Honors Thesis Guidelines


An honors thesis in Classical Studies is, first, a study of primary sources for the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome, like literary and historical texts, inscriptions, sculptures, vase paintings, and murals. After identifying an area of interest, you will work with a faculty advisor to define an appropriate, interesting topic and make a research and writing plan. Emphasis should be placed upon critical analysis and interpretation of primary evidence while secondary literature can be used to build background knowledge and support your interpretation of primary sources. The final thesis should not only be a synthesis of secondary literature.

Other innovative projects are also possible, especially those combining primary evidence from the classical world with your expertise in another discipline. All theses involve significant, analytical writing, the nature and scope of which is to be determined in consultation with the faculty advisor, second reader, and the director of undergraduate studies.

Application for admission into the departmental honors program is usually made during the junior year and the thesis is written during the senior year. You may be nominated by a faculty member or may nominate yourself. Acceptance into the honors program is made by the honors advisor and the Undergraduate Committee.

Faculty advisor

Each honors thesis will be directed by a faculty advisor whose areas of expertise relates to the thesis topic.

In either the spring of the junior year or at the start of the senior year, you should approach a faculty member and discuss your plans of study or areas of interest. You may also consult with the director of undergraduate studies (DUS). If you plan to study abroad, you should set up your thesis project with a faculty advisor before leaving for travel, preferably during the spring of your junior year.

With the advisor, you will narrow the topic and decide whether the project requires one or two semesters of work (C399 in the fall and/or C499 in spring). You will write a one-page abstract describing the project, specifying which primary sources it will focus on and outlining the plan to study.


The faculty advisor in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies will select a second faculty member to serve as reader. The reader should review and comment on the abstract and may be consulted as the student works. After the thesis is turned in to the DUS, s/he will promptly arrange for a copy of the thesis to be made for the advisor and the reader.

Both advisors will read the thesis and report a grade to the DUS along with brief comments about the argument, use of evidence, clarity of presentation, editorial matters, etc. The readers will submit their reports to the DUS within one week of receiving copies of the thesis. The readers may require revisions to be completed before the final submission, though these should be limited to reasonable changes that can be made within the timeframe.

You will receive as a grade the average of the two grades. In a case of wide disparity, the undergraduate advisor will also read and grade the thesis and the three grades will be averaged.

Due dates

The thesis must be submitted to the director of undergraduate studies no later than six weeks before graduation in the semester in which you graduate or plan to complete your studies at Indiana University Bloomington. This deadline allows time for the usual revisions and assures that you will receive honors at the time of graduation. Because working out the argument and polishing the writing take more time than is usually imagined, you should present a draft of the thesis to the advisors at least one month before this deadline. The DUS will have copies made and distribute them to the two readers.

A clean, absolutely final copy of the thesis must be submitted to the director of undergraduate studies no later than the last day of classes in the semester in which you graduate or plan to complete your studies at Indiana University Bloomington.

Honors theses are bound by the department and preserved in the departmental library with doctoral theses and faculty publications.

C399 & C499

Students usually write a thesis over two semesters, registering for C399 (3 credits) for the first semester of work and C499 (3 credits) for the second. An exception may be made, for example, for a student who has begun a project while studying abroad during the first semester of senior year but wishes to write a thesis in their final semester.

This course work (3 or 6 credits) is in addition to the 27 credit hours required of the regular major. The thesis writer must visit the director of undergraduate studies (DUS) and pick up a copy of these guidelines in order to obtain authorization to register for C399 and/or C499.

C399 Readings for Honors should be a tutorial focusing on the area/s which the thesis will explore. The semester should be dedicated to general research, preparation of a bibliography, and an outline of the project. At the beginning of the semester, you and your faculty instructor will put together a statement outlining the readings and work to be completed in this tutorial as well as the schedule of meeting times. At the end of the course, both you and the instructor will each submit a brief report.


An honors thesis should be between 30 and 40 pages in length.

It should have the following formal features:

  • title page
  • table of contents
  • chapters with informative titles (and sub-heading as appropriate)
  • bibliography of all works used in writing the thesis
  • footnotes citing primary and secondary sources
  • numbered plates with illustrations (as appropriate)
  • continuous pagination