Senior Honors Seminar and Senior Thesis
To receive departmental honors, students are required to complete Political Science 191A-B Senior Honors Seminar: Frontiers in Political Science. The two-quarter graded seminar satisfies two upper division Political Science courses toward the twelve required for a degree. Through the two-quarter seminar, students will complete a senior thesis. Please note that POLI 191A is offered only in fall quarter and POLI 191B is offered only in winter quarter and these courses must be taken in consecutive quarters.
To be admitted to the seminar, a student must have senior standing in the first quarter of the seminar, have a minimum GPA of 3.6 in political science (this includes lower division, courses taken through Education Abroad Program, and Summer Session), have completed all lower-division requirements including POLI 30 (Political Inquiry) and five upper-division courses. Also, students must have an advisor prior to being allowed to enroll.
Writing Project/Faculty Advisor
To be considered for the honors seminar, students must submit a substantial piece of writing to a member of the faculty. The department defines "substantial" as a paper in which the student has carefully developed an argument and systematically mustered evidence in support of it. This written work is intended to give students practice so that the 40-100-page thesis does not loom as an intimidating prospect. These papers may develop out of any of our upper-division courses that require papers, any departmental seminar, or in conjunction with coursework completed on EAP or OAP. If the faculty member feels that the student is adequately prepared for the seminar, they will sign the faculty recommendation form (Word file) stating they are willing to advise the student during the course of the seminar. When submitting the recommendation form and piece of writing to the faculty member, students must provide a copy of their academic history from TritonLink. For ease of reading, select the "sort by subject" link when printing the academic history to print in subject order rather than quarter by quarter. The recommendation/advisor form must be submitted to an undergraduate advisor prior to the "quarter begins" date published for fall quarter in the Enrollment and Registration Calendar.
Normally each thesis will be read by two members of the department faculty, each of whom will assign the thesis a point score. The standard of evaluation will be that normally used by each faculty member to grade seminar papers of graduating seniors. Grades, point scores, and their honors equivalent are as follows:
If the point scores assigned by two readers differ by more than two tenths of a point (e.g., 3.5 versus 3.8), the thesis will be read by a third reader. Beginning 2013/14, in the honors calculation involving a third reader, the median score will be used.
To graduate with honors in political science, a student must have received an average point score of 3.5 or higher on the honors thesis and maintained a GPA of 3.5 or above in the major through the end of the second quarter of the honors seminar.
Award of Honor
The award of honors is by vote of the political science faculty. The award of honors will be based on the average of (1) the student's departmental grade point average at the end of the second quarter of the honors seminar (50%), and (2) the point score assigned the honors thesis by the readers (50%) .
Students who are interested in enrolling in the Senior Honors Seminar may come to SSB 301 to read examples of past theses until 2010. Theses from 2011 and later may be viewed online:
Considering Neutrality (PDF)