The following procedure for discovering and defining the subject of your thesis should be followed by both MA and PhD candidates. It is not a mechanical procedure, but it is the best one to follow if you are to select a topic which interests you, which it is possible to pursue at this university, and which is clearly defined.
1. Begin by discussing possible thesis topics informally with professors who specialize in your field of interest. Feel free to approach members of the department who are not instructing you in courses, as well as those who are. Such informal advice will lead to exploratory reading, until the point is reached where you and one or more of the faculty feel that a subject has been sufficiently defined for you to begin concentrated work on it.
2. At this point, you will almost certainly feel that one particular member of the department is more interested in your subject than the rest, and you should ask him or her whether or not he or she will supervise your thesis. If so, then you or the supervisor, or both, should approach another member of the department to be the second reader for the thesis. When this two-person Supervisory Committee is in place, you or the Chief Supervisor should notify the Chair of the Committee on Graduate Studies.
1. You will next draw up a prospectus (see below) in close consultation with your Supervisory Committee. When the final draft of the prospectus has been approved by your committee, you or your supervisor should forward a copy of it to the Chair of the Committee on Graduate Studies, who will distribute it to the members of the Committee on Graduate Studies in English and then, after the Committee approves it, solicit comments and suggestions from all other members of the Graduate Faculty in English.
Deadlines for submission of the prospectus:
a) For MA candidates: A prospectus must be approved by the supervisors and submitted to the Chair of the Committee on Graduate Studies in English no later than eight weeks after registration.
b) For PhD candidates: A prospectus must be approved by the supervisors and submitted to the Chair of the Committee on Graduate Studies by May 31 of the second year.
The purpose of the prospectus is to lead you to limit the scope of your thesis precisely, to define your purpose clearly, and to establish your method firmly, before you begin concentrated work on the thesis itself. A thoroughly prepared and carefully written prospectus will save you from confused motives, false starts, and muddled procedures. As a document which all members of the Graduate Faculty in English are invited to read, the prospectus is an important stage in the thesis and should be written with care.
2. The prospectus must be in the following form.
a) a statement of the tentative title of the thesis;
b) the student's name and degrees and the names of the Chief Supervisor and Second Reader;
c) for the MA prospectus: a description in not more than 300 words of what the student intends to do in the thesis;
for the PhD prospectus: a description in not more than 750 words of what the student intends to do in the thesis. There should be no projection of probable conclusions. It is not necessary to provide full details of the methods to be used.
d) for the MA prospectus: the Committee on Graduate Studies requires a statement from the supervisors that the candidate has produced sufficient evidence that bibliographical materials for the research are reasonably available;
for the PhD prospectus: the prospectus should include a brief statement concerning the nature, location, and availability of bibliographical materials, along with a short, selective bibliography of materials used to prepare the prospectus.
e) The prospectus should not be submitted until both supervisors have seen and approved the final version.
C. Work in Progress
1. While working on your thesis, you should always feel free to consult any member of the English Department who may be able to offer advice.
2. The length of an MA thesis is normally 100 pages, including apparatus. A PhD thesis will be approximately 250 pages.
3. The MLA Style Manual is to be used as the norm for bibliography, footnotes or endnotes, and scholarly methods.
4. Your Supervisory Committee will decide when your thesis is ready for examination. Any appeal against the decision of the committee should be addressed to the Chair of the Committee on Graduate Studies in English.
5. For MA Students: Summer support for students writing MA theses is contingent upon submission of a substantial and acceptable portion (for example, a twenty-five-page chapter) by May 15. Thesis supervisors will report to the Graduate Chair whether this condition has been met. However, the Graduate Committee recommends the following schedule: March 15: First chapter submitted to First and Second Readers; July 1: Completed first draft submitted to First and Second Readers.
D. Examination of the Thesis
The Calendar of the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies should be consulted carefully with regard to the Department's regulation of examinations. The following is merely a supplement to the Calendar and Guide for the Preparation of Theses:
1. When you have completed the thesis to the satisfaction of your Chief Supervisor and Second Reader, they will notify the Chair of the Committee on Graduate Studies in English that it is ready for examination. The Chair will then make suggestions about examiners and date of examination to the Dean of the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
2. Deadlines for thesis examinations: These may be found in the Graduate Calendar and will be strictly adhered to.
3. The description of the thesis examination given below should be supplemented by a close reading of the regulations listed in the current Calendar and Guide for the Preparation of Theses of the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
For M.A. candidates:
The examination is entirely oral and lasts for approximately one hour. For the first ten minutes, you will describe your reasons for undertaking research into this subject, the method you have followed, and the chief results of your investigation. Each examiner may then question you for approximately fifteen minutes, with an optional second round of questions. Your Chief Supervisor and Second Reader, and any other faculty members who may be present, will then be given an opportunity to question you if they wish.
For Ph.D. candidates: