Guidelines for the Senior Project
The Senior Project, PHIL 499, (1 unit), is the capstone course in the philosophy curriculum and is designed for students seeking the B.A. Degree with a major in philosophy. This project takes the form of a senior thesis and is usually undertaken in the semester just prior to the Major's graduation. This project, including the faculty-supervised processes of planning, research, writing, and oral defense, of the thesis provides philosophy majors with an opportunity to integrate and focus their philosophical interests and skills on a subject of their own choosing and to demonstrate their disciplined ability to conduct academic research of a selected topic in the field of Philosophy. Guided by a supervisor from the philosophy faculty, students are expected to exemplify skills of independent research, critical and creative thinking, formal writing, and oral presentation of the project.
The Philosophy major should adhere to the following guidelines for successful completion of the project:
- Majors must meet informally with faculty members of the Philosophy Department to discuss possible topics for their senior theses. The Major is encouraged to may begin thinking about a senior thesis early. However, by the time the Major is junior, informal discussions should be well underway. During the semester before the Major is due to graduate, the Major must meet with the Chair of the Department to submit a formal proposal for approval. A student will not be permitted to register for PHIL 499 until he or she has received approval for the research topic by the Chair. The form can be printed from these links: Senior Proposal Form(Word) or Senior Proposal Form(PDF).
- Once the topic is accepted, the student will be assigned a faculty supervisor who will oversee the student's work. The faculty supervisor will be responsible for assessing and grading the student's research. The grade will be based on the ability of the student to meet deadlines, the quality of the research and writing, an assessment of the final written product, and the oral presentation of the project ( to the Philosophy faculty).
- Senior research projects may not be completed during a summer term.
- The project shall consist of a critical study of a topic in the field of philosophy. The completed thesis should demonstrate that the student has a good working knowledge of the major tools, methods, and resources for research in Philosophy and that the student has acquired the ability to think and write clearly and critically.
- Upon acceptance of the research paper, the faculty supervisor will schedule an oral defense. The oral defense gives the student an opportunity to discuss the project with the faculty of the Department of Philosophy, fellow philosophy majors, and other interested students and faculty. The student should be prepared to discuss how the research was conducted, the method of presentation, and the results of the research. The student is responsible for producing enough copies of the research project for each of the faculty members in the department. The faculty supervisor will notify the faculty of the scheduled oral defense and will distribute copies of the project to each faculty member.
Requirements for Philosophy Majors Registering for PHIL 499 who are NOT double majors:
- In informal discussions with the philosophy faculty, the major must formulate a thesis topic which is submitted to the Department for approval.
- When the topic is approved, the major will suggest a member of the philosophy faculty to be the thesis supervisor. The Department must approve this appointment and reserves the right to appoint another member of the Department to serve in this capacity.
- After the thesis supervisor is appointed, the student will work informally with the supervisor to develop a written thesis proposal. This proposal will include 1. Topic; 2 Thesis statement of 1-5 pages; a bibliography; and an outline of the thesis. If this thesis proposal is approved by the supervisor, then the student is cleared to register for PHIL 499.
Requirements for PHIL 499
- Students must make arrangements to meet regularly with the thesis supervisor to discuss the writing of the thesis.
- A complete rough draft must be submitted to the supervisor by mid-term. An F will be recorded on the midterm report if this deadline is not met. Late submissions of rough drafts may be penalized. No rough drafts will be accepted beyond two weeks after mid-term. A final copy of the thesis must be submitted not less than one week prior to the scheduled senior defense of the thesis.
- The thesis is expected to be well documented using a standard and consistent style of documentation.
- The thesis must include a bibliography.
- Normally the thesis will be 25 to 35 pages.
- An oral defense of the thesis before the philosophy faculty and fellow philosophy majors is required.
- The student must present 4 copies of the final version of the thesis to the Department one week prior to the oral defense. The date of the oral defense is determined by the Department.
- The grade for the thesis will be determined by the Department.
- A student may elect to take an independent study in the area of the Senior Project in the semester immediately prior to the semester in which the student takes PHIL 499. Here the student has the option of preparing a thesis proposal (see guidelines above).
Requirements for Double Majors in Philosophy
Students who are pursuing a major in philosophy and a major in another department must take one of the following two options regarding their Senior Project.
- A student may do two separate Senior Projects, one of which must be a senior thesis on a subject in philosophy that is approved by The Department of Philosophy. The student who takes this option must fulfill the same requirements as the student with a single major in philosophy. (See: Senior Project Requirements above)
- A student may do one thesis on a topic that spans the two disciplines of the two majors. There are two further options within this option:
- The student may elect to take the senior project from the Department of Philosophy. Students taking this option will register for PHIL499 and must meet the requirements as listed above. The department representing the second discipline of the double major determines its own requirements and the double major is responsible for knowing what these are and for fulfilling them.
- The student may elect to take the senior thesis from another department within the double major. The student who elects this option will not register for PHIL 499, but for the Senior Project course in the discipline of the second major. The Department of Philosophy will appoint a supervisor for the thesis and regular meetings with this faculty member are required. In order to be accepted as meeting the senior thesis requirement for the philosophy major, the thesis must include a substantial philosophical component. A separate oral defense of the thesis before the philosophy faculty and fellow philosophy majors is required. Upon successful completion of this oral defense, the senior project requirement for the major in philosophy will have been met. The philosophy department reserves the right to reject the thesis. Should this happen, the major in philosophy would not be granted. However, as long as the requirements for the second major are met, the student may graduate with a major in the second discipline. No record of this rejection will appear on the student's permanent transcript.