This seminar is intended to provide the theoretical and methodological foundation for completing a graduate thesis in the Department of Urban Planning and Design. By the end of the semester, students will have produced a solid thesis proposal and have the necessary intellectual foundation to complete their thesis by the end of the academic year. Over the semester, students will identify and refine their thesis topic, solidify their relationship with a thesis advisor, and produce a thesis proposal. Weekly sessions will involve discussions of relevant readings and exploration of emergent student work. As a forum for the exchange of work in progress, the seminar will allow students to share their ideas and get feedback on the development of their thesis from their peers, visiting critics and reviewers, and faculty.
The seminar will begin by introducing the thesis as a conceptual frame and by identifying the key elements that cut across the different types of theses that might be produced by students, whether textual, design-focused, or based in some other medium, such as film. It will then address the following issues, among others: topic and question identification, research methods, case selection, the craft of thesis production, managing the student-advisor relationship, and techniques for verbally defending a thesis.
Students will complete weekly assignments relevant to their thesis and present in class on most weeks. Since the seminar will be run as a graduate seminar, students will be expected to provide critical and thoughtful responses to their peers’ work and engage in informed and mature discussion of the issues found in the readings. The course will include a midterm and final review of students’ proposals, to be attended by faculty and critics.
Course format: This course will meet weekly on Monday afternoons from 3pm to 6pm. This time will be subdivided into three 45-minute sessions (with breaks in between sessions). The first session will comprise of lectures and/or time to discuss the week's assigned reading. The second session will be a time for student's to present their progress on their thesis proposal to a group of two or three classmates. The third session will be a time for students to discuss challenges, lessons, and advice for completing a thesis proposal in groups of four or five students.