The comprehensive exam for the Department of Sociology/ Anthropology consists of either a senior project or a written exam. The Department meets with juniors in the spring semester to discuss the comprehensive exam. Students are encouraged to undertake a senior project. The first step is choosing a topic before the end of the spring semester, and majors are expected to continue to conceptualize the project during the summer break, as well as do any preliminary and background research they are able to accomplish.
In the fall semester, seniors enroll in the Senior Capstone Experience, which is focused on the development of the senior project and on preparation for those planning to take an examination to meet the requirement. In the Senior Seminar, students present their research and assist each other in thinking through their work on the senior projects.
To be eligible for Departmental Honors, a student must complete a senior project, receive a grade on the project of Pass with Distinction, and meet grade requirements in the major and in college work. However, all seniors are encouraged to consider undertaking a senior project even if they don't anticipate qualifying for departmental honors. It is an opportunity to apply and extend your knowledge and skills while exploring a topic that interests you.
The senior project ordinarily takes the form of a paper, but may also be a multimedia presentation, a video with commentary, or any other form agreed to by the student and a senior project adviser.
The draft of the project is due before the last day of exams in the fall semester (or the semester prior to the final semester at Earlham). If a draft version is not ready by this date, the student will be asked to take the examination instead. In the case of absence from campus during the fall semester, or with the permission of the Department, the draft may be postponed no later than February 10th.
Drafts submitted before the end of the fall semester will be returned to the student by February 5th, with an indication of what needs to be accomplished before the project is accepted. A final draft is due March 15th, when the status of each project will be reviewed by the Department to see if any additional work needs to be carried out prior to grading. To fulfill the comprehensive exam requirement, a senior project must receive a grade of Pass or Pass with Distinction.
For those not completing a senior project, a written examination will be administered. The exam will consist of three questions.
The exam will be scheduled on the final day of the examination period of the Fall Semester. Students will receive a grade of Pass, Revise (in the case of students who are asked to rewrite their essay), or Retake. If the latter, students will be asked to retake the exam in the second semester. Generally, one question will address a theoretical concern, one a methodological concern and the third a topical question. Students are allowed about two hours for each question. A one-page typed outline (with no more than twenty lines of text) for each question may be brought to the examination, along with a three page bibliography covering all three questions.