|Ph 78 @ Caltech -
Physics Senior Thesis (Experiment)|
Ph 79 @ Caltech - Physics Senior Thesis (Theory)
Course coordinator: Professor Kenneth Libbrecht, email@example.com
Office: 263 West Bridge
Ph 78abc is the Physics Senior Thesis course for projects in experimental physics.
78 can be used to satisfy the
Senior Laboratory requirement (Ph 77ab) in the physics option, provided
the thesis project involves sufficient content pertaining to
Ph 79abc is the Physics Senior Thesis course for projects in theoretical physics.
79 cannot be used to satisfy the
Senior Laboratory requirement (Ph 77ab).
In both Ph 78abc and Ph 79abc, students perform independent physics research under the supervision of
a faculty advisor, and that research is described in a written Senior Thesis,
which is defended during an oral presentation to the thesis committee
near the end of the academic year. Your faculty advisor does not have
to be in
the physics department, although your research should have a reasonable
amount of physics content.
Ph 171 and Ph 172
are other options for obtaining course credit for independent research.
Ph171/172 can be taken for any number of terms, and the number of units
awarded is flexible. Plus there is no course requirement in Ph171/172
for a thesis or oral presentation (although your advisor may require
these). In contrast, Ph78 and Ph79 must be taken for a full year, and both
the written thesis and two oral presentations are required.
|Schedule and Procedures|
Before fall term begins:
The first step in taking Ph 78/79 is to find a faculty advisor and
research project. There is no set procedure for how this happens. The
most common route is to talk with various professors and inquire about
a suitable project. You can continue a previous SURF or other existing
research project if you wish. You are also welcome to devise your own
research project, as long as you can find a faculty member who agrees
to be your thesis advisor.
Note: To be considered as a substitute for Ph77ab, a Ph78 Senior Thesis
project does not need to include a laboratory component, but it should
involve experimental physics research. For example, a thesis project
involving experimental data
analysis can be used to fulfill the Ph77ab option requirement.
Beginning of fall term: Once you have a project lined up, fill out this form (plain text version below) within one week after courses begin, and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org (please return one-page pdf files only). Then sign up for Ph 78 or Ph 79 as
you would any other course, before Add Day. If you have any questions, contact email@example.com.
Near the end of fall term:
At some date in December (date to be determined), you will be required
to present your thesis topic to the thesis committee in a 20-minute
oral presentation. In this presentation you should:
1) Describe your project, including some physics background and specific project details.
2) Describe what you have accomplished so far during fall quarter.
3) Describe what you plan to accomplish during the remainder of the academic year.
Near the end of spring term: By some deadline in May (date to be determined), you will need to submit your final written Senior Thesis. You can find some information about formats for senior theses here,
and this page includes a link to examples of past senior theses at
Caltech. About a week later, you will describe your thesis research to
the thesis committee in a 20-minute oral presentation.
Assuming your first presentation to the thesis committee goes well, you will receive a grade of Pass for fall term, to be followed by another grade of Pass for winter term. After your final thesis presentation, the thesis committee will assign a letter grade that will apply retroactively
for the entire year. In other words, if your final grade is an A-, then
your Ph78/79 grades for fall, winter, and spring terms will all be A-.
Grading process: Each member of the Senior Thesis committee reads every
written thesis and attends every thesis presentation. Then the
committee comes together to discuss grading at some length. For each
thesis we consider the quality of the science, the written thesis, the
oral presentation, the difficulty of the project, research progress and
results, possible setbacks and problems encountered, and perhaps other
factors. We have no set rubric or point system, but the written thesis
is clearly of central importance. In this document we are looking for
research accomplishment, clear presentation, scholarly writing, and a
solid knowledge of the subject. We may discuss your thesis with your
faculty advisor(s) and immediate supervisor(s) as well. Typically each
committee member brings different opinions about the different theses
to the table, depending on their individual backgrounds and interests.
The discussion then goes back and forth until a grade is decided for
every thesis, and every committee member agrees with all the grades.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or stop by at 263 West Bridge.
|Some useful links|
Caltech Senior Theses.
This page descibes how you can submit your written thesis to the
Caltech archive. There is no specific thesis template or style
for Ph78/79, and you are not required to deposit your thesis into the
Caltech system. (Also, this is not done for you as part of Ph78/79.)
All we require is that you provide a pdf version for the committee.
Example Senior Theses.
This page (linked to in the above page) shows you some past senior
theses at Caltech. These are useful for guiding your own writing, and
you can pursue different theses and topics to see what writing styles
you like best.
|Plain text version of form mentioned above:
Student e-mail address:
Faculty Advisor Name:
Faculty Advisor e-mail address:
Main Supervisor Name (if different from Faculty Advisor):
Main Supervisor e-mail (if different from Faculty Advisor):
Project Title (can be changed later):
Is this an Experimental (Ph 78) or Theoretical (Ph 79) project?:
If Experimental, will you be using Ph 78 as a substitute for Ph 77ab?:
Is this project a continuation of a SURF or other research project (yes/no)?:
If yes, who was your previous advisor?:
Brief Project Description: (Please fit entire document on one page; okay to reduce font size as needed. Return .pdf files only):