How to do an Honours Thesis in Environmental Science

The undergraduate Honours Thesis in Environmental Science is intended for students who are interested in undertaking an independent research project, under the supervision of SFU faculty.

Who can supervise my thesis?

The supervisor can be any Assistant or Associate Professor at SFU working in the field of environmental science (within the School of Environmental Science, or outside). It can also be a Continuing or Senior Lecturer, or Adjunct Professor with special permission (see below). Supervisors should be a natural or mathematical scientist and may be from any Faculty (Environment, Science, Heath Sciences, Applied Sciences etc). The supervisor cannot be external to SFU, although arrangements may be made to have a titular supervisor at SFU, working with an external person to fulfill a co-supervisor role.

  •  If your preferred supervisor is a Lecturer or Adjunct Professor you must complete an approval of supervisor form and submit it to the department to ensure a suitable supervisor has been identified. This may be found on the website.

Steps to complete:

  1.  Speak with the undergraduate advisor in the School of Environmental Science about the requirements and your plans for a thesis.
  2. Find a supervisor. Look through faculty profiles on departmental/school websites or speak with your instructors to see what kind of research people are conducting and who might be an appropriate choice for your project. Send in an Approval of Supervisor form if it is required.
  3. Complete the online application.
  4. Work in your supervisor’s lab for one semester (normally as a research assistant). It could be funded through an NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Assistantship (USRA), the Vice-President Research (VPR-USRA) awards, or other means. It could also be paid work by a supervisor who needs a field or laboratory research assistant, perhaps through SFU’s Work Study program. Work in a lab may also be done during a co-op semester, provided an SFU supervisor is identified beforehand and is aware of the planned co-op work and its scope. Alternatively, a student may volunteer in a lab for a period of time to learn methods and techniques from other lab members. In cases where a thesis is supervised by a lecturer or senior lecturer, who do not have research labs, suitable arrangements to complete this step should be approved by the Director after consultation with the lecturer or senior lecturer (not the student)
  5. Undertake independent work in the lab, under the supervision of your supervisor or a senior lab member. Your thesis may be a portion of a larger project that your supervisor or a senior lab member is working on, it could be analysis of existing data, meta-data analysis, observations you make and accompanying analysis. It is critical however that your undergraduate thesis be your own work.
  6. If any changes to your project have occurred during your research send an updated proposal to the EVSC Advisor for approval. Request to be registered for EVSC 489 - Thesis Part 1. This class should be used for you to develop a literature review, refine your work plan with your supervisor, and conduct your research. Contact the EVSC Advisor before your course selection date to create the course section for you to enroll in.
  7. Once you have obtained research skills (Step 4), data (Step 5), and completed EVSC 489 (Step 6), you are ready to complete EVSC 490W – Thesis Part 2. This class should be used for you to write your thesis. Contact the EVSC Advisor before your course selection date to create the course section for you to enroll in.
  8. Write the thesis and submit it to your supervisor. Give your supervisor plenty of time to read and suggest revisions. The thesis should be in the format of a MSc thesis, using their template (its size and scope should be much smaller than a MSc thesis!).
  9. Once the thesis is complete, it should be submitted to the School of Environmental Science Director ( and EVSC Advisor ( in PDF format, and it will be published on the School of Environmental Science website. You must also archive all your data and the thesis on SFU Summit (, after it is complete.
  10. Plan to present your findings in a public forum (EVSC Research Spotlight, the Undergraduate Student Research Symposium, or to your research lab group, discuss options with your supervisor and the EVSC Advisor).
  11. *Please note steps 4, 5, and 6 may be completed during the same semester under certain circumstances.

You should consider publishing your thesis in the SFU Science Undergraduate Journal ( It is a journal specifically designed for undergraduate theses. But check with your advisor before pursuing this, as they may have other plans for your thesis!