Procedure for writing and defending MA theses at the Department of English and American Studies

PROCEDURE FOR WRITING AND DEFENDING MA THESES AT THE DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH AND AMERICAN STUDIES

  1. Submitting an MA thesis proposal: request form, abstract, bibliography, and declaration.

The request form, abstract, bibliography, and declaration that constitute the thesis proposal must be prepared by the MA student under the guidance of their supervisor. Each student is required to check the final version of their MA thesis abstract for plagiarism by enrolling in the Moodle course created for this purpose (Department of English and American Studies: MA Thesis Proposals) and uploading their proposal in “Upload your MA thesis proposal for review”. No password is required for enrolment. The documents listed above, together with the required signatures, must be submitted electronically in accordance with the requirements outlined below to the Department’s Administrative Officer at deas@fcml.uni-sofia.bg by the 15th of each month of the academic year. The proposals are then discussed and approved by the Department Board at the next regular department meeting.

FORMS

 До ръководителя на катедра

“Англицистика и американистика”

ФКНФ

МОЛБА

от …………………………

телефон: …………………… email: ………

специалност:  Английска Филология   фак. № …….

магистърска програма: …………………

Моля да бъде oдобрена следната тема на дипломната ми работа:

(заглавие на английски език) : …………………

(заглавие на български език) : …………………

Научен ръководител: ………………………….

Научен консултант: ………………………….

Дата: ……………               Подпис на студента:

Дата: ……………                    Подпис на научния ръководител (консултант):

__________________________________________

Kратко резюме (на английски език)

(A brief outline)

Kратка библиография

(Selected bibliography)

__________________________________________

To the Head of Department

Department of English and American Studies

Faculty of Classical and Modern Philology

REQUEST FORM

by …………………………

Phone number: ………………………….  email: ………………

Major:  English Philology                        Faculty number …………

MA Programme: ………………………….

I hereby request approval of the following topic for my MA thesis:

(title in English) : ………………………

(title in Bulgarian): …………………………………

Supervisor: ………………………….

Academic consultant: ……………………

Date: ……………                  Student’s signature:

Date: ……………                    Supervisor’s (Consultant’s) signature:

_____________________________________

A brief outline (in English)

Selected bibliography

_____________________________________

Д Е К Л А Р А Ц И Я

Долуподписаният/долуподписаната ……………………………………………

студент/ка от Магистърска програма

………………………………………………

Факултетен номер ……………декларирам, че съм запознат/а с изискванията към дипломните работи, изложени в уебсайта на Катедрата по англицистика и американистика.

София,                                          Подпис: ……………

Дата: …………

___________________________________

D E C L A R A T I O N

I, the undersigned

…………………………………………………

student on the MA Programme in …………………………………

Faculty no. ………… declare that I am familiar with the MA thesis requirements stated on the website of the Department of English and American Studies.

Sofia,                                                     Signature: …………………

Date: ………………………….

_____________________________________________

  1. Requirements for the process of writing an MA thesis. The Department of English and American Studies implements the General University Procedure for Conducting State Exams and Defences of BA and MA Theses:
  1. In the process of writing, the MA candidate must regularly consult with their supervisor and submit to them completed parts of the MA thesis as well as the full thesis, after making corrections recommended by the supervisor. The final version of the MA thesis must be sent to the supervisor in PDF format. All sources in the final version must be properly integrated and referenced, and the proportion of direct quotations must not exceed 20% of the whole text.
  2. The supervisor may be changed due to exceptional circumstances (illness, sabbatical leave, or another good reason). For this purpose, the MA candidate must submit to the head of department a request form, accompanied by confirmation letters by the previous supervisor and the new supervisor.

Requirements for the content and formatting of MA theses

  1. Appropriateness of the title to the topic and to the central argument of the MA thesis.
  2. An unambiguous definition of the research question.
  3. A clear and succinct presentation of the aims of the thesis and the object of research.
  4. A literature review of a well-justified selection of academic texts, which does not simply restate the ideas of these texts, but instead synthesises scholars’ and researchers’ arguments, academic constructs, and views relevant to the topic of the MA thesis. The methodology for collecting and analysing empirical material must be suited to the objectives of the study and valid for the whole corpus of primary material.
  5. A central argument relevant to the aims of the thesis, which properly addresses the research question and offers an original interpretation in comparison to previous research in the field.
  6. Appropriate structure, including an introduction, chapters divided into sections and subsections, a conclusion, and a reference list.
  7. Each of the chapters must logically and objectively present illustrative material which supports the central argument and fulfills the aims outlined in the introduction. The conclusion must not restate the introduction, but draw conclusions from the supporting material and respond to the aims of the study and to the central research question.
  8. The text must demonstrate an ability to construct academic paragraphs and to connect sentences and paragraphs into a meaningful whole. It must also showcase the candidate’s ability to identify and express cause-and-effect relationships and to apply the methods of comparison and contrast, description, definition, classification, and selection of relevant examples.
  9. Excellent referencing skills. Consistent use of a single citation style, e.g. MLA, APA, or Chicago Manual of Style.
  10. The thesis must be written independently, and all sources must be appropriately integrated, acknowledged, and cited according to para. 9 above. Failure to meet this requirement constitutes plagiarism. If plagiarism is detected by the reviewer of the thesis, the candidate is not allowed to proceed to the defence. Plagiarism may also be established by the MA Thesis Defence Committee (see Section IV).
  11. The MA thesis must be written in accurate language, without major language errors. It must have a clear layout and must use appropriate academic style.
  12. The thesis must maintain a distanced, objective tone.

 

  1. Procedure and requirements for submitting MA theses

NB: According to Art. 6.8 of the General University Procedure for Conducting State Exams and Defences of BA and MA Theses, If the supervisor or the reviewer reaches a negative conclusion in their assessment of a thesis, the student shall not be allowed to proceed to a defence of the thesis.”

  1. Before submitting the MA thesis, the candidate is required to check it for plagiarism in accordance with the Originality Check Procedure. The MA candidate must enrol in a Moodle course especially created for this purpose for each MA programme and must upload the final version of the thesis (as a Word document only, in doc or docx format). During the submission process, the candidate must confirm authorship of their work on Moodle by selecting the option „Предадената работа е изпълнена от мен лично, с изключение на местата, в които съм посочил, че използвам чужди работи“ (“The submitted assignment has been completed by me personally, except where I have indicated that I am using the work of others”.)

NB! Formats other than doc or docx are not allowed. Candidates must ensure that they upload the correct document, as in the event of an error they will not be able to delete and re-upload their document by themselves. If a mistake does occur when uploading the file, please contact Dr Irina Kyulanova immediately at kjulanova@uni-sofia.bg.

  1. When the similarity report becomes available on Moodle, the MA candidate must inform their supervisor about the result of the similarity check.

2(1) If the thesis does not contain any material from sources that has been used inappropriately and without proper acknowledgment, the supervisor makes a decision to allow the candidate to proceed to the defence of the thesis. In this case, the supervisor accepts the Moodle similarity report (via the “Accept and complete (save to database)” option) and fills in the required documents. The candidate submits their thesis electronically and in hard copy (see para. 4 of this section regarding the submission of completed MA theses).

2(2) If the supervisor identifies minor technical errors in the citation of sources in the proposed text (e.g. omitted quotation marks in a quotation) which can be corrected before the official submission deadline, the supervisor has the right to return the thesis to the student for correction. In such cases, the supervisor makes comments and recommendations on the similarity report on Moodle, then selects the “Return for correction” option on the platform, and is obliged to personally notify the candidate that their work needs to be corrected. After all necessary corrections have been made by the MA candidate, the final version of the thesis must be uploaded on Moodle and checked again via the plagiarism prevention software (for technical assistance, please contact Irina Kyulanova, kjulanova@uni-sofia.bg). After receiving the new similarity report, the supervisor examines it and if the issues have been resolved, the supervisor selects the “Accept and complete” option on the platform and the thesis can be submitted for defence (see para.  2(1) above). In this case, the supervisor must report and explain in the accompanying documents any differences between the similarity percentages of the initial and final version of the thesis.

If the corrections made by the candidate are not satisfactory, the supervisor does not allow the submission of the thesis for defence and selects the “Disqualify” option on the platform (see para. 3 below). Likewise, if the candidate fails to make the relevant corrections and have them approved by their supervisor before the thesis submission deadline, the candidate must submit the thesis for the next exam date.

  1. If the supervisor or the reviewer considers that in its current state the MA thesis does not meet the requirements for an academic text and/or contains plagiarism, the candidate is not admitted to the thesis defence on the forthcoming defence date. Plagiarism is considered to be any appropriation of someone else’s ideas or text, regardless of the percentage of appropriation.

3(1) If upon examining the similarity report and the content of the thesis, the supervisor identifies material that is inappropriately borrowed from sources without proper integration and acknowledgement, or if the candidate’s work does not meet the requirements for an MA thesis, the supervisor does not allow submission of the thesis for defence and selects the “Disqualify” option on the similarity report. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to notify the MA candidate that the thesis is not eligible for defence in its current state. In this case the MA student must revise their thesis for the next defence date, and the same submission procedure must be repeated from the beginning. When the MA thesis is resubmitted by the candidate, the supervisor must complete the relevant accompanying documentation again, stating explicitly that this is a second submission.

3(2) If plagiarism is detected by a member of the MA Thesis Defence Committee prior to the defence, the person who detected the plagiarism proposes to the Committee to  fail the thesis by giving it a poor grade (2). The candidate must be notified of the Committee’s decision personally prior to the defence date and must be provided with evidence of the plagiarism detected. The Committee’s decision is final and not subject to appeal. In such cases, the MA candidate has the right to revise their thesis for the next defence date or to propose an entirely new MA thesis topic, following the entire procedure from the beginning.

3(3)  If plagiarism is established during the defence, appropriate measures will be taken to bring the matter to the attention of the Ethics Committee. Plagiarism is subject to penal measures under para. 1 (6) of Art. 166 of Sofia University’s Rules of Procedure, which states that “a student or a PhD candidate shall be expelled from the University by order of the Rector on the basis of a report by the Dean, if a State Examination Committee establishes that the student or PhD candidate has committed plagiarism within the meaning of Art. 129, para. 2 (2), sentence 2”.

  1. The MA candidate may proceed to the defence only with the approval of their supervisor, certified by the supervisor’s signatures on the final hard copies of the thesis. The MA theses must be submitted in print in room 167 (unless another room has been appointed for the respective defence date), and electronic copies must be emailed to the Department’s Administrative Officer at deas@fcml.uni-sofia.bg no later than 25 days prior to the respective defence date for the spring or autumn term announced on the website of the Department of English and American Studies in accordance with the academic calendar of the Faculty of Classical and Modern Philology: https://www.uni-sofia.bg/index.php/bul/universitet_t/fakulteti/fakultet_po_klasicheski_i_novi_filologii/novini
  2. MA theses must be submitted in two hard copies: one with hardcover binding, the other with spiral binding. In the spiralbound copy of their theses, students from the MA in Translation must include the original of the text they translated in such a way that it is convenient for the reviewer to compare the original to the translation. When submitting their MA theses, candidates must also sign a declaration of authorship on paper.
  3. Candidates must file a request to be admitted to the defence in room 211 ten days prior to the defence date.

7.Candidates receive a review of their MA thesis no later than 5 days before the defence date. In accordance with the Procedure the thesis review must include the following: an evaluation of the qualities of the work, its strengths and weaknesses, supported by explanatory notes; questions to the candidate related to the thesis; an overall assessment (positive or negative) of the thesis, with a final sentence where the reviewer proposes to the Committee a grade on the six-point scale (with 2 being a fail, and 6 – the highest mark). The reviews are sent out by email by the Department’s Administrative Officer to all members of the Thesis Defence Committee and to the candidates themselves. In case of a negative review, the chair of the MA Thesis Defence Committee must inform the candidate by email that they are not admitted to the defence on the forthcoming defence date. In this case the candidate has the right to revise their thesis and resubmit it after going through all stages of the procedure again. Alternatively, the candidate may propose a new thesis topic and complete the entire procedure anew.

  1. The final schedule containing the names of the students admitted to the defence, as well as the place where the public defence will take place, are announced on the Department’s website 3 days prior to the defence date.

 

  1. Requirements for the MA Thesis Defence.

Defences of MA theses are conducted in the final week of October and April each academic year, in accordance with the academic calendar of the Faculty of Classical and Modern Philology, published in the News section of the Faculty’s website:  https://www.uni-sofia.bg/index.php/bul/universitet_t/fakulteti/fakultet_po_klasicheski_i_novi_filologii/novini . The exact defence date is determined by the Committee and is published on the Department’s website.

The defence procedure is public and is conducted at a previously announced location according to a schedule determined by the MA Thesis Defence Committee and published on the Department’s website. Each defence begins with an 8-10-minute presentation of the thesis by the MA candidate. In their presentation, candidates should not detail the structure of the thesis by chapters and sections, but should keep to the following points:

  1. a. Topic
  2. b. Object of research
  3. c. Research aims
  4. d. Methods/Methodology/Theoretical framework/Analytical model
  5. e. Results/Conclusions
  6. f. (for MA in Translation students): rationale for the choice of source text for translation; connection to the analytical part; choice of method for addressing key translation challenges.
  7. MA candidates may use notes during their presentation but may not read from a previously written script. Use of PowerPoint is acceptable only for displaying graphs, statistics, etc. If such material is necessary for the presentation, it should be presented using Microsoft Office tools.
  8. After hearing the review of their thesis, candidates must answer the questions raised and the criticism offered in the review, as well as any questions from the Thesis Defence Committee or the audience.

 

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