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Thesis Guidelines for the College of Architecture

Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture

The Senior Honors Thesis in architecture is typically envisioned and executed entirely as a design project. It tackles a problem that others have not yet addressed adequately, or it approaches the problem from a new angle. Research into what others have said and done is the essential first step, but your thesis should go beyond prior work to include your own insights and critical thinking. You should have an acquaintance with the relevant scholarship and display originality in the formulation of your arguments. Typically, such a thesis, including representation of drawings and models, will run 50-75 pages.

Timeline and Forms:

One Year Before Graduation:

  1. Decide on a general topic. Students usually elect to work within their major, but you may wish to engage in an interdisciplinary thesis. In this case you must show proficiency in both fields and find a faculty member who will direct your thesis as an interdisciplinary work.

  2. Speak to other students about their projects. Even if they are not working in your discipline, they will be the best source for understanding the process from your side.

  3. Look at other Honors Theses. The MD Anderson Library, The Honors College, and the College of Architecture Thesis Director have copies of previous theses from your college. You should look at as many in your field as you can in order to understand the level of work that is expected, and to see how previous students have interpreted the form of the Senior Honors Thesis. Download the library call number form to find out where your department's theses are located at the MD Anderson Library.

  4. Approach faculty members for advice. The first faculty member you speak with may not be able to direct your thesis, but should be able to give you feedback about your topic and help you find someone who can be your advisor. The beginning of the project is often exploratory; the more people you can speak with about it, the better the process will go.

  5. Ask a faculty member to direct your thesis. Once you have some idea of what topic you wish to pursue, ask a faculty member to direct your thesis. If the faculty member has not directed a thesis before, the Office of Undergraduate Research and The Honors College can provide faculty guidelines and answer questions.

  6. Complete the Verification of Eligibility. Under normal circumstances, the Director of Undergraduate Studies in your department (not your thesis advisor) will certify your eligibility to begin a thesis project. This form must be returned to Dr. Jenn Asmussen at the Office of Undergraduate Research, room 212W in the Honors College, MD Anderson Library.

First Semester, Fifth Year:

Enroll in ARCH 3393, Thesis Preparation

  1. Write a proposal. A typical proposal should include a Prospectus (3 to 5 pages in length), Analysis, Method of Study, Bibliography, and References. The proposal is meant to help you focus your project before you begin the work. It is essential to narrow the topic to a manageable size. Students who take on a project that is too large in scope often have trouble finishing. And remember, the proposal does not reflect finished work; some aspects of your thesis may change as you complete the project. However, if changes are made to your thesis, the changes should be reflected in an updated version of the proposal. The proposal should serve as a contract or plan-of-action for your thesis.

  2. Find a second reader within the field. Your first reader (Thesis Director) should be able to help you identify a second reader. The second reader will need to approve your proposal and then read the final version of your thesis for the defense.

  3. Submit the proposal. Along with the Prospectus Approval Form to the Thesis Director and second reader for their signatures, and then to Dr. Jenn Asmussen in room 212W in the Honors College. Once the first and second readers are both satisfied with the prospectus, The Office of Undergraduate Research will review the prospectus and assign a third Honors reader to serve on the committee, and you will be notified via email when an Honors reader has been chosen to serve on your committee.

Second Semester, Fifth Year:

Register for ARCH 5593, Thesis Project and ARCH 4393, Thesis Publication

  1. Begin design work. Keeping the project manageable often involves dividing it up into smaller parts. Your thesis director will notify the Office of Undergraduate Research of your progress.

Four Weeks Before Graduation:

  1. Give your advisor a rough draft of the thesis. At this point in the process, your advisor can help you shape your thesis into the draft you will present to your readers for the oral defense.
  2. Schedule an oral defense. Find a time that is convenient for all of your readers, ideally several weeks before graduation and before the binding deadline set by your college. The oral defense will be your major opportunity to get feedback from your readers before binding your thesis. Your readers will most likely require some revisions, so be sure to schedule enough time to make those changes before the binding deadlines. If you wish to have your defense in one of The Honors College seminar rooms, they can be reserved in advance through the Office of Undergraduate Research.

One or Two Weeks before the Oral Defense:

All readers should be given a copy of the version you wish to defend. Remember to bring a copy of the Defense & Final Evaluation Form with you to your defense.

At the Oral Defense:

  1. Most commonly, you will give a presentation or narrative about your project and then respond to questions from each of the three readers. Should your committee members approve it, we encourage you to invite your peers, mentors, and guests to your defense.

  2. When you successfully pass the defense, the instructor of record (your thesis director) will submit a grade for ARCH 5598.

  3. When the final version of the thesis is bound and submitted to the Office of Undergraduate Research, a member of The Honors College will notify the office of Records and Registration, and the appropriate designation, University Honors (for interdisciplinary theses), Honors in Major, or University Honors and Honors in Major will be added to your official transcript. This submittal shall occur four weeks after your oral defense.  A grade for ARCH 4398 will be given at this time.

Immediately after Final Revisions and at Least a Week before Your College's Binding Deadline:

Prepare the final copy for binding according to the binding & formatting guidelines.

Please Note: All UH theses must be maroon with gold etching on the bound cover. The University Copy Center is aware of the UH requirements for bound theses

Contacts for Assistance in Completing a Senior Honors Thesis

UH Writing Center - provides writing instruction and advice to UH students

Office of Undergraduate Research - offers information on senior honors thesis program; answers general questions regarding deadlines, regulations, and other logistical matters; assigns Honors reader to thesis committee; contact person is Dr. Jenn Asmussen, 713-743-6433

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (6th edition) - covers the mechanics of writing, such as punctuation, quotation, and documentation of sources

Strunk and White's The Elements of Style (4th edition) - outlines the principles of composition, grammar, word usage and misusage, and writing style