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How to Write a Social Science Thesis Part 1

3min read

If you have ever considered writing a thesis or are currently in a seminar and writing one, you might be confused by the format required to complete such a daunting task. I wrote my undergrad thesis in the CSM curriculum and I was lost on how to approach the paper – all guides I found online had little to do with my topic, so it was hard to translate them into my work. Ultimately, I opted to copy the format of one of my seminar's alumni.

It took about a year to complete including all revisions and changes to the paper I made. I found it helpful to communicate with my supervisor and seminar classmates often to see which parts to cut from the paper and where I needed more information. You can also check for the outstanding thesis of every academic year here. Unfortunately, you cannot search by supervisor or division. They are divided into APM and APS, so directly asking your supervisor for an alumni's thesis will be faster.


I need to mention that it is not a one-size-fits-all manual. Every supervisor and every division have a preferred style. Checking papers of alumni who were in the same seminar as you will most likely be your best bet. Without any further ado, here is a one-click, all-in-one guide on how to format and what to include in a social science thesis.

APU Requirements

APU does supply you with some requirements; however, if your supervisor has a different preferred format, I suggest you stick to that. If your supervisor does not specify, this is the format you can go by. You can view it in the Undergrad academic handbook. Check the Undergraduate handbook "Seminar" section for more information on the application and submission process and the requirements for a thesis.
*(Please refer to the most recent version of the handbook for the most accurate information)

The General Outline of a Thesis

An undergrad thesis will consist of five main sections: the introduction, the literature review, theoretical framework and methodology, analysis and findings, and the discussion/conclusion. The following will go into each section with short examples and tips from current students. Remember that these are simply suggestions based on what I have seen so far, and it is best to follow your supervisor's guidance on what to include.

Example of a Table of Contents

The table of contents will be the first thing readers will see after the cover page – it provides a quick look into what you will discuss in the thesis. Please note how the chapters are numbered (this is in line with the APA style (1,2,3 ... for headings and 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, … for subheadings).

The Abstract

The abstract is the first impression of a thesis; it will give readers a peek into what you are researching. In your research, you might find yourself reading just the abstracts of a paper to see if it correlates with what you are studying. Since it incorporates your findings, writing it once you have finalized your thesis is best. The abstract also includes keywords that offer the reader a general idea of what they can expect. Aim for approximately 200 words. Try to include about 4-6 keywords (this is just an average); if you are unsure, including the theory you will be using, the method, and the main research topic is a good start.

Example format

[This paper discusses__add what your research is about (ex. the changing role of women in media) __, specifically __the medium you are looking at (ex. in director x movies) ___. The paper first deals with __state what the literature review covers__, it also discusses __continue outlining the literature review (what precisely does it cover and why). Using ___state your theory (male gaze, feminist theory, etc.)____ theory and __state your research method (discourse analysis, survey, content analysis, etc.)__, this paper aims to __state the aim of your paper__. The results suggest that __outline what you found through your research__.]

Continue to Part2(link)


Hi! I'm Lea, a graduate student from Germany. I like to play Genshin Impact, draw, and shop in my free time. I am also a self-proclaimed APU student life expert lol (I did my undergrad at APU (CSM)). Feel free to say hi if you see me on campus. I hope we can have fun finding out more about APU together! (⌒▽⌒)

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