what is a masters thesis
Thesis: The Master’s thesis should reveal that the candidate is able to work in a scholarly manner and is acquainted with major issues and published research on the subject of the thesis. It must make an original contribution to legal scholarship. A good thesis is thoroughly researched, demonstrates rigorous critical thinking and analysis, presents a detailed methodology and accurate results, and includes thorough verification of knowledge claims. The thesis should be between 20,000 and 25,000 words and may not exceed 35,000 words in length (approximately 100-130 pages). It must be of publishable quality and must satisfy a jury of at least two members appointed by the Assistant Dean of Graduate Studies in Law and approved by the Office of the Vice-Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
Research Paper: The research paper is shorter than a thesis and consists of extensive research and a strict methodology. The student must show the ability to work independently in a scholarly manner, just as with a thesis. The paper should offer something original or useful in the field of research it relates to. The finished paper should be between 10,000 and 15,000 words in length (approximately 50-60 pages). The paper will be evaluated on a “Satisfactory/Not-Satisfactory” basis by the research paper supervisor and the second evaluator, suggested by the supervisor.
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The masters thesis and doctoral dissertation are written documents that describe the graduate student’s research. The subject of the thesis/dissertation is chosen by mutual agreement between the student and major adviser, and must be approved by the student’s Supervisory Committee. There is no fixed length for the thesis/dissertation, although the Supervisory Committee should provide guidance on format and content.
Masters theses should reveal a capacity to carry on independent study or research and should demonstrate the student’s ability to use the techniques employed in their field of investigation. Doctoral dissertations should demonstrate technical mastery of the student’s field and advance or modify current knowledge. Dissertations should treat new material, find new results, or draw new conclusions; or it should interpret old material in a new light. It is expected that the research contained in the thesis/dissertation will be worthy of publication in appropriate peer-reviewed journals. Students are expected to prepare the manuscript(s) for publication prior to, or soon after, completion of their graduate program.
Another useful clue is found in the Latin origin of the word – dissertation comes from a Latin word ‘dissertare’ = ‘to debate’.
A dissertation is a subject you chose for yourself. The first usage of the word in the English language in 1651 also gives a useful starting definition: “an extended written treatment of a subject”.