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The Department of Classics provides a range of opportunities for undergraduate research.  The most important are the Senior Honors Thesis and participation in archaeological fieldwork projects, but other possibilities also exist.

All Classics majors with a GPA of at least 3.3 have the option of writing a Senior Honors Thesis; enrollment in Honors Carolina is not required.  The thesis subject is usually derived from areas explored in advanced coursework, allowing a more detailed and in-depth examination of the topic.  The program consists of two courses, CLAS 691H and 692H, taken sequentially in the fall and spring semesters.  CLAS 691H involves the preparation of a thesis prospectus with accompanying bibliography, a preliminary oral defense before the thesis committee, and, ideally, the writing of a first draft of the thesis.  CLAS 692H entails the completion of the thesis under the direction of the honors advisor and a final oral defense before the candidate’s committee.  Students interested in writing a Senior Honors Thesis are strongly encouraged to decide on their subject and arrange for a faculty member to serve as their advisor in the spring semester of their junior year.  For further details of the process, see below.  For registration procedures, see the Registration Policies and Forms page.  A list of previous Honors Theses from 1990 to the present can be found at the bottom of this page.

Participation in an archaeological field project allows students to participate directly in the discovery of new data about past civilizations.  Student assistants in field projects receive on-site training in field techniques and, working in teams under the direction of a supervisor, are typically responsible for a particular area of the project.  In some circumstances, student participants may also have the opportunity to incorporate the primary data that they help discover in the field into a larger research project of their own.  Funding for such projects is available on a competitive basis, such as the University’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) or the Burch Honors Fellowship; see further the Prizes and Awards page.

A range of university awards and fellowships exist that allow students to design and pursue research projects of their own; see further the Prizes and Awards page.  Students are encouraged to discuss their ideas with faculty members as they start to develop their plans.

Senior Honors Theses: Policies and Procedures

Students do not need to be enrolled in Honors Carolina in order to write a Senior Honors Thesis; they do, however, need to have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.3.
Students should plan to start the thesis process at the end of their junior year, at least to the point of deciding on a topic and finding a supervisor, so that they may do foundational work over the summer.  It is the student’s responsibility to find a supervisor and, in consultation with him or her, two other members of the faculty to serve on the committee.  Adjunct as well as full members of the Department’s faculty may serve as supervisor, and the committee may include faculty members from other departments or even other institutions.  The student is also responsible for informing and submitting the Independent Study Learning Contract each semester to the Student Services Manager. Working with the supervisor, the student first writes a thesis prospectus, which should consist of the following parts:

  1. title and brief statement of the project;
  2. a survey of the secondary scholarship relevant to the project;
  3. a description of how the project fits into that scholarship and what contribution it expects to make;
  4. a description of the project (in as much detail as needed), including a projected outline of sections or chapters; and
  5. a bibliography of relevant works (whether already seen or not).

After the supervisor has approved the prospectus, the student defends it before the committee.

Students should plan to defend their thesis prospectus as early as feasible in the fall semester, in order to leave as much time as possible for research and writing.  Ideally, they should submit a first draft of the thesis to the supervisor in December and a revised draft to the entire committee in March, in order to schedule the thesis defense before the deadline, which is normally in mid-April.

Students writing Honors Theses may petition to have one semester of their thesis project count towards the upper-level language requirement of their major.  Their supervisor must confirm that as part of their project they are reading at least the equivalent of what would be covered in a normal Greek or Latin course at the 220 level.  Students must complete a petition, obtain the signatures of their supervisor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies, and submit it to the Department Secretary.

In evaluating the thesis, the committee has four options:

  1. Highest Honors, for only those projects that meet the most rigorous standards of scholarly excellence;
  2. Honors, for theses that meet the criteria for Honors work;
  3. course credit only, in which case the thesis project counts towards the student’s degree as an ordinary independent study course; and
  4. failure.

For more information consult the Department Student Services Manager and see the Honors Carolina website.