Preparing for the Senior Thesis

Thesis Questionnaire

Politics majors should start the thesis topic selection process at the beginning of the junior year.

Step 1: Juniors will consult with their major advisors about their senior thesis in September. These meetings will be initiated by the advisors who will meet with their advisees as a group or individually.

Step 2: Juniors will fill out and submit the thesis questionnaire Form A to their major advisor two weeks before winter registration starts (The form is due no later than Monday, October 18,2021). At this stage students can specify one or two topics (rather than a specific question) for the thesis project. Based on student responses, advisors will help students plan for necessary future classes and sharpen a thesis question during their meetings prior to registration.

Step 3: A more specific thesis questionnaire Form B is due to the major advisor on Friday, February 18, 2022.
This time the questionnaire should include a specific research question for the thesis. During registration meetings major advisors will give feedback on the proposed question(s).

Step 4: A polished final thesis questionnaire  is due on Friday, April 15, 2022. Students will be matched with thesis advisors during the Short Term of their junior year by the department based on their final questionnaire response. Faculty’s scholarly expertise is critical in matching faculty with thesis advisees.

Important Information about Thesis

The Politics faculty reserves the right to ask a student to revise a thesis topic/question. Students should show that they have the necessary scholarly background to pursue the thesis topic of their choice. For this reason, the thesis questionnaire asks students to specify previous courses they took, research papers that they have written, and scholarly work that they have read relevant to the thesis topic. Students who fail to show that they have the adequate background to pursue their thesis topic will be asked to revisit their topic by their major advisor.

Given the high number of majors in the Politics Department, it is very difficult to change the thesis advisor assigned to a student or the semester that the student is scheduled to write the thesis. Students can ask for a change in their thesis arrangements only by petitioning the Chair. The petition should include the rationale for why an exception to the department’s thesis procedures should be considered. The Politics faculty will decide whether a student’s request can be approved.

Students cannot change their thesis topic at will without first consulting their thesis advisor.

Once a thesis advisor is assigned, it is the students’ responsibility to get in touch with their advisor before the start of the senior year. We strongly encourage students to communicate with their advisor during the summer.

Juniors who study abroad are responsible for communicating with their major advisors about thesis via email. They are responsible for submitting the thesis questionnaires on time.

Politics majors writing one-semester theses can pursue one-on-one instruction with an advisor or conduct their research and writing in a seminar-style class – the senior thesis seminar – of about 12 students.

The current policy that requires a student to be on campus for one semester after engaging in off-campus study before thesis can begin will be negated should a student wish to participate in a thesis seminar. In other words, if a student studies away from Bates in Winter 2022, they can still participate in the Fall 2022 thesis seminar.

The thesis seminar includes some one-on-one interaction with the faculty member teaching it, and also provides opportunities to present material at different stages of development for peer critique and editing as well as opportunities to form writing groups. Students seeking more structure and more peer-support in their thesis experience may prefer the seminar option for thesis completion.

Expectations and grading for written work as well as for engagement in the research process are the same regardless of whether a student pursues one-on-one advisement or advisement in the seminar setting.

The department faculty cannot guarantee that students will receive their preferred choice of working one-on-one with an advisor or in a seminar setting.