Open Buddha

Open Source Buddhism, Technology, and Geekery
Bay Area, California

Thesis Length Questions

I’m wondering if I’m going overboard on my thesis or trying to do something too grand. My current draft of my thesis, in the last third of the fifth chapter, is 83 pages (double-spaced on 8 1/2” x 11” paper).

By the time I finish the fifth chapter, I’ll be at 90 pages, at a guess, which makes it a 34 or so page chapter, which is pretty long but then that chapter does cover the ideas concerning the soul from Homer through Plato and Aristotle to the Neoplatonists to the Christians and then Jewish Cabala and Theosophists. It is a necessary chapter since I can’t really talk about the unique ideas of the Golden Dawn concerning the soul or the relationship of their ideas to existing traditions of thought (such as Neoplatonism and Cabala) without summarizing though traditions first.

To draw some comparisons, my thesis has to be at least 60 pages for the credits I need to graduate. Most theses in the program seem to be about 70 to 80 or so pages long. The breakdown of my thesis so far is:

The breakdown of the thesis so far is as follows:

  • Chapter 1: Introduction - 8 pages
  • Chapter 2: What is Western Esotericism (which also covers its interdisciplinary study as has developed since 1990) - 14 pages
  • Chapter 3: What was the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (which covers history, the cipher manuscript, etc.)- 11 pages
  • Chapter 4: The Structure of the Golden Dawn and its Rituals (which goes over the basic ordering structure of the order and its initiation ceremonies) - 23 pages
  • Chapter 5: The Origin and Influences on the Conception of the Soul in the Golden Dawn (which covers the ideas concerning the soul in the West from Homer to Plato and Aristotle to Neoplatonism to Christianity and then Jewish Cabala and 19th Century Theosophy) - 27 pages and I'm only writing the Christianity section right now.

I’m wondering if I’m doing too much in some way. Right now, I feel like I’m going to get to about 90 pages and still have 40 pages or more to discuss of the specifics of Golden Dawn beliefs and then a conclusion. I don’t know if a 130 to 140 pages thesis is really right for the program when most seem to be half that in length.

If I could repurpose my original four chapters and write something else concerning the Golden Dawn, it might be the right length but I’m not sure what thesis question that would really apply towards. I could also heavily cut down my fifth chapter but then I feel like I’m going to gloss over the traditions of thought in the West concerning the soul, which removes all context.

I do finally have the Ransom Center’s editions of the outer order rituals, the equinox ceremony, and the Z papers though so I have primary source material for much of the Golden Dawn. These items were copied from Allan Bennett’s notebooks.

For those lacking context, you can see my original proposal, which has been slightly amended, for the thesis here.

The question is what to do…