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Guidelines for Senior Thesis

Department of Philosophy and Religion

Effective Date: Fall 2012

All majors in Philosophy and Religion are required to complete a senior project under the supervision of a member of the faculty. Students register for this project by taking at least three hours of Philosophy 4994r or Religion 4994r. Completion of a Departmental Honors project will also satisfy this requirement.

Rel or Phil 4994: Individual Studies (3.0 hrs.)

On demand. Prerequisite: approval of department head. Student Must submit an Individual Studies/Research Contract to the Records Office at the time of registration.

Formal requirements:

  • Prior to the submission of a senior thesis proposal (see 2, below), the student should request that a department faculty member serve as thesis director. In consultation with the director, the student should ask two additional department faculty members to serve as readers and to participate in the oral exam. If the project is strongly interdisciplinary and if otherwise appropriate, at the discretion of the thesis director, one faculty member from another department may serve on the oral committee in place of a department faculty member.
  • Students must prepare a one-page proposal that clearly describes the senior project’s thesis or argument, to which a one-page sample bibliography must be attached. The research bibliography may contain internet sources, but not exclusively.  It is highly recommended that in the construction of the bibliography students make liberal use of  the indices of periodical literature in the field (e.g., the Philosophers Index; the Religion and Philosophy Index; the ATLA Religion DatabaseInternational Mediaeval Bibliography, etc. ), as well as an appropriate blend of primary and current secondary sources. The proposal may be submitted electronically to the thesis director. It will then be circulated to the committee for approval or suggestions for revision.
  • The proposal and bibliography must be submitted to the thesis director before the last day of classes of the academic semester that immediately precedes the semester in which the senior project will be completed.  For example, if the thesis is to be completed during fall semester, the proposal and bibliography should be submitted before the last day of classes of the final summer session; if it will be completed during the spring semester, the proposal and bibliography should be submitted before the last day of classes of the fall semester. Late submissions will be accepted only with the approval of the department head.
  • Generally, a senior thesis cannot be completed during summer sessions.  Exceptions will be made only under extraordinary circumstances.
  • The student must submit an Individual Studies/Research Contract to the Records Office at the time of registration.
  • The senior project typically will exceed 20 pages in length. The student will defend the thesis during an oral examination lasting approximately 45 minutes. 
  • During the semester in which the senior thesis is completed, the student should meet regularly with the thesis director to discuss progress. One or more drafts of the thesis should be submitted to the director according to a mutually acceptable calendar.
  • A final draft must be submitted two weeks before the last day of classes of the semester in which the student has registered for Phil 4994 or Rel 4994. An oral exam must be held before the beginning of final exam week.
  • Following the oral exam, the student may be required to make additional revisions. A final copy must be submitted to the department for archiving before the last day of exams. No grade will be submitted to the Records office until the final paper has been received for archiving.
  • Here are some tools to help students build their bibliographies
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