The senior year for the history department includes:
- A written capstone paper (either research or integrative)
- An oral examination based on that paper
Whitman College History Senior Assessment
|Honors, if eligible||Yes||Honors candidates write a thesis.|
|Senior Seminar||Yes||Comparative history seminar that helps prepare them for senior exams.|
|Oral Thesis Defense||Yes||Only for Honors candidates|
|Oral Exam||Yes||One hour exam with two faculty based on capstone paper.|
|Written Exam(s)||~||Not an exam per se. Seniors write a capstone integrative or research essay. (Honors candidates’ thesis substitutes for this essay)|
History Major Exams
The final aspect of the history major is the major exam. In addition to the capstone paper, there is an oral exam based on that paper and scheduled no sooner than a week after the capstone paper is turned in. Honors thesis writers will have an oral defense of their thesis instead. Instructions concerning the exams, including more detail on all materials for your exams, will be provided in History 401.
Key Deadlines for Senior Projects
Week 5: Honors Thesis Application/Proposals due to Department Chair, Prof. Arch, by email at email@example.com at 4 p.m.
Week 6: draft of Capstone Proposals to a faculty member with expertise relevant to the topic
Week 7: Capstone Proposals emailed to Department Chair, Prof. Arch (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Statement of Courses (for Hist-ES majors and for History majors) signed by major advisor due to Department Chair, Prof. Arch, in second-floor mailbox by 4 p.m.
Last Day of Class/Finals: All seniors 401 final project due to 401 instructors
End of Semester: Honors Theses (Independent Study): initial chapter due to advisor
Week 2: Revised Capstone Proposals with annotated bibliography due to Department Chair, Prof. Arch (email@example.com) by 4 p.m.
Week 8: Capstones complete rough drafts due to Department Chair, Prof. Arch (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 4 p.m.
Week 9: Capstone check-ins (meet with both readers)
Week 10: Final draft of Capstones due to Department Chair, Prof. Arch (email@example.com) by 4 p.m.
Week 11: Full draft of Honors Thesis due to Department Chair, Prof. Arch (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 4 p.m.
Week 12: Capstone oral defenses scheduled by faculty
Week 13: Honors Thesis oral defenses scheduled by faculty
Week 15: Honors Theses due at the Library
Major Examination Documents
Senior history majors must submit the following four documents related to oral and written exams.
Choices for the Senior Writing Project
- Integrative capstone essay: Bringing together coursework completed in your Track. History 402: History Lab (1 credit), which you will take in the Spring semester, acknowledges the work you will be completing for this project. Typically these will range from 20 to 25 pages. View sample integrative capstone essay.
- Research capstone essay: Conducting further research on a topic related to your Track. Primary sources are desirable but may not be necessary, depending on your topic. Again, History 402: History Lab (1 credit), which you will take in the Spring semester, acknowledges the work you will be completing for this project. Typically these will range from 20 to 25 pages. View a sample research capstone essay.
- Honors thesis: A history honors thesis involves substantial, individual research conducted with primary sources over a year (at least). Students approved by the department to pursue a thesis will conduct detailed research in the Fall semester, followed by writing and revision in the Spring semester. In acknowledgement of the intensity of such a project, students take 3 credits for the research portion in the Fall (Hist 385) and another 3 credits for the writing & revision portion in the Spring (Hist 498). Note: there are a number of college-wide requirements for honors, including minimum gpa (see catalog for details). The length of the final product should reflect the significance of this contribution, while being written for concision and readability (it will be kept in the College archives). The Department therefore recommends a minimum of 50 pages and no more than 100 pages, not including appendices and bibliography.
Description of Capstone Proposal
A Capstone proposal (one page, plus bibliography for research version or list of relevant courses with short description of what part of the course/topic you expect to focus on for integrative essay) should provide all faculty members of the History department with an introduction to your project and a summary of your essay plans. Give a working title and state the central topic and question(s) you will be addressing.
Proposals are read by the department faculty as part of choosing your first and second readers - you will be informed of who will be supervising your capstone work after turning in your proposal in the fall. Your first reader will be the main advisor for your project.
Description of Honors Thesis Proposal
An Honors Thesis proposal (2-3 pages, plus bibliography) should provide all faculty members of the History department with an introduction to your project and a summary of your research plans. Give a working title and state the central topic and question(s) you will be addressing. Explain the significance of your planned contribution and how you anticipate your project will engage with past and current scholarship on your topic. Outline a proposed/working structure of chapters, describing the sources you will use, what additional sources you plan to investigate further, and how sections of the project will interrelate. Your bibliography should have two sections, dedicated to primary (and/or “ancient”) and secondary (and/or “modern”) sources.
Proposals are assessed by the department faculty at the October department meeting. The department chair and the thesis mentor will provide feedback about the department’s decision regarding each proposal.
Past history honors theses are available in the Penrose Library.