Senior Honors Thesis

The following guidelines are provided to Italian Majors who have been invited to write a Senior Honors Thesis and/or have been awarded the Italian Department Undergraduate Research Fellowship. These guidelines are designed to assist students in undertaking their research projects and help faculty members in their role as thesis mentors.

Senior Thesis Structure

The Thesis topic should be an aspect of Italian literature or culture, advisably one with which the student is already familiar. The average length of the Thesis is approximately 45 to 50 pages, excluding bibliographical references. The Thesis will be written in Italian.

What are the Expectations for a Good Thesis?

The Thesis should put forth a cogent argument. It should demonstrate originality of thought, strong analytical capabilities, and the ability to integrate and cross disciplines. It should comply with the standard criteria for quotations and bibliographical references.

Thesis Mentoring

The student will be mentored by a faculty member whose teaching and research are related to the topic of the Thesis. This choice will be made in consultation with the Chair of the Department.

Steps and Deadlines

Writing a Senior Honors Thesis is a rewarding but challenging enterprise. Careful planning and consistent communication between a student and their supervisor is essential.

In the Spring of Junior Year, the student is assigned a supervisor, becomes familiar with the thesis writing process, formulates a thesis statement, compiles a bibliography, completes the Honors Thesis Form, and submits a proposal. The proposal must motivate the choice of the Thesis topic, provide a preliminary outline of the work, and include a bibliography of relevant primary and secondary sources. In the Fall of Senior Year, the student continues to work on the project within the framework of the Senior Seminar (ITAL 489).

Students are expected to meet regularly with their supervisors, who will foster effective thesis writing techniques and recommend appropriate resources. The final manuscript should be submitted electronically to the Supervisor and the Readers by the end of April of the Senior year. All pages should be numbered, except for the front page and the table of contents. The front page should contain the Thesis title, the phrase “A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Major in Italian, Georgetown University,” the expected semester and year of graduation, the candidate’s name and the supervisor’s name. The second page should contain the table of contents. For footnotes, endnotes, and citation standards, students should follow a standard scholarly format like the MLA Handbook or the Chicago Manual of Style.

Students are also required to give a fifteen to twenty minute presentation to a small group of faculty members. During the presentation, students must discuss their methodology, the distinctive features of their work, and the results they have achieved. They may choose whether to use programs such as PowerPoint or Prezi. The faculty board will ask additional questions and evaluate the presentation and the Thesis in order to decide whether to award Distinction. In the case that additional changes are necessary, students must turn in the revised version before graduation. They are also required to submit to their Supervisor both a hard and bound copy of the thesis, as well as a PDF version of the document. Assessment for the Honors Thesis will be posted on the students’ transcripts as either “Senior Honors Thesis” or “Senior Honors Thesis with Distinction.”

The research standards and expectations for the Honors Thesis are very high. A student who receives Distinction is one who has performed at the highest possible level. The Honors Thesis is expected to show evidence of original research and strong analytical skills. To meet these high expectations, the student should carefully investigate what existing literature has been produced on their topic of interest and then offer an innovative, sophisticated argument within a well-defined theoretical framework.