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General expectations

General Expectations for a Senior Thesis in Sociology

Your assigned advisor, as well as any other faculty members you wish to approach in the Department, will help you ensure that whatever project you plan for your thesis will meet our expectations for a senior thesis in sociology. As you know, the discipline is diverse in the methods and theories it uses, and thus the possibilities for topics and approaches in a sociology thesis are rich and numerous. But as guidelines to consider as you begin to think about your thesis ideas, the general expectations for theses in sociology are as follows:

  • theses should incorporate a sociological perspective in investigating the chosen topic;
  • theses should be focused around a research question or questions, should integrate ideas from sociology (and other relevant disciplines) in framing the question(s), and should offer an argument with systematically-analyzed evidence to support it.

The specific contents of a sociology thesis will vary depending on the topic and research question, the kinds of methods used, and the preferences of both student and advisor. But as a general guideline, a sociology thesis typically includes about 4-5 chapters, and covers the following:

  • An introduction to the topic, question(s), argument and methods used in the thesis, as well as a literature review, providing a critical synthesis of the existing literature related to the topic/question(s) (as a single chapter or a separate introduction chapter followed by a literature review chapter)
  • A detailed description of the methods used to gather evidence and to systematically analyze that evidence, and a presentation of the results of that analysis of evidence, including its relation to the question(s) and ideas presented in the first chapter(s) (as a single chapter or multiple chapters, depending on the content)
  • A conclusion, usually summarizing the argument and evidence, and offering suggestions for future research and/or social action based on the results of the thesis
  • After the conclusion, a bibliography (typically prepared according to American Sociological Association Style) and an appendix if necessary (e.g., a sample questionnaire or interview schedule, supplementary materials regarding an organization studied, or other materials considered important to include but which would not be appropriate to include fully in the text).

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