Senior Thesis

Students considering an independent thesis must arrange for the sponsorship and support of a faculty member before beginning research. An independent senior thesis (not written within a senior seminar) should be based on original research and reflect the student’s understanding of fundamental theories and issues in anthropology. The thesis should be comparable in content, style, and length (generally 25–30 pages) to a professional journal article in its subfield. Students who wish to complete the senior comprehensive requirement through and independent thesis will enroll in a section of ANTH 195S supervised by their thesis sponsor or ANTH 195A, ANTH 195B and ANTH 195C series.

Senior theses have been based on independent ethnographic studies, life histories, and laboratory analyses of archaeological or osteological remains. The department has copies of past Senior Theses available for review in the Ethnographic Library (328 Social Sciences 1). These theses are an excellent resource for students who want to get an idea of the range of topics available for study and the appropriate structure and style of Senior Theses. Students are permitted to review the various theses but they are not to be removed from the Ethnographic Library.

Senior Thesis Process

Students who plan to write an independent Senior Thesis must begin planning well in advance – typically three quarters before they plan to graduate. The Senior Thesis process usually takes about a full academic year and requires that students are highly self-motivated and committed to their thesis topic. Most students spend at least one quarter conducting research and one quarter writing the thesis. The steps for completing a Senior Thesis are described below.

STEP 1:  Decide on a topic. This can be developed independently or in conjunction with a faculty member. The Senior Theses in the Ethnographic Library are an excellent resource for students in the process of determining the style, subject, and scope of their research and writing process.

STEP 2:  Find a permanent Anthropology faculty member who will sponsor and advise you on your thesis. Your faculty sponsor will supervise your research and writing, evaluate your thesis, and write your final thesis evaluation. Visiting faculty, lecturers and graduate students cannot supervise Senior Thesis projects. The department recommends that you approach a faculty member with whom you have taken a course with in the past and whose research interests are similar to yours.

Most faculty will not supervise students whom they have never supervised in a class, nor will faculty ordinarily work with students who have not already demonstrated superior work in their Anthropology coursework at UCSC. If you intend to do ethnographic fieldwork for your Senior Thesis you should first select a thesis adviser, then plan this research in consultation with your adviser. Do not complete the fieldwork first and then attempt to find an adviser.

STEP 3:  If the research for your thesis involves work with either human subjects or with animals, then you MUST talk to your thesis adviser regarding the Human Subjects or CARC applications. Human Subjects and CARC applications are a very important aspect of doing advanced research. Without submitting and gaining approval on a Human Subjects or CARC application students cannot present or publish any findings from thesis research.  

STEP 4:  Conduct your thesis research. You may elect to take an Independent Study course (ANTH 197, 198 or 199) with your thesis adviser so that you can receive units for your research. Keep in mind that only ONE Independent Study course may be counted towards your Upper- Division major requirements and that all students must complete 10 Upper-Division courses in the major.

STEP 5:  Enroll in ANTH 195S and write your thesis. For information on format, rules, and style, talk to your thesis adviser and see the American Anthropological Association’s Style Guide. Anthropology Senior Theses must demonstrate proficiency in the discipline of Anthropology.  Your senior thesis must be submitted by the end of the quarter in which you are enrolled for ANTH 195S.