GOVT-349 Honors Seminar: International Politics
Fall for 2013-2014
This seminar is designed to prepare you to write a senior honors thesis in International Politics (IPOL). Writing a thesis will deepen your knowledge and stretch your analytic skills in major ways. Yet doing this successfully requires hard work and an ability to break a large task into a series of manageable steps. The seminar’s purpose is to help you navigate these steps. By the end of the semester, you should have (1) a well-defined thesis question on an important topic, (2) a clear plan for answering that question, (3) a good idea about how you will ground your question, arguments, and evidence in the appropriate substantive and theoretical literature of international politics, and (4) the first 15-20 pages of the thesis together with the overall outline and bibliography.
For detailed information on SFS International Politics Honors Thesis requirements, see:
We begin the semester by examining how scholars choose research questions, evaluate possible answers, and select research strategies. Your initial task is to frame an important yet manageable question. Above all, the question must be one that interests you. At the same time, it must be one you can answer convincingly with the resources you have available. The more precisely you pose your question and the clearer your plan for answering it, the better the thesis will be (and the easier to write).
We will also spend several sessions examining broad gauged thinking about the disciplines and relationships among international politics, political science, and international history. Here, our topic is how a number of leading IPOL scholars assess their subject, its boundaries, and the most important areas of inquiry. This part of the seminar is not designed as a mini-course in IR theory, but it does aim to stimulate your ideas, challenge you intellectually in laying the groundwork for your senior thesis, and help you in situating your research question in some larger conceptual or empirical body of work.
In addition to your active participation in the above discussions, each of you will present in seminar first an early abstract of your thesis, then a revised and enlarged abstract, and finally the first part of the thesis itself. By discussing your ideas and those of your fellow honors seniors in seminar, you are likely to gain insights that will help you to develop a more coherent thesis question and focus your own writing.
The following syllabi may help you learn more about this course (login required):
Fall '13: Lieber, R (description, file download)
Additional syllabi may be available in prior academic years.
Other academic years
There is information about this course number in other academic years: