Honours Program

See Section 4.1 in the academic calendar for general regulations on degree requirements and course pattern.

Click here to see DEVS Degree Requirements

Thesis Guidelines

DEVS 490: Honours Thesis in Development Studies

The DEVS 490 thesis is a required course for students in the honours program worth 6 credits that counts towards the honours degree in Development Studies. The student is expected to write an academic thesis based on a review of literature on a clearly defined topic relevant to development. The student is responsible for finding a willing supervisor and for arranging a mutually agreeable schedule of meetings and due dates, which must include a thesis proposal and an initial bibliography in the early part of the first semester of the course. The focus of the thesis must be relevant to development studies but may be approached from any discipline or field within the Faculty of Arts.

Thesis Structure

The thesis should have the following structure:

  • Title Page: (the format of the title page is appended as the final page of this document)
  • Abstract: A summary of the major findings of the thesis in 300 words or less. The text should be double spaced. The abstract must be able to be read separate from the thesis so there should be no footnotes or references to other literature or to the body of the thesis in the abstract.
  • Acknowledgments (optional)
  • Table of Contents: List the page numbers of each section, beginning with the Abstract and ending with the List of References (or Appendices, if there are any). The title of each chapter and of each of the sub-headings of the chapters should be listed. Page numbers should begin with the Abstract as p. 1 and continue to the last page of the List of References or Appendices. Page numbers should appear in the upper right of each page.
  • Body of the thesis: Should consist of several chapters setting out the study. Normally, the first chapter will be an introduction that sets the stage for the work. It may include the scope of the study, the objectives, the research methods, the organization of the chapters to follow, etc. The second chapter may review the current understanding of the subject based on existing literature and scholarly sources. The third chapter may present the results of the research and the fourth chapter the interpretation of the results (or the third chapter may present both results and interpretation). The final chapter may present briefly the conclusions of the research.
  • Chapters: Each chapter begins with the chapter number and title at the top of a new page. Subtitles may be used to separate components of the chapter. The chapters should be written in a scholarly style acceptable within the field of development studies. Students are encouraged to select a manual of style used in professional publications and to consult with their supervisor on this matter before writing the thesis.
  • Figures: If figures (maps, graphs, photographs, drawings, etc.) are used, they should be included in the text of each chapter near where they are referred to in the text. Figures should be numbered sequentially through the thesis (e.g. Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.), or in each chapter (Figure 1.1, Figure 1.2, .... Figure 2.1, Figure 2.2 ... etc.). Each figure must have a caption below or beside it (e.g. Figure 6: Income Distribution by Region). Figures must be referred to in the text (e.g. “...as shown in Figure 6.”) and must be cited in order (e.g. Figure 5 is cited before Figure 6). Figures from other sources should be acknowledged in the caption, and should be renumbered in the thesis. Figures must be neat and legible.
  • Tables: Tables (lists of data or text) should be treated in the same way. The table should have a title above it (e.g. „Table 1: Population Growth in Freetown‟). Each column of data or information must have a title, and footnotes (if any) should be placed below the table. The title, column titles, body, and footnotes should be separated by horizontal lines.
  • Length of the thesis: Normally the thesis should be between a minimum of 50 and a maximum of 75 double-spaced pages, using a 12 pt. font.
  • References: References and notes to the literature must be listed under a separate heading following the last chapter and must be in an acceptable scholarly format. Each reference must be cited in the text and each citation must appear in the list of references. Normally references and notes will be single spaced.
  • Appendices (if any) should include information, data, or figures important to the thesis but which are not central to the presentation. They should be referred to in the text. If there is more than one Appendix, they should be numbered sequentially. They may be presented on paper or on digital media (e.g. as a CD). If the latter, it should be labelled and enclosed in an envelope attached to inside of the back cover of the thesis.
  • Copies of the thesis: Following examination and final approval of the thesis by the supervisor, the student must present a clean, corrected electronic copy of the final work to the Coordinator or the secretary of the Development Studies Program. This copy will be printed and archived for the Development Studies Program.
Grading of the Thesis

The thesis will be evaluated by the thesis supervisor, based on the originality of the topic, depth of research, quality of argument, and analytical complexity, as well as presentation and style. A single grade will be assigned to the final product and will be based on the quality of work presented at each stage of the thesis and the meeting of thesis deadlines, as outlined below. Also, the thesis supervisor and program coordinator will jointly agree on an appropriate faculty member who will serve as a second reader for the thesis, and with whom the thesis supervisor will consult before assigning a final grade.

September – Selection of a thesis topic and agreement of supervisor, including preliminary discussion of the topic and relevant source material. Students must register for the course by the end of Registration period. 

October – Submission to supervisor of a preliminary bibliography and a broad outline of the thesis, including the structure of the chapters and a description of the research you intend to undertake. 

December – Completion and submission of a draft of the first chapter of the thesis to supervisor.

Mid-February – Completion and submission to the supervisor of a draft of all chapters save the final chapter and conclusion.

Mid-March – Completion and submission of a full draft of the thesis to the supervisor.

End of March – Oral presentation of the thesis to Development Studies faculty and students.

April – Submission of the completed thesis (with all requested changes and corrections made) to supervisor and final electronic copy to the Coordinator or DEVS secretary for printing and archiving.


DEVS 490 is only open to students with fourth-year standing in the DEVS Honours program. The student must identify a willing supervisor from DEVS or a cognate department and receive permission of the DEVS Coordinator.

Academic Integrity

Students participating in DEVS 490 are subject to St. Francis Xavier University academic integrity guidelines, details of which can be found here.