Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences

English Department

English Department Thesis Guidelines

The thesis you will write should reflect your academic abilities in research, writing, speaking and in overall English language skills. It is your opportunity to bring together what you have learned in your academic career. You should attempt to write an interesting, original work on the subject you choose.

·  How long should a thesis be?

The thesis must be no less than 40 pages, including the bibliography. Although it is not necessary to write more than 40 pages, there is no upper limit for length. If your topic lends itself to 50 to60 pages, there will be no problem.

·  How will my thesis be graded?

You will defend your thesis in front of a jury of three: your supervisor, and two other members of the department. The members of the jury will be selected by the department. The date and time of the thesis defence will be set by the department. Each jury member will give you a score for your written work and a score for your defense. These scores will be averaged. Below is a copy of the guide the Department uses for scoring:

Written score
Content / TOTAL WRITTEN SCORE …………../20 / Mechanics/Style
Coverage of the literature / 1.5 / Grammar and punctuation / 3
Reading/relevance to the topic / 1.5 / Style (appropriate, academic) / 4
Originality/understanding / 3 / Setting/format (APA) / 3
Discussion Argumentation
/ 4
TOTAL: / /10 / TOTAL / /10
Oral Score
Communication skills (ability to explain ideas, pronunciation, and delivery) / 5
Attitude/self-control/body language
/ 5
Appropriateness of response and demonstration of understanding / 10


Your supervisor is there to guide you. You should work with your supervisor from the beginning to the end of the thesis-writing process. Your supervisor may help you focus on your topic and organize your work. He/she may be able to suggest places to look for references. Your supervisor will read your work several times to give you feedback on content. He/she may also help you edit your written English. Through regular meetings with your supervisor, you will create a strong, cohesive thesis and become accustomed to discussing your topic.

Do not expect your supervisor to choose your topic, write your outlines, find your sources, or do all your editing. This should be a collaborative process, but the work is yours. You should discuss your work in a collegial way, bearing in mind that your supervisor has experience in writing, but may not be an expert in your subject. Also bear in mind that just like you, your supervisor is a busy person---be considerate, flexible and patient.

Where do I start?

How do I tackle such a big assignment?

ü  Step One: choose a topic. Read a lot. Finding references is generally the biggest problem students face. Make sure you can find at least 20 references, which are relevant to your topic. Check with the English Department Library (American Corner) or the English Department page on the University web site, and the Department office to make sure that your topic has never been done before. Note: The department has the right to reject or change your topic. The department can also steer students towards a supervisor with expertise in that subject area.

ü  Step Two: write a proposal. This proposal should be a couple of paragraphs describing the topic you have chosen, why you have chosen it, and how you intend to approach it. In other words, the proposal should be an abbreviated version of the introduction—you should explain the same information, but you do not need to go into details. When you ask a professor if he/she will supervise your work, bring this proposal and a list of references you have found. Expect to have a conversation with the professor about the topic and your research.

When a professor agrees to supervise your work, fill out a proposal for research form and ask your supervisor to sign it. Next, take the form to the Head of the Department for his signature and to record the topic in the department file. Keep this form with you. It may help you gain access to reference materials throughout the city.

ü  Step Three: research/outlines. As you continue researching, write an initial outline as a guide. This may change a lot over time. Work closely with your advisor at this point, so that you start on the right foot.

At this point, purchase a file folder, the kind with elastic bands, to keep ALL your research notes and copies in. Purchase some kind of notebook and use it from the beginning to keep track of the APA of each of your references. Number your references. As you write, ALWAYS include the number of your source with every paragraph that you write. Even if you use a paraphrase, include the page number at this point, so that you can go back and verify your source at a later date. You will put in the correct APA for your source as each chapter is completed.

ü  Step Four: The introduction—writing this should help you focus your work. This is the background, Statement of the Problem and Statement of Purpose. The background should bring the reader up to the point that your thesis begins. It provides the background information your reader will need to understand your topic.

ü  That background section of the introduction sets the stage for your statement of the problem, which would be significant only in light of the needed information. The statement of the problem should explain why you are looking at that topic. It should justify your choice of topic. Actually, that background section and the statement of the problem section should support each other.

ü  The statement of purpose should tell how you will address the problem. Your introduction is the foundation of your thesis, laying the groundwork for the entire work. It becomes a logbook for you as you write—you can check against it to see if you are following what you promised to deliver (this is especially true regarding the statement of purpose). The entire introduction should be roughly 2-3 typed pages.

ü  Step Five: writing the body of the work. Ask your supervisor whether he/she would like you to give an entire chapter at a time, or to give portion of a chapter to begin with. You should not wait until you have written everything to show your work to your supervisor—you will not be happy if he/she suggests major changes after you have done all that work!

Before you give anything to your supervisor, it is highly recommended that you give your work to at least one classmate or advanced English speaker for feedback. You should not give messy or rushed work to your supervisor at any time. You should read for errors and so should a friend. Please turn in work leaving margins on both sides of the writing for comments. Write neatly, using only one side of the paper. Provide a readable work in terms of size and space.

ü  Step Six: Editing and typing. As you continue step five (writing chapters or portions of chapters), revise the work your supervisor has returned to you. Depending on the extent of revisions, you may be able to take your work to the typist, or you may want to wait for your supervisor to read your revisions.

ü  Step Seven: almost final revisions. When you get your work back from the typist, make two photocopies. Give the original to you supervisor, keep one copy to edit and revise yourself, and keep one copy to write final corrections for the typist. Do not expect your advisor to do all your editing work, and do not blame mistakes on your typist. Since it is next to impossible to find an English-speaking typist, try to find a French speaking one. If your typist is not a good, educated French speaker, you will have a lot of difficulty. (Of course, if you can get access to a computer and type your work yourself, this will provide you the best results).

ü  Step Eight: The conclusion! This is one of the most important parts of any written work. In your conclusion, you will be able to tell the reader what he/she should have learned from your thesis. Justify your reason for writing by showing outcomes. This is the time to make connections, offer suggestions, and conclude something.

ü  Step Nine: The bibliography or works cited page. This is a very important aspect of your work. Many readers will turn to a bibliography before reading your work, so you want it to look good. Also, there are strict rules for bibliography format—there is no room for personal touches.

The English Department uses the APA format. This is the format you are taught in Research Methodology Course. If you are unsure of this, ask for help and look at the resource book: Concise Rules of APA Style, located at the English Department office, The American Corner, the Global office, and at Oasis Books. The research methods teacher also has a copy of APA style sheets. Writing 4 students can receive a short version of this style sheet from their writing teacher..

ü  Step Ten: The final stages. Prepare the preliminary pages (Title pages, Dedication, acknowledgements, table of contents, and abstract). When you and your supervisor feel you are ready, take a clean copy from the typist and turn it in to the Head of the Department for corrections and conformity to APA style. When he returns your work to you, he will tell you if you are ready to make corrections and turn in final copies for the jury members, or if you need to do more work. No thesis will be accepted for defense unless approved by the Department for conformity with the APA style format.

ü  Step eleven: The defence. Prepare for the defence by trading your thesis with a classmate. Ask your classmate to read your thesis and mark places where he/she has questions or comments. Then sit with your classmate while he/she asks you to explain certain points, questions your assertions, and argues with your opinion.

At the defence you will be asked to give a short (5 to 10 minutes) summary of what your topic is, why you chose it, and what the outcome was. On the day of the defense, it is helpful if you bring a list of errata, mistakes that you have found in receiving your final work. You should also be prepared to take notes on comments and questions from the jury members. NOTE: The date of the defence is set by the department. The jury consists of your supervisor and two other members chosen by the department.

ü  Step twelve: The final changes. After your successful defense, you must make the recommended changes and corrections within one week of your defense. Turn in your new final copy plus the copies from your defence to your thesis supervisor. When he okays this, you must receive have him sign a form for you to take to the department stating that he has approved your corrections. When the Head of the Department or other department member appointed by him (such as your thesis jury president) is satisfied, he will ask you to make at least two bound copies of the thesis and three separate paper copies plus an electronic copy of the abstract for the Department, two bound copies for the Research Center, two bound copies for the Library of the faculty, and one bound copy for your supervisor. Some students may choose to give copies to their jury members.

NOTE: Thesis papers found to contain plagiarism may be cancelled by the department even AFTER the defence.

The procedure for students who are caught plagiarizing during or after the thesis defence is slightly different from other corrections. Students may have to rewrite their thesis removing the plagiarism, or may be required to rewrite the following year on a new topic. Any student handing in a plagiarized paper for the second time, will automatically be required to rewrite the following year on a different topic.

·  What are the parts of the thesis

Your thesis should have, in this order, a cover page, a title page, a copyright page, a dedication, and abstract, acknowledgements, a table of contents, the body of the work, a bibliography, and any appendices. The preliminary pages should be numbered beginning with the second cover page. They should bear the roman numbers I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII. The pages of the body should be numbered beginning with the introduction. They should bear the ordinary numbers 1, 2, 3, 4…. These numbers should be placed in the middle at the bottom of the page.

·  How do I format my thesis?

The body should have 2.5 cm margins on both sides and on the top and the bottom. You should use a standard font at 12 point (Times New Roman). You should use 1.5 spacing. In the body, chapters should be labelled CHAPTER ONE, and so on, and the chapter headings and titles should be centered in capital letters and in bold. All subheading should be in bold and capitalized as sentence should be.

The cover page: the title should be in bold capital letter, centered, beginning 2.5cm down the page. The font and size should be the same as the body of the paper.

You will find the newest works the most helpful, so for all other details the best advice is to look at the collection from the year 1999-2000 and use those as models for your own work.

·  When should I be on what step?

Of course, everyone is different, but a recommended timeline would be

Step 1 / Completed by mid November
Step 2 / Completed by late November
Step 3 and 4 / Completed before the December vacation
Step 5 and 6 / Completed by the beginning of April
Step 7 and 8 / Completed by the end of April (notice: this gives you the whole month of April to improve what you have done)
Step 9 and 10 / Completed before the end of classes
Step 11 / Defence may be scheduled as soon as the candidate is ready if time allows
Step 12 / Thesis defence should be planned and held before July 31 latest
NB: Thesis defence is officially opened May 1 to July 31 each year.

·  What are common problems that other students have?