Congratulations! You've made it to PH 488, the capstone, the final hurdle to graduation, the cherry on top of your educational experience here at BYU-Idaho.
But what is a Senior Thesis? Where do you begin? What are the instructors looking for in the final draft? So many questions.... so little time. But let's start with a few basics:
What is a Senior Thesis?
A Senior Thesis is required in order to graduate with a BS in physics. This course is designed to help prepare you for and in part imitate graduate school. This course is focused on bringing a student's research experience to conclusion by writing the formal thesis and presenting its contents to the faculty and other students.
Where do you begin?
Most if not all of your information will come from your research experience from either your internship or senior research or both. Your research project should be finished before you enroll in PH 488, the senior thesis class is just to help you write about it. So when can you start? Well, today is a good day. Basically, the earlier you start, the better. Check out the Student Handbook or talk with your favorite professor(s) to find out about projects currently going on in our department. That way you can get some ideas and also get involved in real research.
What are the instructors looking for in a final draft?
Essentially you will be graded on the following:
1. Formally write a report of the internship or senior research in AIP Format, including the literature search, a description of the research, conclusions drawn as a result, and areas of future research.
Here is a sample template written in LaTeX you are welcome to use: https://github.com/rtlines/Orbit
2. Report progress in a weekly class meeting.
3. Defend the thesis in front of a faculty committee.
Some other important things to cover and general hints:
The Senior Thesis is designed to give you help and experience in the following areas:
- Experience with writing research proposals
- Experience editing in committees
- Help with the process of research and help with putting together respectable bibliographies that will defend your credibility
- Gives the opportunity to learn to set your own deadlines and work under your own initiative, an experience you don't often get with undergraduate course work. (Hint: that's what a big part of what you're graded on.)