On average, the three main content sections - the introduction, central sections, and conclusion - generally run about eight to twelve pages, but we have no set length requirements. Your proposal should cover the general points discussed below as concisely as possible.

Briefly describe the nature of your proposed project early in the introduction, ideally within the first paragraph. Then provide relevant background information on your project and explain why it is worth doing. Include any theoretical and/or historical information which may help the committee member who is least familiar with the project to understand it well enough to place it in the appropriate context and to judge its appropriateness in terms of technical difficulty and scope. Also ensure that you have provided sufficient background information about the company (if applicable) and your role there to enable your academic supervisor to place the significance of the project in a more general context.

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Central Sections

The central section(s) should inform your committee of how the project will proceed. Outline your intended method, time frame, and, if appropriate, the budget for the proposed project, providing as much detail as possible. Divide the project into an appropriate number of smaller tasks and discuss each separately being sure to consider the following:

  • Give each task a brief descriptive title which clearly indicates what is involved in completing it.
  • Describe the method involved, compare it to other methods, and point out the advantages of your approach.
  • If appropriate, include a system block diagram to help your readers visualize the system or device you are working on.
  • Discuss any technical risks and how you plan to deal with them. If any part of the proposed work is especially risky or may not pan out, include contingency plans.
  • If appropriate, identify the deliverable or milestone which concludes the task (a report, an outline for documentation, or a completed prototype).
  • Indicate the approximate time required to complete the task.
  • At the end of the central section(s), include a project schedule in the form of a Gantt chart which provides an overview of the tasks in the project and the time required to complete each. This chart should indicate the smaller tasks into which the project will be divided, the order in which you will undertake the tasks, and the approximate time devoted to each task. Note that these sub-tasks should be easily identified with the your discussions of them and should be listed in the same order you presented them in the text.

    The following figure provides an example of a Gantt chart for a Thesis Proposal (adapted from Brian Hargreaves' thesis proposal, Design of a Single-Channel Fiber Optic Digital Video Transmission System, SFU, 1992, p. 8).

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    While the conclusion may include a brief summary, it is also an important place to sell your project to your readers. Stress, expand upon, or add points that will convince your committee that your proposed project will both succeed and make a valuable contribution to your field. Be sure that your final sentence creates the sense of an ending.

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    Authors: Steve Whitmore & Mike Sjoerdsma                         Website Design: Claret Ramos & Jeff Priest                         Photos: Simon Fraser University                         Last Updated: February 11, 2016