← Ayaan M. Kazerouni

CSC 590 Thesis Seminar

As taught in Winter 2023. If you’re a current student in this course, please refer to our course Canvas, not to this page.




  • Instructor: Ayaan M. Kazerouni ayaank@calpoly.edu
  • Office hours: Building 14, Room 229. See my homepage for timings
  • Class meetings:
    • Where: Building 11, Room 104
    • When: Mondays 2:10pm
  • Course schedule

Course description

This is a 1-hour graduate seminar designed to aid M.S. students in conducting their research and preparing and delivering their thesis documents.

The main course objectives are:

  • To learn what is involved in writing a thesis.
  • To learn how to do research.
  • To learn how to present research: orally and in writing.
  • To learn how to evaluate others’ research.


Assignments in this course will involve reading, writing, or presenting.

Reading assignments

Thesis reading and critique: Past M.S. theses from Cal Poly students are available through Cal Poly Digital Commons. You will select a couple of these documents, read them, and present your critiques.

You will also read and critique your classmates’ written assignments, and be graded the quality of your review.

Writing assignments

This will be the bulk of the assignments in this course. The course will involve the following writing assignments:

  • Thesis summary and critique (described above)
  • Introduction and executive summary of your own thesis project
  • Background and literature review for your thesis
  • Peer review of each other’s thesis summaries


You will deliver two one talk in class this quarter.

  • A short presentation of your thesis’s executive summary (5 minutes).
  • A longer presentation during the last three weeks describing your thesis project in detail (10–15 minutes plus questions).

Other assignments

There may be other assignments in the course.

  • Depending on scheduling, you may be asked to attend research talks by visiting researchers or Cal Poly faculty, and to summarise and critique them.

Course schedule

2 Course intro
Theses archetypes (slides)
Conducting literature review (slides)
3 Thesis introduction and executive summary (slides) In-class activity — Reading an introduction
Thesis assessment
4   Affinity groups discussion
5   Thesis executive summary
Lightning talks
6 Faculty research presentations:
 Dr. Theresa Migler
 Dr. Stephen Beard
 Dr. Javier Gonzalez-Sanchez
7 ACADEMIC HOLIDAY Thesis background and literature review
8 The role of thesis committee members Executive summary peer reviews
9 What’s a PhD and how to get one1  
10 Unstructured discussion  

  1. This went down like a lead balloon.