A Master’s thesis is a substantial work that demonstrates original scholarship in your field.
The Master’s thesis for a graduate degree in language and literature is a substantial work, written in close consultation with a Thesis Director, that demonstrates original scholarship in the field of language and literature.
This page provides an overview of the guidelines for preparing and developing a Master’s thesis as part of the degree requirements for an M.A. in Language and Literature. For specific questions, contact your Thesis Director, or if a Director has not yet been assigned, contact the thesis coordinator or refer to your student handbook.
In its final form, your thesis should be suitable for publication in a scholarly journal and/or presentation at an academic conference. While it might originate from an idea you explore in a previous course project, the final thesis will be the result of new research, substantive revision, and significant expansion, as developed under consultation with your Director.
All students seeking a Master’s Degree in Language and Literature are required to complete a capstone project prior to being eligible for graduation from Signum University. The objectives for this capstone include:
- To demonstrate that the student has successfully mastered the subject matter of Signum’s MA in Language and Literature by thoughtfully engaging with specific material from the program.
- To provide the student the experience of working closely with a specialised scholar to craft a high level presentation.
- To show the student is capable of creating an in-depth original project that participates in scholarly discussion in a given area of literary and/or linguistic studies.
- To prepare the student for the possibility of publication.
The capstone (thesis) should always fulfil the “Writing” outcome for Signum’s MA in Language and Literature, and a successful Thesis Theater will allow the presenting student to satisfy the “Community” outcome. In addition, all capstone projects should demonstrate the student’s mastery of either the “Language” or “Textual Analysis” program outcome, although some theses may show mastery of both. The full text of all four program outcomes is available on the Master’s Degree in Language and Literature page.
Areas of Investigation
One of the first tasks associated with your thesis is choosing an appropriate topic. You can (and should!) be thinking about this throughout your education at Signum University.
The range of possible thesis topics is immense. Potential areas include (but are not limited to):
- Literary history
- Textual studies and genetic criticism
- Literary criticism/theory
- Biographical criticism
- Translation work
- Linguistic studies
When you have decided on a subject-area for your Master’s thesis, you should contact the thesis coordinator, who will ask questions and provide guidance about how to develop a research question and refine or clarify your ideas. Once you have a research question in mind, the next step is to submit a thesis application.
In addition to more traditional areas, Signum University welcomes and encourages theses that examine areas of study traditionally overlooked by the larger academic community, including areas of investigation such as:
- Fantasy, science fiction, and other speculative literature
- Tolkien and Inklings studies
- Mass media and popular culture
- Minority and countercultural perspectives
- Emergent disciplines, such as digital humanities and computational analysis of literature (e.g., lexomics)
Thesis Application and Course Work
The thesis project spans two consecutive semesters in which you work with a Thesis Director to complete your thesis.
Prior to beginning this phase, you will need to complete and submit an application with your proposed research question. The application is a one-page document that outlines the proposed research subject, agenda, and approach, as well as the qualifications you are looking for in a Director. It will be used by the thesis coordinator to help you find a suitable Director.
Upon approval of your thesis application, you’ll be able to register for your first thesis course, followed by the second thesis course the subsequent semester.
Master’s Thesis Application Deadlines
|First Thesis Semester||Application Due By…|
|Spring||Nov. 15 (the previous year)|
All thesis applications must be submitted to Signum’s Thesis Coordinator.
A brief description of the two thesis courses is provided below, with links to additional information about each course.
LITZ6398: Thesis Research
During your first semester, you’ll produce a reading list, secondary sources reviews, and an annotated bibliography of thesis-related materials. In addition, you’ll create a prospectus – which is basically an expansion and revision of your initial thesis application.
LITZ6399: Master’s Thesis
During your second semester, you will draft your thesis and make revisions to it based on feedback from your Director and a Second Reader. By the end of the semester, you will have your thesis finalized and, ideally, ready for publication and/or presentation.
Thesis Presentation & Dissemination
During the last stages of revision or after the thesis has been completed, you will be invited to participate in a Thesis Theater as part of the Signum Symposia series. This will be a conversation with the series host to discuss your thesis. These sessions are free and open to the public, presented using audio and video via our classroom software. These sessions are recorded, archived, and made publicly available.
Also, during the final stages of your thesis, you will be expected to consult with your Director to discuss possible venues for conference presentation and subsequent publication of the thesis. Your thesis will also be archived in the Signum library.