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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 (25 minute presentation followed by 25-30 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 the Floater period in Rm. 34 Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Tuesdays are reserved for independent research or drafting or meeting with the advisor; this is not a free period, but 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 advisor, and he will be quick to follow up on the suggestions made by both the advisor and the director.  He will seek help and advice from both his advisor 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; Mini-Talks; 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 20: 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 27: Note Card Set #1; Bibliography Cards: due to advisor and director.

October 4: Revised Bibliography and Added Bibliography Cards; Note Card Set #2: due to advisor and director.

October 11: Note Card Set #3: due to advisor and director.

October 18: Note Card Set #4: due to advisor and director.

October 25: Outline of Paper; Note Card Set #5: due to advisor and director.

November 13: Draft of First 15 Pages (Full Comments from advisor Due by Dec 13): due to advisor and director.

December: Colloquy #1 (Scheduled from Dec 2nd through Dec 18th): 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 8: Full Draft Due of Thesis (30-40 pages): due to advisor and director (Full comments from advisor due Jan. 27).

January 16: Note Card Set #6 (and Any Additional Bibliography Cards): due to advisor and director.

February 12: Revised Paper: due to advisor and director. (Full comments from advisor due Feb. 26).

February: Colloquy #2 (Scheduled from Feb 3 through Feb 28): Advisor and Director should consider the revised paper and the second colloquy in outlining final changes to thesis in preparation for March 26 due date of final draft.

March 26: Final Paper: due to advisor and director.

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

April: Scored Talk Draft or Talk Note Cards Due (Corrected As Needed): due to advisor and director one week prior to defense.

April / May: Oral Thesis Defense After School from 3:30-5:00pm in the Living Room or Rm. 32 (“The Tower Room”) (Scheduled from April 28 through May 22)

May 16: 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.