Senior Thesis

The senior thesis may be devoted to any topic in the general area of Russian language or literature (or, assuming sufficient linguistic competence, Czech or Polish). Interdisciplinary topics are also encouraged, provided they have a clear connection to Russian culture.
The thesis is written in English, but substantial research must be done in Russian.

Students should choose a subject that is both challenging and reasonable. (Keep in mind that this is, after all, a senior thesis, and not a doctoral dissertation!) In this regard, the first few weeks of the fall semester are among the most important of the entire year. The more carefully a subject is delineated, the easier it is to organize research and writing.

Learning Objectives and Evaluation Criteria

In evaluating the senior thesis, faculty members are guided by the general education goals set for Slavic Department majors. The thesis is one of the ways to verify the extent to which these goals have been attained in the case of each particular concentrator. Specifically, the thesis should demonstrate:

  • Comprehensive knowledge of the period and/or area of Russian/Slavic culture the student has chosen to examine.
  • Awareness of the most important scholarly positions taken on the issue(s) the thesis addresses.
  • Ability to situate one’s argument in relation to pre-existing scholarship by criticizing in a sophisticated manner the perceived shortcomings of other scholarly works and establishing a dialogue with scholarship upon which the thesis will build further. 
  • Critical acumen on the part of the student in approaching established viewpoints and valuations on the issues under discussion.
  • The concentrator’s intimate understanding of the primary text(s) under investigation.
  • The concentrator’s ability to understand secondary texts in the target language and evaluate them critically.
  • Ability to write in lucid English, producing academic prose possessing rhetorical persuasiveness and clearly articulated argumentative structure. 

Senior Thesis Formatting Guidelines

  • The length of the senior thesis should be between 80 and 100 pages,excluding appendices and bibliography. (Permission of the thesis adviser is required if the text is to significantly exceed the prescribed maximum length.)
  • The senior thesis should be printed in 12-pt. font on white, letter-size paper (8.5”x11”), single-sided. The text, including block citations, should be double-spaced throughout.
  • Leave margins of 1.5” on the left and 1” on the right, top, and bottom of each page.
  • All pages of the thesis must be numbered. Beginning with the first page of the introduction, all pages are numbered sequentially with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.). All preceding pages (title and copyright pages, dedication, table of contents, etc.) are numbered sequentially with lower-case Roman numerals (i, ii, iii).  All pagination should appear at the bottom of the page, centered.
  • The thesis must include a title page, a copyright page, a table of contents, and a bibliography.
  • The title page should include the author’s name, date, and the following statement: "A senior thesis submitted to the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Princeton University, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts." 
  • The copyright page must include the following two statements:


    • The honor pledge: “I hereby certify that this paper represents my own work in accordance with University regulations.”
    • “I further authorize Princeton University to reproduce this thesis by photocopying or by other means, in total or in part, at the request of other institutions or individuals for the purpose of scholarly research.”
                You should sign your name under each of the two statements.

Standard parts of the main text are: an introduction, chapters (these may be divided into sub-chapters or sections), and a conclusion.

Additionally, the thesis may include one or more of these elements: a dedication, acknowledgments, a note on transliteration, a list of illustrations, preface, conclusion, appendices.

You may use either footnotes or endnotes; these should be single spaced, with a double space after each note to separate it from the following one. Footnotes should be in smaller type than the main text (recommended: 10 pt. font). Endnotes should be in 12-point font.


The formatting of citations and the bibliography should follow the MLA Manual of Style.

Your thesis should be submitted by the deadline in the Senior Thesis Central Submission Site. Your thesis should be submitted to the departmental represenative and your advisor, and undergraduate coordinator Pat Byrne,


Thesis defense:

Students do a brief (5-minute) presentation in Russian (or relevant Slavic language), and then in English for the Slavic Department Faculty and fellow students. Total presentation time will run roughly 15 minutes per student. This presentation does not receive a grade.