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Jackson Scholars Senior Thesis

ENG 675/676

Jackson Scholars Senior Thesis

  • Course ID:ENG 675/676
  • Semesters:2
  • Department:English
  • Teachers:Austin Hatch

Description and Objectives

Named after the School’s first longstanding headmaster, this thesis option is available to selected students in the senior class.  Each invited student who elects to join the thesis program chooses to work with a faculty advisor throughout the academic year on a shared topic of interest, producing a substantial written work (30-40 pages) that the student defends before a three-person faculty panel (20-30 minute presentation followed by 20-30 minutes of Q&A).


Outline of Topics Covered

The course will cover a variety of topics including in-depth research, composition, style, and oratory.  Students will learn to organize a complex and extended body of research and argument under a careful and concise thesis in thirty to forty pages.  They will practice some aspects of the dual arts of dialectic and rhetoric, and they will be given practical lessons in public speaking and personalized critiques of their own three formal (and several other informal) speeches.

Course Requirements

Advisor Meetings: Each senior thesis writer must meet at least weekly with his advisor.

Grading:  Senior thesis writers will receive quarter grades from the director; these grades will be determined in consultation with the mentor.  The semester exam grade will be the average of the 1stand 2nd quarter grades; the third quarter grade will be for the second Colloquy; the fourth quarter grade will be the grade assigned to the final paper; the final exam grade will be the grade assigned to the oral presentation and defense of the thesis.

The Day-to-Day Schedule: Senior thesis writers will meet as a class during C Block period in Rm. 16 (or in the library as announced) each day throughout the year.  The class is often a proctored time set aside for work on the thesis.  Students must have a plan to use that 40-minute period well each day and to do additional homework each night and at least one day of the weekend throughout the year.

Successful Students

The successful senior thesis writer will dedicate regular time to research, writing, and preparation.  He will be prompt and regular for his meetings with his mentor, and he will be quick to follow up on the suggestions made by both the mentor and the director.  He will seek help and advice from both his mentor and director in order to craft an excellent thesis and presentation.  If the senior thesis writer does all of these things, he will be a Jackson Scholar by May, and—what is more—he will have matured his diligence, his thinking, his writing, and his public speaking, all of which will serve him well as a citizen and leader wherever his professional and personal life may take him.

Additional Resources


September: Preparation classes and individual research; preliminary note card checks; From topic to thesis; Primary and secondary sources: research, bibliography; Note-taking: note cards, outlining; Plagiarism: citations; Writing: invention, organization, style

September 23: Thesis Proposal: 1 page statement of project: that with which the project is concerned and what the project is to achieve; Bibliography Proposal (1-2 page list of sources for the project); both due to advisor and director.

September 30: Note Card Set #1; Bibliography Cards: due to advisor and director.

October 7: Revised Bibliography and Added Bibliography Cards; Note Card Set #2: due to advisor and director.

October 14: Note Card Set #3: due to advisor and director.

October 21: Note Card Set #4: due to advisor and director.

October 28: Outline of Paper; Note Card Set #5: due to advisor and director.

November 8: Draft of First 15 Pages (Full Comments from advisor Due by Dec 8): due to advisor and director.

December: Colloquy #1 (Scheduled from Nov 30th through Dec 10th): practice oral exam in class with colloquy team, i.e. fellow students and advisor; select final panel; schedule Colloquy #2 with advisor, panelists and director.

January 6: Full Draft Due of Thesis (30-40 pages): due to advisor and director (Full comments from advisor due Jan. 24).

January 12: Note Card Set #6 (and Any Additional Bibliography Cards): due to advisor and director.

February 6: Revised Paper: due to advisor and director. (Full comments from advisor due Feb. 23).

February: Colloquy #2 (Scheduled from Feb 1 through Feb 23): Advisor and Director should consider the revised paper and the second colloquy in outlining final changes to thesis in preparation for March 20 due date of final draft.

March 20: Final Paper: due to advisor and director.

March: Preparation for Oral Exam; Public Speaking; The Art of Conversation; Aristotle’s Topics; Learning How to Score a Talk.

March 30: Scored Talk Draft or Talk Note Cards Due (Corrected As Needed): due to advisor and director.

April: Oral Thesis Defense After School from 3:30-5pm (Scheduled from April 11 through May 13)

May 19: Word Doc of Final Paper emailed to Mr. Hatch formatted for printing.

Summer Assignment

The senior thesis writer must complete the reading list suggested by his advisor and approved by the Jackson Scholars Director.