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MA and PhD Information

MA and PhD Information on Admission Procedures and Activities

MA and PhD Roster, 2017

1. Workshop on thesis writing

15 February (09h00)

09h00–10h15: Presentation of topics

The idea, here, is that MA and PhD students in their first year of registration present one page on their proposed research areas.   Each presentation will be followed by feedback and a brief discussion.

10h45–12h00: Proposing a thesis, synthesising data, and documenting sources

The purpose of this workshop is to advise you on the roles and duties of supervisors and students, and to help you prepare a thesis proposal. In addition, we shall discuss the collation of data and the documentation of sources. (The discussion of referencing will assume that you have familiarised yourself with the relevant sections of the Department’s style sheet for writers of MA and PhD theses.  You can either download the sheet from RUconnected or obtain a copy from the office administrator.)

2. Dates and Deadlines for Thesis Proposals

3 April (09h00): Submission of electronic copies of drafts of proposals to Minesh Dass (M.dass@ru.ac.za).

12 April (14h15): Proposal workshop

Presentation and discussion of preliminary thesis proposals.

3 May (09h00): Submission of penultimate draft of proposal to supervisor (for circulation amongst designated members of the Department).

15 May (09h00): Submission of final proposal to Higher Degrees Committee

The following are this year’s deadlines for the submission of proposals to the Humanities Higher Degrees Committee: 1 March, 11 April, 15 May, 4 July, 30 Aug, 1 Nov.

3. Research Presentations

In the course of the year, there will be two opportunities for all MA and PhD students to present fifteen-minute papers on their research to fellow students and members of staff.

17 May (14h15): (principally for students in their second or third year of registration).

23 August (14h15): (principally for students in their first year of registration).

Admission Procedures for Prospective MA and PhD Students

We would require from you a clear indication of the topic on which you wish to write your thesis, a preliminary proposal (of 500 words, in the case of an MA, and 800 words, in the case of a PhD), a sample of your academic writing, and a transcript of your undergraduate and postgraduate academic record.

Instead of sending the materials referred to above to the English Department, please upload them at the University’s online facility (<https://ross.ru.ac.za/pgadmissions>) as part of your online application.  

The preliminary proposal needs to evince a degree of familiarity with the field of research, and therefore some awareness of existing research in the proposed area of study. To this end, it should be accompanied by a working bibliography (which does not form part of the word count stipulated above). The bibliography should also list those authors, critics and theorists referred to in the body of the proposal.

Apart from indicating some familiarity with the field of research, your preliminary proposal should prove that you have a fair idea of what you are aiming to achieve. In other words, the proposal should briefly set out the parameters of the problem or issue you intend to explore.

Finally, the preliminary proposal should be informed by an awareness of what may reasonably be achieved in the compass of an academic thesis. This is to say, your project should not be overly ambitious in its scope and reach.

Your sample of academic writing should provide evidence of your ability to sustain a train of thought and synthesise a range of ideas, to deal with the ideas through an analysis of texts that challenge understanding, and to follow the protocols of academic argumentation and citation.

Once received, your preliminary proposal will be evaluated by the Department’s Postgraduate Committee. To this end, the members of the Committee make use of the following criteria (couched in the form of questions):

Does the preliminary proposal evince a degree of familiarity with the field within which the proposed project falls?

Does the applicant have an adequate grasp of the concepts and theories that he or she has used? In other words, are concepts properly introduced and used to advance an argument, or do they degenerate into jargon that obscures?

Does the working bibliography provide evidence of adequate preliminary preparation?

Is the applicant able to locate his or her proposed thesis in relation to other positions in the field?

Is the thesis statement clearly formulated?

If so, is this a feasible project in terms of scope and breadth?

In the case of a PhD, will the project form an original contribution to existing knowledge in the field? (At this level, this is an essential requirement.)

Do the preliminary proposal and sample of academic writing suggest that the applicant is able to develop a coherent argument over a hundred or more pages? (In other words, how much intervention will be required by the supervisor?)

Does the applicant possess the critical and theoretical skills requisite to the project that he or she wishes to undertake?

Is the applicant’s grasp of the English language sufficient to enable him or her to write a thesis independently? (Again, how much intervention will be required by the supervisor?)

Does the Department have the capacity to supervise a project of this nature? If so, who would you suggest as a possible supervisor?

Style Sheet for Writers of MA and PhD Theses

Last Modified :Tue, 12 Sep 2017 10:15:46 SAST