Department of Religious Studies

Honors Thesis Proposals

Proposing a Thesis

  • The form to propose an honors thesis is available here
  • Note that the form asks you to include the name and email address of a potential advisor. Before recording their name, be sure to receive their support and permission. 
  • The thesis proposal is due by the end of the semester before the student plans to undertake the thesis. Typically, this means that students should submit their proposals by the beginning of May.
  • If you begin your final year of study and you are interested in undertaking a thesis, but you missed this proposal deadline, you might still be able to begin the thesis process. Simply set up a meeting with the Director of Undergraduate Studies or your concentration advisor to begin that conversation.

What Should a Proposal Include?

What is the point of a thesis proposal, and what do I need to offer as I begin the process? Find answers here.

As the proposal form explains, a proposal has at least two purposes:

First, it helps the department plan for the following academic year, to ensure that we have sufficient support for you and other thesis writers.

Second, it helps you to begin taking the steps needed to undertake and complete a thesis. These steps include: 1) identifying a topic, 2) identifying some of your key questions, 3) identifying sites or objects to focus your research on, and 4) identifying a potential advisor and second reader. Ideally, you would begin your research during the break before your first semester of thesis preparation begins (e.g., in the summer before senior year; or in the fall semester in the case of a .5er). 

Note that we do not expect you to have everything entirely figured out as you begin the thesis process. You will clarify your thinking as you move through the process. But the practice of completing a proposal inaugurates that process in productive ways.

The proposal form offers the following prompts: 

1. Topic.

What is your topic? If you have a tentative title that helps to describe your topic, please share it.

2. Questions

What are the key issues or questions that you hope to address? What motivates and shapes your study?

3. Objects and Methods of Study

What will you focus your attention on? What are the objects of your analysis? How will you go about pursuing your analysis? What communities, people, texts, places, or times do you hope to study? What archives, ethnographic settings, or sets of primary or secondary sources do you have in mind?

4. Advisors and readers

Do you have a primary advisor or secondary reader in mind? Consult the "Honors" section of the Religious Studies website for more information on the role of advisors and readers. Name your advisor here, and include their email address in the next question.

The form also asks you to provide an advisor's email address, and it invites you to share any supporting materials or documents you would like to share.

Additional Information

Like many concentrations at Brown, the Department of Religious Studies requires all of its concentrators to complete a senior capstone project. The capstone project is intended to serve as a culminating experience for the Religious Studies concentration.