Important Documents and Links
- Honours Thesis Advisor Agreement Form - Word Document
- Honours Thesis Advisor Agreement Form - PDF Document
- StFX Research Ethics Board Information
- List of Past Honours Theses
Thesis [thee-sis] – noun: a traditional method of torture involving inordinate amounts of research and writing, accomplished by means of many sleepless nights. Likely side effects include carpal tunnel, questioning one’s sanity, and excessive library fines
—Xaverian Weekly, April 5, 2007, p. 2
The honours thesis is a key component of the honours program and is worth 6 credits (SOCI 400 on your transcript). During their final year of study, honours students write a thesis and present it before their peers and faculty in a department seminar. To prepare your thesis, you will work with an advisor to define a special area of investigation that will allow you to explore in greater depth some aspect of sociology that interests you. As an in-depth, original study, the honours thesis is typically between 50 to 80 pages long, and may include:
- Collecting and analyzing data
- Reinterpreting or extending the analysis of data already collected by someone else
- Applying theoretical constructs to explain some particular social phenomenon
- Critically analyzing or extending some aspect of theory to interpret a specific topic
Choosing an Advisor and Second Reader
The thesis advisor will help to guide you through your thesis by stimulating ideas and discussion, directing you to relevant literature, helping you to express your ideas in writing and setting targets and deadlines for the various stages of your research. The advisor should be knowledgeable in the field of your research, preferably someone who has also done research and published in that area. The advisor must also be someone who is able to inspire and motivate you. For this reason, you are the best judge of who your advisor should be. Look through the list of faculty for people with expertise in your specialty, then meet with, and talk to more than one potential advisor before you decide.
You will also need a second reader. This is also someone familiar with the field of study in which you are doing research. The second reader does not get involved in the process of advising and directing you. The role of the second reader is to provide a second opinion on the quality of the honours thesis. The thesis advisor, in collaboration with the second reader, will determine the final grade of the honours thesis.
Students should be thinking about their topic and choosing their advisor during their third year. At the beginning of the fourth year, each student will be asked to complete the Honours Thesis Advisor Agreement Form, which includes the signatures of both the student and the advisor. The advisor and the student will confirm the second reader when the proposal is officially submitted. The Honours Thesis Advisor Agreement Form should be submitted to the Chair by the last Friday of September of your senior year.
The Honours Thesis Proposal
The proposal is an outline which describes what you plan to study, presents related issues, and gives a detailed description of how you plan to set about the work that needs to be done. The proposal is developed in consultation with your advisor. You will have an opportunity to share ideas and gain feedback from the instructor and other honours students in the Senior Seminar, but the proposal will, in the end, be submitted to and approved by your advisor.
The proposal is to be completed and submitted to your advisor no later than the end of September of the final year. It can be started during the third year or as soon as you have an advisor to work with. If your research involves human subjects, you will also be required to fill out the StFX Research Ethics Board Application Form.
Presentation of Honours Thesis
Part of the thesis requirement includes the presentation of the work to the department at the end of the second term. These presentations will be arranged by the Student Liaison (usually the instructor of SOCI 491). Guidelines and coaching on presentation technique and content will be available through the Senior Seminar and from your advisor. Presentations normally take place in mid-March of the final year.
Grading of Honours Thesis
The advisor, in collaboration with the second reader, will determine the final grade for the thesis. The grade must be submitted to the Department Chair for final review by April 25 of your senior year.
First Term – Choose thesis topic and advisor
Second Term – Begin reading in your topic area
September – Thesis advisor and second reader chosen. Develop proposal in consultation with advisor
September 30 – Honours Thesis Advisor Agreement Form must be submitted
September 30 – Completed proposal must be submitted to the advisor
November 15 – Submit Ethics Approval Form
December 1 – First two chapters of thesis submitted to advisor
February 15 – First draft of thesis submitted to advisor and returned with comments
March 1 – First full draft completed and submitted to advisor
Mid-March – Presentation of theses to the department
March 31 – Final draft must be submitted to the advisor and second reader via the SOCI 491 supervisor
April 15 – Submit 3 copies of thesis to Department Administrative Assistant for binding.
April 25 – Last date for advisor and the second reader to submit grades to the Department Chair.