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What Is a Thesis, and Why Is It Required?

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A thesis is a typewritten manuscript, usually 100 to 400 pages in length, in which the student addresses a particular problem in his chosen field. Italian law requires students to successfully complete a thesis before they are granted the laurea, currently the terminal humanities degree offered by Italian universities.

Once the student has passed all require exams and finished writing his thesis, he defends it in front of a committee. During this defense, the thesis advisor and one or more readers give a report that may include objections to the candidate’s thesis.

This report sparks a discus sion in which other professors participate as members of the committee. The advisor and a second professor identify the strengths and weaknesses of the thesis and evaluate the candidate’s capacity to defend the opinions he expressed in his thesis, and these influence the committee’s final evaluation. After calculating the student’s grade point average, the committee evaluates the thesis on a numeric scale of 66 to 110 points.

The committee may also grant a score of 110 cumlaude, and designate the thesis as worthy of publication. This process applies to a laurea in the humanities, as other fields of study may have different requirements.

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