The Catholic University of America

Senior Project

To fulfill the "comprehensive assessment" required of all CUA seniors, the Department of Greek and Latin requires a senior project.  Depending upon the specific interests of a student and the recommendations of his or her faculty adviser, this project may take the form of (for example) a major research paper (a "thesis"), a translation with commentary of a substantial passage of an ancient text, a comprehensive lesson plan and syllabus for a prospective secondary-level course, or a portfolio of argumentative essays. The preparation of your project will last throughout your senior year, and you will have the support not only of the department as a whole, but also of your project adviser.

Past senior projects completed in the department are archived in the departmental library.

  The 'Sacred Gate' kouros, Kerameikos, Athens
  The 'Sacred Gate' kouros, Oberlaender Museum, Kerameikos, Athens, c. 600 BC
Early preparations: choosing an adviser and a topic

During your junior year, you should read the guidelines and expectations below and begin considering which areas of classics are of greatest interest to you. Remember that you will be spending an entire academic year on your project, and your chosen topic should therefore be one that will not only pique your curiosity but also hold your attention.

You might start by asking yourself some basic questions: Are you more interested in Greece or Rome? Do you enjoy the study and analysis of the languages themselves, of literature, of ancient history, of archaeology and art? What historical periods have held the most appeal for you, and why? Even if at this point you have only managed to narrow your topic to "Latin poetry" or "Classical Greek art," you have made a good beginning.

At this stage you should consider with which faculty member you might like to pursue your work. Every senior in the department selects a project adviser who helps to refine his or her topic, set parameters for research, solve problems, formulate goals for writing, and polish the final product.

Your project adviser may be, for example, someone who is clearly the departmental "expert" in your chosen area, or a faculty member whose classes you have enjoyed. In any case, you will spend at least one hour with your adviser approximately every two weeks (more at certain times or as the situation calls for it) throughout the academic year.

It is your responsibility to approach a faculty member and ask him or her to supervise your senior project. You may choose to do this even before the conclusion of your junior year, but you should be prepared to do so in any case by the beginning of your senior year. The Senior Project Topic Approval Form must be completed by you and your new adviser together, and since the form also asks for the proposed subject of your project, you and your adviser must work together to shape your topic and your methodology by the form's due date (the last day of midterm week of the fall semester).

Refining your general idea of (e.g.) "Latin poetry" or "Classical Greek art" into a viable topic for a senior project is not something that you need to undertake alone: your adviser will discuss possibilities with you and help you select a project of the right scope and scale. He or she will also help you plan your first semester's work, since the equivalent of approximately 10 pages of a well-polished draft must be submitted by the last day of classes of the fall semester.  Your grade at that time in CLAS 425 will depend not only upon the quality of your draft work, but also upon your sustained progress throughout the fall semester. 

Senior project guidelines and expectations

The contents of this section articulate current departmental policy. They also override the examples of prior senior projects and theses that have been deposited in the departmental library, so be certain to model the style, format, and presentation of your work upon this guide, rather than upon past submissions.


The senior project in the Department of Greek and Latin at CUA is intended to demonstrate a student's capacity for independent work and, where appropriate to the topic, research. While it need not break new ground in the field at large, the thesis should display the following characteristics:

  • It should possess a clearly defined topic appropriate to its level, scope, and scale (see below). Topics that are too general will not permit the demonstration of more advanced skills.
  • It should contain, topic permitting, a coherent argument that arrives at a plausible conclusion, or (as, for example, in the case of a translation with commentary) it should possess a feasible goal to which all of its content clearly contributes.
  • It should show engagement with a varied selection of the major research tools and resources of the discipline (e.g., databases, electronic resources, textual editions, journal articles, etc.). In many cases this requirement will be demonstrated in the references, footnotes, or endnotes.
  • It should demonstrate original (to the student) analysis or use of an appropriate selection of primary sources. It is this requirement, above all, that may set the senior project apart from a student's past work.
  • It should contain translations of all quotations in the ancient languages. At the discretion of the adviser, these translations may either be cited appropriately from other sources or produced by the student.
  • It should employ formal academic language and contain, when submitted, no stylistic, grammatical, or typographical errors.


A senior project need not explore its topic at the level of detail that would be expected of a graduate student, but it should at least acknowledge in an organized fashion the major categories of evidence that may be brought to bear upon its argument or its goals.  It is the responsibility of the student and the faculty adviser to select and shape a topic that will be sufficiently narrow to be addressed in the manner described above.


The senior project is to be approximately 6500-7500 words in length, excluding footnotes or endnotes, bibliography, block quotations, images, or reprints of ancient texts. This is equal to approximately 25-30 pages in Times New Roman 12-pt type with 1-inch margins. In all cases where length is assessed, however, the word count will be preferred over the physical presentation.

It is recommended that the student submit a finished draft to the project adviser approximately two weeks prior to the formal deadline, so that scale can be assessed.


Students are to become familiar with the Chicago/Turabian style required by CUA for references in dissertations and to observe this style when submitting their work for review and evaluation.  Examples are available online from the Chicago Manual of Style.

All illustrations included in the project should be numbered and appropriately acknowledged, preferably in captions immediately above or below them.

Format and presentation

When the completed project is formally submitted to the department (on the last day of classes for the semester in which the student is enrolled for CLAS 426), it must observe the following guidelines:

  • All changes and corrections recommended by the faculty adviser must already have been made; the submitted version is considered to be final. No project is to be revised, corrected, or otherwise altered following submission.
  • The hard copy version of the project is to be printed on one side of the paper only. The left-hand margin must be at least 1.5 inches wide and the right, top, and bottom margins 1 inch wide to permit the archiving of the department's copy. Cosmetic matters such as font and the arrangement of illustrations are, however, left to the discretion of the adviser.
  • The project must bear a cover/title page formatted as shown here.
  • The first page of the project behind the cover/title page must bear only a 200-word abstract headed by the project title and the student's name. The project itself must begin on the following page.
  • All pages of the project behind the cover/title page (including the abstract and bibliography) must be numbered consecutively with Arabic numerals in the upper right corner. No additional headers (e.g. last name) are required or recommended.
  • Any illustrations employed must be scanned and incorporated into the electronic version of the project (cf. below).
  • The project must be submitted in two collated hard copies. One of these should be unbound and submitted unfolded in an envelope; the other may be bound or held together in whatever way the student wishes. (The 'bound' copy is for the faculty adviser to read; the unbound one is for the departmental archive.  The 'bound' copy may be omitted only if the adviser elects to receive an electronic copy.)
  • Along with the project, the student must submit on disposable media (e.g. CD or disposable flash drive, not by email) a pdf copy complete in a single file that is identical in every way (including bibliography, title page, and abstract) to the printed document. Word-processed electronic copies will not be accepted, nor will projects separated into multiple different files or documents.
  • Along with the project, the student must submit the Submission and Abstract Release Form.

Summary of materials for submission

Therefore, a complete senior project submission will include the following:

  • 1 unbound copy of the complete project, printed single-sided and submitted unfolded in an envelope.
  • 1 bound copy of the complete project, printed single-sided and held together in whatever way you wish (at the adviser's discretion, this bound copy may be replaced by an electronic copy instead).
  • 1 pdf copy of the complete project (including all illustrations) on disposable media.

Assessment and archiving

The project will be read and graded by the student's adviser, who will record the project mark as the final grade in CLAS 426. The adviser may, at his or her discretion, ask other faculty members to read and consult upon the project and its grade.

The unbound copy of the senior project (see above) will remain the property of the Department of Greek and Latin and will be archived in the departmental library. The title of the project, the name of the student who completed it, and its abstract may, at the department's discretion, be reproduced in departmental publications, including, but not limited to, brochures, handouts and other publicity materials, and departmental or other CUA websites. The Submission and Abstract Release Form records the student's awareness of this and serves as permission.