Senior Thesis Guidelines

Instructions for submission of digital copy of IPE 401 thesis

As part of the requirements of your senior thesis seminar, you are required to submit an electronic copy of your thesis.

Below are some formatting guidelines:

  1. The digital copy of the thesis must be single-spaced and left-justified.
  2. There should be a blank space between paragraphs.
  3. The title page must adhere to the following format (do not put italics, underlines, bold font, or any other formatting other than what is shown below):

Thesis title.

[The title can be 14 point font if you wish, but the rest of the title page must be plain 12 point font]

Your name.


A Senior Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Bachelor of Arts in International Political Economy

University of Puget Sound

Month Day Year


  1. The title page is unnumbered.  If you are unsure how to begin numbering a document on the second (or any subsequent) page, please refer to this site:
  2. The page immediately following the title page should be the abstract page.  At the top of the page “Abstract” should be centered and underlined.  Underneath the “Abstract” title, the abstract text should be single-spaced and left-justified.
  3. Save your digital thesis as one single document that includes all parts of the thesis, such as title page, abstract, text, and references.
  4. The name of your thesis file should be your full name (i.e., JohnSmith.doc), and not MyThesis.doc, Smith.doc, or JohnSmithThesis.doc, etc. 
  5. The file needs to be saved in MS Word as either a .doc or .docx file.
  6. Email your thesis as an attachment to by the thesis due date.

1. Thesis Structure and Format.

The IPE Senior Thesis should be a substantial work of student research that demonstrates the rigorous and focused analysis of a question or problem in International Political Economy.

Theses should be thorough but focused. Theses are typically 15-25 single spaced pages in length, including references and bibliography. Each thesis should have the following required components:

  • Title Page
  • Abstract (200 words). States the research question and thesis simply, briefly, and directly.
  • The body of the thesis. References should be consistently presented using the Chicago Manual of Style format. Spelling, grammar, and style "count." Above all, do not plagiarize (see the academic handbook for a discussion of plagiarism).
  • Bibliography. A list of books and articles cited in the thesis.

The body of the thesis should be printed on one-side of the page using a clear, readable typeface and one-inch margins. Avoid small font sizes, sans serif typefaces, and "fancy" fonts generally and do not "justify" the lines. The title and abstract pages are not numbered. Pages in the body of the thesis must be numbered.

2. The Content of the Thesis.

the·sis (thê¹sîs) noun plural the·ses (-sêz)

  1. A proposition that is maintained by argument.
  2. A dissertation advancing an original point of view as a result of research, especially as a requirement for an academic degree.
  3. A hypothetical proposition, especially one put forth without proof.
  4. The first stage of the Hegelian dialectic process.

[Latin, from Greek, from tithenai, to put. Sense 5 and 6, Middle English, from Late Latin, lowering of the voice, from Greek, downbeat, from tithenai, to put.]

  • Consider the dictionary definition of a thesis above. The IPE thesis requirement is based upon the first two definitions. The thesis (definition 2) is a work of research that advances an original point of view. That point of view is the thesis (definition 1) itself -- really it is the point of the whole exercise. A thesis lacking proof and evidence is still a thesis according to the dictionary (definition 3), but it will not satisfy the IPE graduation requirement. Although the standards for the IPE thesis are set relatively high by design and intent, bear in mind that an undergraduate thesis is not so much the end of a line of inquiry as it is the beginning of a lifetime of independent learning (definition 4). A good thesis will raise many new questions as it attempts to provide a clear answer to the thesis problem.
  • The thesis must take a specific stand that is supported by argument and evidence. The best theses both make the positive case for their point of view and also anticipate and discuss alternative viewpoints and potential criticisms and counter-arguments.
  • The thesis statement is not a description of what the thesis studies, it is a statement of the conclusion that the thesis draws.
  • The body of the thesis should have a clear organization, making good use of headings to communicate to the reader the outline of the paper.
  • The body of the thesis should begin with a clear statement of the thesis problem, its significance, and a direct statement of the thesis itself. You simply cannot be too clear and too direct in this regard.
  • The body of the thesis should end with a conclusion. The conclusion should reiterate the thesis argument, summarize the evidence presented to support the thesis, discuss the implications of this work, and consider future research topics that the thesis suggests.
  • The body of the thesis should include a literature review, which is an analysis of previous research on the thesis problem. The best theses demonstrate mastery of prior research and present arguments and evidence that are informed by previous work.
  • Although there are many ways to structure the body of the thesis, one particularly strong organization is to present the thesis problem (summarizing previous research), consider IPE theories (and theories from politics, economics, and sociology) that bear on this problem, and then to argue in support of the thesis statement using evidence from a particular case study or example.

3. The IPE Thesis Defense.

  • IPE students must present an oral defense of their theses. The thesis defense or presentation normally takes place in the IPE 401 seminar during the final weeks of the semester. The thesis defense is open to the public and students and professors often attend them. They are, therefore, a matter of serious concern.
  • The thesis defense is usually a relatively formal presentation of high quality. It is important that the thesis statement and argument are presented clearly and coherently and that the evidence in support of the thesis is clear as well. It is not unusual for students to use printed outlines and graphic devices to help communicate key points.
  • It is common for the IPE 401 professor to assign one or two students to act as "discussants" who comment on the research and ask relevant questions.
  • One of the most important purposes of the thesis defense is to generate constructive criticism of student research. The final draft of the thesis should reflect relevant comments and criticisms and attempt to integrate them into the body of the thesis.