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MA Thesis Literary Studies (track English)

Vak 2018-2019

Admission requirements

Students can start work on their thesis once they have earned at least 20 ec for MA courses.


In order to graduate, students must have completed 40 ec worth of courses and the master’s thesis, consisting of approximately 17,000 words. The thesis needs to be written under the supervision of a lecturer affiliated with the Department of English Language and Culture and who is a member of LUCAS (Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society). It is evaluated by the supervisor and a second reader (selected by the supervisor and approved by the Exam Board).

Aim of the Master’s Thesis

A thesis is an academic essay, written by the student in consultation with the supervisor. The thesis must show that the student is capable of summarizing and analyzing existing literature in a critical manner, formulating one or more well-defined and motivated research questions and of conducting independent research.

Choosing a Topic

Generally speaking, students are encouraged to select the topic of their thesis themselves, in consultation with a lecturer. It may be based on a Master’s course that they followed. Students should approach a lecturer and discuss with him/her the chosen topic and potential research question(s). Be aware that your topic should be in the field of research of a possible supervisor so not all topics can be supervised. Also our lecturers have a maximum of theses they can supervise. Therefore it is advised to contact a possible supervisor in an early stage. The supervisor, also known as ‘first reader’, will be able to recommend relevant literature. A second reader is chosen by the supervisor. At this point, clear agreements should be made concerning the supervision procedure.

At the heart of a Master’s thesis lies a research question, together with the answer to that question. Before a motivated research question can be formulated, the student first has to do preparatory reading. The student then suggests an approach to arrive at possible answers (‘hypotheses’) to the research question. The research can be done by comparing views found in the literature and/or by collecting and analyzing primary (e.g. corpus analysis) and secondary literature.

Possible supervisors

Visit the instructors' profile pages for information about their fields of expertise.

Dr. Nadine Akkerman
Dr. Jan Frans van Dijkhuizen
Dr. Lotte Fikkers
Dr. Joke Kardux
Dr. Evert Jan van Leeuwen
Prof. dr. Peter Liebregts
Dr. Krista Murchison
Dr. Michael Newton
Dr. Sara Polak
Dr. Thijs Porck

Timeframe and deadlines

Students are expected to complete their MA thesis within one semester. When planning your thesis, bear in mind that instructors have limited time allowed to supervision, and that there will be no thesis supervision in July and August and between 24 December and 2 January.
To guide you through the process of writing your thesis, a detailed schedule has been set up, which can be found on the Blackboard course.
For students who wish to graduate at the end of the 1st semester or at the end of the 2nd semester, the thesis submission dates are the following:

Submit final Thesis proposal to the Board of Exams:** 1st February vs. 1st July**
Submit complete draft version of the thesis: 1st June vs. 1st December
Submit final version to supervisor: 21st June vs. 21st December.

Submitting the Thesis Proposal

Once the student has selected a topic, formulated a research question and put together a provisional bibliography, the Thesis Proposal form can be completed (see Thesis Proposal). The Thesis Proposal form should include the title of the thesis and a short description of the topic. It has to be approved and signed by the supervisor before it is submitted to the Board of Examiners. The Board will then inspect the thesis proposal to ensure that it is of an appropriate academic level.

Individual supervision meetings on your research and writing

Meetings with your supervisor will first be about making a plan for the structure of the thesis. With your supervisor, you will set up a schedule for handing in the planned chapters, one by one. During meetings you will receive feedback about each of them.

Handing in the Thesis

Once the thesis is approved by the supervisor, the final version can be sent to the second reader for assessment. The supervisor and second reader have four weeks in total to assess the thesis, in July and August they have two weeks extra. Check with your supervisor for guidelines regarding format of thesis lay-out and style of bibliographic references. For practical information on the thesis repository and the graduation procedure, see the graduation page.


In assessing the quality of the thesis, the following aspects play an important role:
• The originality of the research question
• Formulating and analysing the research question;
• The critical analysis of source materials;
• Integration of secondary literature into the argument;
• Language use, structure and style;
• The degree of independence displayed during the research and supervision process.