The Thesis is modeled on a short scholarly monograph of approximately 100-120 pages (excluding bibliography), with multiple chapters. Thesis students may, with the permission of the Program, explore non-traditional modes of presentation such as scholarly editions or digital technology or performance. The Thesis may be completed in one year (three semesters), but two year is more common and funding is available for a second year.

Sample Thesis Topics

  • “A City is Not a Place of Origins”: Mapping Black Queer Identity in the Work of Dionne Brand and James Baldwin
  • Autobiographical Graphics: reading the queer “I” in women’s life writing
  • The Composite Frankenstein: the Man, the Monster, the Myth
  • “Poetry is a Speaking Picture, Painting a Silent Poetry”: the  Intersection of Art and Literature in the Works of P. K. Page
  • The Tramp, the Fan, and the Working Man: Bruce Springsteen, the Road, and American Publics
  • Reading and Writing Are Dangerous: Exploring the Creative Process in the Works of Stephen King
  • Reading Paintings: Visual Culture and Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion
  • Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone: Shifting Centres, Margins, and Publics

Developing a Proposal

Throughout their first two terms, students will develop their thesis project proposal with their supervisor; the thesis agreement provides a guideline; the student and supervisor can work out their own agreement.

Initial Thesis Proposal

The student and supervisor will meet as soon as possible to discuss the student’s project. Over the course of first term they will work towards developing a brief initial proposal of about one page plus a draft bibliography for submission to the Supervisory Committee and they will fill out and sign a Thesis Agreement. These will both be completed by early in second term.

Application for Ethical Review

When appropriate, generally when the research involves interviews, the student and supervisor must fill out an Application for Ethical Review form for submission to the Office of Graduate Studies at least 8 weeks before the beginning of the research in question. Guidelines and forms are available on the Research Ethics page of the University website.

Final Thesis Proposal

By the end of March students will have developed their final proposal and may make a public presentation of it at the Research and Professional Development Seminar in early April. This proposal then will be signed off on by

  • The student
  • The supervisor
  • The Research and Ethics Committee, when appropriate

The thesis proposal should follow the program guidelines

Schedule and Evaluation

Thesis Submission and Defence

After the supervisor, second reader, and student have worked through as many drafts as are required to produce a good draft of the thesis, the completed thesis will be submitted to the Program Director.  This should be submitted by no later than June 1 of the student’s second year if they expect to graduate by the end of their second year.  Students who don’t meet the deadline for completion in two years (the exact date is in the Trent Calendar for the year in question) are required to register and pay one full term’s fees.

The Program Director will forward the draft to the external referee, who will return it to the Program Director within four weeks. The referee may be a member of the program faculty, or an expert in the field with an affiliation outside of the program.

The referee will make comments on the draft and indicate either:

a. That the thesis draft is complete. If the referee determines that the draft is complete, the referee will indicate what revisions are required before the thesis can be defended, and approximately how long the candidate will need to make the required changes (usually 1-4 weeks). If the referee indicates that revisions can be made within four weeks, the Program Director will set a date for the oral defense.

b. That the thesis is incomplete. If the referee believes that the revisions will require more than four weeks to complete, she must judge the thesis incomplete. The referee will specify the recommended revisions, and the student will implement these revisions. The student will then resubmit the thesis to the Program Director, who will forward it to the Referee, who will again have four weeks to determine if the draft is complete or incomplete.

After the candidate has revised the “complete” thesis draft according to the referee’s instructions, the candidate will provide to the supervisor and referee a copy of the thesis with revisions highlighted, one week before the defense date.

A chair for the examination committee will be appointed by the Program Director. The role of the chair is to ensure fair treatment of the candidate during the defense and to facilitate discussion between the supervisor and referee as they judge the defense.

At the oral defense the candidate will explain and defend the changes made to the thesis in response to the referee’s comments. After the oral defense the supervisor and referee will reach one of the following decisions:

A. Thesis approved with no further revisions

B. Thesis approved with minor revisions

C. Thesis not approved but may be resubmitted to the Program Director

D. Thesis not approved

Once the thesis is approved along with any revisions, students need to submit the thesis to Graduate Studies.  It is the responsibility of students to familiarize themselves with the Principles Governing Submission and Examination of Theses/Dissertations as outlined in the Trent Calendar and to ensure that they have completed all the requirements for the degree.  This includes the submission of the thesis to the Graduate Studies Officer for final approval and its binding and/or microfilming, once it has been approved