Sep 28, 2023  
School of Graduate Studies Calendar, 2022-2023 
School of Graduate Studies Calendar, 2022-2023 [-ARCHIVED CALENDAR-]

English, Ph.D

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The Ph.D. Degree Program normally entails four years of study. The admission requirement is an M.A. with marks of at least A- in two thirds of their Masters level courses. In recent years, successful candidates typically achieved an average of A (at least 85%) in their upper-level undergraduate and M.A. coursework.The Graduate Studies Committee will give consideration to matching candidates’ proposed projects with the research expertise of available faculty members.

Program Requirements


Ph.D. candidates will successfully complete six graduate courses: five one-term graduate courses in Year 1 of the program, and the Doctoral Seminar, which is spread over Years 1 and 2.  Up to two one-term courses may be taken outside the department, subject to the permission of offering departments.

Thesis Proposal

By January 15th of the first year of the program, students must identify an area of specialization and submit a 1000-word thesis proposal (with a bibliography attached) signed by a potential supervisor and reader for approval by the Graduate Studies Committee. By June 30th of the second year, students must submit a detailed thesis proposal of 2000 words, signed by their supervisory committee, to the Graduate Studies Committee.

Comprehensive Examination

The University regulations require that Ph.D. candidates take a Comprehensive Examination; in the Department of English and Cultural Studies, this examination takes place in the second year of study. Candidates should take into consideration that most postings for academic jobs in English ask for wide expertise in one of the following areas:

Medieval Literature
Early Modern English Literature
Eighteenth-Century British Literature
Nineteenth-Century British Literature
Twentieth-Century British and Irish Literature
American Literature
Canadian Literature
Postcolonial Literature
Critical Theory
Cultural Studies
Indigenous Literatures and Cultures

Candidates are required in their reading list to substantially cover one of these broad areas, or another generally recognizable area, subject to the approval of the student’s supervisory committee and the Graduate Studies Committee. The exam consists of two papers, a Field Survey and a Topic Paper, which will be defended in an oral examination. The Field Survey should show broad expertise in the wider field of knowledge the candidate’s research will engage. The Topic Paper describes how the candidate’s dissertation intervenes in that field and the particular contribution it will make. A reading list for the Comprehensive Examination, approved by all members of the supervisory committee, must be submitted to the Graduate Studies Committee by February 28th in the first year of the program. Both papers are to be researched and written concurrently by the candidate, are to be between 25 and 30 double-spaced pages in length, and are due no later than February 28th of the second year of study (i.e. at the beginning of the 5th term). The Oral Examination of both papers will follow within 10 days of submission. The candidate’s performance in the Comprehensive Examination will be assessed on a pass/fail basis for the Field Survey, the Topic Paper, and the Oral Examination. Please check the English and Cultural Studies Requirement Booklet for additional details and exact due dates, which may vary slightly from year to year.

Doctoral Seminar

This course focuses on practical elements of research and other aspects of professionalization for PhD students in literary and cultural studies, including strategies for formulating research problems, and gathering, analyzing and synthesizing primary and secondary materials, building academic community, and disseminating research through conferences and publication in a variety of media. The course consists of three one-week seminars (10 hrs per week), conducted in May of Year One, and October and April of Year Two. Seminars 1 and 2 will be logged as Milestones, completion of which will grant students permission to register for Seminar 3. On completion of Seminar 3, students will earn the 3 course credits the course represents. Required for PhD students; pass/fail.

Language Requirement

The Department also has a second-language requirement for the Ph.D. degree. Candidates who have not passed a full university course in a language other than English must complete such a course or pass a translation examination with the aid of a dictionary.


During the third and fourth year of the program, the candidate will write a scholarly thesis normally of between 200 and 250 pages (not including bibliography), and will defend it at an Oral Examination.

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