Senior Thesis


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Queen Victoria’s influence on British Literature
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What Is a Senior Thesis?

  1. Thesis: “A dissertation embodying the results of . . . research, and especially substantiating a specific view”[1]
  2. Your topic must pertain to British literature
  3. The most important part of the thesis is the idea that you will analyze. There are three approaches:




  1. The research skills are similar to what you have used before. The principal difference is the use of analytical thinking, which must guide your research.  It is this analysis of the facts that takes the thesis beyond the usual report.  A report merely assembles facts.  A thesis uses those facts to prove a point, to show a comparison and contrast, or to make an analysis.


What is the Product?

_ Two copies of a 1,300 to 2,000-word report[2], typed, double-spaced paper.  USUAL _

_ This is approximately 3.75-5.75 pp. for the body of essay using the prescribed format. _

Two copies of a 1,300 to 2,000-word report[3], typed, double-spaced paper. _ 2021 _

Research based, not a personal essay.

Minimum of six sources

Minimum of one each: book, periodical (magazine or journal), web site

Each copy must be bound in a separate, paper, three-prong folder.

The student must type his or her own paper.

Standard margins:  One inch on all sides

Font:  Tahoma 11 point or Times New Roman 12 point

Order of the paper:

Title page


Body (word count for body only, on last page)

Works cited



Grade weight:

100 points


What should a thesis statement look like?


It should be a declarative sentence in the first or second paragraph.  It should concisely state the point that you are proving in your paper.

The thesis statement is not a topic, but a declarative sentence stating the position that will be supported by every word in the rest of the paper.


Examples of thesis statements:


The transformation in the life and works of John Donne gives testimony that he was genuinely converted.


Beowulf was like the heroes of modern TV in his use of force for right, in his loyalty, and in his eventual triumph; but he was different in his relationship to the supernatural and to glory as a motive.


Alfred, Lord Tennyson, represents the ideals of the Victorian Era in his loyalty to his country  his morality, his honest search for truth, and his faith in God.


The thesis statement should convey the complete idea when read alone.

E.g, not this: “Throughout the book he used symbols to show that humans have two conflicting natures.”

but this: “Throughout The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Stevenson used symbols to show . . . .”


What Should I Document?

Document (in the paragraph where you use it, give credit to a source for):

  1. An author’s exact words
  2. An author’s opinion or evaluation
  3. An author’s unique research

Do not document:

Almost all factual information


What is Paraphrasing?

Paraphrasing means that you express the general, factual information in your own words.  This starts at the level of taking notes.  Read the information you need and write brief notes in your own words at the time of research.  It is much harder to paraphrase later.





What is Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is presenting the ideas, words, or ordering of ideas of another as if it were your own. This is a serious offense.  Careless plagiarism that results in not understanding how to handle research will count as a major error and will drop the grade of the paper one full letter grade.  Deliberate plagiarism will result in an F on the paper.

Changing a few words is not paraphrasing:  it is still plagiarism.
Ideas in the same order as an original source is still plagiarism.

The goal is to draw ideas from many sources and create your own new work.


What form of Documentation Will Be Used?

Use MLA format:

In-text citation

Works cited list

Minimum:  six entries.  Works entered in the Works Cited list must be cited in the body of the paper.


What are Major Errors?

Each of these errors will drop the grade for the paper by one-third of a letter grade for each occurrence, not exceeding a one full letter-grade drop:

Sentence Fragment   Subject-verb Agreement

Comma Splice           Pronoun-antecedent Agreement

Fused Sentence        Spelling



Avoid first and second person. Similarly, avoid “as one can see  . . .”  Just present your proposition (the thesis statement) and prove/illustrate it with the facts, showing the relationships among the facts.

Avoid talking about your paper. (“This paper will look at the similarities between pantheism and the New Age movement.”)

Underline the thesis statement.

Every body paragraph begins with a topic sentence.

Save your work after every paragraph.

It is your responsibility to know your computer and program.  The paper is due on the due date

MLA form has page numbers beginning with 1 on the first page of the body of the and continuing through the works cited page.

Have word count (body of paper only) on last page of the paper.


Some Recommendations:


Have a clear introduction, creating interest or expressing the importance of your topic.  Make the whole introduction lead up to your thesis statement, a one sentence that presents the point that will be proven, compared, or analyzed.


Use section headings reflecting the main headings (Roman numerals) of your outline. Type headings without the Roman numerals, at left margin (no indent), small caps Ex.:

     Early Forms of Celtic Writing


The topic sentence controls you paragraph. Have substantial support (RENNS:  reasons, examples, names, numbers, appeal to the five senses). Do not introduce ideas beyond the topic sentence in that paragraph.


Sometimes end paragraphs with a clincher sentence or a transitional sentence.


Example Thesis Statements


Shakespeare’s plays are notable due to their quality, their intricacy of design, and their biblical integration.



Charles Dickens made David Copperfield a parallel of his own life.

Same idea, but focused on the parallels of their childhoods in particular:

The similarities between the early lives of Charles Dickens and his character David Copperfield indicate that David Copperfield is an autobiography of Dickens told in a fictional setting.


Shakespeare uses mistaken identity in one of three ways:  for characters to accomplish evil, for characters to accomplish good, and for himself to show the character of man.


In the “Anne series,” Anne’s life is similar to that of Maude Montgomery’s in their personal appearance and personality, their early childhoods, their fantasy worlds, their friendships, their love for Prince Edward Island, their education and their works.


The life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and that of Dame Agatha Christie have many interesting similarities and differences, as do their works.   _ in style, characters, and variety._


The characters in the stories of A. A. Milne appeal to readers both young and old because of their childlikeness and accurate portrayal of real life.


The experiences of Christina Rossetti’s life and her deep faith in God greatly influenced her writing.


Shakespeare accurately portrayed human nature.


The three factors that motivated John Wesley were the solid foundation of his home, the long search for salvation, and a strong dedication to God and the ministry.


The words of Charles Wesley’s hymns reveal many things about his understanding of biblical truth.


Tennyson’s In Memoriam is not only a record of his grief, but also a record of his doubt and its final resolution in faith.


    [1] David B. Guralnik, ed.  Webster’s New World Dictionary, second edition (New York:  World Publishing Company, 1978).

    [2]Word count is for the body of the paper, not including title page, outline, or works cited list.  Avoid long quotations; no more than 10% of the required length may be quotations.

    [3]Word count is for the body of the paper, not including title page, outline, or works cited list.  Avoid long quotations; no more than 10% of the required length may be quotations.


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