SOCI-304-01 Sociology Senior Seminar
Spring for 2016-2017
M 11:00AM - 1:30PM

The Sociology Senior Seminar is the most “signature” course within the sociology major, and is certainly a distinctive experience when compared with seniors’ typical obligations across the main campus. Every sociology major must craft a detailed research paper during the spring term, which most of us are wont to call a “thesis,” whereas in most other departments only a select subgroup of seniors in any field are called upon to have that privilege (and that duty). In this respect, then, Georgetown’s Sociology majors follow a path trod by very few of their peers (e.g., in American Studies). You should feel proud to face and overcome such a challenge as an entire group of majors, not just an elite (so-called!) few. And since each thesis topic differs from the next, the course cannot be described to you via its substantive contents. We will instead focus on the “hows” of getting to that end rather than the “whats” of your own thesis topics.

This is thus the “capstone” experience of the work of sociology majors, and into it we expect you to invest your accumulated sociological expertise and wisdom, with your energies directed for the next 3-1/2 months into producing a polished piece of original research which addresses new topics and/or looks into previously unsolved puzzles and unanswered questions. And yet the course is not just about writing a thesis. Rather, it is a review and synthesis of much of the sociological theory and methodology you have learned in earlier courses. Nor do senior-seminar students learn about a new subject area not studied previously: instead, any topic pursued, researched, and written up for this course must be an extension of a subject matter you have already formally studied.

Some benchmarks. Throughout the term you will find yourself working with an assigned partner for intellectual feedback or in smallish discussion groups. You will create a formal thesis-proposal (or statement of the research problem) no later than mid-January and immediately seek formal approval from the Institutional Review Board if said thesis involves directly working with human “subjects” (as they say). You will then develop a critical review of the appropriate literature to demonstrate that your previous studies of your topic give you a core understanding of the field in question. As term progresses you will further develop your awareness of exacting scholarly practices, and will begin to outline your thesis and then start writing in earnest by roughly the middle of the semester. As term nears its end, you will present to the instructor and your fellow students a précis-talk wherein you lay out the problem or issue with which you have engaged, how existing sociological theories have influenced that project, and the initial conclusions to which you have then arrived. Your final thesis will be submitted in the last weeks of April, but will be preceded by partial completion of at least some chapter(s) thereof.

Grading. The final thesis submission will contribute half (50 percent) of your final grade. The other half will derive from your thoughtful, diligent, and timely contributions to the rest of the term’s assignments, including your work in the abovementioned feedback groups.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Sociology Majors Only
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: Sociology Majors Only

Course syllabi
The following syllabi may help you learn more about this course (login required):
Spring '17: McCabe B (file download)
Spring '17: McCabe B (file download)
Additional syllabi may be available in prior academic years.
More information
Look for this course in the schedule of classes.

The academic department web site for this program may provide other details about this course.