AST1501Y: Introduction to Research

Instructor: Roberto Abraham (, AB206, phone: 946-7389)




AST1501Y is designed as the course under which the first research project for the Direct-Entry Ph.D. program is conducted. It provides an introduction to the research fields of the faculty members and a structure to oversee the proposal and progress of the first research project of incoming students during the Fall and Winter academic terms. The course also provides students with experience in making oral presentations in a low-stress, friendly environment, and seeks to enhance their scientific writing skills  via the writing of a proposal, a progress report, and a final project report.

The first part of the course consists of a series of informal seminars with various faculty members in approximately the first 7–8 weeks of the fall term. The goal of these seminars is to learn about research being undertaken in the department. Effort will be made to have these conducted in an informal and interactive atmosphere. The seminars will take on various forms, depending on the preference of the particular faculty member leading the seminar. Each of these sessions will include a reading assignment from the faculty member which you are expected to read as preparation for the seminar. Each student will also pick one of these papers for making a short presentation (of 15 min duration). The seminar topics and dates will be announced in intermittent emails to you.

During the first half  of the Fall term, each student is expected to find a supervisor and a research project. You will need to inform me in writing by email of your proposed project title (or a rough title) and supervisor by October 25 (Monday) the latest, and preferably earlier. In early November (date TBD), each student will give a 25 minute presentation (including question period) which is a review of their subject area and what they expect to do for the project. A written report, which includes a review of the subject and a research proposal of the project, will be due approximately one week after the oral presentation. In the project proposal you are also expected to lay out the scope and the schedule of the project.

For the Winter term, an oral progress report (15 min) will be scheduled in the last week of February 2011. A written progress report at the time of the second oral progress report is also expected. The final project report will be submitted the last week of April 2011, and an oral presentation will be made to an examining committee (of three) no later than the first week of May. The final  presentation of your project is followed by a 35–45 min oral exam given by your committee on your project. More detailed instructions for these various stages will be given by email as we proceed through the term.

NOTE: you are required to be present for all the presentations of your classmates.



• Faculty seminar paper presentation: 4% 

• Oral presentation of research subject and proposal: 8%

• Written review research subject and proposal: 8% 

• Oral progress report: 6%

• Written progress report: 6%

• Class participation: 8%

• Overall evaluation of Project: the project; final oral presentation, examination, and final written report: 60%