The senior thesis is the capstone of the major in European Studies. In researching and writing your thesis, you will bring the knowledge and skills learned in your coursework to bear on a topic of your choosing. Your thesis should be broad enough to offer a reflection of your background in European studies, yet concentrated enough to engage extensively and intensively with a single topic. Your may choose an issue pertinent to a specific national context, but your analysis must transcend a single national perspective such that the question is framed as European. The identification of a potential topic should begin as early as possible in order to give your ideas time to develop.
- Thesis proposal: First Friday of the semester in which you write the thesis.
- Final draft of thesis: The Friday of the last week of classes for the semester in which you write your thesis. Please note: no extensions will be granted without penalties.
- Identifying a Topic: From EUS 101 through the 300-level seminar, you will be introduced to a variety of topics and disciplinary perspectives in the study of contemporary Europe. By the time you declare your EUS major, you may already have an idea of the field(s) that interest you, perhaps, EU education systems, Scandinavian documentary cinema, minority religious communities in Italy, Spanish and Portuguese avant-garde poetry, Eastern European migrant literature, or transnational environmental policy. If not, you should reflect on what grabs your attention in your courses or as you read the news from Europe and consult your instructors and other program faculty. You will have to do some initial research to see if your topic is substantial enough to be the focus of a thesis (30-50 double-spaced pages, excluding bibliography and notes).
- Selecting an Advisor: Ideally, your thesis advisor should be a member of the EUS program committee and have expertise in the topic(s) you are considering. Your advisor will be your most important guide for background information on your topic, sources, and methods.
- Developing a Proposal: The proposal is an organized discussion of your thesis. In it you should outline your topic, identify your sources, summarize important or relevant scholarship, and outline a plan for research and writing. The proposal should be developed in consultation with your thesis advisor and should be approximately 5 double-spaced pages, including bibliography.
- Research: The most successful theses build on coursework and are planned well ahead. Research methods appropriate for your topic and a plan of action can be refined and elaborated in the process of writing the proposal. Usually this should take place the semester prior to the one in which you intend to write, so that you have enough time to build your knowledge, test your ideas, and frame your topic as an argument.
- Writing: During the semester in which you decide to write your thesis, you must register for either EUS 457 (fall) or EUS 458 (winter). (If you are writing a year-long thesis, you must register for both EUS 457 and 458.) You and your advisor will establish a calendar for completion of preliminary drafts and a process for the final revision.
- Final Submission: You will submit your final thesis to your advisor who will evaluate and assign a grade. Senior theses are due on the Friday of the last week of classes during the semester in which you choose to write.
Your thesis will be evaluated in terms of the following criteria. In some cases, your topic will not be quite so susceptible to judgment according to this rubric, but if that is so, it can be discussed with your advisor upon submission of the first chapter.
Eighty percent (80%) of the thesis grade will be based on the final product, and 20%, on the process: amount of work put into developing the topic, ability to meet deadlines and efforts to revise and edit.
- Bibliography: Have you looked comprehensively at the literature on your topic? Is your sample fairly representative of the field? In your review, do you go beyond summarizing the arguments of different authors and analyze how they reached the conclusions they did? What were their assumptions? What evidence did they use? Also, do you outline the basic issues that remain within the literature? Where do key schools of thought on your topic differ in their approaches?
- Research Question/Thesis Statement: Is the question/thesis statement focused? Is it placed well within the context of existing literature on the topic? Does it deal with an interesting issue relevant to European studies?
- Method, Theoretical Approach and Research:Have you devised a method and/or adopted a theoretical approach that reflects and engages your question well? Have you looked diligently for available evidence? Have you looked at—or tried to look at—primary resources for your evidence? Have you made conclusions that reflect the evidence—in other words, do you limit your conclusions to the evidence available, even if the implications may be larger?
- Conclusion:Do your conclusions reflect the evidence? Do you recognize both the strengths of your analysis and its limits? Do you have suggestions for further research and/or future study?