HSOC 420 is the required class for any HSOC major who is considering writing a senior thesis.  It prepares you to write your thesis by systematically guiding you through the  research process.  It is a collaborative class that depends on critical and thoughtful participation and engagement, both with your own topic and with one another’s projects. (It also fulfills the capstone requirement).

By the end of the course you will:

  • Understand how the thesis embodies the goals of the HSOC major 
  • Articulate research questions and objectives 
  • Conduct independent research, engaging with primary and secondary sources 
  • Analyze primary sources
  • Contextualize primary sources with scholarly conversations within the core disciplines of history, sociology, and/or anthropology as relevant to your research problem
  • Contextualize sources within supplemental disciplines, such as public health, bioethics, environmental studies, political science, business/economics, and law, as relevant to your research problem. 
  • Determine an appropriate methodology, based in one of the 3 core disciplines
  • Understand and engage with scholarly audiences
  • Write a summary of your research problem, review of literature, and methodology in a clear way that targets an HSOC audience, as well as other audiences interested in your research problem 
  • Write a 20-page original research paper based on your area of research
  • Write a 3-4 page thesis proposal, to be reviewed by the HSOC faculty committee



HSOC 420 is by application only - How to apply for HSOC 420

•    Penn GPA of 3.3 or better and HSOC GPA of 3.6 or better (consult with Dr. Greene or Dr. Crnic if any questions about this)
•    Completion of HSOC 100 or 111  (or be registered to take one of them concurrently with HSOC 420)
•    Have topic ideas that use the methodologies of the HSOC core disciplines of history, anthropology, and/or sociology
          - Not suitable: Efficacy studies, policy/intervention projects, quantitative studies 
•    Have a passion for independent, scholarly research
•    Have some ideas for potential advisors


Application Requirements – DUE NOVEMBER 25, 2019 - Send your materials to Dr. Crnic


NOTE: You cannot register yourself for HSOC 420. The department will register you for HSOC 420 when you are approved, after evaluating applications.