Writing a Senior Thesis
The SHC-398 Honors Seminar
The SHC-398 Honors Seminar is a three-quarter sequence (SHC-398-1,2,3) taken in the senior year, in which each honors student independently prepares a thesis under the guidance of his or her particular faculty advisor. Students will receive “K” grades at the end of the fall and winter quarters and then three letter grades at the end of the spring; these three letter grades need not be the same. Students also meet regularly with their faculty advisor throughout the year, but these arrangements are made between the student and their advisor.
A thesis makes some original contribution to the field. The variety of methods and approaches taught in SHC mean that no single type of thesis can be set as a definitive model. The originality of the thesis may lie in its explication of untapped materials, its reinterpretation of familiar problems, its new synthesis of existing interpretations, or some other novelty. A thesis will almost invariably include: 1) an introduction to set out the problem, limit the scope of the inquiry, and position the thesis in relation to the current state of opinion on the topic, 2) a set of chapters to present and analyze the relevant areas, and 3) a conclusion to summarize these findings and suggest future avenues of research. Theses are typically 40-60 pages in length and include a thorough bibliography.
The SHC program and Northwestern University are prepared to assist students financially in undertaking research for their senior thesis. Students may apply for grants from Northwestern University’s undergraduate research funds. They may also receive help from the SHC program for research directly relating to their thesis topic.
The final thesis is due two weeks before the program submits the final list of names to WCAS and is usually during Week 6 in the spring quarter. The student submits three copies: one for the SHC archive, one for the advisor, and one for the SHC director. The archive copy should be printed and bound. The other copies should be prepared and sent in the manner preferred by the advisor and director. The thesis must include a title page, acknowledgments, a one-page summary with five keywords, the core text, endnotes (or footnotes), and a bibliography. The thesis must meet the highest standards of academic rules, carefully proofread and thoroughly referenced. Students may use the referencing format that is appropriate to their field, so long as it is a consistent style.