English and Film Studies

MA (Thesis)



Please see our graduate course descriptions.

MA students can take up to 2 courses in another department or at another institution, with permission from the Associate Chair, Graduate Studies. Please contact the department who offers the course for further information.


Enrollment in all EFS Graduate Seminars must be requested through the office of Kim Brown. EFS students will have priority in enrolling in these classes. They will be asked to submit a list of their preferences to Kim Brown.  The grad chair will make decisions about priority for enrollment in classes that are over-subscribed. If there is room in an EFS graduate class after all EFS graduate students have enrolled, non EFS students may ask for permission to enroll.

Course Expectations:

General practice in the Department regarding workload on average takes the following form for a half-year graduate course: 15-20 pages of written work, the equivalent of one or two 20-30 minute oral presentations, and weekly reading assignments roughly equivalent to a 200-page novel and one or two critical or theoretical readings (scholarly articles, chapters of books, etc.), in addition to independent research by individual students. Final projects for graduate classes should be due no sooner than one week after the final class meeting.

Proseminar A (Fall Term):

A series of meetings with the Associate Chair, Graduate Studies covers the following topics: 

  • Graduate Studies at the University of Alberta
  • The library and on-line library resources
  • Conceiving of a research project & crafting a short proposal
  • Supervision: the supervisory relationship and assembling a committee
  • Research ethics (which fulfills part of the FGSR ethics requirement)

FGSR Ethics Requirement:

All students must complete the on-line FGSR Ethics Requirement.

Language Requirement for the MA:

MA students are required to demonstrate basic proficiency in one language other than English. Basic proficiency may be demonstrated by obtaining a 2.7 in a full-year intermediate language course, or by taking an appropriate examination set by another department or academic unit (currently, for example, MLCS schedules two written examinations, once in November and once in March). Students may have fulfilled this requirement during their undergraduate program. We also generally accept language exams completed for other graduate programs.

The MA Thesis Proposal and Constitution of Supervisory Committee:

During the first year, an MA student begins informally to work with a supervisor on the Thesis Proposal. By March 15th, each student must submit a brief proposal (1-2 pp.), signed by the thesis supervisor, indicating the subject and scope of the thesis, for approval by the Graduate Committee. The Committee may ask for clarifications or suggest changes. 

MA thesis proposal forms ask for suggestions for the reader, but responsibility for officially appointing readers and examiners falls to the Graduate Committee in consultation with the supervisor. The supervisory committee for the MA consists, at a minimum, of a supervisor from EFS and a reader from EFS. Co-supervisors from this or another department may be appointed in certain circumstances. The reader of an MA thesis, as of an MA project, should normally function as an examiner, not a supervisor, and is under no obligation to examine the thesis (or project) prior to submission of the final draft. 

In constituting supervisory committees, the Graduate Committee will make every effort to spread this work out as equitably as possible among the Department's professors, but welcomes suggestions as to the most suitable persons to invite to serve in each capacity. Final authority for the approval of supervisory committees rests with the Dean of Arts, to whom the Department forwards an Approval of Supervisor/Supervisory Committee form. Any subsequent changes in the basic committee structure require resubmission of this form, as well as Graduate Committee approval. 

If research involves human subjects, the thesis proposal should indicate plans to seek approval for that, as all research involving human participants conducted by any member of the University community must receive research ethics approval before any contact with the human participants takes place. The "Standards and Procedures" of the Research Ethics Board and the "Application to Conduct Research Involving Human Participants" form are available on the Arts website. Questions can be directed to the Associate Dean of Arts (Research).

MA Thesis

MA theses should be approximately 80-100 pages in length. FGSR standards for an MA thesis are “the thesis, at a minimum, should reveal that the student is able to work in a scholarly manner and is acquainted with the principal works published on the subject of the thesis. As far as possible, it should be an original contribution.” A substantial piece of creative writing, such as a novel or a collection of stories or poems, may be proposed in place of an MA thesis. 

Examining Committee and Oral Defense of the Thesis

The completed thesis is assessed by three people: the supervisor, a reader from the English Department, and an examiner from another department (designated by the supervisor in consultation with the student and the Graduate Committee). Copies of the thesis should be supplied to examiners at least 4 weeks prior to the oral examination. The oral examination itself should likewise be scheduled, with approval of the designated examiners, at least 4 weeks prior to the desired date. 

The decision of the examining committee will be based both on the content of the thesis and on the candidate's ability to defend it. See the FGSR Website for rules and procedures governing the exam.