EL5221: The Linguistic Analysis of Literature
Your Term Paper:
Guidelines for Writing & Criteria for Assessment

  1. Reading and understanding of the question.  This is a major requirement: you won't get points, of course, if your term paper does not answer the question or misinterprets it.

  2. Technical knowledge. Your understanding of the technical terms used should be very good. Frequent or persistent technical mistakes should be avoided.

  3. Opening paragraph. The opening paragraph should concisely introduce the reader to the content of your term paper. It may be wise to revise your opening paragraph all over again after you have finished your term paper, as there may be important points or features of your analysis that have not been indicated in your draft first paragraph. Indeed, it may sometimes be sensible to begin by writing only a sketchy opening paragraph with the intention of revising it at the end of the writing process, or indeed, to write the opening paragraph only after you have finished the rest of your term paper, as you may then be very clear as to what your term paper is about and how to introduce it.

  4. Body paragraphs and line of argument. The paragraphs subsequent to the opening paragraph should illustrate what is indicated in the opening paragraph. There should be a clear line of argument in each of the paragraphs, and more holistically, in the sequencing of the paragraphs.

  5. Closing paragraph. The closing paragraph should concisely arrive at some concluding observations about your argument and analysis. For example, what insights do your argument and analysis contribute to the given question? Are such insights about literature or the analysis of literary texts possible without engaging in a technical or linguistic discussion or analysis? What future research can be done in relation to your term paper?

  6. Command of English. Your command of the language, especially since you are doing a postgraduate degree in English Language, should be very good. Persistent errors in grammar, usage, sentence construction and typography may have a serious effect on the marks that you obtain.

  7. Selectivity. Selectivity is of paramount importance. In a short paper, you cannot exhaustively present all sides of an argument, or give complete examples in relation to a particular argument. The examples that you select however, should be representative enough or effective in the presentation of your main or subsidiary arguments.

  8. Critical thinking. Critical thinking involves the ability to judge without knowledge of prior examples or clear precedence, and to provide evidence or examples to support one's judgment. This is related to originality below. Critical thinking is inherent in the linguistic analysis of literature, and your ability to arrive at judgments and interpretations that, to your knowledge, have not been specifically made before, is of crucial importance. Where possible, you should briefly explain the basis of your claims, and critically present the strengths and limitations of your arguments and the examples used to support them.

  9. Originality. Originality is related to critical thinking above, except that it is occasionally interpreted in terms of a more demanding sub-category of critical thinking, which involves the ability to arrive at judgments or evaluations that have never been made before, and not just those that you have no knowledge of. However, this definition may be more relevant for publishable scholarly work. For student work, originality can be understood in terms of the outcome of critical and independent thinking.