The culmination of our major is the College-wide requirement of the Senior Project, where students are expected to research and write as historians. Every Alleghenian completes a Senior Comprehensive Project (known as the “Comp”), a significant piece of original work, designed by the individual student in consultation with a faculty advisor, that demonstrates to employers and/or graduate schools the ability to complete a major assignment, to work independently, to analyze and synthesize information and to write and speak persuasively.
The object of the Senior Project in the Department of History is to enable students to pursue independent historical research on a topic of their own choosing and to report their findings in a substantial paper. The work will be evaluated on the quality of the research, the originality of the thesis, the strength of the argument, the nature of the sources, and the clarity of expression. This evaluation will be conducted by a board of examiners consisting of two members of the Department of History, or, if the project is undertaken in conjunction with another department, by one member of the Department of History and one member of the other department. Students will also be examined orally by this board on the general field of knowledge and period of time with which the Project is concerned, the specific information contained in the paper, and the methods of research. Students will have the counsel of a member of the department chosen by the student as the project director, but it is the student’s responsibility to take the initiative in seeking advice.
Note that students requiring financial assistance to conduct research (individually or in collaboration with History faculty), visit archives, purchase microfilm or copy primary source materials, etc. may apply for funding from the Paula A. Treckel History Department Fund and the Kenneth K. Robertson ’65 Fund. Both are administered through the Department of History. In an effort to support multiple research projects, total funding for each application will not exceed $500. Funding can cover no more than two-thirds of a single project and is currently restricted to History majors, including those that are double majors in some other discipline. Additional financial support is available from the Class of 1939 Senior Research Fund through the Office of the Provost and Dean of the College.
History 600: Senior Project 1
In the second semester of the Junior year or the first semester of the Senior year, students register for History 600. They select a topic of interest and begin to work with the member of the department faculty whose expertise is best suited to the subject. The topic may represent a completely new area of inquiry, or it may be an extension of a seminar paper or any long or short paper submitted in any other course, although it cannot be merely a re-working of that same paper. The department strongly recommends that students build on work developed in previous courses.
Thesis advisors are formally assigned by the department. Please be aware that faculty may decline to direct a senior project on the basis of the proposed subject, or in order to maintain a balanced work load and schedule.
Students enrolled in History 600 build on the skills they have learned while taking classes in the History Department. In particular, while enrolled in History 600, students work on the use of proper form and citation; identification and evaluation of appropriate sources; writing logical and convincing arguments; and understanding historical interpretations. As part of the course, they present their written arguments for evaluation and give oral presentations on the progress of their research. By the end of the semester in which they are enrolled in History 600, students will have made significant progress in conceptualizing their Senior Project, completing the necessary research, and formulating an effective strategy for completing their project. The course culminates in the Senior Scholar Symposium, where students give public presentations of their work to the Department and College community.
History 600 course requirements:
- the project proposal (3-5 pages with preliminary, but extensive, bibliography),
- statement, outline, annotated bibliography (3 page revised proposal, 2-3 page outline, 2-3 page annotated bibliography),
- mid-semester oral presentation on research (5-6 minutes, no notes, with 1 page project summary),
- historiographical essay (7-8 pages, 3-4 page outline, complete bibliography),
- final oral presentation (5-6 minutes, with abstract, distilled outline, timeline for the completion of the project in the next semester),
- class participation and peer review.
Students who do not earn a passing grade for History 600 will not be permitted to register for History 610, and will have to re-take History 600 in the following semester.
History 610: Senior Project 2
History 610 is a 4-credit course, offered every fall and spring; it is required of all majors, and it is graded on the A-F system only. 610 is a signature card course taken with the thesis director.
The department recommends that students submit a complete draft of the entire Senior Project to the director no later than one month prior to the due date. It is to the student’s advantage to do so. The director will examine the draft and return it with comments and suggestions. It is the student’s responsibility to initiate discussion with the director in order to undertake revisions of the paper. Be advised that the director is not obliged to look at any draft material submitted later than one month prior to the due date. Also be aware that the project directors are not copy editors or proofreaders; do not expect them to do this kind of work.
Senior Project Guidelines
Students should familiarize themselves with the required format for the Senior Project, and follow these guidelines throughout the process:
- Only standard size and style type (12 point font), and black ink may be used. Only letter quality printing will be accepted. The text is to be double spaced, except for block quotations, table titles, and figure captions. Citations and bibliographic entries are to be single spaced.
- Pagination: Number all pages in the bottom center, starting with the first page of the Introduction as page 1. Preceding pages, including Table of Contents, Acknowledgements, and Abstract, should be numbered in lower case Roman numerals. Do not include a page number on the Title Page, although this is counted as page i. The first numbered page is the Table of Contents and it should be numbered ii. Each chapter is to begin on a new page, and is to be headed by Chapter #, beneath which, on the next line, is to appear the chapter title.
- The Senior Project should include, in this order:
- Title Page
- Table of Contents: list the numbers and titles of all chapters, and the page numbers on which each chapter begins. The bibliography, together with any appendices, maps, tables, charts, graphs, or illustrations should also be listed here.
- Acknowledgements: if you wish, you may thank mentors, librarians and archivists, family members, and others who have been influential to you in the writing of your Senior Project. This section is voluntary and may be omitted.
- Abstract: you should write one paragraph that summarizes the contents of the Senior Project. This should appear on a separate page and be headed “Abstract.”
- Text: the body of the paper should be divided into as many chapters as necessary to present the subject in a well-organized fashion.
- Citations: notes should be arranged sequentially by chapter (i.e., begin a new series with number 1 for each chapter). Notes may be placed either at the bottom of the page on which the reference occurs (footnotes), or at the end of each chapter (endnotes). If endnotes are used, they are to commence immediately after the last page of each chapter, or the last page of any appendices. The endnotes for each chapter are to begin on a new page, which is to carry the number and title of the chapter to which the notes refer. Endnote pages are to be numbered in sequence from the last page of text in the chapter. All notes are to conform to the standards established in the current edition of Kate L. Turabian’s Manual, see Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (Chicago Style). If there are any questions about proper forms of citations which are not addressed by Turabian, it is the student’s responsibility to consult with the project director or the department chair.
- Bibliography: arranged according to the instructions contained in the current edition of Turabian’s Manual. Bibliography pages are to be numbered in sequence from the last page of text, appendices, or endnotes.
- Typographical errors, if few in number and minor in character, may be corrected neatly by hand in black ink on all copies. Authors should edit and re-print any pages on which there are numerous errors, omissions of text, or major alterations.
- Proofread carefully! It is to be clearly understood that any pages badly flawed with technical mistakes, any neglect of the instructions contained in these Guidelines, or any failure to employ accurately the standards prescribed in Turabian’s Manual, may result in a penalty grade, a requirement that the project be edited and re-printed, or, in extreme cases, failure in the Senior Project.
- The provisions of the Allegheny College Honor Code apply to the Senior Project, just as they apply to all work submitted for evaluation in all other courses. Copies of the Honor Code are provided to all students, at the beginning of each year, in the annual edition of The Compass. If there are any questions about proper forms of citation, or any other matters that may come under the provisions of the Honor Code, it is the students’ responsibility to consult with their project directors or with the department chair. Ignorance will not be accepted as an excuse for violations of the Honor Code.
Steps for submission of the Senior Project are listed below. Final grades will not be submitted, which will delay graduation, until ALL steps have been completed to the satisfaction of the History Department:
- Electronically complete then print the Permission Form for Distribution of Senior Project so that both the student and senior project advisor can sign. Submit the signed form to Pelletier Library, Box 117.
- Submit a PDF of your Project to Pelletier Library . The department will confirm with the Library receipt of the Project and required permission form.
- Submit two bound hardcopies of the Senior Project (three copies if the Senior Project is for a double major) to the History Department no later than 4:00 p.m. on the 12th Wednesday of each semester. See Due Dates below.
- Complete the History Department Senior Project Submission Form.
- Complete the appropriate poster template for the History Department display case. Submit your completed poster to the Arter building coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
American History – Blue Border
European History – Red Border
Non-Western History – Gold Border
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Extensions will not be granted. One letter grade will be deducted from the project’s final grade for each weekday that it is late. It is the student’s responsibility to make appropriate arrangements to insure that the senior thesis is ready on time.
Prior to the due date for the Senior Project, students will be contacted by the department and asked for their schedules so that oral examinations may be arranged. The department schedules all Senior Project orals. The oral board consists of the Senior Project director and a member of the History faculty appointed by the Department unless the student is a double major. In this case, the second member of the board will be a representative of the student’s other major department. Senior Project orals take place in the office of the Senior Project director.
The final grade for History 610 will be determined by the faculty of the Department of History, based on the recommendations of the members of the examining board. The grade is arrived at by a careful evaluation of both the written work and the oral examination. Students will receive their final grade from the office of the Registrar of the College.
If students fail to complete the Senior Project, they will fail History 610. In such an event, they will be notified in a timely manner. Moreover, it is to be understood that if, in the opinion of the examiners, the written work is not of sufficient quality to merit a passing grade, no oral examination will be held. Should the examiners reach such a decision, authors will be notified by their project director prior to the time scheduled for the oral. In the event of a failure, it may be necessary for students to begin again, with an entirely new topic, and a new project director. The student must register for History 610 in the next semester.
The Department of History annually awards the Don M. Larrabee Prize and the Harold Huntley Haine Prize to the authors of the best senior projects. The prize recipients are selected from among those students who have earned the highest grades on their projects during the academic year. The winners of the prizes are announced at the annual Honors Convocation in the spring of each year.