"Comps" in Philosophy, Philosophy 400 (Spring Term, 3 credits, graded Distinction, Pass, or Fail), consists of presenting and defending a philosophical paper in a public colloquium, being a commentator on someone else's paper, and participating in the discussion of other papers. A prerequisite for Philosophy 400 is the Senior Thesis seminar, Philosophy 399 (Winter Term, 6 credits, standard grading method.)
The process for comps is summarized below. If you would like more details on the Philosophy comps process, be sure to speak to any member of the faculty.
A topic for your paper must be submitted on the last day of classes of the Fall term in your Senior year. This topic proposal is reviewed by the Department, and you are told whether to revise your topic, submit a new topic or proceed. This proposal consists of (1) a brief description of the topic area, details of the particular issue you will address and a preliminary version of your thesis statement [200-300 words], (2) an annotated bibliography, consisting of a short sentence or two for each item in the bibliography that describes what it is about and its role in your comps, and (3) a description of the work in philosophy you have done that has prepared you to work on your topic. It is highly recommended that you develop your proposal in consultation with one or more faculty in the Philosophy Department.
In the Winter term you register for Philosophy 399 (6 credits) and work with the other Philosophy seniors in the Senior Thesis seminar to develop and write your paper (4000 word maximum). This is taught by a designated member of the faculty (Angela Curran in 2011-12) who has the primary responsibility for advising you in the development of your research and the writing of your paper. (You are strongly encouraged to contact any member of the department for additional research guidance.) During this term you do research, make presentations of your ideas to the seminar, and write your paper. The paper must be submitted at the end of the Winter term. A grade on the A-F scale is assigned, agreed on by the whole Department on the basis of a reading by the faculty member teaching the Senior Thesis seminar and at least one other faculty member.
In the Spring term you register for Philosophy 400 (3 credits) and participate in the public Senior Colloquium. Each meeting of the colloquium is one hour, and consists of:
(a) A 10 minute presentation of the major ideas of your comps paper. You must submit an electronic copy of your paper to the department administrative assistant, Sandy Saari, 48 hours before your presentation. You are free to revise the paper you submitted at the end of the Winter Term and are encouraged but not required to do so. This paper will be made available to the faculty and to your fellow Seniors. Your presentation should be a prepared spoken presentation, and not just a reading of the paper abstract.
(b) A series of comments and questions on this material by the designated commentator. These will be made available to the presenter at least 48 hours beforehand; thus the presenter must give a copy of the paper to the commentator in sufficient time to allow for preparation of these questions and comments.
(c) Responses to these comments and questions by the presenter.
(d) Replies to these responses by the commentator.
(e) Questions posed to the presenter (at least three) from other Philosophy seniors who are "Designated Participants" for the session.
(f) General public discussion of the issues.
Based on your paper (revised or not), your presentation, your role as commentator for one of your peers, the questions you asked when not a presenter or commentator, and your general participation in the Colloquium you will be assigned a grade for Philosophy 400 (Distinction, Pass, or Fail).