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Master of Arts
The Department of English offers studies leading to the Master of Arts Degree. The M.A. Program allows considerable flexibility in working out a course of study and offers the means for intellectual and professional development through both the discipline of seminars and personal exchange with individual faculty members.
Applicants should have a strong B.A. in English or Comparative Literature with a broad range of courses in major areas of literature in English. Students should normally have a high grade point average (normally no lower than a cumulative 3.5 GPA) and strong references.
The M.A. program is conceived as one which will serve graduate students in several ways. M.A. candidates will develop critical acumen and mature habits of reasoning about literary problems and texts, familiarize themselves with as broad a spectrum of literary types and periods as is reasonable within the program chosen, and acquire special knowledge in the field or fields to which the courses and/or project relate. This program also prepares students to join the academic research community or to engage in specialized academic scholarship including Ph.D. studies. All students must also complete Engl. 880 and 881: Graduate Professional Development Seminars I and II.
Program Requirements (as of January 2017)
This option consists of 8 units of required courses and 24 units of elective courses for a minimum total of 32 units.
Students must complete a minimum of 24 units of graduate courses including a pre-twentieth century literature course, and one other pre-nineteenth century literature course
and both of
Extended Essay/Project Option
This option consists of 8 units of required courses and 20 units of elective courses and two extended essays or a project (4 units) for minimum total of 32 units.
Students must complete a minimum of 20 units of graduate English courses including a pre-twentieth century literature course
and both of
and two extended essays or a project
Specialization in Print Culture
This specialization permits interdisciplinary specialization in the politics of print culture (1700-1900), focusing on the changing role of printed texts in an emerging commercial society. The Print Culture specialization can be done as either a coursework or a project option.
This option consists of 12 units of required courses, 12 units of print-culture designated courses, and 8 units of elective courses, for a minimum total of 32 units.
Students must complete
and 12 units of print-culture designated courses.
Students completing the project option will take an additional 4 units of elective graduate courses and two extended essays or a project
for a total minimum of 32 units.
For further information, see SFU's Print Culture Program.
M.A. Project Guidelines
All students must submit a proposal, of approximately 500 words, in which they describe how they will fulfill the project option of the MA. This proposal must be signed by two faculty members who have agreed to serve as readers of the proposed MA project. The proposal must be submitted to the graduate chair and graduate assistant, who will seek approval from the Graduate Program Committee. In evaluating the proposal, the faculty readers and GPC will consider the rigor of the proposal and whether the work outlined is equivalent to that of one graduate course. Students are expected to submit their signed proposals to the GPC by May 1 of their first year in the MA program.
The precise scope of the project option will be determined by the student in consultation with his or her two faculty readers. We expect that most projects will take one of the following shapes:
(1) A single research paper, between 8,000-10,000 words, of publishable quality and written for a publication venue.
(2) A digital project, to include a critical essay of between 3,000-5,000 words.
(3) An archival project, to include a critical essay of between 3,000-5,000 words.
It is possible that a student will propose another kind of project; all projects will need the approval of two faculty readers, plus the Graduate Program Committee. It is expected that all projects will have an intended audience beyond the faculty readers, and this anticipated audience should be outlined in the proposal. The proposal should also offer a scholarly/critical rationale for the project, a description of the research to be undertaken, and an explanation any other aspects of the project necessary to determine its feasibility and academic merit.
 The following is SSHRC’s definition of “Research-creation”: An approach to research that combines creative and academic research practices, and supports the development of knowledge and innovation through artistic expression, scholarly investigation, and experimentation. The creation process is situated within the research activity and produces critically informed work in a variety of media (art forms). … Fields that may involve research-creation may include, but are not limited to: architecture, design, creative writing, visual arts (e.g., painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, textiles), performing arts (e.g., dance, music, theatre), film, video, performance art, interdisciplinary arts, media and electronic arts, and new artistic practices.
Students in the coursework option are expected to complete the program in three terms. Students in the project option are expected to complete the program in three to six terms. Students normally enroll in two courses per semester. Part-time students are permitted in the program.
Academic Requirements within the Graduate General Regulations
All graduate students must satisfy the academic requirements that are specified in the Graduate General Regulations, as well as the specific requirements for the program in which they are enrolled.
ALL STUDENTS ADMITTED TO THE MASTER'S PROGRAM PRIOR TO JANUARY 2017 can choose to complete the MA program using the new requirements outlined above or the old program requirements outlined below.
M.A. Program Requirements (prior to January 2017)
Option 1 Coursework M.A.: Students take six courses plus English 880 & 881 (including a pre-twentieth-century literature course and one other pre-nineteenth century literature course) and develop an extended essay of 20-25 pages (Engl. 891 - M.A. paper or project).
Option 2 Thesis M.A.: Students take four courses plus English 880 & 881 (including a pre-twentieth-century literature course), write a thesis of about 100 pages, and defend it in an oral examination (Engl. 890 - M.A. Thesis).
Option 3. Specialty M.A in Print Culture: For the specialty M.A. in Print Culture, students take six courses plus English 880 & 881, one of which must be English 820 and three others which carry the Print Culture designation, and complete an extended essay of 20-25 pages (Engl. 891 - M.A. paper or project).
Students choose a paper from one of their six courses to revise in conjunction with the faculty member who taught the course. It is expected that such revision would include a broadened research base and additional work beyond that required for the original paper/project. The student reworks the paper/project with the aim of improving the likelihood of publication. The paper/project will be of a length that meets the typical requirement of journal publication (20 - 25 pages). Students should consult with the Graduate Chair about selecting a supervisor, and the student and supervising faculty will consult on the choice of a second reader.
The paper or project, which is revised and expanded for publication, is read by two faculty who, together, assign a grade of Pass with Distinction/Pass/Fail. The paper or project is completed and submitted for evaluation no later than the end of the term following coursework completion. A student who fails may be permitted a second and final attempt.
M.A. Supervisory Committee (For Thesis Option M.A. Candidates)
The M.A. Supervisory Committee consists of a senior supervisor and at least one member of the Department of English. The Supervisory Committee is assembled by the graduate student in consultation with the Graduate Chair. Committee members are drawn from the areas of the student's research interest. The committee is normally appointed by the middle of the student's third semester in residence and must be established prior to the student's commencing work on the thesis. Until the Committee is appointed, the Graduate Chair will serve as senior supervisor.
The names of the Supervisory Committee must be submitted on the appropriate form and approved by the Graduate Program Committee and the Dean of Graduate Studies.
Approval of M.A. Thesis Prospectus
A student wishing to write a thesis must submit a short (5-10 page) thesis prospectus, including an outline of chapters, a work schedule, and a bibliography. The student's prospectus will be the basis of an oral exam lasting 30 minutes. The examination will be conducted by the Supervisory Committee and will be chaired by the Graduate Program Chair. The purpose of the oral is to ensure that the student is sufficiently prepared to write the thesis, that the scope of the thesis is appropriate for M.A. level work, and that the work plan is feasible.
M.A. Thesis and Defence
Following a successful thesis prospectus defence, the student will write a thesis in consultation with the senior supervisor. Before proceeding to the thesis defence, all members of the Supervisory Committee must agree that the thesis is ready for defence. The final (thesis defence) Examination Committee consists of a Chair (normally the Graduate Program Chair), the members of the Supervisory Committee (senior supervisor and at least one other member of the department) and an external examiner.
The Examination will be graded Pass with Distinction/Pass/Fail. At the discretion of the Graduate Program Committee, a student who fails the oral examination may be permitted to retake the examination. Students who fail the second attempt will be required to withdraw from the program.
Consult the University Regulations concerning the M.A. oral examination found in the University Calendar under 1.10.1 Thesis Examination.
Upon admission to the Department of English M.A. Program, students can elect to pursue a specialization in Print Culture. There is no separate application procedure for the specialization, but students must ensure that they satisfy the necessary requirements.
Students are strongly advised to declare their intention to pursue the specialized M.A. by the end of their second (spring) semester of the Masters program by completing and submitting the declaration form to the Print Culture Co-ordinator.
Students take ENGL 820, “Theoretical approaches to Print Culture,” in their first (fall) semester of the Masters program. This course, taught by the Print Culture Program Co-ordinator, will provide students with the necessary theoretical and historical grounding in the field. Students will take an additional five courses for the M.A., of which three must carry the Print Culture designation. To complete their M.A., students will write a revised research paper (Engl. 891 - M.A. paper or project). See requirements for Coursework M.A.
For further information, see SFU's Print Culture Program.