PhD Dissertation

CRES students who have passed the preliminary examination should form a dissertation committee consisting of a director from the CRES faculty, three other English faculty members, and a faculty member from outside the department. For more information, see the Graduate School’s Instructions on Thesis/Dissertation Advisory Committee Formation.

The candidate’s dissertation prospectus must be approved by the committee and defended in an oral examination. The CRES dissertation prospectus should provide a thorough overview of the proposed topic and an explanation of how the research will build on existing knowledge in the field and contribute new findings. Students should work with their director to establish a viable topic and preliminary bibliography for the project.

The prospectus should cover the following topic/areas, although students may adapt or change this suggested outline in consultation with the chair. Students can obtain a sample of a CRES dissertation prospectus from the field advisor.

  • Overview/Abstract: This introductory paragraph should summarize the prospectus.
  • Defense of Topic: This section should introduce the project and set out the research question that it seeks to address. It should explain why the proposed project is important to the field at large and how it fills a gap in existing research.
  • Literature Review: This section should thoroughly review relevant findings on the topic.
  • Discussion of Theoretical & Methodological Framework: This section should overview the research methods, materials (or data sources) and theoretical framework for the project.
  • Chapter Overview: This section should give a chapter-by-chapter preview of the dissertation, devoting at least one well-developed paragraph to each chapter.
  • Timeline: This section should provide a detailed plan for researching, writing, and revising the project, including the time needed to collect data and conduct additional research as necessary.  A table or bulleted format will be acceptable for this section.
  • Bibliography/Works Cited: The bibliography should include works cited in the prospectus itself and works that will be consulted during the writing of the dissertation. Students may choose to divide the bibliography into works cited and research remaining to give the committee a sense of the research agenda.

For more information, see the Graduate School’s A Student Guide to Preparing Electronic Theses and Dissertations.