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English Language and Linguistics

MA Project Proposals 2020/21

Unfortunately, we cannot meet personally, we meet here Wednesday 5 pm from May 20th

Participants: topics: titles+subtitles
Max: BA Hedging in Magister and MA theses:
Natalie: MA Hedging in Native Academic Writing:
Christin: BA Measuring Student Reactions to Criticism:
Sepideh 2021: MA Evaluating cognitive processes? during interpretation (think-aloud protocols)
Bianca 2021: BA join in the discussion
Julia 2021: BA join in the discussion

Group meetings (individual meetings in between):

June 3: structure + title:subtitle
June 17: Research questions/hypotheses, ppt criteria: written form + oral presentation: topic focus/clarity, audience-adapted ...
July 3: draft presentations for individual consultations

1) structure IMRaD: issue, methodology, expected results?, application? literature list
2) May: key concepts in literature review
3) June: topic --> title (focussed but broad enough for narrowing to "manageable")
4) July 10: 10-15 minute ppt presentation (PVL "proposal") for discussion (BBB with international advisors! 2-4 pm)
5) Sept: submission

Simple-Great Topic ideas:

We have a nice corpus of anonymised BA/MA theses (ChemCorpus over 100, but 40 may be enough?), which is an excellent database for comparative studies:
A) "Certainty and Tentativeness in Student Theses"
Verbs that suggest "amateur, humble, unconfident" ("tried to provide evidence", "attempted to show", "aims to analyse"...) vs. verbs that suggest "researcher, confident" (showed, demonstrated, proved ...) freuquencies and usage (1. distribution, 2. subject/agent, ...)
   1. where are they used? (unconfident - introduction? and conclusion/limitations, confident - results & discussion)
   2. who is the agent? - pronoun ("I" takes full responsibility as an individual) or "this thesis/paper/questionnaire" (mitigate face threat)
B) "Expert vs. Student Views in Student Theses"
not "Halliday demonstrated..." but "this thesis demonstrated" (cf. verbs above A)
C) Max does "Hedges" already, but this is a wide field: modal auxiliaries only, modal adverbs only, ...

Any thesis combines DATA, TOPIC and PERSPECTIVE. Often the data are the starting point, the topic is relatively open and the perspective the most interesting. The topic is usually prominent in the title, data and perspective in the subtitle. The individual titles can include a "marketing component", the MA thesis can be seen as a product in your portfolio that recommends you as scholars.

Comparative data are always available:

  • ChemCorpus (>6 M words of Chemnitz University Students Final Papers and Theses) (cf. BAWE, MICUSP)
  • ZAMA Corpus (>6 M words of MA theses from 23 disciplines from Stellenbosch, South Africa)
  • ICLE = International Corpus of Learner English, esp. Chinese English
  • ICE = International Corpus of English
  • BNC

Find 3 interesting MODEL research articles from electronic journals related to the proposals below and develop your own 200-word abstract based on IMRaD structure (cf. your class on Research paradigms here), so you send 4 abstracts altogether.

The following fields and topics can be combined, rearranged, readapted in individual titles. Related topics are possible for groups, but theses must be individual with limited overlap.

1. Academic Writing in Europe and world-wide

A Needs Analysis for (Business Admin, Tourism?) Students in (Macedonia?)

Academic Writing Modules for (Italian?) Universities: A Blended Learning Approach

Teaching Materials for Academic Writing in XX University: Analyses and Proposals for On-line Practice Materials

Linkers/Modals/Articles in (Russian) Students’/Scholars’ Writing

(Problems with) English Prepositions in (Spanish?) Students’/Scholars’ Writing


Teaching Reading in BA Programmes in Germany: Practices, Philosophies, Teaching Aids

Teaching English Writing at German Universities: A Comparison

Teaching the Metalanguage of Academic Writing in MA Programmes

Grammar Teaching at Chinese Universities: A Comparison

Language Attitudes and Language Proficiency in Chemnitz Grammar Schools

English Phrasal Verbs in German Schoolbooks and Real Language (BNC)

Problems with Local Prepositions in German Student Writing

Verb Idiomaticity in “British and German” (Native and Non-Native?) Writing: A Comparison of BAWE and ChemCorpus

English Classes for Senior Citizens in Chemnitz: Options Today and Proposals for Tomorrow

3. Language & Culture

Differences in Academic Writing in Humanities and Engineering Disciplines

Africanisms in South African Newspapers

Scotticisms in the Scottish Parliament

4. Language & Computers

Understanding Computer Manuals: User and Technical Manuals in Comparison

On-line Resources for Translators

WordNet: A Critical Evaluation of an Internet Dictionary

5. Sociolinguistics

Attitudes towards "New English" Grammar Features in China: An On-line Survey

Vowel Mergers in Tanzanian English: Evidence from Youtube?

Has Scottish English Pronunciation Become More "Independent" over the past 20 Years?

A Socio-Phonetic Approach to German Grammar School English: Gender Differences

6. Digital Computing

Orality/Gender Differences in British Twitter Messages

Facebook and Twitter at English Departments of German Universities: Usage & Style

Marketing Research: English Web Pages of National Funding Associations (DFG)

A Better Thesaurus for MS Office: A Critical Analysis and Suggestions

Developing the Lampeter Corpus into a Multi-Media Project On-line

7. Language & Media

English Dialect Studies Based on Youtube

Rhetorical Strategies in the European Parliament

Scottishness in Scottish On-line Newspapers

Has Scottish English Pronunciation Become More "Independent" over the past
20 Years?

English Dialect Studies based on Youtube

8. eLearning

Learning Grammar On-Line: A Critical Evaluation (e.g.

Learning English with the BBC:

Formal Models of BA/MA Theses

MAThesisELL, BAThesisELL

You can always ask and make your own suggestions - we are open.