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Senior Research in FGSS

Senior Research Requirement: In the senior year, majors must complete an essay (1 credit), or a thesis (2 credits). This research must be centered on a theme or topic related to the concentration, and will be supervised by a tutor who may or may not also be the student's advisor. During the semester or semesters in which the research is being done, the student must be registered with the tutor for the appropriate tutorial(s) (FGSS 401 (Fall) or FGSS 402 (Spring) for essay, or FGSS 409/410 for thesis).

Writing and Honors Thesis

Junior Year

Eligibility:  Students wishing to write an honors thesis must have an average of at least B+ in all of the courses that count for the major. These courses include the following:

Gateway course,

FGSS 209 (Feminist Theories),

the four courses from the student's area of concentration within the major, and

the two distribution courses.

In the second semester of the junior year prospective thesis writers must submit to the FGSS Chair a transcript reflecting that they have met this requirement (or will have done so by the end of the junior year). The deadline for submission is the last Friday in April.  Students who have not taken a gateway or Fem. Theories by this date will generally not be eligible to write an honors thesis without petitioning the Chair. Only students who complete the two-semester thesis can stand for honors. Students who have not achieved a B+ average should plan to undertake the one-semester essay project.

[Beginning with the Class of 2012, students wishing to write an honors thesis must also have taken an FGSS "Research" or "Research Option" course (consult Wesmaps for a listing of these courses), in which they write a semester-long research paper.  "Research" or "Research Option" courses may also be taken to satisfy distribution or concentration requirements.]

Students intending to write an honors thesis or essay are responsible for finding a tutor from the FGSS advising or core faculty for the senior research project. A Senior Research Application Form describing the topic of the thesis must be signed by the tutor and submitted to the FGSS office by the last Friday in April. In the event that the student is unable to find a tutor, one will be assigned.  Thesis writers should consult with their tutors to draw up a preliminary plan of reading and writing to be undertaken over the summer. Students who are studying abroad in the junior year are still responsible for finding a tutor and for submitting their paperwork by the stated deadline.

Senior Year

By the last day of classes fall semester, or before, the student must present to her or his tutor a substantial piece of writing (at least 20 pp.) At this point the student and tutor will determine whether the work is of Honors quality. If not, the student may revise and submit the work as the essay which is required of all FGSS students who do not elect to do a thesis. Students will receive a grade for the Fall semester honors tutorial.

It is a good idea for students to have completed more than 20 pp by the end of the Fall semester, and certainly by the end of Winter Break, given that once the Spring semester begins, students will usually only have until Spring Break to complete a draft to present to their tutors.

Tutors responsible for finding Readers for Honors theses

After consulting with the honors candidate, the tutor will be in contact with the Chair of FGSS about possible readers. The core faculty will meet to coordinate readers (usually at the February core meeting) and the tutor will then secure readers. Ideally, the tutor and one reader (preferably both) will be members of the FGSS faculty. Each of these readers will submit an evaluation of the thesis, a copy of which will be sent to the student and a recommendation regarding Honors, which should be sent to the FGSS office and which the student will not see.

The tutor must submit both a grade for the thesis tutorial and a recommendation for Honors (Credit, Honors, High Honors). The recommendation regarding the award of Honors should be sent to the FGSS office. The tutor will also submit an evaluation of the thesis, a copy of which will be sent to the student.

Writing a Senior Essay

Students who do not write a thesis must write an essay. The senior essay is a one-semester research project undertaken in the context of an individual tutorial. Senior Essays should be undertaken in the Fall of the senior year. Exceptions to this require the approval of the chair of FGSS. While there is no prescribed minimum length, typically essays are 25 pages. Although not as long as a thesis, the essay represents a substantial amount of research and writing and thus students should start planning for it during the summer between their junior and senior years. Students are responsible for finding a tutor from the FGSS advising or core faculty for the essay. A statement indicating the topic of the essay and the name of the tutor must be signed by both the student and the tutor, and submitted to the FGSS office by the last Friday in April. In most cases, the tutor alone reads the essay and assigns a grade for the tutorial.