Thesis Guidelines MPN Program

For whom is this document intended?

This document is designed for students completing the Master of Psychiatric Nursing (MPN) program at Brandon University. The document will describe the nature of a thesis, and outline the process for completion of the thesis.

What is a thesis?

A thesis is a formal comprehensive, written document describing a research study on a chosen subject. A thesis is used to demonstrate capacity to complete a research project and present the findings. A completed thesis represents a distinct contribution to knowledge in the field of study.

What is the process for completion of a thesis?

The thesis process involves:

  • Identifying a Thesis Advisor;
  • Selecting a Thesis Committee;
  • Identifying learning needs and developing a learning plan;
  • Completing coursework and registering for the thesis;
  • Developing and finalizing the thesis proposal;
  • Obtaining ethical approval for the study;
  • Conducting the research and preparing the thesis;
  • Submitting drafts to the Thesis Committee; and
  • Defending the thesis and submitting final documents.

Identifying a Thesis Advisor

The process of completing a thesis starts with identification of a Thesis Advisor. The Thesis Advisor provides assistance at every stage of the MPN program, including selection of a thesis committee, planning to address learning needs, selecting / clarifying the research question(s), and choosing research methods. The Thesis Advisor will also provide guidance on practical aspects of conducting research, and will ensure that the work meets university requirements.

For all students, the Thesis Advisor must be in place upon the completion of 9 credit hours.  The Thesis Advisor must be approved as an associate or full member of the Brandon University Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS). A list of Brandon University faculty approved as associate or full members of the FGS is available in the ‘Student Resources’ section of the MPN web page. The right Thesis Advisor will be someone the student works well with and who has the expertise to guide the work. More detailed information on selecting a Thesis Advisor and Thesis Committee is available in the ‘Student Resources’ section of the MPN web page.

The Thesis Advisor must be approved by the Graduate Health Studies Steering Committee (GHSSC). Once the student has selected a thesis advisor and confirmed that the faculty member is willing to serve in that capacity, the student will submit a letter of request to the GHSSC indicating rationale for the selection.

Selecting a Thesis Committee

Once confirmed, the Thesis Advisor will work with the student to identify and arrange for at least two other members to serve on the Thesis Committee. Collectively, the Thesis Advisor and other Thesis Committee members will have the expertise to guide the thesis work and evaluate the thesis. The number of people who are eligible to serve as committee members is larger than the number of people approved for thesis advising. Committee members are content experts, and may be from inside or outside Brandon University. At least two members of the Thesis Committee should be from Brandon University. Committee members from outside Brandon University must be approved as Adjunct Professors and as associate members of the Brandon University Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Once committee members have been identified, have agreed to serve on the committee and, if necessary, obtained the necessary approval for Adjunct Professor status and associate membership in the Brandon University Faculty of Graduate Studies, the student will send a request letter to the GHSSC for approval.

Identifying learning needs and developing a learning plan

The Thesis Committee will collaborate with the student to identify learning needs for completion of the thesis, and will work with the student to develop a plan to address learning needs. Learning needs will normally be addressed through the directed readings course (75:656) or an elective but, depending on the learning needs, additional courses or workshops may be required by the committee. If learning needs will be addressed through a directed readings course, the Thesis Advisor will work with the student to develop a course outline that specifies the overall purpose of the course, desired learning objectives, a tentative reading list, learning activities, contact schedule, and course requirements. The Thesis Advisor will bring the course outline to the GHSSC for approval. If additional courses will be required for the students’ program, the GHSSC will also approve the students’ program.

Completing coursework and registering for the thesis

All courses must be complete before the student may register for the graduate thesis (75:700).  Similar to registering for a reading course, the Thesis Advisor submits a form to create the course and the Program Assistant then sends an email to Registration and Finance to register the student for the course.  Registration for the thesis is for the student’s remaining program length and no additional fee is charged if the student completes the thesis within that time frame.

Developing and finalizing a thesis proposal

The thesis proposal is constructed by the student with guidance from the Thesis Advisor and Thesis Committee members. The student will deliver an oral presentation and defense of the completed thesis proposal to her/his Thesis Committee. The thesis proposal must be approved by the students’ Thesis Committee and an ethics certificate received from BUREC before the research can commence.

Obtaining ethical approval for the study

After thesis committee approval of the thesis proposal and the completion of the thesis proposal approval forms, the student is required to submit an application for ethics approval of the thesis work. Students are required 1) to complete the tutorial online course on research ethics based on the Tri-Council Policy Statement 2 offered by the Panel on Research Ethics, and 2) to submit the tutorial completion certificate with their ethics application to BUREC. The course can be found at

The student will prepare and submit an application to the Brandon University Research Ethics Committee (BUREC). The application form must be reviewed by the Thesis Advisor and space on the form must indicate that this review has taken place. Forms, processes, and deadlines for submission are available on the BUREC web pages. Once BUREC approval is received, the student will submit a copy of the approval letter for the student file. The student is responsible for complying with all BUREC policies and conditions, including preparation of an annual and/or final report(s).

Additional ethics applications may be required depending upon the nature of the research and the population of interest for the study.  For example ethical approval may be required from a regional health authority if the clients they serve are invited to be participants in the study.  A copy of the ethics certificate(s) will be included as an appendix of the thesis document.

Conducting research and preparing the thesis

Only after BUREC approval and other approval as necessary have been obtained can research begin, including data collection, data analysis, and preparation of the thesis document. During the period of data collection, analysis, and writing, the student will need to be in regular contact with the Thesis Advisor to provide updates on progress and solicit guidance as needed. The contact schedule is negotiated between the Thesis Advisor and the student, but routine contact is recommended. The student may also be in contact with other members of the Thesis Committee as needed to draw on their expertise.

The student will meet with the Thesis Committee at least once a year, usually in conjunction with preparation of the Annual Progress Report Form. The on-campus session also may be a good time to schedule a committee meeting. The student is responsible to arrange meetings with the Thesis Committee.  The student can book a room for the meeting through MPN Program Assistant. If audio- or video-conferencing is needed, the Thesis Advisor will make arrangements for the technology.

The student will work with the Thesis Advisor to develop an outline for the thesis. The student will share draft chapters and sections with the Thesis Advisor for feedback. This feedback is essential to ensure that expectations are clear and that the work stays on track. Draft material also will be shared with the Thesis Committee at points to be determined by the student and Thesis Advisor. Again, ongoing feedback is useful to keep the work on track.

The structure of the thesis document will adhere to the requirements outlined in the most recent version of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), and the Guidelines for Graduate Thesis as established by the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Students will also attend to APA guidelines for mechanics of style, and writing clearly and concisely.

Thesis Defense

The thesis defense will be conducted on-campus, and the student must be present for the defense. A thesis defense can be scheduled once the Thesis Advisor and Thesis Committee members are satisfied that the work is completed and the student is ready for the oral defense of the research. The student and Thesis Advisor will collaborate to determine a date for the defense. Scheduling the defense will take into account availability of Thesis Committee members and the Dean of Health Studies (or designate), who will chair the defense. Thesis Committee members also serve as the Examining Committee. Examining Committee members must be provided with the complete electronic thesis document at least 30 days in advance of the oral defense.

In arranging the thesis defense, the Thesis Advisor is responsible to:

  • distribute the complete electronic thesis document to members of the Examining Committee;
  • notify committee members and the Dean of Health Studies about the date, time, and location of the defense;
  • arrange for technology, to support participation of off-site committee members and, where possible, off-site graduate students; and
  • work with the Program Assistant for the MPN program to prepare the announcement of the defense.

The Program Assistant will book space for the thesis defense, and arrange for distribution of the announcement to members of the university community in conjunction with an invitation to attend the thesis defense as an observer.

The Dean of Health Studies (or designate) will act as Chair for the thesis defense. The Chair is a neutral party who manages the examination but does participate in evaluation of the thesis.

What is the process for defending a thesis?

  1. The Chair introduces the Masters candidate and his/her Examining Committee to the faculty, graduate students, and visitors.
  2. The Masters candidate provides an oral presentation (approximately 30 minutes) of the research, findings, and implications of the work.
  3. Examining Committee members pose questions to the candidate in rounds, beginning with the external member and ending with the Advisor.
  4. The thesis defense, including questions, will not normally exceed 1.5 hours. If time permits, the Chair may invite others who are present to ask questions.
  5. The student and observers are asked to withdraw from the room to enable the committee to deliberate and reach a decision on evaluation of the candidate’s thesis. The meeting is held in-camera. Decision options include: pass, pass with minor revisions (revisions to be approved by the thesis advisor), major revisions, or fail. In the event of a decision for major revisions to the written thesis the student will repeat the full thesis defense process. If the student obtains a pass on the written thesis but needs to repeat the oral defense then only the oral defense must be repeated. If the student is unsuccessful on the second attempt for either the written thesis or oral defense then the decision is for fail. No further attempts are possible. The student must successfully complete both the written thesis and the oral defense in order to complete the MPN program.
  6. The Chair will complete the Thesis and Oral Examination Final Report and obtain signatures from Examining Committee members who are present. The Chair will ensure that signatures from members not present are obtained by electronic signature or by email confirmation.
  7. The Chair informs the candidate of the decision.
  8. Examining Committee members identify in writing any necessary revisions and identify who will be responsible for verifying that revisions have been made. The student and Examining Committee members will discuss and document the time frame for completion of the revisions.

What final documents need to be submitted?

Once the Thesis Advisor has determined that all necessary revisions have been made, the Thesis Advisor will submit an electronic copy of the completed document and the signed examination form to the Faculty of Graduate Studies.  The copyright forms are completed by the committee and the student and are submitted to the BU Library along with an electronic copy of the thesis.

The BU Library is connected with University of Manitoba in relation to the Canadian Thesis Portal and processes are being negotiated.  In order to graduate, students must meet any additional requirements, such as copyright release, in accordance with Faculty of Graduate Studies policies.

A bound copy of the thesis has customarily been provided by the student to the Thesis Advisor and Thesis Committee members, however electronic copies are more often provided now. Binding can be obtained through the Brandon University Print Shop. Fees are determined by the printer.

At this time once the library receives the thesis, they will post it to our library guide:

They will also create a record in our library catalog.


It is expected that publication and dissemination of the thesis research project will occur.  In consultation with the Thesis Advisor, students should decide on a dissemination strategy prior to thesis completion.  It is expected the Thesis Advisor will be second author on all publications/presentations arising from the research project.  Thesis Committee Members may also be included as co-authors depending upon their relative contributions to the thesis project.