All senior IR majors with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher in courses counted toward the major are eligible to enroll in the Honors Seminar.
Any student who attains the cumulative grade point average required for honors in the College of Letters and Science will receive Honors at graduation. However, to be eligible for High Honors and Highest Honors in International Relations, senior IR majors must also complete the two-quarter Honors Seminar (IRE 194HA and 194HB) and produce an honors thesis.
The IR honors seminar is a two-quarter research seminar, which effective fall 2016 is conducted in the fall and winter quarters of the senior year, and is meant to help students develop and complete their honors theses. During the first quarter, students learn a variety of research methods and complete short weekly assignments applying these methods to their research topic. At the end of this quarter, students turn in a 10-page research proposal that discusses their research question, presents their hypotheses, and outlines a research design for testing those hypotheses. Students also present their work to the class and give each other constructive feedback. The second quarter is more focused on individual projects. Students have frequent one-on-one meetings with the instructor to discuss and resolve any remaining challenges. Students also present and defend their research in front of the class.
At the end of the seminar, students submit a completed honors thesis. There are no strict page requirements, because different topics invariably require different amounts of space. However, a typical thesis is around 30 double-spaced pages. The goal is not to kill as many trees as possible, but to produce a rigorous and focused piece of research.
Grades are based on the weekly assignments, class participation, the research proposal, and of course the final thesis. Students must complete both quarters in order to receive credit and a grade for the class.
The seminar is open to all IR majors who meet the GPA requirement and who complete the course application. The application consists of a short description of the student’s research project, as well as the signature of a faculty member who has agreed to supervise the project. Students are not expected to work out all the details of their projects in advance of the seminar: that’s what the seminar is for. However, their research interests should be sufficiently focused to choose an appropriate advisor, as this is crucial to writing a successful thesis.
*The specific GPA required for honors at graduation is calculated at the end of each winter quarter and varies according to the number of units taken at UC Davis. Please consult the UC Davis General Catalog and the College of Letters and Science for details.