This is your first and perhaps only taste at the undergraduate level of
expanding your knowledge on your own by doing research on a topic of your
choice and formulating your findings in the form of research paper.
Doing and writing up research are perhaps two of the most important skills
with which you will leave university, so this is an exercise you should take
seriously and work at diligently.
The Work Entailed:
Students should aim to write about 30 type-written, double-spaced pages
plus a list of works consulted (bibliography) in all. (Some students
write as much as 40 pages but anything beyond this is too much.) This
usually translates in practice into approximately three chapters of around
10 pages each. These are usually also preceded by an introduction /
preface which, though, it appears first in the study is often, if not
always, the last thing to be composed as it most often functions as a sort
of updated / revised / expanded version of your initial proposal and a
summation of what your are trying to accomplish in the study.
You should aim to revise each draft chapter several times prior to
submitting it to me. Each time you revise it, it should improve,
become clearer, more refined, etc. Type each chapter on a computer and
submit it accompanied by the list of works consulted. Submit an
expanded version of the bibliography with each subsequent chapter.
When a draft is returned, make corrections or revisions to the digital
version stored on your computer. If you follow this advice, you will
save yourself a lot of unnecessary repetition as the deadline draws near.
I often advise my supervisees to devote the first chapter to laying the
theoretical framework of the topic in question and each of the subsequent
chapters to a close practical examination of relevant literary or other
texts. For example, in a study devoted to the treatment of Caribbean
identity in the novels of George Lamming, the first chapter would
conceivably examine various theories concerning the nature of identity and,
more particularly, attempts in the Caribbean and by Lamming himself to
intervene in this debate. There might also be room here to address related
questions concerning literary theory: e.g. how exactly is identity
represented in a literary text? Chapter two might then be devoted to
an in-depth exploration of Lamming's treatment of identity in In the
Castle of my Skin while the third might do the same for Water with
Berries. Note well: the example above is not binding but merely
offered for illustrative purposes.
FOUN3099 is the equivalent of a year-long course as
a result of which you should not leave the bulk of / all your research
and writing up till the second semester. Although much of the first
semester may be taken up with deepening your knowledge of the subject in
question by reading a wide variety of both primary sources (the
particular texts, e.g. a novel by Lamming, you will be examining) and
secondary sources (commentaries on those texts, surveys of the issue in
question, etc.), students should ideally aim to submit to the supervisor a
draft of at least one chapter by the Christmas holidays.
Your schedule should look something like this:
- meet with me as soon as possible after the supervisors are announced
to discuss your proposal and set an agenda;
- use the months of September, October and November to sort out your
thoughts on the topic in question by reading a wide variety of primary
and secondary sources;
- write and submit a draft of the first chapter by the end of
- digest my comments on chapter one and write and submit a draft of
the second chapter by the end of January;
- digest my comments on chapter two and write and submit a draft of
the third chapter by the end of February;
- digest my comments on chapter three and write and submit a draft of
the introduction / preface by the end of March;
- work on any revisions, corrections, fine tuning, etc. necessary with
an eye to meeting the deadline for formal submission in mid-April.
Documentation of Sources:
All course work essays and research papers in the Faculty of
Humanities and Education must follow the so-called MLA style (that is,
the guidelines issued by the Modern Language Association) in documenting
sources (using endnotes and footnotes, composing bibliographies, etc.).
It is your responsibility to acquaint yourself with these guidelines.
Failure to follow these guidelines may cause your Caribbean Study to be
failed by your examiners. Accordingly, please click
here for advice on the MLA
Guidelines and essay writing in general.
Certain rules concerning the presentation and
binding of the study, etc. apply. These may be obtained from the
Faculty office. It is your responsibility to familiarise yourself
with these guidelines. Failure to follow
these guidelines may cause your Caribbean Study to be failed by your
Remember that the onus is on the supervisee to
work diligently on her research project as well as to maintain regular
contact with and submit drafts in a timely way to the supervisor. The
supervisor is not responsible for chasing down students and pressing his
services on them. Alternatively, though I would not advise
this, you may choose to work and, thus, to sink or swim entirely on your
Remember that the final deadline is set by the Faculty of Humanities and
Education, not by your supervisor, and thus is cast in stone.
Extensions are very rare and given only in response to serious medical
conditions (in which case a medical certificate must be provided) or similar
pressing, and thus very exceptional, circumstances. Even in such
cases, I might not support an extension for students who have not worked
diligently on and made good progress on their research.
Last but not least, please note that I
am prepared to offer advice and read any drafts submitted, as the Caribbean
Study regulations make clear, up to one month before the deadline
(which is usually around the middle of April each year). After that, there
is not much I can do for you. It is in your interest, therefore, not to
leave everything till the last moment.