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Senior Thesis Guidelines

1. All seniors are required to complete RELI 0601, the Senior Project. The Project may be done in either the Fall or Spring semester of the senior year.

2. In consultation with their advisor(s), seniors may continue their Projects by taking RELI 0700, the Senior Thesis. The Thesis is a year-long undertaking and should develop the work begun in the Senior Project.

3. Students should submit a formal proposal with a working bibliography (2-3 pages) to the faculty member with whom they wish to work no later than the second week of the semester in which the work begins (September 14, for the Fall of 2010). The faculty member will return the proposals by the end of the third week. Though the project may change as work progresses, students are encouraged to formulate their projects early so they have time and opportunity to develop them thoroughly.

4. Every effort will be made to allow students to work with the advisor of their choice. In some instances, however, it may be necessary to assign a second reader at the beginning of the Project. The reader will advise and work with the student on the process of writing the Project/Thesis. Second readers will be assigned as primary advisors when it is necessary for the Chair of the Department to distribute Senior Projects/Theses equitably among the Religion faculty.

5. Students should plan to meet regularly with their advisors according to a mutually agreed upon schedule. Students should submit written material on time; faculty should return work, with comments, in a timely fashion. Students who are concerned about the guidance they are receiving in the preparation of their projects may consult the Chair of the Department or the instructor of the RELI 0400 seminar for help in addressing the situation.

6. Length: There is no set number of pages for the Senior Project or the Thesis. Projects are typically 25-30 pages; Theses are usually at least 75 pages. Students will be allowed to continue at the 700-level only when they have completed significant, written work on their Senior Project. When a student is going on to a Thesis, the work on the Project may be in draft form, but must demonstrate a clearly developed line of research or argument.

7. Organization, style, notes, and bibliography should conform to a standard format. The Department recommends Kate Turabian's A Manual for Writers, The Chicago Manual of Style, or Simon and Schuster's The Handbook for Writers.

8. Submission Date for Senior Projects: Projects undertaken in the Fall Term must be submitted by the last day of classes or the date set by the Department. (For the 2010-11 academic year, the due date is December 10th by NOON). The deadline for submitting Projects undertaken in the Spring Term must be submitted at the final colloquium of the year (May 4th for the 2010-11 academic year).

9. Submission Date for Senior Theses: All Senior Theses are due at the final colloquium of the year (May 4 for the 2010-11 academic year). Two copies of the thesis should be submitted, one for the advisor and one for the second reader.

10. Readers: Theses will be evaluated by two readers, the advisor and a member of the faculty selected by the advisor in consultation with the student and the Department Chair. If a reader has been assigned at the beginning of the Senior Project, that person will be the second reader of the Thesis.

11. Oral Defense: In consultation with the student, the advisor will schedule an oral defense of the Project/Thesis, the participants of which are the student, the advisor, and a second reader. Other readers may be included in the defense as appropriate, but only with the approval of both the advisor and the student. The oral defense, which usually lasts an hour, allows the student to address questions raised by the readers and pursue issues further in conversation with the readers.

12. Evaluation: Factors relevant to the evaluation of the Senior Project and Thesis include: choice of feasible topic, mastery of scholarship, clarity and originality of argument, independence of judgment, evidence of synthesis and analytical thinking, and style. (Performance in the oral defense will be taken into account in the final evaluation of the Thesis; there is no mandatory oral defense for a senior Project.)  Students who make a B+ or higher on the Senior Project are eligible for Honors, depending on their departmental GPA.  Students who make an A- or higher on their Thesis are eligible for High Honors or Highest Honors, depending on their departmental GPA.

13. Students whose Theses are awarded honors should submit a corrected copy to the Department Coordinator for delivery to the College Library, where it will become part of the permanent collection.

Department of Religion

Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753