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 as they undertake their research project and help faculty members in their role as thesis mentors.
Senior thesis structure
The thesis topic should be on an aspect of Italian literature or culture.It is recommended that students write their senior thesis on a topic with which they are already familiar. The approximate average length of the thesis is 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 be supported by a cogent argument. It should demonstrate originality of thought, analytical strengths, and ability to integrate and cross disciplines. It should also comply with the standard criteria for quotations and bibliographical references.
The thesis will be mentored by a faculty member whose teaching and research are related to the thesis topic. The 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 constant communication between students and supervisors are essential.
In the Spring of their Junior Year, students are assigned a supervisor, become familiar with the process, formulate a thesis statement, compile a bibliography, fill the Honors Thesis Form, and submit 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 semester of their Senior Year, students continue working at their projects 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. 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 presentation before a small group of faculty members. During the presentation, that should last from fifteen to twenty minutes, 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 will ask additional questions and evaluate both the presentation and the thesis in order to decide whether to award the “distinction.” In case additional changes are necessary, students must turn in the revised version before graduation. They are also required to submit to their Supervisor a hard and bound copy of the thesis, as well as a pdf file. 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 honors theses are very high. A student who receives a distinction is supposed to have performed at the highest possible level. The honors thesis is expected to provide evidence of original research and strong analytical skills. Students should carefully investigate what the existing scholarship has produced on their topics, and offer innovative and sophisticated arguments in a well-defined theoretical framework.