SOCI 304 - Sociology Senior Seminar

The Senior Seminar is a “capstone” experience in which each senior sociology major (here or in SOCI 438) devotes an entire semester to a research project of one’s own choice and produce a high quality research paper (some people call a “thesis”). Since each thesis topic varies from the next, the course cannot be described to you via its substantive contents. We will instead focus on the “how’s” of getting to that end rather than the “what’s” of your own thesis topics. And yet the course is not just about writing a thesis. Rather, it is a review and synthesis of much of the Sociological theory and methodology that you have learned in earlier courses. The pedagogy of this course is about relearning, reviewing and extending the knowledge and analytic skills that you have already begun to develop. It is not about a student learning a new subject area not studied previously; indeed, any topic that you pursue, research, and write up for this course must be an extension of a subject matter you have formally studied in one or more previous courses. Some Bench-Marks Along the Way. You will create a formal thesis-proposal (or statement of the research problem) no later than mid-January and immediately seek formal approval from the Institutional Review Board if said thesis involves directly working with human “subjects” (as they say). You will develop a critical review of the appropriate literature to demonstrate that your previous studies of your topic give you a core understanding of the field in question. You will present to the instructor and your fellow students a précis-talk wherein you lay out the dominant theoretical viewpoint(s) concerning your topic and also point out the problem-area(s) – theoretical and/or empirical – into which your own project will delve. (In each one of these steps toward a final, written thesis you will be subject to a series of peer-review processes wherein you get helpful advice from your fellow seniors and provide advice to them.) Your final thesis will be submitted in the later weeks of April, but will be preceded by partial completion of at least some chapter(s) thereof. Grading. The final thesis submission will contribute at least half (50 percent) of your final grade, but will certainly not be the only element determining your final grade, for all of the elements in the preceding paragraph will also enter into that arithmetic. Readings. Will be assigned by the start of term.
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