Senior Thesis & Independent Studies


Major Independent Research Project Opportunities for History Majors and Specialists History: the Senior Thesis & the Independent Study.

Upper-year specialist and major students who have acquired and demonstrated the skills necessary for undertaking a major independent research project can apply to the department to participate in either the Senior Thesis program or to undertake a full or half year Independent Study. Admission to these opportunities is by application to the Associate Chair (Undergraduate) and is not guaranteed. 

The Senior Thesis provides an opportunity for academically strong History Specialists and Majors to research and write a primary-source based thesis of approximately 7000 to a maximum of 12 000 words. Students enrolled in the Senior Thesis option will participate in a regular seminar with other senior thesis students to receive training in reviewing scholarly literature, writing research proposals, formulating hypotheses, presenting findings in oral presentations and learning the art of constructively critiquing the work of others.  

Students must develop their own topics and find a willing thesis supervisors. A supervisor is a regular member of the faculty, not a graduate student or sessional instructor.  Not eligible for CR/NCR option. 

Students wishing to enroll must be enrolled in a History Major or Specialist program, with an A- (80 and above or 3.7 gpa and above) average in no less than 4.0 FCE HIS courses, or obtain special permission of the department.

The Senior Thesis program is open to both specialists and majors, with priority enrollment given to Specialists. Specialists are required to complete either the Senior Thesis option OR a Methodology Requirement to graduate.

IF YOU ARE ENTERING FOURTH YEAR IN 2022 (you will have completed 14.0 FCE courses by August 30 2022)  and wish to write a senior thesis you will apply for the Senior Thesis Year Seminar (HIS491Y1-Y), scheduled Mondays 2-4.  PDF iconHIS491Y1Y_Senior_Thesis_BALLOT_2022-2023.pdf.

The initial deadline to apply for Fall/Winter 2022 is FRIDAY JUNE 24, 2022, with decisions by June 30, 2022.  Applications will continue to be accepted up to August 30, 2022 if space remains in the seminar.

***NOTE:  HIS491Y1-Y will only be offered in the 2022-2023 academic year! Students currently in third year and below: see new changes to the Independent Study description.

If approved, HIS491Y1-Y will be added to your record on ACORN by the Department of History. If it is not approved, we will notify you and your proposed supervisor as soon as possible by email.

For further information, students may contact the Undergraduate Administrator & Student Advisor.

Independent Studies are open to both Specialists and Majors with a B+ (77 and above or 3.3 gpa and above)  average in at least 4.0 FCE in History, at the discretion of the Department and with the approval of eligible History faculty member who has agreed to act as supervisor. 

The Department of History offers senior undergraduate students the possibility of study under the course designations HIS498H1-F/S or HIS499Y1-Y. These courses result in the production of an independent research project. This may not necessarily take the form of a major essay and could include a creative output such as a digitally-curated exhibit. 

Please note that faculty are under no obligation to supervise I.S. projects.


  • It is not practical to do an I.S. as a full-credit taken in one term (i.e. HIS499Y1-F or 499Y1-S)
  • Students are allowed only 1.0 I.S. course in History
  • Where research projects can be undertaken within the scope of an existing HIS course, students will not normally be allowed to enroll in Independent Studies. In other words, Independent Studies courses cannot be used to deal with timetable conflicts.

PDF iconIndependent_Study_BALLOT_2022-2023.pdf.

If approved, your Independent Study course will be added to your record on ACORN by the Department of History. If it is not approved, we will notify you and your proposed supervisor as soon as possible by email.

For further information, students may contact the Undergraduate Administrator & Student Advisor.

We have a new model for the senior thesis which will allow students to develop research skills, learn about graduate programs and how to apply for graduate funding, and get a head start on your senior thesis research.

Specialists and Majors with 9.0 FCE courses completed as of August 30, 2022 and an A- (80 and above or 3.7 and above) average in 2.0 FCE in History at the 200 level or above can enroll in HIS475H1-S: The Research Seminar, scheduled Mondays 4-6 in Winter term of 2023. Although this course has the size and workload expectations of a 4th year seminar, it is intended to be taken in the Winter term of a Major or Specialist’s third year.

Taught usually by the Undergraduate Chair, students will learn the historical methodology skills required to undertake a major independent research project for future professional use or graduate studies, including the development of a topic, formal literature reviews, and the writing of research and grant proposals. When you have finished this course, you will have a prospectus ready to begin your senior thesis in HIS476H1-F in Fall 2023, work you can then get started on over the summer. 

We’ll also be introducing you to, and encouraging you to apply for, summer funding to support your research work, such as the University of Toronto Award of Excellence, the Jackman Humanities Undergraduate Fellowship and various College undergraduate research awards.

You don’t need to have a topic or a potential thesis supervisor to enroll in HIS475H1-S.

HIS475H1-S is open to History Specialists & Majors only (with priority enrollment for Specialists).  You will need a minimum A- average in 2.0 FCE HIS courses at the 200 level or higher and approval of the Associate Chair (Undergraduate).

When you have finished HIS475H1-S, you may count it towards the Specialist methodology requirements pathway, apply to complete an Independent Study project, or carry on to take HIS476H1-F: Senior Thesis, in the fall of 2023.

IF YOU ARE ENTERING THIRD YEAR IN 2022 (you will have completed 9.0 FCE university courses by August 30 2022)  and wish to enroll in HIS475H1-S,  you apply for the Senior Research Seminar (HIS475H1-S), scheduled Mondays 4-6, using this ballot:  PDF iconHIS475H1S_Research_Seminar_Ballot_2023.pdf.

HIS476H1-F Senior Thesis (to be offered Fall 2023):

PREREQUISITE: HIS475H1-S or permission of the Associate Chair (Undergraduate)

To apply for HIS476H1-F, students must have already developed their own topic and have located a willing thesis supervisor. A supervisor is a regular member of the faculty, not a graduate student or sessional instructor. 

Students will write a primary-sourced based thesis of approximately 7,000 words, building on the prospectus and literature review developed in HIS475H1-S and research that they have already begun.. Students attend will seminar meetings to discuss the hypotheses they have formulated, present their work in progress and engage in constructive critique of other students’ work. By the end of the fall term, you will have a substantial writing sample ready for graduate school applications.

Past Independent Study and Senior Thesis Projects

Hyperlinks to a selection of past projects from (2017-18) are provided below, to give students a sense of the scope and scale of this work.

PDF iconRAF Strategic Bombing - Its Effectiveness and Efficiency.pdf by Joseph Decarolis

PDF iconThe Lesser of Two Evils - Analyzing the US Foreign Policy Approach to Islamic Fundamentalism from 1979-1981.pdf by Alexander Smith

PDF iconChild Smugglers in the Warsaw Ghetto.pdf by Constance Chan