The department invites students who have demonstrated particular talents in philosophy to pursue a year-long honors thesis under the guidance of one or more faculty members.

Questions addressed in recent honors theses include: Which moral principles should guide stem-cell research? Are there any universal human rights? Can we coherently have obligations to future persons if who it is that exists in the future depends on our current actions? Might pornography function more like advertising than political speech?


Students who meet the college standard for eligibility for departmental honors (GPA of 3.5 or more for courses above the 100 level in philosophy) may apply to write an honors thesis in philosophy.  (Departments may petition on behalf of students whose average is below 3.5 but above 3.0 if they have exceptional qualifications.)
An application to write an honors thesis in philosophy will include these elements:
1. A listing of philosophy courses taken or in progress at Wellesley or for credit at another institution, with grades received.
2. A two-page proposal that describes the area to be investigated in research for the thesis and frames a specific question that the thesis will address.
3. A list of at least six and no more than ten sources, with a sentence-long comment for each source that explains its relevance.
4. A brief description of the student's relevant background, if any, in the area of the thesis through coursework or other activities.
5. A brief description of the student's experience, if any, in carrying out independent work in independent study courses, research papers, lab work, presentations, or other projects.
6. A study plan for the student's senior year that lists courses to be taken in the fall and spring semesters.  (Phil 360 and Phil 370 may not be used to satisfy the major requirement for two courses at the 300 level.)
7. The signature of a faculty member whom the student has consulted in developing the proposal.
Materials should be submitted to the department chair by April 1 of the student's junior year.

Individual Study

The department welcomes proposals from students for single-term individual study projects (recorded on the transcript as “PHIL 350”). These courses are designed to allow students to pursue topics not covered in currently offered courses. Students interested in pursuing an individual study should meet with the faculty member with whom they would like to work before the term in which they plan to do the 350. The precise requirements of the 350 in any individual case will be determined by the instructor in consultation with the student. Normally a substantial paper is required at the end of the term.