Brief Guidelines for English Faculty | Department of English

Brief Guidelines for English Faculty

Honors Theses in English must conform to the Guidelines for Students and Assessment Plan established by the Honors College and approved by the University Curriculum Committee and Faculty Senate. The Guidelines (4 pages) and the Assessment Plan (4 pages) will be made available on the departmental website (under the "undergraduate" tab). These brief guidelines outlined below accord with and derive from the longer documents listed above.


  1. The student will invite a faculty member to serve as a mentor prior to the semester in which the student will enroll in ENGL 4951, typically during the student's senior year.
  2. The student will ask the mentor to sign the Thesis Enrollment Approval Form (furnished by student and available on the Honors College Website).
  3. The mentor contacts the English Department's Assistant Chair to request that a section of ENGL 4951 be opened for the student.
  4. The student drafts the Honors Thesis and submits a completed project to the faculty no later than three weeks before the end of term.
  5. The mentor assigns a grade to the thesis and returns it to the student no later than two weeks before the end of term.
  6. The student submits for approval the completed, graded thesis to the Honors College Dean two weeks before the end of term (Honors College requirement).
  7. The student contacts the Associate Dean at the Honors College to schedule a defense, which is required.
  8. The student, faculty mentor, and associate dean of the Honors College must be present at the defense.

Criteria for the Thesis:
The Honors thesis in English is either a collection of creative writing or a research-driven essay that emphasizes original contributions to the field of literature. A purely scholarly thesis, such as a work of literary criticism, must demonstrate a command of secondary scholarship. A thesis of creative work must likewise be informed by scholarship, which may be of an interdisciplinary nature including fields such as literary criticism and other disciplines within the humanities. This research should be evident in the preface and in the creative work itself.

There is no page requirement for the thesis, although it must be of contributive, publishable quality (e.g., a 15-page "note," 25-page "article," or a collection of at least 20 pages of poetry). In the case of a thesis that includes creative work, a 10-page scholarly preface should accompany a collection of poetry, fiction, or creative non-fiction.

Thesis requirements:

  1. Must demonstrate competency in at least three of six university core areas. Such interdisciplinarity may be achieved and/or demonstrated both in the body of the thesis and/or in the secondary literature. The six university core areas are:
    1. English composition and rhetoric
      1. Students will establish competency in this area either through a critical review of theoretical and literary scholarship pertaining to their topic, in the preface to creative work, or in the creative work itself.
    2. Mathematics
      1. Any thesis with statistical analysis will satisfy this core area.
    3. Natural sciences
    4. Social sciences
    5. Humanities
    6. Visual and performing arts
  2. Be able to express ways that exposure to different ideas, perspectives, cultures, and viewpoints have enriched their thinking.
    1. This may be addressed through the survey of critical scholarship (what the Honors College terms "literature review"), in the preface to creative work, or in the creative work itself.
  3. Learn decision-making strategies that include an ethical analysis
    1. Students learn about ethical analysis and institutional review boards (IRB) in the Honors College core research classes, which they have completed prior to writing at thesis.
    2. The Honors College thesis is required to address all areas of compliance (conflict of interest, export controls, institutional animal care and use, institution review board regulations for the protection of human subjects, and research misconduct).
      1. In an appendix to the thesis, the student must include a statement that either the ethical areas were relevant to the thesis (and if so what was done be compliant) or that the areas were not relevant.
      2. Because the Associate Dean of the HC is still considering how the Honors Thesis in English should address all areas of compliance (many of which do not seem applicable to our discipline), it is possible that a workshop (required for the student) will be held by the Associate Dean during the semester in which the student enrolls in 4951.
    3. "Research misconduct" is most relevant to theses in English as it includes plagiarism.
    4. Faculty mentors are responsible for ensuring that the student understands appropriate ways to cite authors, texts, and additional sources.
    5. The student must choose and apply consistently a standard system of citation (e.g., Chicago or MLA) throughout either the research-driven essay or in the preface to a collection of creative work.
  4. Participate in activities that promote the common good.
    1. Students will present their research papers at UNT's Scholar's Day (held in April) or, alternatively, a professional conference.

Faculty mentors and students will complete the Honors Capstone Thesis Checklist, available from the Honors College Dean's Office and on the English Department's website, including:

  1. Verification that the student has demonstrated competency in at least three university core areas.
  2. A statement of explanation of how exposure to different perspectives, cultures, and viewpoints has enriched his/her thinking in the thesis.
  3. Confirmation that the student has completed HNRS 3500 or received comparable training in decision-making regarding the five areas of research compliance.
  4. Confirmation that the student has presented his or her work in a student research or professional venue.

Questions may be directed to the English Department's Undergraduate Research Mentor or the Associate Dean of the Honors College.