Undergraduate Thesis in Linguistics

Please note for TT 2021 submissions and examinations will take place online

Coordinator: Director of Undergraduate Studies

Description: The Linguistic Thesis allows a candidate to undertake a research project using the analytic tools acquired in the core areas of Linguistics. The thesis need not be on original data collected by the students themselves, but should contain points of theoretical interest/reflection. The chosen topic may overlap with any subject on which the candidate offers a paper, but candidates should avoid repetition of material. The analysis of the data may focus on an aspect or combination of aspects of linguistic structure or usage. For help in choosing a topic, formulating a research question, and collecting and analysing data, see the Guidance for Linguistic Research document, available in the Linguistics area of Weblearn.

For this option, students receive 6-8 hours of supervision, which may include meetings during the second year for project planning, background tutorials in the project area, email contact with the supervisor, and discussion of a first draft of the thesis. Students must keep in contact with their supervisors and keep them updated on their progress, as well as making their supervisors aware of any problems or concerns that they may have.

The method of examination is a thesis of between 10,000 and 12,000 words, to be submitted by noon on Friday of the week before Trinity Full Term of the examination. For further details and a complete list of the exam regulations, consult the Thesis section in the Linguistics in all Honour Schools including Linguistics under the Examination Regulations.

Timetable: It is vital to begin planning the project as soon as possible in the second year, including arranging for ethical approval, if required (see the Timetable below). This involves discussing the proposed topic with your college tutor, with the project supervisor, and with the course co-ordinator. Once a topic has been provisionally agreed on, it must be approved by the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics.

To apply for thesis topic approval, you must submit, through your college, to the Director of Undergraduate Studies of the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology, and Phonetics:

  • a completed Thesis Topic Approval form [DOC/PDF], including a signed statement from the project supervisor and a signed statement from a college tutor;
  • a brief description of the project (about 50 words);
  • a statement regarding ethical approval.

The official deadline for submitting the topic for approval is Wednesday of 2nd Week of Michaelmas Term of the year of examination; however, students are strongly encouraged to submit their proposals for approval by the beginning of Trinity Term of their second year.

Ethical approval: If the research involves human subjects, ethical approval must be secured before the research can begin (please refer to the Decision Flowchart for CUREC to see whether ethical approval is needed). This is done via ethical review and approval from CUREC, the Central University Research Ethics Committee. For projects in the Humanities and Social Sciences the body to refer to is Social Sciences and Humanities IDREC. Full ethical approval is not normally needed for research with adults who are competent to consent to decide whether or not to participate, and completion of the CUREC/1A checklist will suffice. Research with under-18s, such as school children, will generally require a full CUREC/2 application. The course coordinator can assist with this process. It should be noted that an application for approval of such a project will take some time to draw up and be considered by CUREC, and it may be necessary to make subsequent revisions to the research plan. You should allow at least six weeks for approval. For more information, see the CUREC website and the Guidance for Linguistic Research document, or contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Format: The submission must be typed in double spacing on one side of A4 paper, and should be bound or held firmly in a stiff cover. (Be sure to leave a left margin of at least 3 cm, sufficient to accommodate binding.) A one-page summary of the arguments should be provided at the beginning of the thesis. Details of all references used and cited should be included in the bibliography. The word count is exclusive of footnotes, bibliography, any appendices, and the summary.

Submission: The completed thesis should be submitted by hand to the Examination Schools by noon on Friday of the week before Trinity Full Term of the year of the examination. You should submit two double-spaced A4 copies of the essay, bound or held together firmly, and identified by your candidate number only (see the sample cover page below) retaining a third copy for yourself. The copies should be placed in an envelope addressed to the Chair of Examiners of your Honours School, and should include, under separate cover, a declaration certifying that the project is your own work and has not already been submitted, either wholly or substantially, for a degree in this university or elsewhere (see the sample declaration below). Candidates will be issued with a receipt which they should retain until the examination is completed. For more information, consult the Thesis section in the Linguistics in all Honour Schools including Linguistics page under the Examination Regulations pages.

  •  Sample cover page (DOC)
  •  Sample declaration (DOC)

Suggested timetable at a glance:

Michaelmas and Hilary Term of 2nd year Discuss and outline topic with potential supervisor
Beginning of Trinity Term of 2nd year With supervisor approval, apply to the Faculty for project approval (and to CUREC for ethical approval, if needed)
End of 2nd year Data gathering plan and plan for analysis; if needed, ethical approval secured
Long holiday and Michaelmas Term of final year Gathering data and analysis
Wednesday of 2nd week, Michaelmas Term of final year Official deadline for project approval (and fully-secured ethical approval, if needed)
Beginning of Hilary Term of final year First draft ready for submission to supervisor
Noon, Friday of the week before Trinity Full Term of final year Submission of project

You can also refer to the Descriptors for the Thesis in Linguistics to see the criteria against which your thesis will be evaluated.

Updated April 2016

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