Nature of the thesis:

  • A thesis should be a work of some 60-90 pages that presents the state of research and offers an original contribution to the chosen topic. It should avoid being a resume of the state of the question. It should – as its title suggests – argue a “thesis”: a new idea about a topic. Since the Medieval Studies program is interdisciplinary, all topics must explicitly engage some model of interdisciplinarity.
  • The thesis format will follow the guidelines published on the SMU website: The thesis will adhere to the Turabian style for works on the humanities unless there is a compelling reason to use a style sheet for some other discipline.

Schedule of the thesis:

  • Students should be thinking about thesis possibilities from the time they enter the program. Be alert for topics that look rewarding, questions that seem likely to yield good material, professors whose approach looks compatible with your interests. Seminar papers often prove to be good entrees into topics.
  • Students must pass the language exams before moving onto thesis work. If you have not passed the language exam before the end of the third semester, the faculty will have to meet and decide whether to grant an extension or to drop the student from the program.
  • Students should have a topic in mind by the beginning of their third semester (or at the equivalent point after eighteen hours) when they sign up for a Directed Study to work with their advisor (first reader). There will be at least two readers. The thesis must be interdisciplinary in its conceptualization and execution. By the very beginning of the fourth semester, students must submit to the advisor and to the director of Medieval Studies a two-page thesis abstract, a three to five page state-of-the-literature, and a preliminary bibliography. The faculty will then offer suggestions and either approve the project or require revisions and schedule another presentation date.
  • The remaining thesis hours will be taken in the fourth semester or as convenient for the student. Students on financial aid are advised to be aware that financial aid can cover only four semesters of nine hours each.
  • Members of the thesis committee will be drawn from faculty in Medieval Studies and appointed by the director of Medieval Studies. When warranted, the director of Medieval Studies will solicit and appoint an outside reader from another university as a member of the thesis committee. They should be engaged early in the project, in the course of the third semester, so they are aware from its inception what the project will be and can contribute to it. Advisors and students alike should be sure drafts circulated to committee members are in good form, with typos corrected, etc.