Senior Honors Thesis

The senior honors thesis is an opportunity to explore an area of interest in detail. Students who elect to write a thesis should regard it as the culmination of years of reading, analyzing, and making arguments about religion. As noted above, in order to be eligible to write a thesis, students must maintain a minimum average in the concentration of B+.

Due to the nature of our field, the subject matter of religion theses varies widely. In all cases, individual theses should be specific enough to allow for depth of treatment, while not so narrowly construed that they lose sight of broader issues in the Study of Religion. This is particularly important because the readers of a given thesis are often drawn from a various fields within the Study of Religion. Depending on your concentration plan, your thesis may focus on a topic solely within one tradition; or it may involve two traditions, or one tradition and a theme, or (in the case of joint concentrations) one tradition and another academic field; or it may be focused on a single tradition but deal with an issue that involves the comparative study of religious phenomena from other religious traditions as well.

For more information on the thesis, please refer to the Senior Honors Thesis Handbook in the below list of guides and handbooks.  

All concentrators are expected to designate the general topic of the thesis by April of the junior year. A prospectus that has been approved and signed by the senior thesis Adviser is due in September of the senior year. The prospectus should include a tentative title, a two-page description of the specific subject matter, and a bibliography. One chapter of the thesis is due in November, another in December, and a third in February. The completed thesis, which should be 50-80 pages, is due in early March. For the complete schedule of dates for the current year, see the Senior Honors Thesis Handbook.

The Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies oversees the thesis writing process and leads Rel 99, the senior tutorial on thesis-writing.

Past Senior Theses

The Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies has hard copies of many past theses that are available for students to borrow. Looking through old theses may stimulate ideas for a topic or give you ideas about how to organize or write your own thesis.

  • "The 'Tug-of-War' over British Muslim Identity: A Comparative Analysis of British Muslim Engagement Programs today" (2016)
  • "Making Boston Warm: A Case Study of the Intersection of Social Movements and the Social Gospel in the Modern City" (2016)
  • "Militant Christianity and Universal Politics: Alain Badiou as Political Theologian" (2016)
  • "How to Read Body Language: Constructions of Power, Women, and 'The Gaze' in Early Christianity" (2016)
  • "A Time for Tulpas: Technology, Language, and the Study of Religion" (2016)
  • "Tevye's Children: Jewish Continuity in Changing Times" (2016)
  • "对耶稣丢面子 Losing Face for Jesus: An Ethnography of Young Adults in the Boston Chinese Evangelical Church" (2016)
  • “Living the Mission: The Catholic Church and Human Rights in Peru.”
  • “‘Maybe I Did Not Live As I Should”: An Analysis of Tolstoy’s Christian Ethic in His Post-Conversion Literature.”
  • “Constructing Conflict: Israeli and Palestinian Conceptions of the Role of Religion in the Disagreement over the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.”
  • “Making Kafka Happy: An Experiment in Recapturing the Joy in God’s Death and Modernity.”
  • “Flexible Conservatism: Authority and Ambiguity in the Thought of Vivekananda and Schechter” (2012): Adviser: Parimal Patil
  • “Child Witches and Witch Hunts: New Images of the Occult in the Democratic Republic of Congo” (2011); Adviser: Timothy Nelson
  • “Advisers to the Almighty: The Modern Church Consulting Industry in the United States” (2010); Adviser: Marie Griffith
  • “The Ebb and Flow of Peace: Hindu-Muslim Relations in Hyderabad” (2009); Adviser: Diana Eck
  • “First Timothy and the Question of Women’s Leadership in the Church: An Analysis of Evangelical Biblical Hermeneutics” (2009); Adviser: Laura Nasrallah