Programs / Undergraduate Program

Honors Thesis

The Honors Thesis is typically a written manuscript that presents a piece of original scholarship conducted under the guidance of a faculty mentor. The thesis may also take the form of a hybrid project incorporating written scholarship as well as creative elements, including film and media. You should regard your thesis as the culmination of your course of undergraduate study, in which you bring to bear the scholarly and creative skills you have developed during your time at UC Berkeley.  

The Honors Thesis will be expected to demonstrate critical thinking, a mastery of disciplinary material, and the communication of complex ideas. The normal length of a thesis is 40-60 double-spaced pages.  It should consist of two or more chapters, with a table of contents and a comprehensive bibliography. The supervisor of the thesis must be a ladder faculty member, normally chosen from among the faculty of Film & Media.

The process for writing the Honors Thesis begins in the second semester of your third year or the first semester of your fourth year, during which you should develop a detailed proposal and a bibliography. Students are expected to take one of two upper-level writing courses in Film & Media: FILM 194: Advanced Film Writing: Words and the Moving Image or FILM 190: Capstone Seminar.  (An equivalent course from another department can substitute with approval of the faculty undergraduate advisor.)  In one of these courses you will develop your creative or research project, write a thesis proposal, and secure a thesis advisor who will approve your project.  

The Film & Media Dept will also consider applications for a production-based Honors Thesis that has both a creative media element and a substantial written element addressing the historical and theoretical context for your project and/or your creative process. Students are encouraged to take the Intermediate Moving Image Production (FILM 185) and Advanced Production (FILM 186) sequence for developing a production-based thesis.  FILM 186 can be taken concurrently with FILM H-195 Honors Thesis in the student’s final semester. The length and the form of a production-based thesis will be developed in consultation with the student’s faculty supervisor.

Applications and Proposals for the Honors Thesis: 

Eligibility: You must have achieved fourth-year status with at least a 3.3 GPA in all UC Berkeley coursework and a 3.5 GPA in the major. Your course load for the thesis semester will be limited to four courses, including your H-195 course, in order to ensure completion of the project.

Proposals: Your proposal will consist of a 5-to-12-page prospectus detailing your research for the thesis and the scope of your project. It should include a thesis statement, a statement of your methodology, a chapter-by-chapter breakdown, a bibliography, and a timeline for completion. For a production-based thesis, you will submit a synopsis or script or detailed outline for the project with your production plan and your timeline for completion. The proposal must be approved by your faculty supervisor and the Film & Media Faculty Undergraduate Advisor by the final day of your penultimate semester.

Enrollment: After securing these necessary approvals, you must enroll in FILM H-195 Honors Thesis Independent Study, in which you will complete your project.  You are required to meet with your faculty supervisor a minimum of 3-4 times during the semester. A draft of the thesis will be expected by early April, to allow time for editing and revision. The completed thesis will be submitted to your faculty supervisor by early May at the latest. The thesis should be of sufficient depth and quality to merit an “A” range grade.