Expectations for the Thesis

The Anthropology Department envisions the thesis as an opportunity for you to demonstrate your command of a focused literature on a particular topic within the discipline of anthropology. We expect that through the thesis process you will achieve the following:

Personal Intellectual Growth

  • Demonstrate intellectual curiosity through the choice of topic and approach.
  • Acquire a specialized set of skills (listening, formulating research questions, using constructive criticism) developed through a productive relationship with an advisor.
  • Create a completed product.


  • Demonstrate a depth of knowledge about one of the four fields in the discipline of anthropology.
  • Evince your intellectual heritage by drawing on and citing appropriately the anthropological scholarship and theory relevant to your topic.
  • Examine a cultural text or ethnographic case with depth and originality.
    — Describe, interpret, and analyze the text or case.
    — Recognize the contradiction, complexity, and embeddedness of this case.
  • Indicate that you think anthropologically.
    — Understand insider’s / outsider’s perspective by demonstrating an awareness of your own positionality.
    — Understand a relativistic perspective as compared to an ethnocentric one.
    — Understand the limits of relativism.
    — Put the case in temporal or spatial context. Explain how the case is historically constituted and situated in a particular place and space.
    — Understand the social construction of reality.


  • Demonstrate ethical research practices (which you explain in a methodology section).
  • Apply ethnographic, ethnohistorical or archaeological methods which you specifically identify and justify (in a methodology section).

Writing and Mechanics

  • Compose a grammatically correct, well-organized, lucid and cogent document.
    — Use precise, concise language.
  • Clearly articulate your argument in the introduction.
  • Effectively present evidence to support your argument.
  • Support your argument in a compelling conclusion.
  • Engage the reader in the topic.
    — Be aware of and sensitive to audience.
  • Write in the discipline, using appropriate style.
  • Demonstrate academic honesty through appropriate in-text citation for paraphrases and direct quotes and a comprehensive bibliography formatted using the AAA Style Guide