Undergraduates may pursue work toward the B.A. with honors. The Honors Program in International Relations offers highly qualified students the opportunity to undertake in-depth research and to write a thesis on a pressing global problem as their capstone project. Students work under the guidance of two faculty advisors while completing two thesis courses senior year. In the fall, honors candidates enroll in INTL 1910: Honors Thesis Preparation seminar. During this time students embark on their research and define and conceptualize a research problem, place their projects within the relevant scholarly literature, design their study, and participate in peer reviews.
In the spring, participants enroll in INTL1920, during which time they complete the research and writing. Students submit the completed thesis for evaluation in mid-April. At the end of the spring semester, students present their research findings to the Brown faculty and community in the IR Honors Conference.
The rewards of writing a thesis are broad and far-reaching. Students not only become experts on their subject, but they also get practice in designing research to understand complex problems. They develop skills in critical analysis, argumentation, inductive and deductive reasoning; learn how to contextualize their ideas within scholarly and public debates; become more conscientious writers; and practice collaboration through peer review and feedback — all of which are important to academic and non-academic careers. In addition, they must demonstrate innovative thinking and show they are able to work independently and meet deadlines.
Finally, the thesis experience allows a student to get to know, and work closely with, a faculty member. For most honors students, the thesis in international relations is one of their most challenging yet most meaningful experiences at Brown. It allows them to draw together and build upon the knowledge, skills, and interests acquired during their undergraduate career.
The IR Honors Program is intellectually demanding and time-consuming; students should be willing to devote a substantial part of their senior year to the thesis. We expect honors applicants to have taken a thoughtful, challenging, sequence of IR courses and demonstrate sufficient background on the topic (through coursework or study abroad, for example). Students are required to demonstrate advanced capacity in a second language in their thesis, through interviews, use of scholarly journals or other original materials.
Requirements for a B.A. with Honors in International Relations are:
- Two Thesis Courses: Successful completion of two thesis preparation courses, INTL1910 and INTL1920, for a total of 15 IR courses.
- Performance in IR: Two-thirds quality grades in the IR concentration. This means that nine of the 14 requirements must have a grade of A or S with a Course Performance Report indicating a grade of A. Courses with a grade of C do not count toward the honors concentration. Students who receive such a grade and want to continue in the honors program must complete an additional course with a grade better than a C to fulfill the IR requirement.
- Performance at Brown: Majority quality grades (As or S with a Course Performance Report indicating a grade of A) in all course work done for the B.A. at Brown.
- Thesis: An honors quality thesis submitted by the announced April deadline and approved by the student's two readers and the IR Oversight Committee.
Honors is awarded by the College Curriculum Council based on a recommendation by the IR Advisory Committee. Honors is not awarded by the College retroactively. Students who fail to complete their thesis by the IR Program deadline will not receive honors, even if they complete all requirements at a later time.
If a thesis is turned in late but before the end of the term, credit and a grade for the thesis work may still be granted; however, the student will not receive honors.
Thesis Courses: INTL1910, INTL1920
Students receive credit for the honors thesis by registering for two thesis courses: INTL1910 and INTL1920. Students doing a thesis complete a total of 15 courses plus the language requirement.
INTL1910 is a mandatory thesis preparation seminar offered in the fall and is open only to students accepted into the honors program. The purpose of the seminar is to provide structure, guidance, and support for IR honors students in the conceptualization, writing, and presentation of original research. The seminar focuses on common skills of analysis such as problem-posing, logic of argumentation, assessing the larger practical and scholarly significance of one’s research, the use of evidence and case selection, research ethics, and formal academic writing. Time and location for INTL1910 are announced in Banner.
INTL1920, offered in the spring allows students to receive credit for completing the research and writing of the thesis under the guidance of their faculty advisors. INTL1920 may also include several meetings with the thesis preparation instructor. INTL1920 concludes with the IR Honors Conference in which honors candidates present their research findings to Brown faculty and students in a public forum.
Note: INTL1910 and INTL1920 must be taken for a grade and are graded separately. The grade for INTL1910 is based on seminar performance and the chapters submitted in December. The grade for INTL1920 is based on the quality of the final thesis.