The Thesis/Examination Proposal

The proposal is developed under the 3-unit graduate course TA 260. Working with the Graduate Coordinator, you must find a member of the Television-Radio-Film-Theatre faculty to endorse your Proposal and serve as First Reader. You develop the Proposal according to the graduation calendar and the guidelines below.

Proposal Components:

Statement of Problem/Question

Begin by stating the problem/asking the question clearly and concisely. Identify a problem/question to which you have no answer, and to which previous research provides only inadequate or incomplete answers. The Thesis Proposal does not argue a thesis; rather, it sets up the framework for an argument, the rules by which you will answer the question you have asked.


Why is your project important? How does it make a difference? Why do you care about it? Why should we care about it? Why is now a good time for this investigation?


Indicate key terms within the proposal which need definition or which conceal discursive or theoretical difficulties.

Literature Review

Provide a brief critique of the previous discourse on the problem. Outline the major positions of understanding in relation to the problem. These "positions" come from scholarly sources, but also from representatives of the popular culture, from artists, intellectuals and journalists, lawyers, and from voices in history. Positions are not always articulated in written form or even in language. Performances themselves, in all media, articulate ideological objectives and are part of the "literature." Please do not waste time (ours as well as yours) claiming that no previous discourse exists in relation to your subject matter. What do you intend to study? Discourse on a problem may be much older and more diverse than the narrow subject matter of interest to you.


How do you plan to solve the problem or answer the question in your Thesis Proposal? Here you discuss the subject matter which exemplifies the problem/question. What are the chief sources of evidence? Identify the nature of the evidence (text, images, statistical data, interviews, surveys, human subjects, biographical material, videos, archive materials, etc.) and the authority of the evidence in relation to the problem. How much evidence do you seek? By what principle do you select the evidence? How do you plan to use the evidence to structure an argument in response to the problem? How will you interpret the evidence? From what theoretical perspective, what position or bias?


Is the problem narrow enough or sufficiently focused for the evidence to provide a persuasive solution? Do you have the skills or resources necessary to support your proposed work? Do you have the foreign language, mathematical, or technical abilities required to solve the problem with authority? Do you access to necessary archives, libraries or persons? Do you have the resources necessary to carry out experimental performance projects or projects involving analysis of human subjects responses? Does your project require human subjects research authorization from the University? 


The 10-15 page proposal must give a tentative title for the project, and this title, along with your name, name of your First Reader, and the date, should form the cover page for the proposal.

For Thesis Proposals: Indicate a preliminary chapter breakdown. Conventional thesis structure is five chapters. Don't imagine fewer chapters, avoid more than seven.

For Exam Proposals: Identify three (3) distinct areas of theoretical inquiry for which you will be responsible in the Exam question on theory. These areas may relate to the ideas of a single significant theorist (e.g. Brecht), a school of theoretical thought (e.g. semiotics), or a genre of theoretical inquiry (e.g. acting). The areas you identify for study may or may not relate directly to subject area of your other research. Your bibliography should contain a preliminary list of key readings for each of the three specific areas of theory you identify.

Attach a preliminary bibliography, which identifies your major sources of evidence (publications, archives, videos, performance documentation, interviews, etc.). Use MLA Guidelines for correct reference and bibliographic citation.