Concordia University

English Literature PhD

Admission Requirements

Applicants are assessed by the Department of English's Graduate Committee on the basis of undergraduate and graduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, research ability, and a letter of intent. The following criteria serve as admission requirements:

  • Excellence and pertinence of academic background (applicants should have a GPA of 3.5 or above) from a recognized university
  • Master's in English or equivalent (see *** below)
  • Promise as a scholar as demonstrated by letter of intent and submitted writing sample
  • Relevance of proposed research to the program
  • Feasibility of proposed research in terms of material resources including faculty supervision
  • Applications will be considered for either full-time or part-time study

*** In exceptional circumstances, outstanding students who have completed 18 credits of course work in English Literature at the master's level may be admitted into the PhD program before satisfying the remaining master's requirements.

Proficiency in English. Applicants whose primary language is not English must demonstrate that their knowledge of English is sufficient to pursue graduate studies in their chosen field. Please refer to the Graduate Admission page for further information on the Language Proficiency requirements and exemptions.

Requirements for the Degree

  1. Credits. A fully qualified candidate is required to complete a minimum of 90 credits.

  2. Courses. (19 credits). Doctoral students are required to take 19 credits of coursework to include ENGL 800 - Pro-Seminar I: Theory, ENGL 801 - Pro-Seminar II: Methodology, ENGL 802 - Professional Development Workshops (1 credit) and 12 credits from the selection of Studies courses. A minimum of three of the 12 credits must be pre-20th Century.

  3. Field Examinations. ENGL 891 - The Major Field Examination I and ENGL 892 - The Sub-Field Examination II. Students are required to complete two written Field Examinations during the second year of their program. The supervisor and at least one other faculty member in a relevant field adjudicate each Field Examination. Each exam comprises five questions. Students are required to respond to three questions. Questions are distributed one week in advance of the scheduled examination. Each exam is held on campus for four hours without notes or other additional materials. The exams are assessed by the supervisor on a pass/fail basis in consultation with at least one other faculty member in the Department with related expertise in the area. In the case of a "fail," the student has until the end of the tenth term to obtain a "pass," whether in the initial or another Major Field or configuration of the Sub-Fields exam.

    Field Examinations Reading Lists
    • Medieval Literature
    • Renaissance Literature
    • Restoration and 18th-Century Literature
    • 19th-Century Literature
    • 20th-Century and Contemporary Literature
    • American Literature
    • Canadian Literature
    • Post-Colonial Literature
    • Literary Criticism/Theory

  4. Thesis proposal and oral presentation. ENGL 890 - Thesis Proposal. Students are admitted to candidacy for the PhD upon acceptance by their advisory committee of the written thesis proposal and its successful oral presentation. Students typically complete one Major Field Examination in an area related to the thesis topic. The oral examination of the written thesis proposal normally takes place in the term following the writing of the second Field Examination. The written proposal is normally 4,500 words in length with an additional five pages for a bibliography.

  5. Thesis. ENGL 895 - Thesis Research. Doctoral students must submit a thesis based on their research and defend it in an oral examination.

  6. Language Requirement. Students are required to demonstrate reading knowledge of a language other than English, a language of demonstrated relevance to their program of research. Language testing occurs once each term, and students are expected to pass the language requirement by the end of their second year in the program.

Academic Regulations

  1. Academic Standing. Please refer to the Academic Standing section of the Calendar for a detailed review of the Academic Regulations.

  2. Residence Requirements. The minimum required residency is six consecutive terms (including summers) of full-time study, or the equivalent in part-time study.

  3. Time Limit. Please refer to the Academic Regulation page for further details regarding the Time Limit requirements.

  4. Graduation Requirement. In order to graduate, students must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00.



Core Courses

Course Work: PhD students are required to take two 3-credit Pro-Seminar courses

ENGL 800 Pro-Seminar I: Theory (3 credits)
This course is an advanced survey of literary theory, considering those thinkers whose work has been particularly influential for the discipline’s understanding of the nature and function of literature and its production. Figures to be studied may include Aristotle, Sidney, Nietzsche, Althusser, Lacan, Derrida, Barthes, Foucault, Deleuze, Irigaray, McLuhan, Badiou, Zizek, and Kristeva. 

ENGL 801 Pro-Seminar II: Methodology  (3 credits)
This course considers literary research under the aegis of a current or emergent methodological paradigm in the field e.g. Book History, Media Studies, Digital Humanities, Poetics, Psychoanalysis, Affect Theory, or Neuroaesthetics. 

ENGL 802  Professional Development Workshops (1 credit)
The Department holds a series of workshops with the aim of introducing doctoral candidates to pertinent research, teaching, and professional expectations and enhancing career development. In order to graduate, all doctoral candidates must attend these workshops before the end of the sixth term. Master's students are also strongly encouraged to attend the relevant sessions since they are a constitutive component of graduate formation. If a student has attended a given workshop during his/her master's degree, he/she is exempted from that workshop.
Workshops are led by faculty members and organized by the Graduate Program Director on a monthly basis in anticipation both of key dates during the PhD program (e.g. external grant application due dates) and the future professional life of the doctoral candidate (e.g. academic job interviews). The course is graded on a pass/fail basis.

ENGL 890 Thesis Proposal (6 credits)
Students are admitted to candidacy for the PhD upon acceptance by their advisory committee of the written thesis proposal and its successful defence. The oral examination of the written thesis proposal normally takes place in the term following the writing of the field examinations.

ENGL 891 The Major Field Examination I (6 credits)
This course focuses broadly on the candidate’s primary area of specialization, covering major authors, genres, and issues and the pertinent canonical texts therein, in order to consolidate the necessary background knowledge for advanced literary research and teaching at the university level. In the examination, candidates are expected to demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of the designated field as well as an original, critical understanding of the field and its constitutive texts. The Department has established reading lists in nine broad areas of specialization that cover a variety of periods, nations, and subjects. These basic lists may be modified to suit the interests of individual candidates. A substitution of 20 per cent is permitted for all reading lists for the purposes of tailoring the lists to the interests of the student.  Such substitutions are to be determined by agreement between the student and the student's supervisor and are subject to approval by the Graduate Program Committee.

ENGL 892 The Sub-Field Examination II (6 credits)
This course is designed to cultivate a more specific area of inquiry that may include a body of literary texts in combination with readings in a particular set of methodological or theoretical problems to the end of developing a viable doctoral topic and composing a thesis proposal. The Sub-Field Examination list is established by the candidate in consultation with the doctoral supervisor and comprises approximately 60 items that are seen as directly relevant to the field in which the dissertation is oriented. It is divided into three sections: 1) approximately 20 literary texts; 2) approximately 20 theoretical/methodological texts; 3) approximately 20 texts drawn from adjacent and/or ancillary fields. By “text,” it means the number of poems or articles deemed by field specialists as sufficiently representative of an author's work or period. A text cannot appear twice on any of the lists, including that of the Major Field. The lists and texts are not exhaustive, but are meant to provide the student with the necessary initiation to sub-fields that help to clarify the direction and goals of the dissertation. 

ENGL 895 Thesis Research (53 credits)
Doctoral students must submit a thesis based on their research and defend it in an oral examination.

Studies Courses (12 credits)

ENGL 801-804  Independent Study in English Literature
ENGL 601-604  Special Topics in English Literature
ENGL 605-609  Studies in Early English Literature and Medieval Literature

ENGL 610-614  Studies in Renaissance Literature
ENGL 615-619  Studies in Restoration and Eighteenth Century Literature
ENGL 620-624  Studies in Nineteenth Century Literature
ENGL 625-629  Studies in Twentieth Century Literature
ENGL 630-634  Studies in Poetry
ENGL 635-639  Studies in Drama
ENGL 640-644  Studies in Fiction
ENGL 645-649  Studies in the History of Ideas
ENGL 650-654  Studies in Shakespeare
ENGL 655-659  Studies in American Literature
ENGL 660-664  Studies in Canadian Literature
ENGL 665-667  Studies in Post-Colonial Literature
ENGL 668-669  Studies in Literary Criticism
ENGL 685-689  Studies in Selected Areas

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