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Departmental thesis requirements:
Department of English Applied Linguistics

I. Introduction

If you choose to write your thesis in English Applied Linguistics, please follow the basic principles outlined below.

What is a thesis?

A thesis is intended to be a serious academic challenge in the form of an analytical piece of writing (research) as opposed to a purely summative/descriptive one. Research involves planned and systematic investigation of a particular phenomenon, in other words research seeks to describe, identify, and control relationships among phenomena in order to study them.

In your thesis you need to:

note: An analysis is essential for a successful thesis. If, for example, your work involves practical materials design, the actual materials/activities should form the appendix of your work, while the main body should contain the rationale for designing the materials the way you did, including the description of the scientific basis and supporting evidence. Your conclusion does not necessarily have to provide solutions to problems, but you are expected to demonstrate in it a deeper understanding of the selected issue.

The role of your consultant

In preparing your thesis you will be aided by a consultant. For the procedures to select him/her and for a description of the ways he/she can help you, see below. Please note, however, that your consultant is not responsible for doing any part of the work for you; instead, he/she will make sure that the thesis is your original product.


The thesis will be read by your consultant and an independent reader, who will grade it according to the criteria described below.

II. Procedures for submitting a thesis application

To get you started on your thesis in a timely fashion, five steps need to be carried out before 1st October (if you want to submit your thesis in March) or before 1st May (if you want to submit your thesis in October):

  1. Contact the consultant (supervisor) you want to work with.
  2. Decide on your topic, how you intend to investigate the topic, and your title (for now, a general title is sufficient; a colon and subtitle can be added later to more accurately describe your work).
  3. Type an approximately two-page proposal (about 300--350 words) following this format:
    • Heading: your name, your consultant's name, the topic of your thesis, the title of the thesis
    • rationale for choosing the topic
    • intended approach of data collection and analysis
    • expected results\par
  4. Make and attach to the proposal an annotated bibliography of your preliminary readings consisting of at least four books or eight journal articles.
  5. Make three copies of the proposal. One is yours; give the second copy to your consultant and have him/her sign the third copy.
  6. Before 1st October (1st May), see the Head of the Applied Linguistics Department (ADS 330) to have the Hungarian thesis form of the Department of Studies signed. You must present the third copy of your proposal in order to obtain a signature. \par
  7. The consultant should be consulted at least two weeks before the submission.\par

note: It is advisable to see the Head of Department well before the official submission date so that you have enough time to rewrite the proposal if necessary. Also, in accordance with our Department's rules, consultants cannot accept more than five students' proposals. If you do not submit your proposal early enough, you may not be able to work with the consultant you would like to.


Students are given the academic freedom of selecting their consultant. However, if you are not sure who you would like to work with, or if you have any problems, the Department Head will assist you in finding a consultant according to your thesis topic. For information on the suggested topics and the Applied Linguistics staff members' field of expertise see the biographical data of the staff of the Department in the old Academic Guide (Owl Book) or the SEAS Study Guide. Written appeals for changing the consultant will be considered.

Consultants can offer the following support:

The consultant will not be expected to edit language, punctuation and spelling. The dissertation is supposed to demonstrate your academic abilities; therefore the quality of your thesis is exclusively your responsibility.\par

Submission and marking

Two copies (one bound in black) of the final draft are to be submitted to the Student Service (Diáktanácsadó) not later than 30th March, or 30th October. The Head of Department will appoint the readers for all dissertations submitted in time. Readers and consultants will each receive a copy for marking.

Markers are required to assign a mark and submit a report of justification. The final mark of your thesis will be decided on at a formal Thesis Markers' Meeting chaired by the Head of the Applied Linguistics Department. The date of this meeting will be posted each term. Conflicting marks will be negotiated and reconciled. If necessary, a third reader will be appointed by the Head. You will be informed about the final mark and receive a copy of the reviews in the Department Office (ADS 330) after the meeting.

The readers' reports are normally 1--2 typed pages and include a detailed evaluation of the main aspects of the thesis following the marking criteria outlined in Section III. The mark approved by the Department is not subject to appeal.

III. Thesis marking criteria

I. Form (10 points, 40%)

Format (5 points)

Language (5 points)

II. Content (15 points, 60%)

Review of the literature (5 points)

Analysis (10 points)

IV. Guidelines on content, structure and form


Thesis papers may be of two types: theoretical or empirical. A theoretical paper usually focuses on an ambiguous problem. In this case, the main aim of the thesis is to show various treatments of the particular problem in the field and provide a synthesis of literature and original solution of the problem. The paper starts with the comparison of what different authors say about the same topic, that is, a survey of the relevant literature arranged into some logical framework invented by the writer. The overview should be critical, and should be followed by an argumentative proposal of the writer's own opinion and solution of the problem.

Writing an empirical thesis paper in applied linguistics and language pedagogy is more common than theoretical papers. A research paper should also investigate a problem and is argumentative in nature, but unlike in the theoretical paper, the writer uses empirical data to support his/her hypotheses. Empirical research has two types: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative research studies an individual case or a limited number of cases closely with the purpose of understanding the particular phenomenon/phenomena from the perspective of the participants. Quantitative studies usually take an outsider's perspective and involve a sufficient number of participants so that the findings could be generalizable for the behaviour of the population investigated.

The topic of empirical thesis papers in this field can be the following:

An empirical thesis paper can apply various research tools, preferably a combination of the following:


The structure of a theoretical thesis paper

Theoretical thesis papers usually follow an argumentative pattern and are organised around the solution of a problem. Questions that are normally addressed in such papers include:

Depending on the nature of the problem, such papers may be structured in different ways. A typical pattern of organisation is presented below:

(based on Swales, J.M., & Feak, C.B. (1994). Academic Writing for Graduate Students. Ann Arbour: The University of Michigan Press.)

The structure of an empirical research paper


The text of your thesis must be type-written double spaced on one side only of A4 paper. The left-hand margin should be 1.5 inches wide and the other three margins 1 inch wide. The body of the thesis (without the notes, references and appendices) should be at least 40 pages long and should normally not exceed 55--60 pages. Your thesis should follow the APA format.

V. Citation

In-text citation

The APA format documents a paper's sources by both citing them in the text and describing them bibliographically in the paper's References list.

When to quote?

Beginner researchers typically overuse direct quotations. Only use direct quotation if

In all other cases summarise the author's ideas in your own words and indicate your source very clearly by including the author's name and the publication date in parentheses.


Plagiarism is using another person's language or ideas without acknowledgement. This also applies to unpublished materials (e.g., student theses, lectures, lecture handouts, internet pages). If you want to quote from such materials, document the source explicitly. Intentional or not, all plagiarism is theft; therefore, it will result in the immediate rejection of your thesis.


References should be placed at the end of the paper, in the References section, listing each source cited in the text alphabetically by the author's name (or by a work's title when no author is given). For details, see the examples below. All the works or authors listed in the Reference section must be referred to in the text.

Examples of items in the references section

Book/single author Ellis, R. (1985). Understanding second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Book/single author/2nd edition Popham, J. W. (1990). Modern educational measurement (2nd ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
Book/joint authors O'Malley, J. M., & Chamot, A. U. (1990). Learning strategies in second language acquisition. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Edited book Phillipson, R., Kellerman, E., Selinker, L., Sharwood Smith, M., & Swain, M. (Eds.). (1991). Foreign/second language pedagogy research: A commemorative volume for Claus Færch. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
Journal article/single author Medgyes, P. (1993). The national L2 curriculum in Hungary. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 13, 24--36.
Journal article/joint authors Canale, M., & Swain, M. (1980). Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing. Applied Linguistics, 1, 1--47.
Journal article/multiple authors Sacks, H., Schegloff, E., & Jefferson, G. (1974). A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language, 50, 696--735.
Magazine article (each issue starts with page 1) Rinvolucri, M. (1988, June). A light on the wall. Practical English Teaching, pp. 15--16.
Chapter/article in an edited book Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1991). Cooperative learning and classroom and school climate. In: B. J. Fraser, & H. J. Walberg (Eds.), Educational environments (pp. 55--74). Oxford: Pergamon.
Paper presented at a conference Nádadsy, Á. (1993, April). The right accent: Pronunciation and tradition in TESOL. Paper presented at the 27th Annual TESOL Convention, Atlanta, GA.
Unpublished doctoral dissertation Duff, P. A. (1993). Changing times, changing minds: Language socialization in Hungarian-English Schools. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles.
Unpublished thesis Kossuth, L. (1995). Freedom in the buffet: An analysis of student interaction and eating habits. Unpublished thesis, Eötvös University, Budapest.
Government document U.S. Bureau of the Census. (1989). Statistical abstract of the United States (109th ed.). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Encyclopedia and dictionary Baker, M. (Ed.). (1998). Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies (1st ed.). London and New York. Routledge. (For major reference works with a large editorial board, you may list the name of the lead editor, followed by ``et al.'')
Entry in an encyclopedia Bergmann, P. G. (1993). Relativity. In The new enynclopedia Britannica (Vol. 26, pp. 501--508). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica.
Translation Miller, A. (1990). The untouched key: Tracing childhood trauma in creativity and destructiveness (H. & H. Hannum, Trans.). New York: Doubleday. (Original work published in 1988).
Material from an information service or a database Horn, P. (1989). The Victorian Governess. History of Education, 18, 333--344. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. EJ 401 533).

With multiple works by the same author, arrange the items in the order of their publication. If the year of publication happens to be the same, use small letters (a, b, c, ...) to distinguish between the works. If the References contain a work written by a particular author and another work co-authored by the same author, the single-author's work should come first regardless of the publication dates.

Referring to electronically available materials

APA-style of documenting WWW (World Wide Web) resources
Reference to on-line information

Author/editor, I. (date). Title of the article. [On-line]. Available: Specify path

Example: Pritzker, T. J. (1995). An Early fragment from central Nepal [Online]. Available:

Author/editor, I., & Author/editor, I. (date). Title of chapter. In Title of full work [On-line]. Available: Specify path Example: Daniel, R. T. (1995). The history of Western music. In Britannica online: Macropaedia [Online]. bin/g:DocF=macro/5004/45/0.html

Author, I. (date). Title of the article. Name of the periodical [On-line serial] Volume Number. Available: Specify path Example: Funder, D.C. (1994). Judgemental process and content. Psychology [online serial], 5. Avalaible:

Reference to information on CD-ROM

Author, I. (date). Title of the article [CD-ROM]. Title of the journal, Volume number, page numbers, Abstract from: Source and retrieval number

Example: Meyer, S. S., & Bock, K. (1992). The tip of the tongue phenomenon [CD-ROM]. Memory & Cognition, 20, 715--726. Abstract from: Silver Platter File: PsychLit Item: 80--16531

Reference to computer program

Author, I. (date). Name of the program [Computer software]. Place of publication: Publisher.

Example: Miller, M. E. (1993). The interactive tester [Computer software]. Westminster, CA: Psytek Services.

edited by Péter Szigetvári <>
contents last touched Thu Jan 29 18:15:13 CET 2004