The Bachelor’s thesis is a “proof of competence.” It is where you showcase your skills in your chosen area of English Language and Culture. The Bachelor’s thesis allows you to share the competences and knowledge that you have acquired over the three years of your degree programme. In order to be able to start wrtiting your thesis, you will need to pass the Capstone Course that's offered in block 1 or 3 of your third year.

Thesis subject

The thesis is linked to a level 3 course and the paper's contents are relevant to one of the English Language and Culture specialisation clusters.

Form

Your Bachelor's thesis (EN3V14001, 7.5 EC) must be between 4,000 and 6,000 words, excluding quotations, any appendices and the Work Cited / References. The supervisor and the second reader must approve the project proposal before work on the thesis proper begins. It may take varying forms, including:

  • Linguistics or ICC: a paper based upon experimental or corpus research, an ethnography based upon empirical research, a theoretical thesis;
  • Literature & Culture: a research paper based around either a thesis statement or a research question;
  • An annotated translation, website or other resource.

We no longer offer theses in Creative Writing. Instead, it may be possible to undertake a Creative Writing project by enrolling for the Individual Assignment BA English Language & Culture (EN3V14004, 7.5 EC). Each student will require the advance permission of a Creative Writing instructor and be allowed to undertake only one such project. This does not replace the thesis.

Contents

Your thesis is linked to a level 3 course and written in the context of one of the four specialisations, usually but not necessarily a specialisation you have completed.

Your topic may in principle address issues in the English-speaking world pertaining to literature, culture, language, linguistics, translation, intercultural communication or education. However, practical limitations dictate that the range of fields our staff are able to support is much narrower. In choosing your subject you must therefore orient yourself towards the research expertise available. Consult the University Library webpage to see the topics of previous theses. In addition, you may consult the web pages of individual professors, senior lecturers and lecturers for the areas in which they offer supervision. They will also upload an advertisement for the research areas they offer in the Blackboard environments of the Capstone Course and the B.A. Thesis.

Passing the Capstone Course is a prerequisite for entry to the English Language & Culture B.A. Thesis. You may take the Capstone Course in either block 1 or block 3 of your third year, before writing your thesis in a later block.

Are you a Harting scholar? In that case, you will be retrospectively exempt from this requirement if you pass at least 45 EC of courses during your year abroad

Supervision

Students often informally approach a potential supervisor, who will usually teach in the specialization with which the thesis is aligned. However, formally, there are two ways to find a supervisor with the appropriate expertise:

  1. Once you enrol for the thesis you gain access to the Blackboard environment and read staff research field advertisements. You’ll apply for a project and write a brief motivation, which your preferred supervisor may accept or reject on its merits or applicability to their research fields. Note that once a supervisor has fulfilled their quota of supervisions for the academic year, they will cease to be available;
  2. Failing the above, your Capstone Course seminar instructor will discuss options with you before assigning you to a supervisor. Your range of subject-choice will be confined to the stated research expertise areas of the available supervisor.

During the Capstone Course you will work on a research plan for your thesis, which contributes 30% of the course mark.

Supervisors outside the English Language & Culture programme

In some cases your supervisor may work outside the English Language & Culture B.A. programme. Examples are supervisors from Literary Studies, Linguistics and Celtic Studies, or the university department within which you study during your foreign exchange period. In these cases, you will have to seek a second reader from among the permanent staff within the English Language & Culture BA programme. The content of your thesis must at any event pertain to English Language & Culture.

Co-authorship

Given the prior approval of the supervisor and second reader, students may collaborate on a thesis if each of them demonstrates they have contributed 210 hours of work. The input of each individual student must be apparent to the supervisor, who will indicate the extent to which the thesis’ length may be extended. Each student’s work will be marked individually..

Asessment

Your supervisor and second reader will both independently mark the final version of your thesis. Having done so, they will consult with one another before the supervisor emails you your mark and summative feedback, using the Faculty of Humanities’ standard assessment forms. In the extremely rare eventuality of the supervisor and second reader being unable to agree upon a mark, another of the degree programme’s staff will act as a third reader to resolve the issue.

When you choose your preferred supervisor, you will naturally be guided by your experience of their teaching. However, remember that each member of staff has their own field of expertise. Below is a list of supervisors’ names and descriptions of their area of research.


Supervisor & supervisor's prefernces

All supervisors and their expertises

Cathelein Aaftink

Short stories, literary aesthetics, Virginia Woolf, James Baldwin, literature and controversy, literature and spirituality, empirical studies of literature, deconstruction, phenomenology, contemporary literary prose.

Aoju Chen

First language acquisition, second language acquisition, social impact of language ability, phonetics, phonology, prosody, information structure, sarcasm, speech perception, speech production, language comprehension.

Ruth Clemens

Breaking the Mould and the Page: Book Design in Disarray. What happens when books don’t play by the rules? From the pseudohistorical photographs in Virginia Woolf’s comic biography Orlando, to Kurt Vonnegut’s childlike illustrations, to Mark Z. Danielewski’s labyrinthine system of footnotes in House of Leaves, many works of literature seem determined to push the limits of the formal, visual, and material conventions of the novel. By analysing how the page looks different to how we expect, we come to reassess the limits of literature. Preparing for this thesis you will familiarise yourself with earlier research on book history, innovative book design, and formal experimentation. You will apply these insights to a case study of your choice, analysing how the page design of the text pushes at formal and social conventions. This research presupposes the modules Civil War to Civil Rights and Literary Studies, an Introduction.

Suggested readings:

  •  Barton, Simon, Visual Devices in Contemporary Prose Fiction: Gaps, Gestures, Images, Springer, 2016.
  •  Finkelstein, David, and Alistair McCleery (eds.), The Book History Reader, Routledge, 2002.
  •  Genette, Gérard, Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation, translated by Jane E. Lewin, Cambridge UP, 1997.
  •  Jordan, Julia, Late Modernism and the Avant-Garde British Novel: Oblique Strategies, Oxford UP, 2020.
  •  White, Glyn. Reading the Graphic Surface: The Presence of the Book in Prose Fiction, Manchester UP, 2014.

Debbie Cole

Received her Ph.D in linguistics and linguistic anthropology at the University of Arizona. Her work in semiotics combines research in linguistics, anthropology, and literature. Her work in these areas responds to the general question:  How do humans view, talk, and write about ourselves and others as belonging (or not belonging) to different social categories? Her work in play and practice responds to the general question: How can we question, change, and reflect on standardizing practices in institutions, especially in teaching and learning environments, to enhance learning and cultivate creativity? She also translates poetry from Bahasa Indonesia into English.

Marcelle Cole

Historical linguistics, language variation and change, Old English and Middle English, Medieval culture and literature.

Simon Cook

Contemporary literary fiction, nonfiction and journalism and the interplay between them, in particular Monica Ali, Martin Amis, J.G. Ballard, Angela Carter, Mary Gaitskill, Siri Hustvedt, Thomas Pynchon, Salman Rushdie, Ali Smith, Zadie Smith, David Foster Wallace, among others. Literature and pornography, representation, sexuality, simulacra & simulation. 

Rias van den Doel

Language attitudes, language contact, English in higher education, World Englishes, English as a lingua franca, Dutch English, non-native pronunciation of English.

Gys-Walt van Egdom

Translation (annotated + research).

Paul Franssen

Historical literature, Shakespeare and Shakespeare adaptations, the author as character, Austen, Coetzee, Wilde, literature and religion, literature and visual arts.

Stella Gryllia

Prosody, phonetics (speech production/perception), phonology, information structure, syntax-prosody interface, prosody-pragmatics interface.

Nynke de Haas

Syntax, semantics, pragmatics, language variation and change, language contact.

Trenton Hagar

First language acquisition, second language acquisition, intercultural communication, sociolinguistics, foreign language pedagogy, English language proficiency.

Ton Hoenselaars

Early modern English literature (with a special focus on Shakespeare) and its international relations. Hoenselaars has published widely on images of nations in Renaissance literature, literature in translation, and on Shakespeare in European culture from 1600 to the present day. 

Johanna Hoorenman

American literature, American genre fiction, American poetry, Native American literatures, African American literature, Critical Animal Studies, Posthumanism, cultural memory and historical fiction.

Cees Koster

Zijn huidige onderzoek richt zich vooral op de 19e- en 20e-eeuwse vertaalgeschiedenis. In 2002 publiceerde hij hierover De Hollandsche vertaalmolen. Nederlandse beschouwingen over vertalen, 1820-1885 (Reeks vertaalhistorie, deel 5a) en (samen met Ton Naaijkens) Een vorm van lezen. Nederlandse beschouwingen over vertalen, 1885-1946 (Reeks vertaalhistorie deel 5b).

Onno Kosters

  • Translation (annotated or research). Poetry, prose, drama, non-fiction. 
  • British and Irish literature 1700-present: The Pre-Romantics and the Romantics. Stevenson, Wilde, Synge. Modernism. Reception studies. Narratology. Joyce, Beckett, Evelyn Waugh, David Lodge. Anne Enright, Sally Rooney.

Ashley Micklos

I specialize in the study and teaching of social interaction. My research is at the intersection of talk-in-interaction, specifically conversational repair, and language evolution. My teaching interests are in sociolinguistics (language variation and identities), language-in-use, and language acquisition and evolution.

David Pascoe

English literature and culture.

Anna Poletti

Students interested in contemporary literature in English that deal with gender and sexuality, and / or life writing (including comics and social media) are welcome to propose a BA thesis topic, or to approach Anna for a meeting to discuss potential topics. Anna is on sabbatical in blocks 1 and 2, and is only available for supervision in blocks 3 and 4.  

Suggested reading to explore possible topics:

Koen Sebregts

Phonetics, phonology, sound change, sociophonetics, sociolinguistics and language variation in general, varieties of English in pop music.

Lieke Stelling

Early modern literature and culture, Shakespeare, the Reformation, religion and literature, humour studies, comedy, conceptions of early modern Europe.

Roselinde Supheert

Map Your Hero(ine). Why are Emma, Jane Eyre and Peter Pan still so popular? All three have been adapted multiple times into fanfictions, films, plays and more. Are they the same or have they changed, and if so in what way? By analysing classics and their afterlives, we come to know more about their world and ours. Preparing for this thesis you will familiarise yourself with earlier research on reception and adaptation. You will apply these insights to a case study of your choice, analysing the afterlife of a classic. This research presupposes the module Adapting to the Novel or a comparable module on adaptation.

Suggested readings:

Elena Tribushinina

There is a growing pressure to teach foreign languages as early as possible, and children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) are not immune from these pressures. Surprisingly, foreign language learning by children with DLD is a largely unexplored terrain. Current scholarship lacks crucial insights in how learners with DLD respond to variations in the amount of input and how languages interact in their mind. This project aims to fill this gap by investigating the mechanisms of EFL learning by primary- and secondary-school children with DLD in special education. The aims of this project are: 

  • to study the nature of the relationship between L1 Dutch and L2 English in these vulnerable language learners
  • to test the hypothesis that bilingual children have a foreign language learning advantange
  • to develop a new teaching approach, in which children explicitly learn English words and grammar rules, in comparison to Dutch and/or a minority language (e.g., Polish, Turkish, Arabic)

This project is implemented in collaboration with the Royal Dutch Kentalis. 

Suggested readings: 

  • Tribushinina, E., Dubinkina-Elgart, E., & Rabkina, N. (2020). Can children with DLD acquire a second language in a foreign-language classroom? Effects of age and cross-language relationships. Journal of Communication Disorders, 88, 106049. 
  • Tribushinina, E., Op ten Berg, & Karman, S. (2021). Facilitating positive L1 transfer through explicit spelling instruction for EFL learners with dyslexia: An intervention study. Language Awareness. DOI: 10.1080/09658416.2021.1949332. 
  • Zoutenbier, I., & Zwitserlood, R. (2019). Exploring the relationship between native language skills and foreign language learning in children with developmental language disordersClinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 33, 641-653.

Mia You

My own research interests include: Poetry. 20th & 21st-century American literature. Modernism. Postmodernism. Literature & the visual arts. Feminist theory. Translation & translingual poetics. I'm not a huge fan of popular genre fiction (except selective detective and gothic fiction, i.e., P.D. James and Henry James), so I would not be the most informed supervisor for topics related to fantasy, sci-fi, etc. 

Thesis Archive

You can use Utrecht University's thesis archive as a reference point to see what your fellow students have submitted. 

Finished? Upload your thesis to the Digital thesis Archive

Once you have finished writing your thesis, you will need to upload the final version to thesis archive (in Osiris). The Exam Secretariat will notify you about this by mail. Your thesis will be kept for 7 years.

Osiris Cases

Handing in your thesis

Once you have completed your thesis, you must submit it in Osiris (and not via an e-mail to your supervisor). Osiris also provides you with evaluation progress as well as your final grade. 

If your supervisor has indicated that your final paper is ready for assessment, proceed as follows:

  • You upload your thesis in Orisis via Cases > My Cases
  • You upload your thesis in Blackboard (to check for plagiarism)
  • In order to be able to graduate, you must submit your thesis to the UU's digital thesis archive. Within a week after you have been informed about your graduation, you will receive an email with instructions on how to upload your thesis to our thesis archive in Osiris.

Forms and procedures Bachelor's thesis

Your Bachelor's thesis will be assessed following specific evaluation procedures. You can prepare for this by reading the following documents and explanations prior to starting your thesis.

All Bachelor's theses are assessed by two lecturers. If your supervisor is one of the lecturers teaching in the Bachelor's programme, then this person will also be the first assessor (or the 'examiner'). Theses are assessed using an assessment form. If there is a large difference of opinion between the first and second assessors, a third assessor may be engaged, who will always work with a separate assessment form.

We take all forms of academic deception very seriously and expect all students to observe the ethical standards of proper academic conduct. When you start writing your thesis, you must submit the Plagiarism awareness declaration form as an acknowledgement that you have read the University's regulations regarding fraud and plagiarism. Lecturers or supervisors will report any suspected cases of fraud or plagiarism using the Plagiarism reporting form.