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Queen's University

LING 505/9.0

 Honours Thesis in Linguistics



The Honours Thesis in Linguistics offers advanced training in Linguistic research. Working under the supervision of a faculty member who specializes in the research area you have elected, you will choose a specific topic in a particular language, prepare a research proposal which involves the collection and analysis of data, and carry out the research project. Based on the results of your research, you will give an oral presentation and write a thesis. The course lasts two terms: Fall and Winter.


If you wish to do an Honours Thesis in Linguistics, you should first approach a professor who specializes in your intended topic area to ask if she or he is willing to serve as your Honours Thesis Supervisor. Next, you need to ask the Undergraduate Chair for permission to register for the course. You need to have an Academic Change Form signed by your Thesis Supervisor and by the Undergraduate Chair. Hand in the form at the front desk in Room 416, Kingston Hall, or directly to Undergraduate Studies (Room F-200, Mac-Corry)


Students are expected to have regular weekly meetings with their Thesis Supervisor throughout the course to report on their progress, discuss issues emerging from their research and receive feedback on written drafts and reports.

Research Program and Evaluation

The research program is divided into three main phases:





Prepare a research proposal (and ethics submission if relevant).





Read the descriptive and theoretical literature on the research topic; collect and analyze your own data. Discuss your findings and how best to account for them.





Prepare an oral presentation (to be presented at a Linguistics undergraduate colloquium), and a written thesis, based on the results of your research.


These components are weighed as follows:


Proposal 20%

Research 10%  

Oral Presentation 20%

Written Thesis 50%



Students are expected to read a representative selection of the relevant linguistic literature (both descriptive and theoretical), identify a particular problem or issue for investigation, and write a research proposal in which they present the background, the specific problem, and the proposed investigation. The research proposal should consist of 5-10 single-spaced pages, not counting the bibliography (or appendices).

Ethics Review

Students intending to collect data from human participants must prepare submissions to the General Research Ethics Board (GREB) - and receive clearance from the GREB - before they can begin their data collection. Students intending to use data from existing sources (e.g., text corpora) need only indicate sources, method, and any software to be used.


Readings are expected to form part of the entire research program, not just the preparatory phase. The general idea is that students will read the relevant literature on specific details and issues as they emerge, and continue to do so when analyzing the data and attempting to account for them. Readings will consist of book chapters, articles, and dissertation chapters selected in consultation with the Thesis Supervisor. While the readings will necessarily vary depending on the research topic and language, they are expected to conform to two general guidelines. They should include both descriptive and theoretical work on the research topic. In addition to literature focusing on the language chosen for investigation, there should be a reasonable coverage - wherever possible - of variation attested cross-linguistically (across different languages and language families).


Students will collect data, produce regular short reports in which they present, analyze, and discuss the incoming results, and meet regularly with the supervisor to discuss their progress. Students will also do additional readings, selected in consultation with their Thesis Supervisor, to follow up on specific issues as they emerge from the investigation.

Oral Presentation

Students will prepare an oral presentation based on the results of their investigation and deliver it at an Undergraduate Linguistics Colloquium. A one page abstract approved by the supervisor will be required one week ahead of the presentation. The presentation must be supported by a handout approved by the supervisor.The oral presentation will usually last 30 minutes,followed by a question period.

The question period forms important part of the process.

While you are expected to clarify your findings and defend points of analysis wherever relevant, the purpose of the oral presentation is also for you to receive useful feedback - in the form of questions and comments. You should discuss the feedback with your Thesis Supervisor, and make use of it as you develop your final thesis draft.

Written Thesis
Finally students will prepare a written thesis of at least 40 (and no more than 55) single-spaced pages, excluding bibliography and appendices. The thesis must contain a brief abstract (300-500 words), an introductory section giving a clear exposition of the background and the specific problem or issue addressed in the thesis, a clear and detailed discussion of the data collected, a well motivated analysis, and a careful discussion of the implications the results have for the linguistic description and/or the theoretical treatment of the phenomenon.


  • PREREQUISITE: fourth year standing in Linguistics, 80% average and permission of the Undergraduate Chair


Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000