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The Senior Honours Essay is the culmination of the Honours Academic Plan in Sociology and it is an option in the 4 year academic plan. The student is asked to demonstrate that he or she has learned something from courses in theory, methods, and "content" courses by writing a report based on original research. This research may take the form of (1) collecting and analyzing some data, or (2) analyzing in a new way data collected by someone else, or (3) criticizing, elaborating or extending some area of sociological theory. This research is done in consultation with a member of the faculty in the Department of Sociology. (In joint Honours Academic Plans, the faculty member may be from either Department).
You should proceed as follows to sign up for Sociology 499 A/B:
Pick a problem area that interests you. This may be, for example, something that was discussed in one of your courses. If you don't know what interests you, talk with faculty members.
Find one or more members of the faculty who are interested in your area of interest. You may know this from courses they teach, or you may ask an undergraduate advisor for the names of appropriate faculty members. The list below should also inform you of faculty interests. Bear in mind, however, that several faculty are on sabbatical leave each year.
Discuss your interests with the faculty members to find the person you would like to work with.
Ask the professor if he/she is willing to supervise your Senior Honours Essay. Determine the supervisor's expectations for the paper, how frequently you will meet with the supervisor, whether the supervisor wishes to review drafts of the paper, and the deadline for completion of 499B.
Inform the undergraduate secretary (Rea Holness) who your supervisor is.
Finish the essay on time! It is your responsibility to submit the final version of your senior honours paper so that your supervisor has sufficient time to read and grade it. If you miss your agreed upon deadline, you may miss convocation.
REMEMBER: Don't delay choosing a subject and a supervisor. Individual faculty members limit the number of 499s that they supervise. And the earlier you start reading or collecting materials for your Senior Honours Essay, the more likely you are to finish on time. If your research requires that you submit ethical review materials to the Office of Research (for cases of proposed primary data collection), you must take this into consideration when setting your time line.
KW METROPOLITAN AREA SURVEY
This is a data resource available to SOC 499 students. For details go to Sociology home page, "RESEARCH", then click on "K-W Area Survey".
Note: If you are enrolled in SOC 499A/B Honours Essay and have a supervisor you may be eligible for special loan privileges from the library. This includes term loan. For more details, contact the Sociology and Legal Studies Liaison librarian, Tim Ireland. email@example.com
Library web page for Sociology: http://subjectguides.uwaterloo.ca/sociology
The Honours essay is seen as the culmination of four years of study in Sociology, intended to reflect a synthesis of theory, methods and substantive interests developed by the student during that time.
The essay is a research report investigating a scholarly topic of the student’s own interests, under the close direction of a chosen supervisor.
The project is intended to be original research, broadly defined. In many cases this involves primary data collection (participant observation, interviewing, questionnaires, etc.), although analysis of existing data is also allowed, as are strong theoretical pieces and other types of reports based mainly on library research.
The essay project spans two terms with the entire grade for both terms based on the final thesis draft. The grade is awarded solely on the judgement of the supervisor, and you should check with your supervisor on the standards and expectations to be applied. For 499A an interim grade ("in progress") is filed automatically by the department, to be replaced at the end of the 499B term once the final essay has been submitted.
The essay is expected to be of a high standard (and receive a correspondingly strong grade). This may involve two or more drafts, and students should arrange their schedules to permit submission of preliminary drafts in order that there is time for review and further editing prior to the deadline for submission of final grades following the 499B term.
The range of topics, methods and formats is considerable, to be decided in consultation with the supervisor. A general rule of thumb is that the minima should be equivalent to two term papers (approximately 40 pages, plus references), but many essays are longer and some shorter. Length is much less a determinant of grade than evidence of effort, organization, timely progress, good reasoning and sound presentation.
Choosing a supervisor
• see" Faculty and Their Areas of Interest" below
• 1-3 faculty with research interests complementary to yours
• Be open to various subject areas
• Meet with prospect to discuss a general research topic of interest to you (why and what makes it interesting)
• Associate faculty eligible (http://sociology.uwaterloo.ca/faculty.html)
• Non-sociology faculty eligible (with a co-supervisor)
Do ... Don’t...
|• Choose a supervisor early||• Delay choosing a supervisor|
|• Have regular meetings with the supervisor||• Not schedule and/or skip meetings|
|• Develop a timetable for submission of work||• Become a stranger|
|• Stick to the timetable||• Waste the 499A term|
|• Write and revise continuously||• Try to write the whole essay at one time|
|• Submit preliminary drafts||• Plan to submit one draft late in the 499B term|
|• Expect revisions|
(but consult with your supervisor)
499A (September - December)
(1) Mid-September: Supervisor selected
(2) September - early October
Meet once a week with the supervisor to discuss the research field and possible topics
Development of research timetable; clarification of expectations; schedule for deliverables
Read and reflect
Identification of the research “issue” or “problematic”.
Begin to formulate (write) the justification for this topic (this is the introduction to the essay)
(3) October - early November
Meet regularly (once a week) with the supervisor to discuss the research literature in the area
Thorough assembling and reading of the research literature (library research and files)
Organization of the literature into conceptual themes and approaches
Critical reflection on the literature
Preliminary draft of (a) Introduction and (b) Literature Review
(5) Mid-November - end of classes
Meetings to discuss (a) final research questions or conceptual model (theory issues, hypotheses, themes, concepts) and (b) methodology
Revisions to literature review and introduction
(6) Mid to end December
Submission of revised draft of (i) introduction, (ii) literature review, (iii) research questions/theory and (iv) proposed methodology (this constitutes the near complete first half of the essay)
499B (January - April)
Meetings to discuss methodology
Further edits to drafts of literature review etc. submitted in December
Submission of ethical review materials to Office of Research (for cases of proposed primary data collection only)
(2) Early February
Ethics approval granted
Formulation and organization of database
Occasional meetings with supervisor to discuss ongoing data collection and issues
(4) Late February - Mid-March
First draft of analysis write-up
(5) Mid-March - end of classes
Preliminary drafting of full essay (in progress) - i.e., drafts of (i) revised actual methodology, (ii) analysis and (iii) conclusions and discussion
(6) Mid-April (latest)
Submission of full essay draft(7)
(7) Mid-late April
Revisions and submission of final draft
Final Essay Format
(various organizations are acceptable)
(A) Introduction (3-4 pages)
(B) Literature review (10-12 pages)
(C) Research Questions/Conceptual Model (1-5 pages)
(D) Methodology (5-6 pages)
(E) Analysis/ Findings (10-15 pages)
(F) Conclusion and Discussion (6-8 pages)
(Total length 35-50 pages, plus references and appendices)
There are special library privileges (extended loan period) for students working on their Honours Essays.
For more information, please contact the Liaison Librarian, Tim Ireland at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
I am willing to supervise students interested in examining organizations, occupations, professions, family, or education. Substantive topics include, but are not limited to, parenting culture, at-risk children/youth, closing achievement gaps, education policy, education and inequality, education businesses and consultants, school choice and private education. I am open to a variety of qualitative approaches. Students must commit to meeting regularly and completing assignments according to an agreed timeline.
Examples of 4th year theses I have supervised: School Shootings; The Marketing of Canadian Universities; Afterschool Activities and Educational Inequality; Does Money Buy Family Happiness?; Social Class, Gender and University Attendance; The Co-op Education Experience. For these projects students have used a variety of methods including focus groups, content analysis, and interviews.
Kieran BONNER (St. Jerome's College)
My area of expertise is in radical interpretive sociology - a configuration of phenomenology, hermeneutics and dialectical analysis. This configuration flows out of my reading of Berger, Garfinkel, Gadamer, Arendt, Blum & McHugh, etc. In my research, I have applied these perspectives to parent-child relations and the urban-rural discourse. I am currently working on reflexive sociology and, as well, the culture of the city. My preference is to work with students who have some background or who seek some background in phenomenological sociology - broadly speaking. However, if you are interested in doing a Senior Honours essay, I encourage you to come and meet me.
Regarding the Soc.499 Honours essay, my specialties are: Organizations, Criminal Justice and Criminology, Networks, Research Methods, Elites.
Frances CHAPMAN (St. Jerome's College)
I would be pleased to supervise senior honours essays in the areas of criminal law, in particular criminal law defences (automatism, necessity, duress, emerging defences etc), civil law (including torts, contracts, etc), family law, legal theory and philosophy, and the exploration of current case law. I will take on papers involving library and legal research (including case law) which displays a thorough and critical perspective on the law. After the initial meeting, a three to four page proposal should be submitted detailing the topic, the case law to be used, and the resources available. Subsequent meetings will vary in frequency according to the needs of the student. The essay submitted should be about 40 to 50 pages in length, conform to a chosen citation method (preferably the McGill guide legal citation method) and reflect quality scholarship in this area of law. Students are strongly encouraged to start their research as soon as possible and submit their essays before final exams. I will supervise only a select few students each term.
My various research interests are connected by the perspective of the life course. A life course perspective considers the trajectories that people experience in different domains, including family, work and education, and health. These trajectories are shaped by social structures of gender, class, and race/ethnicity, connections to other people’s lives, and welfare state programmes, as well as history and the decisions that people themselves face. The experiences that people have later in the life course are taken to be affected by the timing and experience of earlier events and transitions. Empirically, life course research often takes a longitudinal approach, and examines the timing and sequence of various in people’s lives. Both qualitative and qualitative methods can be important for understanding the factors that shape people’s life courses.
My research interests include the effects of the welfare state on the life course and the social demography of Aboriginal people. Recent projects include international comparisons of retirement and labour force policies for older workers, trends in health and well-being of Aboriginal people, and the place of social assistance in the life courses of lone mothers. My teaching interests include the social determinants of health, ageing, social inequality, and qualitative and quantitative research methods and statistics.
I would be pleased to supervise senior honours essays in the areas of Sociology of Religion, Sociology of Science, Classical and Contemporary Sociological Theory, and Hermeneutics/Postmodernism and Sociology. I am open to both theoretical and empirical undertakings, but for this task I favour projects involving library research which displays a thorough and critical understanding of the chosen topic. After a few initial meetings, a three to four page proposal should be submitted detailing the topic, the essay or question, the approach, and the probable resources available. Meetings with students will vary in frequency according to the topic and needs of the student. The essay submitted should be about 40 to 50 pages in length, conform to proper academic standards of presentation, and reflect an earnest attempt to carefully develop an argument. Students are strongly encouraged to start their research as soon as possible and submit their essays in advance of the final examination schedule. I will supervise only a few students each term.
Fred DESROCHES (St. Jerome's College)
I normally supervise Honours essays in the following areas: Criminology, Corrections, Policing, and The Sociology of Mental Disorder. The essay should be 40-50 typed pages and is a library research paper. I do not require empirical research, but students are encouraged to use past work experiences, contacts, etc., to supplement library materials. I will supervise a maximum of five 499 papers each year.
I will be happy to work with students who are interested in the areas of social economic development, public policy and social justice, such as: public and population health, health care finance, health policy, social disparity and health care access inequality, cultural competence in health care systems, health care in transitional societies, and social economic issues in transitional China.
Regarding the Soc. 499 Honours essay, my specialties are: Theory (especially classical), History of Sociology, Sociology of Knowledge, Political Sociology. Please feel free to drop by my office early in the term to discuss topics in these areas. The sooner we agree on a manageable topic, the more time you will have to write something you can take pride in. I expect to see at least one draft by the end of the second month of your 499B term. If you can't or won't do this, I suggest you find another supervisor.
I would be pleased to supervise honours essays in the following areas: sociology of global governance; international development studies; gender and development; the politics of humanitarian intervention; social justice and citizenship studies. I prefer to work with students whose projects involve library research and the development of a critical perspective on the topic chosen. In order to complete the essay in a timely fashion, students are encouraged to meet with me regularly. After a few meetings, I require a draft outline (4-5 pages) that includes a short description of your proposed topic, the main research question, the approach taken, the key argument, and a list of relevant resources. The final essay should be approximately 40-50 typed pages.
Kristina LLEWELLYN (Renison College)
My research broadly addresses childhood/youth studies, citizenship education, gender, teaching, and qualitative methods. I am willing to supervise students who have a particular interest in the following topics: global citizenship education, civics curriculum, children/youth and social movements, social justice and schools, conflict resolution in schools, the teaching profession, women and work, feminist theories, oral history and interviewing, and historical sociology. Students must be prepared to undertake extensive research (primary and secondary), build sophisticated theoretical frameworks for empirical research, develop his/her writing skills, and complete assignments in a timely fashion.
I am interested in the areas of crime prevention and social justice. I also focus much of my attention on various aspects of educational systems in Canada and internationally. I am willing to work with students who are interested in approaching sociological investigations by gathering and analysing original data, analysing existing data, or through a critical analysis of existing literature. I require students to commit to meeting regularly through the course of the project and to complete aspects of the project according to the agreed timeline.
One of the most useful ways of ensuring that students complete their honours essays on time is a good outline or framework for the project. While I do not insist on an outline, I strongly encourage students to draft one in the earliest stages so that both the student and the supervisor have a fairly clear idea of the scope and nature of the honours paper. This requires frequent meetings at the beginning of the project until both parties have a good sense of where the paper is going and what shape it will take. Once this stage is completed, then the important thing is to meet deadlines and to finish the paper in as timely a fashion as possible.
The following areas are of special interest to me: Theory (including feminist theory, Canadian political economy and Marxian analyses); Primary Resources (including community studies of regions dependent on primary resource development, the fishing industry and agriculture); Social Movements; Rural Sociology (including studies of family farming, cooperatives and farm labour organizations); Studies that examine the interrelationships among gender, race and class (including theoretical analyses and/or case study projects); Women and Work, Labour and the Trade Union Movement; Sex Roles and Families (again these can be either theoretical in nature or consist of an in-depth study of a particular aspect of the topic).
I am available for supervision of topics in the following areas: Criminology, Family Violence, Gender Roles, Sexual Deviance.
The format will include weekly meetings during which time a firm proposal will be developed. A written proposal must be submitted prior to the mid-point of the course; the research thesis should be in the vicinity of 40-80 pages. I am particularly interested in supervising students who desire to pursue an interactionist/phenomenological orientation to research and who wish to critically consider the implications of their topic of research in relation to social policy/social change.
I am pleased to accept honours students who are interested in pursuing honours thesis research in the following areas: Policing and security; especially research on the organization, integration, and practice of policing understood broadly to include various public and private agencies; Security and regulation, especially research on legal and regulatory practices in both state and non-state domains; Contemporary theory, especially research that is inspired by Foucault or Deleuze, and focused on issues of power and control in empirical contexts; Media and culture, especially research that explores the relation between popular culture, knowledge, and practice. I am open to a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches. Students must commit to meeting regularly and completing assignments according to an agreed timeline. After a preliminary meeting, students must submit a 2-3 page proposal with a research question and a prospective bibliography related to their topic. The final essay should be no more than 40 pages in length and conform to proper academic standards of presentation.
Tracy PERESSINI (Renison College)
I would be happy to supervise honors essays in the areas of poverty, homelessness, social inequality, family violence, gerontology or community development; although, I have no problem in considering other areas of interest. The design of the Soc499 project would depend on the students interests and may consist of anything ranging from a review of the literature, to actual collection and analysis of data (quantitative or qualitative) - depending on the nature of the research question the student would like to address. The format of the course will be established in an initial meeting with the student and a learning contract developed and signed at that meeting. The contract is designed to ensure that the student has a clear idea of the goals and expectations of the course, and to establish a set of milestones to be achieved throughout the course.
When students approach me regarding a 499, I tell them that there are a variety of approaches to the field and that they would be advised to select an advisor somewhat mindful of their respective approaches to sociology. Some faculty have strong substantive interests and are receptive to a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches provided the subject involves those interests. Some have strong theoretical and methodological positions but are open to a wide range of substantive contexts. For my part, I am interested in a great many subject matters, but approach the study of community life very much from a symbolic interactionist perspective.
There are two major types of projects that students working with me tend to develop. The first type, and the one in which Ive been involved much more extensively, revolves around ethnographic research on some realm of activity (as in work roles, consumer behaviour, peoples involvements in entertainment, subcultures, interpersonal relations, and the like). The second type of project, and the one in which Ive become more recently involved, pertains to the examination of the development of social theory (dealing with some realm of human knowing and acting) from the early Greeks to the present time. This, too, can pertain to a wide variety of human endeavours (such as peoples considerations of education, theatre, management, political interchange, friendship, religious agendas, and various analytical themes in philosophy and the social sciences).
Both sets of projects reflect a symbolic interactionist perspective. While the former is grounded more centrally on field research and the latter type of research builds on existing scholarly accounts in the literature, students embarking on one or other of these types of research would be expected to exhibit familiarity with interactionist concepts, methodological concerns, and literature. However, whereas these two types of projects are different in some ways, they also are very much interrelated in conceptual and methodological terms. Indeed, either type of project would be expected to provide students with opportunities to engage and assess the interactionist approach to the study of human group life.
The actual substantive topics or subject matters for peoples projects can vary greatly and an early objective is find a topic that is of interest to the student and is reasonably accessible as a realm of study.
Given the specialization entailed in an interactionist/interpretive approach, my experiences indicate that people who have not taken courses in this realm of sociology find this task much more challenging than those who have done so. As a consequence, I tend to discourage those who are unfamiliar with this approach from embarking on a 499 project of this sort.
In developing the paper, I encourage students to develop a strong statement on their perspective and the concepts their studies address. I also expect them to dialogue with the interactionist literature in the process of presenting and analyzing their data. I don't have a pre-set length of paper in mind, but most projects would run in the vicinity of 40-60 pages (including extracts from interview data or quotations from the literature).
I might add that students who take Sociology 410 (Qualitative Methods) and /or Sociology 409 (Social Theory and Enacted Realities) either prior to, or concurrently with, their 499's, generally produce stronger 499 projects. These courses also provide people with valuable experiences (and resources) for embarking on a larger project on a more independent basis.
The 410 course is set up as a field research course and it gives students a seminar classroom context in which to formulate and develop some ethnographic research. The 409 course introduces students to social theory as it has been articulated by various scholars over the millennia and provides people with a valuable set of resources for engaging projects of the second type noted earlier. Students sometimes expand on projects from the 410 or 409 courses or pursue related aspects of a larger topic for their 499's. Sometimes, too, they switch to other substantive contexts for their 499's, but still benefit from the experience of developing these other projects and learning about the projects that other students have been doing in these courses. Some students also have pursued these projects more fully as theses in graduate school.
I would be pleased to work with students who have substantive interests in the areas of criminology and criminal justice. I am particularly interested in supervising students who would like to pursue an essay involving a theoretical and empirical examination of social control mechanisms in society (broadly defined), policing, the law and its impact, juvenile delinquency, comparisons of policy and practice, corrections, or the empirical testing of a criminological theory. With that said, I am willing to consider topics in other areas of interest if they are in some way related to social institutions in society or the study of crime and deviance. As long as this is the case, I am in a position to provide the guidance I feel is necessary to ensure you successfully complete the Senior Honours Essay. The honours essay is intended to be a synthesis of theory, methods, and your substantive interests. Thus, to ensure a good fit between supervisor and student, I require the submission of a one to two page proposal of what you want to do so our first meeting can be the most effective and productive. I am open to projects using primary or secondary data (quantitative or qualitative) but also those projects that critically and systematically evaluate the existing literature both in terms of the theoretical perspectives adopted and the empirical results.
I see myself as a very “hands-on” supervisor. As a result, when I supervise honours essays I expect the following: to develop an agreement with you (stipulating the goals, expectations, and a timeline for course milestones); to have a commitment from you to meet with me on a regular basis and to adhere to the course milestone deadlines we agreed upon; and to have an understanding that in order to produce an essay you can be proud of at the end of the year you will more than likely need to continuously edit your work throughout the two terms. In return, you can expect from me support and guidance during all stages of your honours essay and constructive feedback on a regular and timely basis in order to help you submit an academically rigorous honours essay that truly reflects your knowledge and skills gained as part of your Sociology degree. For these reasons, I encourage you to come and meet me about your honours essay; however, by necessity, I can only supervise a limited number of students each year.
I am available to supervise students on topics in the following areas: work and health; physical activity, health and sport; health professions. Students are required to submit a research proposal early in the first term and to meet with me as often as necessary to complete the course requirements. Additional details can be worked out at the first meeting.
I would like to work with students on the following types of topics, and would be happy to discuss any others which could be seen to fall generally within these areas:
1) Issues having to do with the Rural Community (quality of life, changes, mental health, the crisis in agriculture, rural women, rural development, etc.).
2) Sociological analyses relating to the environment, natural resources and behaviour (conservation, resource preservation, environmentalism, wilderness recreation, crowding, program evaluation, social impact assessment, etc.)
3) Aspects of Canadian social organization and social development in general, but in particular having to do with resources, regions, or social class.
4) Theoretical models relating beliefs, values, attitudes (or other aspects of cognition) to behaviour.
5) Research methods (I'm happy to consult with students regarding the design, analysis and computing aspects of their essay project whenever such help is needed).
Generally, when supervising honours essays, I expect the following:
a) Early discussion and agreement respecting under what ground rules we will operate. Normally these should be decided no later than the third week of your 499A term, but earlier would be preferred.
b) The essay topic should be centered around a substantively important theoretical model (which we develop together), and should involve some aspect of empirical data collection and analysis (usually!).
c) We should meet regularly -- at least every two weeks during the early stages of the project, perhaps a little less often later on.
d) The theoretical model, literature review and methodological approach should be written up and presented by the end of the 499A term.
e) The final paper will normally between thirty and forty pages (but size is unrelated to the grade). You will be expected to do at least one or two revisions of the initial draft.
The final version must be submitted on time by the end of the 499B term, and conform to scholarly standards of presentation (typing, layout, syntax, spelling, referencing).