Department of English Language Pedagogy
School of English and American Studies - Eötvös Loránd University
1088 Budapest, Rákóczi út 5. tel.: (36-1) 485 52 00 extension: 4407, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
for MA theses related to Culture, Language and Communication Studies
in the British Culture and History track of the MA in English Programme
An MA thesis is a serious academic challenge in the form of an analytical piece of writing based on systematic research as opposed to a purely summative/descriptive one. Research may be either empirical or theoretical in nature. In either case it involves the planned and systematic investigation of a particular phenomenon or question (i.e., research seeks to explore phenomena in a disciplined manner to better understand them). The thesis paper in this field should address an issue that is specifically related to culture, language or communication as reflected in and through the use of English either in English speaking cultures or interculturally.
The following are possible – but by no means exclusive – topic areas for theses to be written at DELP:
In your thesis you need to:
The extension of the BA thesis into an MA thesis:
As a general rule, your MA thesis may not be the extension of your BA thesis. However, if the topic and the approach allow for extending your earlier research in a novel manner and in a way that promises gaining a considerably deeper understanding of it, your supervisor and the head of department may give special permission for you to do this. If you want to seek permission to do this, you will have to submit your BA thesis and the referee’s review to your supervisor when starting your consultations about the thesis topic.
Length: Different types of research require different ways of writing up. Typically, quantitative research is written up in a more compact manner, while a thick description of various details is necessary in a thesis based on qualitative research. Keeping this in mind, the body of the thesis (the text without the abstract, table of contents, notes, references and appendices) should be approximately 100 000-120 000n (50-60 pages). The body of the thesis must be at least 80 000n (40 pages), and must not exceed 140 000 n (70 pages).
Layout: Single or double sided A4 pages printed double spaced in Times New Roman 12pt font. margins: 2.5 cms on three sides, at the gutter: 3.5 cms.
Number of copies to be submitted: 2 copies: 1 hard bound and 1 ring bound copy
The electronic submission of the thesis must be done according to the instructions at:
The thesis will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
I. Form (10 points, 40%)
Format (5 points)
Layout: Professional appearance (neatness, spacing, fonts, margins).
Structure: Division into main parts, clarity of organisation, clear structure of chapters and subchapters, headings, paragraphs; exact table of contents; APA reference and citation style;
Language (5 points)
Accuracy (grammar, vocabulary, punctuation, etc.).
Register (appropriate academic style, reader-friendliness, e.g. clarity, sign-posting).
Discourse (clarity of argumentation, cohesion within and transition between paragraphs)
II. Content (15 points, 60%)
Theoretical background/Review of the literature (5 points)
Clear relationship between the research question and the literature survey.
Familiarity with relevant literature and research results (placing the research topic within the development of the field).
A sound proportion of quoted or paraphrased material and the author’s comments or criticism. Not just a patchwork of ideas.
Analysis (10 points)
Research question(s) and objectives: original, relevant and explicitly formulated.
Materials: a well-specified and justified set of materials
Independence: proof of independent use of academic research tools, providing a critical approach
to the area researched.
Procedures: (of data collection, data analysis and interpretation) clearly and systematically
presented with convincing arguments/justification.
Results: clearly presented (e.g., verbally and in tables, figures, charts or quotes if necessary).
The interpretation of the results is separated from the presentation of the data.
Conclusion: well-supported, convincingly related to the study as a whole, includes consideration of
alternative interpretations and views, draws practical implications from the study (where appropriate).
The conversion of points into marks works out as follows:
21-25 –– 5
17-20 –– 4
14-16 –– 3
10-13 –– 2
0- 9 –– 1
Regardless of the merits of the paper, the thesis is an automatic fail if:
For specific deadlines of the current term, please check the Noticeboard.
These are the steps to be taken before writing the thesis:
(Suggested times and deadlines – in green – are provided to help planning.)
1., Decide on your broad research topic and select a supervisor who you think may help you most in your research. If you are not sure who you would like to work with, the Department Head will assist you in finding a consultant according to your thesis topic. (You can find out about the specialist areas of our staff on our website http://delp.elte.hu under ‘Staff details’. Suggested time: 7-8 weeks before the deadline of submission to the registrar’s office (TH).
2., Ask the supervisor of your choice to assist you, and if they agree to undertake the supervision, discuss the research topic with them and narrow down your broad topic to a specific project. Decide on a title for your thesis and a general approach to research the topic. Suggested time: 7-8 weeks before the deadline of submission to the registrar’s office (TH).
3., Start to read up on your topic to prepare for writing a thesis proposal. Suggested time: 6-7 weeks before the deadline of submission to the registrar’s office (TH).
4., Write a thesis proposal. Your supervisor will give you advice to improve and revise the initial version to one that can be submitted.
The thesis proposal should be approximately 300 - 350 words long and should contain the following sections:
your name and your Neptun code
your supervisor’s name
the title of the thesis
the topic of your thesis
a justification of the relevance of the topic (references to theoretical background and earlier research)
the rationale for choosing the topic
the research question(s)
the intended approach of data collection and analysis
anticipated problems in the research process and ways of overcoming these
the expected use and limitations of the study
a list of references and annotated preliminary readings of at least four books or eight journal articles
Suggested time: 4 weeks before the deadline of submission to the registrar’s office (TH).
5., Once your supervisor has approved of your proposal, have them sign a copy of it along with the filled in thesis title submission form (címbejelentő) Deadline: 2 weeks before the deadline of submission to the registrar’s office (TH).
6., Submit the proposal and the thesis form to the Head of Department for approval. N.B.: The Head of Department may ask you to revise or even completely reconsider your proposal. Make sure you keep a copy of the proposal and the form. Deadline: 2 weeks before the deadline of submission to the registrar’s office (TH).
7., If the Head of Department has approved of the proposal and has signed the thesis title submission form, submit the form to the registrar’s office (TH).
8., Do the research and write the thesis. You have almost a year to do this. Your supervisor will help you along this process in regular consultations. Register for the tutorial seminars ANGD-C2 and ANGD-C3.
9., When the thesis is ready check the current regulations at http://seaswiki.elte.hu/studies/MA/English/graduation/Thesis and the Faculty of Humanities website (http://btk.elte.hu) as to the number of copies to be submitted, the binding and the contents of the cover page as well as other practicalities. Before submitting the thesis, you will have to have a statement signed by your supervisor saying whether or not they consider the thesis ready for submission. This statement has to then be submitted to the department secretary.
10., Submit the thesis in the registrar’s office (TH).
11., When the theses are marked you can get a copy of the referee’s report from the department secretary. You will have to use the referee’s critical remarks/questions to prepare for the defence of your thesis at the final exam.
The supervisor will provide guidance in writing the MA thesis. They will offer the following support:
The supervisor cannot be expected to edit language, punctuation and spelling. The thesis is supposed to demonstrate the student's academic abilities and language skills, so the quality of the paper is entirely the student's responsibility.
Both the student and the supervisor keep a record sheet of the supervision, on which the consultant has to declare whether they think the thesis is ready for submission or not. The sheet is downloadable from: 'Forms' at http://delp.elte.hu .
Selecting a supervisor: Students are free to request the help of any member of staff, yet if a teacher already has 5 supervisees they will have to refuse the request. If in doubt about who to ask to be your supervisor, the Head of Department can give advice. Should you find it necessary, you can request a new supervisor. Written appeals to the Head of Department for changing the consultant will be considered.
The Head of Department will appoint the reader (referees) for all theses submitted in time. The reader and the supervisor will both receive a copy for marking.
Readers are required to assign a mark and submit a 1 to 2-page report of justification based on our thesis marking criteria outlined above. The final mark of the thesis will be decided on at a formal Thesis Markers' Meeting chaired by the Head of Department. The date of this meeting will be posted each term. Conflicting marks will be negotiated and reconciled. If necessary, a third reader will be appointed by the Head. The mark approved by the Department is not subject to appeal.
The aim of conducting research and writing a research paper is to find and present the solution to a problem related to a particular field of enquiry. There are two main types of research papers: empirical and theoretical.
Empirical research aims to explore an issue, generate or test hypotheses through gathering and analysing primary data, i.e. data gained by observation, interviews, questionnaires, discourse analysis, thematic analysis, etc. The focus of empirical research can be on behaviour (e.g. practices, actions, cognitive processes, etc.) or products (texts, films, pieces of art, etc.)
Depending on the aim of the research empirical inquiries work with qualitative and quantitative data. In order to explore, understand or interpret a particular phenomenon - or a set of phenomena from the perspective of the participants - qualitative data are used that are gained from observation, interviews or questionnaires with open ended questions, etc. The outcome then is the close study of a particular case or a limited number of cases, which allows the researcher to interpret the situation or to generate a theory or hypothesis. In order to test a hypothesis, the researcher takes an outsider’s perspective and uses quantitative data gained from quantifiable questions or measurements from a sufficient number of participants or samples so that the findings could be generalizable for the behaviour of the population or product type investigated.
These are a few examples for questions that can be researched through empirical research in the field of culture, language and communication studies:
An empirical research project applies various research tools, preferably a combination of the following:
usually intends to add new angles to or improve already existing
theories or conceptual frameworks of particular issues. It may also
present completely new theories or solutions for particular
problems. It therefore works with already
existing theories, theoretical frameworks, data and research results
and uses this secondary data to synthesise the literature and offer
an original solution of the problem under scrutiny or a heightened
understanding of an issue from multiple perspectives. The study may
be motivated by the so far inadequate paradigm or lack of categories
in a conceptual framework, by trying to establish new logical
connections between various phenomena,
These are a few examples for questions that can be explored through theoretical research in the field of culture, language and communication studies:
The main aim of a theoretical thesis is to show
various treatments of the particular problem and to provide a new or
more complex understanding of the issue. The paper starts with the
comparison of what different authors say about the same
topic, that is, a survey of the relevant literature arranged into some
logical framework created by the writer. The approach needs to be
critical and analytical:
The structure of an empirical research paper:
The use of the particular methods must be justified. In the justification, reference must be made to literature on research methodology. A good method section describes the procedures in such a detailed way that anyone wishing to replicate the study would be able to do so. All the data collection materials (e.g., questionnaires, interview protocols, tasks, observation sheets) need to be exemplified in the appendix. If a data collection instrument is not in English it has to be translated into English and be included in the appendix.
The structure of a theoretical thesis paper:
Questions that are normally addressed in theoretical papers include:
What is the point/topic of the study?
Why is this topic interesting/relevant?
What has been done in the field so far?
Is there any problem with something missing from what has been done/said so far?
What is the problem with/What is missing from what has been done/said?
What solution may be offered?
Why is this solution good, or not so good?
How are various facets/perspectives of the topic investigated linked? What understanding or interpretations do the connections allow?
How does the social/historical context affect the issue under investigation?
Depending on the nature of the problem or issue discussed, such papers may be structured in different ways. A typical pattern of organisation is presented below:
A comparative overview of the structure of empirical and theoretical theses can be found here.
Section 7 is based on:
Stokes, J. (2003). How to Do Media and Cultural Studies. London: Sage.
Swales, J.M., & Feak, C.B. (1994). Academic Writing for Graduate Students. Ann Arbour: The
University of Michigan Press.
 Parts of this document are based on the thesis requirements of now phased out old five-year programme at DEAL.
© ELTE DELP, Budapest