PSCI 493
Senior Thesis Research Design Seminar Fall 2024
Division II

Class Details

Reserved for and required of those students accepted into the honors program during the second semester of their junior year, the fall semester Senior Thesis Research Design Seminar is intended to serve three purposes for aspiring senior thesis writers. First, through a variety of readings and discussions (including, perhaps, with the assigned scholars themselves), it aims to introduce students to the challenges of original scholarly research and expose them to the range of ways political scientists approach those challenges. Second, through a series of regular exercises and assignments, it seeks to stimulate critical thinking about fundamental questions of research design (crafting a question, performing a literature review, selecting appropriate methodological tools, evaluating data sources) and hone an array of practical skills — whether quantitative, archival, interpretive, or ethnographic — involved in political science research. Third, through ongoing, self-guided reading on students’ individual topics as well as feedback from both the seminar leader and other seminar participants on their written work about that topic, it endeavors to guide students to frame a viable and meaningful research project. At the conclusion of the seminar, each student will submit a substantial and rigorous 12 page research proposal, with an annotated bibliography, for a roughly 35 page “article-length” thesis to be completed during Winter Study and the spring semester. Those whose proposals are accepted by a committee of faculty chosen by the department will continue on as thesis students, under the supervision of an advisor to be assigned by the department, for the remainder of the academic year; those whose proposals are not accepted may complete an abridged version of their project as an independent study in Winter Study but will not continue in the honors program in the spring semester.
The Class: Format: honors independent study
Limit: 12
Expected: 8
Class#: 1738
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: short daily assignments, four 4 page exercises, a 12 page research proposal (with an annotated bibliography), and active class participation (including peer review)
Prerequisites: departmental approval during junior spring
Enrollment Preferences: permission of the department
Distributions: Division II

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