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Undergraduate Research

Student Research in Russian and Post-Soviet Studies

An undergraduate research project allows you to explore a topic in more depth than regular coursework allows. It can also result in a polished, substantial essay to submit as a writing sample if, for example, you’re considering graduate school. In Russian Studies, you can conduct a research project as an independent study or an Honors thesis. (All majors who do not write an Honors Thesis will conduct a research project in the capstone Senior Seminar.)

You can also participate in a faculty member's research project through the support of grants such as the Chappell Fellowships.

W&M supports student research though a number of programs, including the Monroe Scholar Program.

Getting Started

A research project begins with identifying and investigating your interests. Perhaps you wrote a paper for a regular course; your instructor recognized it as promising and you want to expand on it—that might be a good candidate for a research project.  It's also important to consider if you have the time to devote to an independent study. Typically, each credit of research requires 6 hours per week, including reading, thinking, and writing, as well as meeting with your advisor.

Any core professor in Russian and Post-Soviet Studies may serve as advisor.  Contact the faculty member you wish to work with and arrange to meet for a preliminary discussion.  Bring to that meeting a clear idea of your research topic and a list of proposed readings (or screenings, etc.). Plan ahead: consider contacting a prospective advisor the semester before your proposed project.

Independent Study

An Independent Study in Russian Studies (RUSN 411) allows accomplished students to undertake a semester-long tutorial on a topic agreed by the student and instructor and approved in advance. RUSN 411 is open to declared majors who have at least a 3.0 GPA in the major. Students may count only one Independent Study toward the major.

Submit a written proposal by the Friday before the start of the semester of the proposed study. The proposal should state your research question, why it interests you, and the expected outcome (e.g., a 20-page research paper, an annotated bibliography, etc.), as well as a bibliography and an outline of readings and meeting times. Academic credits vary based on the number of pages of writing completed: as a rough guide, we expect at least 7 pages for 1 credit, 14 for 2, and 20 for 3.

Honors Thesis

The Departmental Honors Program allows seniors to conduct a yearlong research project and complete a substantial work of scholarship, working closely with an advisor. 

Discuss your ideas for a thesis with a professor in the Russian and Post-Soviet Studies during spring semester of your junior year. You can apply for an Honors Fellowship through the Charles Center to fund research during the summer before your senior year. You will then register for Honors for Fall and Spring of your senior year (RPSS 495 and 496), for a total of 6 credits that count towards your major. Throughout senior year, you will work with your advisor to complete your thesis. At the end of the year, you will defend your thesis and present your research at the W&M research showcase.