Honours Seminars

English Studies Honours Seminars Information PDF

What is an Honours Seminar?

The Seminar is a “capstone” experience for students in their fourth year of the Honours Specialization in English Studies. Seminars are typically focused on an aspect of the professor’s research interests and thus give students an opportunity to delve into the heart of academic specialization. However, students should note that once it has been conceived and planned, the seminar is not about the professor but about the students in the class. These courses have no lectures, and the day-to-day course content is built entirely through directed discussion and presentations. Students should come prepared to develop their own topics and generate their own ideas using the skills they have acquired over their degree. In order to facilitate this active dialogue, the classes are small, typically capped at 15.

What kinds of assignments will I have to do?

Every seminar involves a major oral presentation (this often includes not only a formal presentation but leading the entire class discussion for the day) and a large independent research essay. As well, most have up to 25% of the total mark designated for day-to-day class participation. Other assignments may vary according to the professor.

Are they hard?

Yes, but most students report seminars to be one of the most rewarding classroom experiences of their university careers.

How does registration for seminars work?

The same as any other course though please note that they are restricted to students in the fourth year of the Honours Specialization. Every student is guaranteed the six-credits of seminars necessary to fulfill their degree requirements; however, access to individual courses is limited by the course capacity (strictly maintained to ensure the academic integrity of the course). Enrolment in particular topics or time-slots is done on a first-come, first-serve basis.

What kinds of seminar topics could I expect?

Below are some topics from past years. Planning for 2017-18 registration is still in flux, so keep your eye on the English Studies website and WebAdvisor for the specific descriptions of the courses available for registration. Also consider the option of doing an independent study project (“ENGL4695 Honours Essay” and “ENGL4795 Creative and Critical Writing Honours Essay”). Some restrictions apply, so see the information below for more details.

Honours Seminar Topics from the Archives

  • The Canadian Historical Novel
  • The Victorian Fantastic
  • The Culture of War and Contemporary American Literature
  • Early Modern Cross-Dressing
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • Literature and Existentialism
  • The Art of Sacrifice

Honours Essay Independent/Directed Study Projects

There are two options for the highly motivated student who might want to pursue her or his own subject of honours level research, with the guidance of a faculty member in English. ENGL4695 Honours Essay is a literary research project: a supervised critical essay of 9,000 to 12,000 words. ENGL4795 Creative and Critical Writing Honours Essay consists of two parts: a creative writing project and a critical essay. Both require standing at fourth year in the Honours program and a 77% discipline average. Pre-approval is required before a student is able to register. The applicant must identify which option she or he would prefer and locate a faculty member who would be willing to supervise the project. The student should then work with the professor to produce a short proposal for the project to be approved by the English Department. The deadline for proposals to the department is March 10, 2017. Please note, that though these courses are 6 credits, the student will still be required to complete 3 credits of Honours Seminars.