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Thesis Guidelines for the College of the Arts

Completing a Thesis in the Humanities 

The Senior Honors Thesis in the humanities is typically envisioned and executed entirely as a written piece of work. This kind of thesis might resemble a long research paper in form, but it is different than a class paper. 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 will run 50-75 pages. 

Completing a Thesis in the Visual Arts, Performing Arts, or Creative Writing

The creative Senior Honors Thesis consists of a substantial body of work that displays your best creative work over the course of your undergraduate career. Your thesis should also include an introductory essay contextualizing your creative work within the field and offering critical insights into your creative process. Works of fiction usually run 50-100 pages, while poetry typically has somewhat fewer pages. The page requirements will vary greatly depending on the project. 

Completing a Performance Thesis Project

A performance thesis project can be conducted in a variety of ways, but must have a written component. The written portion should be at least 25 pages in length, and provide comprehensive information on what is being performed. In music, the student should write about the various compositions. In theatre and dance, the student should provide information on the piece performed. 

The written portion can be extended program notes on the performance. It should include some placement of the piece historically, and information on the composer or playwright. Some issues of music, theatre, or dance theory and analysis should probably also be addressed. If relevant, the student should provide information on his or her artistic vision for the production and what he or she was trying to achieve through the performance. It is essential that the student works with the thesis director early-on to develop the guidelines for the undergraduate thesis project. 

Working with Human Subjects 

If your research proposal includes working with human subjects, you must receive approval from the University's Institutional Review Board (IRB) policy prior to initiating your research. 

College of the Arts Senior Honors Thesis Representative

Carrie Young from the College of the Arts is your contact. 

Pertinent information on formatting, binding, and binding deadline (refer to CLASS guidelines):

Email Carrie for an appointment before the binding deadline during the semester you are defending your thesis. She will provide you with specific information on the steps for submitting your thesis for binding. By the deadline, plan to submit a copy of your defended thesis on regular paper and your signature pages—signed by all three of your committee members—on 100% cotton paper. You bind your own thesis once you receive your signature pages back from Carrie with Dean Davis’ signature.

Minimum number of bound copies for College of the Arts students: One total, (1) for the Honors College. However, ask your research mentor if he/she would like a bound copy of your thesis, and if the department would like a copy. You will also be required to submit an electronic copy of your thesis to the MD Anderson Library once your thesis is approved.