Key Elements of a Senior Thesis

The elements of a thesis vary according to the topic the student is researching. Nonetheless, a political dissertation usually has these elements.

The thesis topic

Choosing a thesis topic can be very challenging as several factors need to be considered. In selecting a topic, you need to reflect on the research area and narrow it down to a specific phenomenon you want to explore. Afterward, you ponder about the questions you want to answer. Those above should all be incorporated into the topic. If you have existing academic work, you can decide to build on that by choosing a topic relating to it.

For example, if you are researching the Electoral College system of the United States, but you are only abreast with the issues/information about the country. Or you may have enough information about the Electoral College system but nothing about the country. If you find yourself on either side of the coin, you can decide to pick another topic. You then introduce the subject in the introduction chapter, highlight its relevance and your objectives.

Preparing the research question

Your research question can determine the overall success of your project. However, coming by such a breakthrough question can be very challenging, especially if other researchers have extensively explored your topic. Your research question must be focused on something new or contextualized on existing literature. If you want to ask the same question explored by others, you should be ready to go the extra mile. You will have to first look into their arguments and build on them with further and better materials. That aside, you may come across some critical aspects their studies missed or come with a better finding/conclusion. Your question must be narrowed to an achievable feat. For example, if you are trying to research why EU countries have different approaches to multilateral companies compared to what is done in the United States is a very broad topic. However, you can explore some specific aspects of this subject.

The literature review

The literature review chapter is where you explore existing literature relating to your chosen topic. Here, you digest the literature and analyze their findings. On what basis was the research conducted, and is the outcome a deserving one. You can also explore the methods used in examining the subject. You can now link your studies based on the results of their findings. What gap are you trying to bridge; hence your research question and theoretical framework? In conclusion, the literature review should explain why your research is relevant and what contribution you are adding to existing knowledge.

Approach and evidence

In this section, you prevent the methods or approaches adopted to answer the research question. It should answer some of these questions. What is the case study you are exploring? With what perspective are you approaching the research, and what available evidence do you have at hand? According to the methodology you are using, what questions will dominate your interviews. On the other hand, if you are testing a new hypothesis, state clearly, how you go about it and how you seek to derive it.

Evidence and Analysis

This chapter is where you bear your evidence and try to analyze the preliminary findings. The information you include here depends on your research questions and the methods used.


The conclusion sections sum up all the critical points in the other chapters. Despite its relevance, this section should be as brief as possible. This is not where you can introduce a new perspective. Everything included here should be found in the central thesis. The conclusion should also highlight your findings and its implication on the research area and then make recommendations. It is not out of place if you state some of your limitations here. If your findings match your objectives, then your research might receive the attention it deserves.