Watson Institute at Brown University
Development Studies

Senior Thesis

Senior Thesis Options

The senior thesis must focus on a particular theme, utilize the student’s regional expertise, and/or incorporate foreign language skills.

Option 1: Senior Thesis (academic paper)

The typical thesis is an individual research project that results in an eighty to one hundred-page document consisting of a theoretical chapter and several empirical chapters.

Students wishing to write a thesis that requires advanced knowledge and advising from a particular field should take extra coursework in that field before the senior year. (For example, students planning to do a project that requires advising from a professor in the economics department should take three of the following courses by the end of their junior year: ECON 1110 or 1130, 1210, 1560, 1620 or 1630).

Option 2: Media Project

For a multimedia project to be considered it must be based on an analytical framework and supported/supplemented by 2-3 written chapters: introduction, background, empirical, conclusion.

DEVL 1980 is designed to support media projects as well – with a focus on the supplementary chapters required.

Multimedia projects include but are not limited to:
Documentary film
Audio/Visual project
Audio Podcast work
Multimedia Installation

If the senior thesis contains a multimedia/documentary project, by the beginning of the junior year students are required to secure an advisor and approval from the DS Program Director.

Option 3: Other Projects

Other forms of projects are subject to the approval of the DEVL 1500 instructor and DS Concentration Advisor.

How to Register

  • Students who choose to complete a senior thesis to fulfill the senior capstone requirement must secure a project advisor and approval of the thesis topic from the DS Concentration Advisor by spring of their junior year.
  • A completed and signed Thesis Advisor Agreement and Proposal Form must be submitted to the Director of Development Studies by the due date.
  • Students must receive approval for their topic, but generally any topic that fits within the general framework of development studies research will be appropriate. In developing, researching, and writing the senior thesis students work closely with the DEVL 1500 Research Methods course instructor, the DEVL 1980 Thesis Writing seminar instructor, faculty advisor, and second reader.
  • Students will register for DEVL 1980 DS Thesis Writing Seminar for the fall semester of the senior year.