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.

Honors Guidelines

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 Williams Hall.

Proposal Guidelines