Policies and Practices on Departmental Senior Essays
The senior essay is a one-semester research project undertaken in the context of an individual tutorial (GRK/LAT/CCIV403 or 404, as appropriate). It may be completed in either the fall or the spring semester of the senior year. While there is no prescribed minimum length, something in the range of 30-40 pages is typical. An essay is thus expected to be a substantial piece of research and writing, more extensive than an average term paper. Although an essay is a smaller project than a senior thesis, the student should start planning for it during the summer or the semester before the actual tutorial in which it is written. The first step is to secure the agreement of a departmental faculty member to serve as an advisor. In consultation with the advisor, the student should then outline the topic and compile a basic bibliography. Such preparation in the months before the tutorial will make the research and writing of the essay go much more smoothly. In most cases, the faculty advisor alone reads the essay and assigns a grade for the tutorial.
Students should not enter upon an essay project with the expectation of being considered for honors. Departmental Honors are normally reserved for students who write a thesis, although in extraordinary circumstances the department may elect to consider a senior essay for honors.