Course Description

This course is designed for students who are beginning work on a senior honors thesis in Social Science. The course enables participants to develop a detailed plan for researching and writing an acceptable senior thesis. Students work with peers and the Instructor during the term to frame a suitable topic, conduct preliminary research, and write a prospectus, or in-depth description of their topic. Please note, the H190 series is NOT a substitute for working closely with a faculty advisor. Given the value of a faculty mentor, it is recommended that each student meets with their faculty throughout the series (H190ABC). Earlier contact with faculty helps students better shape their theses and ensures them direction on the project from a faculty with expertise in the area of investigation.

The course meets 10 times during Fall term as specified below. Course meetings are largely devoted to discussing student research projects. Specifically, the group trouble-shoots any problems that students may have in the course of developing and researching a research topic. In the course, students research a wide variety of topics but work together to provide feedback and ideas for every aspect of the process. The course is offered on a grade basis. In order to pass the course, students must attend the meetings, complete the assignments, and submit acceptable prospectuses at the end of the term.

In the Winter and Spring quarters, the final version of the thesis is completed with the faculty advisor/mentor. The Honors Coordinator is available for consultation. Students must enroll in H190B and H190C during Winter and Spring quarters and bi-weekly seminars are available for student direction and guidance.


Reading assignments have been assigned for almost every class period. Please read the assignments and develop responses to the study questions before the next class. Class sessions include short lectures, small-group conversations, and whole-class discussions based in part on the readings. Classes are designed for active participants. Please come to class prepared to discuss the assigned material and its implications. The Instructor assesses participation based on attendance and student contribution.


Students are expected to attend all class meetings and participate in discussions. In order to participate effectively, students must complete the assigned tasks in advance of each class meeting.

The course requires minimal assigned readings, most of which will come from your book or the course website articles. The course has one major writing assignment, the preparation of a prospectus for the senior thesis. Students are provided with guidelines for the prospectus early in the term. Throughout the quarter, students complete one draft of the various sections of the prospectus and the Instructor and the other students in the class review these drafts. First, students are asked to produce an initial statement of their thesis topics. Following, students work on a review of the literature exploring their topic of interest. Students also develop a description of the methods intended for their research project. Finally, students complete a more sophisticated description of the topic that will serve as the introduction to the prospectus.

Course Readings

A primary component of the Social Science Honors Program is to provide readings to facilitate the thesis process. In particular, an important element of the commitment is to work independently and take initiative for a strong research project. As many of the upperclassmen in the program will have substantial research training, it is still critical for participants to review these readings and apply their directives. As you review the following sections, use the general research design readings to help you conceptualize and develop the first two chapters of the thesis. Your methods will be guided by readings addressing methodology both for qualitative and quantitative designs. In addition, there are a few readings that will assist you in data analysis. Last, there are readings on the APA format, ethics, and writing guidelines. Use these articles to guide your process.

Research Design

Methodology – Survey Research

Data Analysis and Interpretations

Methodology-Interviews and Focus Groups

Thesis Guidelines