I’m thinking of doing thesis but I’m not sure how to get started

A student asked:

It seems like all the thesis topics by my seniors are all quite cheer (profound). I’m thinking of doing thesis but I’m not sure how to get started, and it feels very stressful.

Here’s what I wrote:

Well, when it’s your turn, you’ll be writing another thing that will be just as cheem (profound). Haha! Anyway, Honours Thesis in FASS is 12000 words max. That’s the equivalent of about 5x 2500 word term papers. So you can just structure your thesis as if you’re writing 5 term papers that are related to each other. That’s not too bad right?

Yes, if you want to write a really good thesis, you should ideally plan long before you are in your Fourth Year. I started planning mine when I was in Year 2. If you’re in your Third Year, it’s still not too late. You should start planning now.

There are a few ways to approach this. One is to find a supervisor whom you click with very well (and make sure he/she is not going on sabbatical when you are in Year 4), and find a research area that your prof does that interests you a lot.

OR, go look at the stuff you’ve been inclining yourself towards. Those are probably the topics that interest you a lot. Spend time talking to your peers, seniors, and profs, and of course, go read up more about these topics. You should read journal papers and books relevant to the topics to understand the context of the debates and why scholars find it significant. These will give you ideas.

Anyway, at Honours Thesis level, we’re not interested in you saying anything new. That’s not what’s expected at Honours level. Minimally, you need to demonstrate your ability to comb through the literature that’s out there and show that you are able to critically assess them to form your own judgement about the matter to prove your point. If you can say something brand new, then good for you. If not, that’s ok.

Disclaimer: This is very generic advice since I don’t know your major (or who you are haha).

Author: Jonathan Y. H. Sim

Jonathan Sim is an Instructor with the Department of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore. He is passionate about teaching and he continues to research fun and innovative ways of engaging students to learn effectively. He has been teaching general education modules to a diverse range of undergraduate students and adult learners at the University.

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