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History 4900 Capstone - Gunther Fall 2023

Capstone Project Requirements

Please see your syllabus for guidance and requirements.


Final Project (40% of final course grade): The senior capstone final project permits some flexibility in choice of topic and type of project. You are encouraged to consult with history faculty whose research specialties correspond more closely to your topic. In terms of the type of project, the options are:

  • Original Research Paper: a primary source-based paper comprising original research. Students identify a topic, develop a thesis, and write a historical essay in the style of an academic journal article. The paper will be a minimum of 25 pages in length, not including the bibliography, utilizing at least 15 appropriate primary sources and at least 15 appropriate secondary sources.
  • Historiography Essay: a secondary source-based paper affording students the opportunity to trace and analyze the “history of the history” of a particular topic in depth. In this choice of project, you will not consult primary sources; instead, the secondary sources (monographs and journal articles published by historians) become your primary sources, as we will discuss early in class early in the semester. The historiography essay will be a minimum of 25 pages in length, not including the bibliography, utilizing at least 25 secondary sources (at least 10 of which should be monographs) from several different eras.
  • Hybrid / Technology-Based Project: a project that will afford interested students the opportunity create a technology-based product, such as a website or documentary film, that will be complemented and supported by a shorter original research paper. Source requirements will be the same as outlined in option one, above, but the research paper itself will have a minimum of 12 pages, not including the bibliography.

Public Defense of Final Project (10% of final course grade): a major component of the profession of history involves oral communication and presentation of one’s work to peers and colleagues. As such, my colleagues in the history and geography department will be invited to attend. You should consider your presentation as an explanation and defense of your project, with a prepared PowerPoint and verbal remarks introducing your topic, your sources and methodology, your thesis, etc. You should plan for this to be a 10-minute presentation, with 5-10 minutes for questions. This will take place at the end of the semester as per the course outline below.   

Annotated Bibliography (10% of final course grade): as a vital step on the path toward completion of the final project, each student will create an annotated bibliography due on October 2. This will comprise an organized and disaggregated list of the five most important primary sources and the five most important secondary sources that you have consulted up to that point in the project, using Turabian style and with accompanying annotations explaining why these sources are included and their relevance to the project (for students choosing the Historiography Essay, the annotated bibliography will comprise entries and annotations for ten secondary sources, so disaggregation will not be necessary).   

Rough Draft of Final Project (5% of final course grade): the rough draft is a very important step on the path toward completion of the final project, as this November 1 deadline will prompt you to put ideas, sentences, quotations, citations, and paragraphs on paper even if in incomplete or hurried form. The more complete rough drafts will allow for better instructor feedback, and, likelier, a better final project. 

Review Essay (5% of final course grade): students will write a five-paragraph (minimum) review essay critiquing a secondary source monograph or academic journal article that they plan to utilize for the purposes of the final project. This is due on September 11. 

Final Project Proposal (5% of final course grade): by August 31, you will complete and submit your research topic, question, working hypothesis, and preliminary list of sources you have consulted or plan to consult.