100/IDEV*4150 are intended to be an independent research project. Once accepted into IDEV*4100, students should meet with their faculty supervisor early in the first semester to develop the research topic and scope of the research. It's expected that students will meet with their advisor at least bi-weekly to discuss and get feedback on the continuing progress of their research. The agreed-upon meeting schedule should be formalized in the IDS Honours Thesis Agreement (use Word document below). Students and faculty supervisors will need to complete the Honours Thesis Agreement before both IDEV*4100 and IDEV*4150. Students submit the Honours Thesis agreement to the IDS Academic Advisor for approval.

IDEV*4100: Thesis in International Development Studies I Course Outline

Literature Review (IDEV*4100)

Students will complete a literature review, and develop and write research proposal. Early on in the research process, students will read widely and extensively around the topic of their proposed research. As part of this stage of the thesis development, students will be required to prepare a 3,000 word literature review identifying and summarizing key issues and questions in the existing academic literature related to their chosen topic area. This secondary analysis of what has already been written is not concerned about discovering new knowledge or information, but sets the foundation for further research. The literature review should focus primarily on the relevant academic literature, not the "popular press" or other non-academic sources. The draft literature review will be returned to the student with feedback from the faculty supervisor to allow for refinement and preparation of the research proposal.

Research Proposal (IDEV*4100)

A formal research proposal of 5,000 words (excluding title page and references) will be prepared and will consist of an abbreviated literature review, a summary of the proposed research project and associated research questions, the planned methods and time frame of the analysis to answer the questions, and a list of references. Students must submit their research proposal to their supervisor by the end of week 11 of the first semester. An approved research proposal/plan, as signed by the supervisor, is then submitted and logged with the IDS Academic Advisor by the end of week 12 of the semester.

Ethics Application

The faculty member supervising the student thesis assumes responsibility for ensuring the research project complies with university regulations, policies and procedures.

If the research will involve human participants, or the use of live animals, the research project must include approval from either the Research Ethics Board (REB) (https://www.uoguelph.ca/research/services-divisions/ethics), or the Animal Care Committee (ACC) (https://www.uoguelph.ca/research/services-divisions/animal-care-services), as appropriate. The preparation of the documentation required for REB or ACC approval can take several weeks. In accordance with the Canadian Council on Animal Care, anyone handling animals for purposes of teaching or research must have appropriate training which is provided by the University of Guelph. When a project involves risk—including handling dangerous materials—the advisor (and student, as appropriate) should consult with Occupational Health and Safety to ensure compliance with standards of health and safety.


A student whose thesis research involves international travel must contact the Centre for International Programs (https://www.uoguelph.ca/cip/safe-travel-information) and ensure that they have completed the University’s mandatory pre-departure orientation (DepartSmart) in order to be prepared appropriately to travel outside Canada.

IDEV*4150: Thesis in International Development Studies II Course Outline

Draft and Final Thesis (IDEV*4150)

The final thesis should be in the order of 12,000 words (excluding abstract, references and appendices) and consist of an abstract, introduction, methods, results, discussion, conclusion, references and appendices. An electronic copy of the thesis is submitted to the Faculty Supervisor and a Second Reader. The thesis is evaluated and graded by the Supervisor and a Second Reader. The name of the Second Reader should be provided to the IDS Academic Advisor by the 6th week of classes.

A draft of the full thesis is due by the end of week 9 of the second semester.  The Supervisor will review and provide feedback to the student within one week of the draft submission, to enable the student to revise the draft and prepare the final thesis document for the thesis defence. The final written thesis presents the major findings of the project and is due by the last day of exams. See the detailed timeline below.

Oral Presentation/ Thesis Defense (IDEV*4150)

The student will present and defend the major findings of their thesis through a public presentation.

Students will be required to prepare and deliver a 15 minute presentation covering their research questions, methods and findings. The examining panel, consisting of the Faculty Supervisor, Second Reader and the IDS Academic Advisor, will then ask two rounds of questions. Following this, the panel will deliberate and determine the final grade for the presentation. The public presentation must be completed by the final week of classes.

Thesis Copies

Following the thesis defense and final edits, an electronic copy of the thesis, is to be submitted to the Faculty Supervisor, Second Reader and the IDS Academic Advisor, to be retained by GIDS.

Timeline for IDEV*4150 (2nd semester):

  1. 6th week of classes: Second Reader (faculty) name provided to IDS Academic Advisor.
  2. 9th week of classes: Thesis draft due to faculty advisor.
  3. 10th week of classes: Faculty advisor to provide feedback to the thesis draft.
  4. 11th week of classes: Thesis provided to Second Reader and IDS Academic Advisor.
  5. 12th week of classes: Thesis Defence.
  6. The final electronic copy of the thesis is due by the last day of exams.





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