Senior Project

The Senior Project in physics provides the opportunity for students to complete their undergraduate education by engaging in research, individually or as part of a major research project.

Procedure for Senior Research Registration
  1. During the Spring semester before graduation year each student is responsible for identifying a faculty member, willing to serve a as senior research mentor.
  2. Before the beginning of Fall registration window The student requests a senior research course section to be created by filling up the following on-line form: 
    Physics Senior Research Section Request Form
    Note that the students applying for honors are not required to fill in the form, but should follow the Honors application procedure instead. They will be registered for honors research automatically by the Charles center once the application is approved.
  3. Once the requested research section is opened, the student signs up for either PHYS 451/452 in the fall and spring of the senior year. Exceptions to this pattern may be approved by the Research Coordinator.
The Senior Project Thesis
  1. Mid-year Reports: All candidates for Senior Projects are required to present a mid-year report, consisting of a paper and a short talk.  The paper is to consist of approximately 5-10 double-spaced printed pages including appropriate figures, formulae, and references.  It should describe both the work to date and the final goals of the project. The first draft of the paper will be submitted to the research advisor by the Monday before the Thanksgiving holiday.  The corrected paper will be returned on the next Monday so that a corrected mid-year paper can be submitted when the oral report is given.  Mid-year oral reports will be given during the last week of classes.  They will be of 15-20 minutes duration with 10 minutes allowed for questions and comments. A candidate who successfully completes Physics 451 will receive a grade of "G" at the end of the first term of the project.
  2. Complete Draft: A complete draft of each student's thesis (not necessarily including all final results and discussion) must be submitted to the student's advisor no later than four weeks before the last day of classes of the student's graduating semester.
  3. Thesis Submission: One week before the last day of classes of the student's graduating semester a copy of the completed thesis must be submitted to the advisor and the Research Coordinator. This copy need not be on acid-free paper unless it will be the copy retained by the Department.
  4. Project Summary for Diverse Audience: All students using their Senior Research to satisfy COLL400 requirement must submit a brief project description (not exceeding 500 words), written at a non-scientist level (for example, for high-school students). It must summarize the goals of the project, student’s contribution and results.  The Project Summary must be e-mailed to the Research Coordinators together with the thesis draft one weeks before the last day of classes of the student's graduating semester.
The Oral Examination
  1. Scheduling of Examination: All oral examinations will be completed by noon of the first Thursday in the final examination period.
  2. The Examining Committee: The oral examination will be conducted by a committee of at least two members, including the candidate's advisor, and the Research Coordinator.
  3. Attendance at Examination: All members of the college community are invited to the Senior Project oral examination.  All students concentrating in physics are strongly urged to attend.
  4. Subject Matter of Examination: The oral examination is designed to test both the candidate's ability to defend the conclusions and procedures of his/her thesis and his/her knowledge of the current state of research on relevant topics of a similar nature.
  5. Format of Examination: At the beginning of the examination, the candidate will give an oral presentation of his/her thesis (typically 30 minutes). Questioning will proceed in whatever fashion is agreed upon by the examining committee.
Senior Thesis Submission
  1. The final responsibility of the successful senior project researcher is to see that the Physics Department has one acid-free copy of his/her thesis for the permanent collections of the Physics Department.
  2. The Physics Department also requires the candidate to submit an electronic version of the final thesis. This must be a single file in Postscript or PDF format, emailed to Ellie Wilkinsom ( by noon Wednesday of the second week of examinations.