Middle East Studies

Pursuing an Honors Thesis in MES

Honors in Middle East Studies

Honors theses are substantial research projects driven by a deep interest in engaging with a selected topic of study. It requires a time commitment and coordination between the student, advisors, and DUS to ensure its completion. Students may graduate with honors in Middle East Studies by completing an undergraduate honors thesis under the supervision of a primary reader drawn from the Middle East Studies faculty and one additional reader from the Brown or Brown-affiliated faculty. Students must declare their intentions to pursue honors by April 25 of the junior year by informing the Middle East Studies Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) of their topic and submitting a prospectus. At this time, students must also indicate that they have secured a primary reader, who must confirm by email to the DUS his/her willingness to advise the thesis. Students must designate the second reader by September 30 of the senior year and faculty must confirm their willingness to serve in this capacity by sending an email to the DUS. For mid-year students, the topic and primary reader must be identified and confirmed by November 20 of the junior year and a second reader must be arranged and confirmed by January 30 of the senior year.


To be eligible for honors, students will have earned an ‘A’ in the majority of courses for the concentration. It is expected that honors students will have taken the “Approaches to Middle East Studies” seminar, typically no later than the fall semester of their junior year. Upon acceptance into honors, students may apply for funding from MES to pursue fieldwork relating to their honors thesis project. For more information, see the Awards and Opportunities section of the MES website.

Two semesters of Independent Study towards the Honors Thesis (MES 1970) are required for honors. One of these should take the form of a weekly thesis writing workshop to be supervised by the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) or other designated MES faculty member during the fall semester of senior year.

Pursuing honors candidacy

  • Consult with the DUS regarding requirements, expectations, and supervision
  • Secure faculty advisors (see above) who can commit to supervising your thesis throughout your senior year (it is the student’s responsibility to ensure faculty are not on leave, and if they are, that they are committed to continuing to supervise their honors work).
  • Prepare a thesis prospectus.
  • Submit the prospectus to potential advisor(s) and DUS for evaluation of the project

Guidelines for writing a thesis prospectus

  • The thesis prospectus is typically 10-15 pages in length and is due on April 25th of your junior year and for mid-year students, by November 20th of your junior year. Below are working guidelines for writing a thesis prospectus. 
  • Thesis proposal
  • Research plan, including confirmed and potential thesis advisors
  • Proposed thesis outline and chapter/section description
  • A literature review of several pages and an initial bibliography. The bibliography will typically consist of 20-30 primary and secondary sources.

The History Department’s Prospectus Writing Tips is an instructive guide to follow.

Please visit Brown University’s Academic Code page for further guidance on academic norms and integrity.  

Thesis Submission 

Due Date

  • The final thesis is due on April 15th of the Spring semester of the senior year. Students are expected to submit a final product to both of their advisors and the DUS by this deadline. This gives advisors, the DUS, and departmental administrators enough time to read and evaluate the thesis to recommend the student for honors to the CCC by the first Friday of May of the senior year.
  • Students are to submit a PDF print copy to the MES DUS by 4pm on April 15th.

Printing and binding

  • The thesis should be double sided and double spaced.
  • Two copies must be suitably bound (spiral binding is recommended) by a professional service. 
  • Submit one hard copy and one .pdf (digital) copy to the DUS, and upload one to the Brown Digital Depository.
  • Include footnotes, not endnotes.
  • Include a bibliography.  
  • Citations must adhere to the Chicago Style.

Structure and format

  • Thesis title
  • By
  • Your name
  • Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts
  • In the Middle East Studies Program
  • Thesis Advisor: Name of your advisor
  • Submission date

For advisors

  • A thesis project is evaluated by two faculty advisors, one must be an MES or MES affiliated faculty member, and another can be from other Brown departments and programs.
  • Faculty are expected to engage and evaluate the student’s progress throughout their senior year.  If any issues arise, it is imperative that faculty members communicate all potential conflicts with the DUS.
  • A final Honors Thesis Evaluation Form must be submitted by advisors to MES DUS and Program Manager by April 15 of the spring semester of senior year.