English Language and Culture, 2010-2011
The full-time version of the programme spans one year, while the part-time programme consists of a year and a half. The programme offers four specialisations: Philology, Literature, Linguistics and Language Acquisition. It is also possible to put together a more general programme by selecting courses from all of the sections.
Within each specialisation students can choose from a yearly selection of courses. Compulsory elements in the pogramme are the Online Thesis Training (OTT) and the Master’s thesis. Other than that, students choose courses in their specialisation or interdisciplinary courses.
In the first semester of the programme, all Master’s students are expected to follow the online course ‘Online Thesis Training’ (5 ECTS), as well as two other courses (for 10 ECTS each). One of these two courses should be extended into an independent research project worth 5 ECTS. In the second semester, students take one more course and write their Master’s thesis.
The programme’s primary objective is to enable graduates to acquire the knowledge, skills and attitude required in order to successfully fill positions for which an advanced academic education in the field of English Language and Culture is either required or useful.
OTT (5 ECTS)
Course A (10 ECTS)
Course B (10 ECTS)
Extension on course A or B (5 ECTS)
Total: 30 ECTS
Course C (10 ECTS)
MA-thesis (20 ECTS)
Total: 30 ECTS
Graduates in English Language and Culture:
- Have acquired a level of insight into the results, concepts and methods of the field, or a part thereof, which enables them, by making use of specialist literature, to recognize the most relevant questions and problems of the field, and to formulate a well-argued opinion concerning these questions;
- Are capable of reporting in an extensive, appropriate, well-argued and critical manner on the state of the art concerning a number of subjects within one or more fields of study of English Language and Culture, and of subsequently drawing well-considered conclusions from the results;
- Have acquired a level of knowledge and skills in the field sufficient to be applied in filling positions in society for which an academic education at Master’s level is required or useful;
- Have developed insight into the nature and function of academic pursuit.
All assignments and essays must be written in accordance with the guidelines set out in the MLA style sheet. Students hand in their essays and assignments directly to the relevant lecturer (or by putting them into his/her pigeon hole). The corrected assignments are returned in person or in the student pigeon holes in the hall on the first floor of building 1168, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, 1st floor.
The written examinations will take place:
- 1st semester: Wednesday 5 January – Friday 14 January
- 2nd semester: Monday 30 May – Wednesday 1 June and Monday 6 June – Friday 10 June
- Resit: Monday 23 August – Friday 27 August
The final essays must be handed in:
- First semester courses on Friday 7 January; resit essays Wednesday 1 June
- Second semester courses on Wednesday 1 June; resit essays Monday 22 August
Plagiarism may be defined as ‘the act of passing off the thoughts, writings, inventions, etc. of another person as one’s own’ (Concise Oxford Dictionary). This definition includes not only books and articles but also electronic material, such as internet texts. If plagiarism is detected in a paper or an essay, the student is expected to rewrite the essay or the paper during the resit period. The incident will also be reported to the Director of Studies. If a student is caught again for the same offence, the case will be brought before the Board of Examiners. Their decision might involve expulsion from the course and the student will not be allowed to take part in the resits for the relevant subject for the remainder of the academic year. If the offence occurs a third time, the Board of Examiners will take more drastic measures. In case of plagiarism when writing the final thesis, a different topic and a different supervisor will be found, in consultation with the Board of Examiners.
The final component of the programme consists of writing a Master’s thesis. Once the thesis has been approved, it must be defended orally.
The thesis should be based on a Master’s course from the programme offered by the English Department. The thesis is worth a total of 20 ECTS.
Thesis and Graduation Scenario
The goal of this scenario is to provide guidelines for writing a Master’s thesis and graduating. The guidelines are not rules, and their applicability will vary in individual cases. No rights can be derived from the information in this scenario.
This scenario takes as a starting point a situation in which all examination components, apart from the Master’s thesis, have been completed (including electives and internships). In order for the thesis to be complete, the thesis must be completed by an oral defence.
The Master’s thesis is based on a Master’s course from the English Language and Culture programme.
The thesis is worth 20 ECTS (corresponding to approximately 20,000 words). Students can graduate every month of the academic year, except in July and August. In order to graduate immediately after the summer (in September), the final version of the thesis must be handed in no later than 11 July. The defence can then take place sometime during the resit period in August.
The entire process of writing a thesis and graduating takes 4 to 6 months.
All components required for graduation, including the defence of the thesis must be completed no later than 14 days before the graduation date. A copy of the Bachelor’s diploma and a signed transcript must be handed in at the Secretary’s Office at the same date.
There are three official phases in the thesis writing and graduation procedure:
- Submitting a thesis proposal;
- Research and writing;
- Final defence and graduation.
Submitting a Thesis Proposal
Aim of the Master’s Thesis
A thesis is an academic essay, written by the student in consultation with the supervisors. The thesis must show that the student is capable of analysing existing literature in a critical manner, and of conducting independent research. This process must moreover be recorded in an academically sound report.
Choosing a Topic
Generally speaking, students are encouraged to select the topic of their thesis themselves, based on a Master’s course that they followed. Another way of coming up with a topic is to consult the thesis archive of the department. In most cases, the first supervisor of the thesis will be the lecturer responsible for the Master’s course which inspired the thesis. In case of doubt, students can always consult the director of studies.
Students should approach the relevant lecturer and discuss with him/her the chosen topic and potential research question. The supervisor, also known as ‘first reader’, will undoubtedly be able to point to relevant secondary literature. A second reader is chosen in consultation with the supervisor. At this point, clear agreements are made concerning supervision.
At the heart of a Master’s thesis lies a research question, together with the answer to that question. Before a research question can be formulated, students first do some preparatory reading. Formulating the research question is one of the most important components of research because this question forms the basis for all further activities. Half the time reserved for writing a Master’s thesis should be spent on reading secondary literature and formulating a research question.
Once the student has selected a topic, formulated a research question and put together a provisional bibliography, the thesis proposal submission form can be filled in. The submission form should include the title of the thesis, a provisional bibliography and a description of the topic. The form must be submitted to the board of examiners no later than three months before the planned graduation date. The board will then inspect the thesis proposal to ensure that it is of an appropriate academic level, that it contains no plagiarism, etc.
Research and Writing
In principle, students will already have made a start on the literature survey in the course of formulating their provisional bibliography. This can be done systematically by consulting the University Library or the Royal Library catalogues, or through the ‘snowball effect’ (meaning through references in bibliographies to other sources and bibliographies). It is important to be very precise and systematic in writing down one’s sources, as much time can be wasted in having to look up sources and notes again at a later stage.
The MLA style sheet gives precise indications on the information which must be included in a bibliography.
Students should start out by formulating a clear plan for the structure of the thesis, in consultation with their supervisor. Only then can they begin writing. Questions of style will only become relevant at a later stage.
Keep in mind that information which could not be included in the thesis itself might come in handy during the defence.
Handing in a first part
The first chapter is handed in to the supervisor and discussed. It is not advisable to hand in the entire thesis in one piece.
Handing in the final version
Once the entire thesis is completed, the student should hand in two copies, one to each reader. Their comments must be integrated into the final version. The first reader then contacts the student and makes an appointment for the defence date.
In assessing the quality of the thesis, the following aspects play an important role:
- Formulating and analysing the research question;
- Structure of the thesis;
- Integrating secondary literature into the argument;
- Good argumentation of student’s own arguments;
- Style, use of language and lay-out, according to the MLA style sheet;
- Defending of the contents of the thesis during the oral defence (students are expected to provide content answers to the questions asked during the defence, not just ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘I don’t know’).
Defence and graduation
Two copies of the thesis must be handed in two weeks before the defence date, at the latest, one for the first reader, one for the second reader. You send one copy to the Department by mail: English@hum.leidenuniv.nl. During the defence, which lasts three quarters of an hour, the thesis is discussed in a critical manner. The student is expected to be able to defend his/her work.
After the defence, students should hand in copies of their Bachelor’s diploma and Aanvraagformulier Masterexamination During the Master’s Examination, a Master’s diploma is granted in the course of a public ceremony (meaning that friends and family are welcome to attend). The final mark for the Master’s programme is determined according to a fixed norm. For more information on this topic, see ‘Calculation Final Mark Master’s Degree ’. The completed components of the programme are specified on the Diploma Supplement, together with the respective study load and result.
The Master’s examination is an academic achievement which requires the student to be registered at the University. The board of examiners assessing the final mark consists of the two thesis supervisors and the secretary of the standing board of examiners. The official examination consists of the thesis defence and the presentation of the diploma in the Faculty Hall of the Academy Building (Academiegebouw) on the Rapenburg. The defence of the thesis is not public, but the diploma presentation is. There should be at least two weeks between the defence and the diploma presentation.
The diploma presentation can take place on the following dates: 18 October, 22 November, 13 December, 24 January, 21 February, 14 March, 18 April, 9 May, 6 June, 27 June.
If the deadline of 27 June is not met, there is a possibility to submit the final version of the thesis by 8 July, in which case the defence can take place during the resit period in August and the diploma presentation in September.
- The student informs the director of studies of the defence date;
- Before the defence date, the student hands in the following documents: a copy of his/her Bachelor’s diploma, an application form Master examination and a copy of the thesis for the thesis archive;
- The board of examiners arranges a date with the University Registrar’s Office;
- An official invitation to the diploma presentation is sent to the student’s home address.
The final mark for the Master’s programme is determined on basis of the weighted average of all marks, with the mark for the thesis being counted three times. The Master’s board of examiners may, in determining the final mark, deviate from the result thus obtained by one half point in either direction. This deviation is a direct result of the student’s performance during the thesis defence, and is achieved in consultation with the thesis supervisors (first and second reader).
Students wishing to follow courses abroad during their Master’s degree should contact Mrs K. van der Zeeuw-Filemon for more information.