Just as with any other piece of academic writing, it is important to consider the topic. If it’s too narrow, then there may not be enough research available to fully develop the paper’s argument. It the topic is too broad, then the focus of the paper may be lost in trying to cover too many points.
The same philosophy applies when writing an undergraduate thesis. Such a project is becoming more of an option for programs that want students to demonstrate a knowledge of their major field of study, but cannot be done evaluated through exams or shorter academic papers, such as philosophy or religion.
Narrowing the Field
When choosing a topic, it is important to keep the same guidelines in mind as with any other academic paper. However, a thesis is designed to look at a specific topic very intensely for an extended length of time, such as looking at how A belief impacted B event in C kinds of ways. A thesis is also a very intense project, so it is important for students to be interested and emotionally invested in the project to avoid burnout and to help themselves achieve success.
To start, it is easier to start with a broad topic, such as World War II, and begin researching to find common themes relating to the preliminary topic. After doing some research, reading a book or two, or talking to professors or experts in that field, it is important to narrow down the topic. For example, if a student would like to do a thesis on literature published during World War II, it is still broad enough that it would be difficult to sort through the research available. In this case, a more focused topic would be limited to a specific genre or literary theme during World War II.
Finding the Words
However, a thesis does not have to be strictly factual. For those majoring in more creative fields, such as creative writing, art, or music, it is important to have a firm grasp of what you are going to be doing and the necessary skills needed in order to complete the project. For writers, that means knowing the conventions of different genres. For artists or musicians, it means choosing a medium or style and knowing the skills needed for that medium or style.
Knowing What to Say
After choosing a topic, it is important to be able to present the topic. The first step in writing a thesis is often a topic proposal, in which a student writes a two to three page overview on the topic and plans for research. Before the project can go any further, the proposal must be accepted by a panel or an advisor. If it is not accepted, then the student is asked to do more research to either narrow or expand their topic of choice and create a new proposal before going ahead with the project.
While writing a thesis as an undergraduate student may be a daunting task, the process of creating a body of academic work teaches valuable skills, especially for those who are looking to further their education or go into professions that heavily require writing and researching skills. A thesis is an accomplishment to be proud of and can add another dimension of drive and work ethic to a resume, portfolio, or can jump start conversation during a job interview to begin a career after graduation.