Thesis Goals, Policies, and Procedures:
Overview of the Thesis Project for All Asian Studies Program Majors (East Asian Studies,
Chinese, and Japanese)
Expectations for the Thesis Project in the Asian Studies Program
A senior thesis in the Asian Studies Program involves one or two semesters of original research
and writing, culminating in a substantial paper of 40 to 80 pages that is relevant to some aspect
of East Asian society and culture. A successful thesis requires that the student 1) define clearly
a thesis question or statement about some aspect of the area’s culture or society and 2) apply
one or more specific theoretical approaches and research methodologies to the analysis of this
question. The successful thesis student will think critically and comprehensively regarding his
or her topic, and advance a well-formulated argument about it. A senior thesis in one of the three
majors in the Asian Studies program demands that students have a solid understanding of the
geography, history, society and culture of one or more geographical areas of East Asia. The
degree to which this knowledge is part of the thesis depends upon the subject and context of the
thesis. A successful thesis also requires skillful communication and considerable independent
thinking, self-discipline, and effective time management.
Further Expectations for the Thesis Project for Chinese and Japanese Majors
Theses for the Chinese or Japanese majors should focus on a specific topic within the relevant
culture’s tradition and have the features specified in the overview above. The thesis project must
involve use of texts and/or secondary sources written in the target language. While translation of
a text or set of texts written in the target language may be a component of the thesis project, the
thesis must also involve substantial original analytical work by the student that links the texts to
the social and cultural context of their production and/or reception. Qualified students may elect,
with Asian Studies Program Committee approval, to write their thesis in the target language.
Further Expectations for the Thesis Project for East Asian Studies Major
A thesis for the East Asian studies major must engage a topic relevant to East Asian society and
culture. It must adopt one or more of the disciplinary approaches and methodologies represented
in the Bates College Asian Studies curriculum. It is important that students consult with their
advisors at an early stage about any discipline-specific or project-related requirements beyond
the general guidelines above. Students whose research involves human participants should seek
approval from the Institutional Review Board.
Expectation for an Honors Thesis Project
Students writing Honors theses are expected to meet all of the expectations of students writing
one-semester theses. In addition, Honors theses should address a compelling question/topic
necessitating two semesters of work. Honors theses should employ methodologically rigorous
analysis and make original contributions to the study of Asia.
Invitation to write an Honors Thesis
Based on overall GPA, GPA in their major, and the recommendation of Asian Studies faculty,
students may be invited to pursue nomination for honors. Any student so invited who wishes to
pursue nomination for honors must enroll in a 457 thesis course for the fall and submit a fully
developed written honors proposal to the Chair of the Program in Asian Studies by the end of
the third week of classes in the fall semester for review by the Program Committee. Prospective
honors candidates are required to give an oral presentation of their thesis work-in-progress to
the Asian Studies Program Committee and also turn in a substantive written chapter of the thesis in mid-November. Continuation in the honors program is contingent on the approval of the Program Committee.
Information for Double Majors
Students pursuing two majors may elect to write one two-semester interdisciplinary thesis in
fulfillment of the thesis requirement of both majors, provided the second major department or
program supports this practice. Such a thesis must fulfill all the goals for theses defined above
by the Asian Studies Program. However, double majors in Chinese or Japanese may propose to
employ a thesis methodology based on the accepted standards of the other major provided that
the thesis project makes use of sufficient materials in the target language. Students need the prior consent of the Asian Studies Program and the other department or program before commencing work on an interdisciplinary thesis and must register for the thesis in both Asian Studies and the second department or program (ordinarily one in the fall semester, the other in the winter semester).
Procedures for the Thesis Project in the Asian Studies Program
All majors must submit a preliminary thesis plan to the Asian Studies Program Committee
in response to a request from the chair of the Program in Asian Studies in the spring of their
junior year. The Asian Studies Program Committee will review the plans and designate a thesis
advisor for each student. Thesis writers should begin consultation with their thesis advisors well
before the semester in which they begin the thesis. A 2-page pre-proposal is due to the advisor
at the end of the first week of the semester. A full proposal, to be reviewed by the Asian Studies
Program Committee is due to the Chair of Asian Studies at the end of the third week of classes.
The thesis in its final form is due by 4:00 p.m. of the last day of regular classes of the semester.
A copy of the completed/submitted thesis shall be kept in the Asian Studies Lounge in Roger