For the Classes of 2016 and 2017, the Departmental senior comprehensive exam tests knowledge in the concentrator's primary field. The comprehensive exam normally involves a one-day, take-home, closed-book, essay-style examination. The exam allows students to choose from a set of questions designed such that any student who has taken significant coursework and completed independent work in that field should be able to answer at least some of them. There is no special reading list for the senior comprehensive exam. Examples of questions that might appear on the appropriate senior exam include:
- (AMERICAN) In what ways do America's political institutions facilitate the influence of public preferences over government policy-making, and in what ways do they thwart it?
- (COMPARATIVE) Stable democracy is only feasible in economically developed countries. Discuss.
- (INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS) Some observers believe that incomplete information plays a critical role in the onset of war. Explain this view. Then, explain why war is sometimes possible even when complete information exists.
- (THEORY) Explain John Rawls’ contractarian theory of justice and compare it with the social contract theory of Hobbes, or Locke or Rousseau.
The examination is due at the time set by the Registrar for senior departmental examinations which is noted in Important Dates.
NOTE: Effective with the Class of 2018, seniors will be required to prepare and present a professional poster describing their Senior Thesis results in lieu of taking the senior comprehensive exam.