State final (MA) Examination (Státní závěrečná zkouška)

The final examination concludes the MA programme. 
Students in the Anglophone Literatures and Cultures programme who began studies in 2013 or later take the oral examination in Literature and Cultural Studies as described below, with the content determined by the student's prior choice of special programme.
Students in the English and American Studies programme who began studies before 2013 may take it in one of the following principal subjects: Literature and Cultural Studies  or English Language and Linguistics. The latter is examined by the Department of the English Language and ELT Methodology.
The final assessment also incorporates the result of the Special Programme examination and, if one of the above subjects has been chosen as a diploma (major) subject, the evaluation of diploma dissertation. The degree of Magister (Mgr.) is conferred on those who have passed this exam by the Rector of Charles University.

NB: As from April 2013, students are required to sign up for the final exam electronically in the SIS - please consult the faculty website and follow the instructions, in time specified in the faculty schedule.

Examination of the MA Thesis

The examination of the thesis (called “defence” or obhajoba in Czech) is public and consists of

  • the candidate’s introductory presentation of the dissertation
  • the candidate’s response to all the questions raised and comments made in the supervisor’s and the opponent’s reports
  • discussion in the course of which the candidate must answer all questions of the members of the board

The result is announced immediately after the examination.

Oral Examination - Literature and Cultural Studies

All candidates are examined by a single committee. The contents and structure of individual examinations is determined by the special programme completed by the candidate.

The examination consists of three questions: two questions (40 min. approx.) address the discipline(s) taught in the special programme and one question (20 min. approx.) focuses on theoretical and critical texts (see below).

Candidates are required to bring a reading list including a number of critical or theoretical works, which they select according to the specifications set in the model reading list of primary texts and critical or historical monographs (for model reading lists, see the DOWNLOAD column).

I. Special programme-specific questions:

  1. English Literature

    Candidates will concentrate on explaining developmental tendencies and important structural features of English literature. Questions will be formulated from wider areas of topics. The student’s ability to formulate and structure his or her entire answer is also assessed (the answer does not have to follow chronological order).

    Examples of themes:

    • development of the English novel (narrative methods in the English novel from its beginnings to the present; contemporary prose and its links with various traditions in the history of the novel; types of characterization in various periods; etc.)
    • development of English drama (development of comedy from its beginning to the present period; development of tragedy from its beginning to the present period; English theatre and its audience; language of English drama from the beginning to the present period; historical changes of the interpretation of Shakespeare’s plays; etc.)
    • development of English poetry (development of poetic forms from the Middle Ages to the present period; language of English poetry; Romanticism and Modernism in English poetry; etc.)
    • the history of English thinking about literature (renaissance, classicist, romantic and modernist views of literature; main directions in literary theory and critical thinking in this century; etc.)

    These are not exam questions, they are merely intended to orientate the candidate as to what will be expected of her/him. The aim of the examination is to show that the candidate has mastered a sufficient volume of facts and knowledge and is capable of independent and inventive thinking.

  2. American Literature and Studies

    Candidates will concentrate on explaining developmental tendencies and important structural features of American literature and its cultural context. The questions will concern wider areas of topics. The student’s ability to formulate and structure his or her entire answer is also assessed (the answer does not have to follow chronological order).

    Examples of themes:

    • development of the American novel (narrative methods in the American novel from its beginnings to the present; contemporary prose and its links with various traditions in the history of the novel; types of characterization in various periods; etc.)
    • development of American drama (American versions of comedy and tragedy; American theatre and its audience - position of theatre in public life; the language of American drama; interpretations of American realities on the stage; etc.)
    • development of American poetry (development of poetic forms from colonial to the present period; the language of American poetry; Romanticism and Modernism in American poetry; contemporary and its audiences; etc.)
    • the history of American thinking about literature (puritan, romantic, transcendental, and modernist views of literature; main directions in literary theory and critical thinking in this century; etc.)                         

    These are not exam questions; they are merely intended to orient the candidate. The aim of the examination is to show that the candidate has mastered a sufficient volume of facts and knowledge and is capable of independent and inventive thinking. 

  3. British and Commonwealth Studies

    The candidate will concentrate on explaining developmental tendencies and important structural features of the cultures and literatures in the British and Commonwealth area. The question will concern issues related to topics applicable to problems of the colonial and post-colonial condition in the whole area and in selected regions and countries, i.e. the historical and contemporary developments, dealt with in general comparison and in specific detail. An independent conception and structuring of the whole answer are also assessed (the answer does not have to follow chronological order).

    Examples of issues:

    • development of individual literary genres in the specific cultural area (e.g. the history of the Indian novel in English; developments in contemporary Canadian drama; the tradition of Australian short story; Scottish women’s writing; the oral tradition in Caribbean or African literatures; etc.). The question may reflect the exact area of the student’s specialization.
    • multiculturalism in contemporary literature
    • diaspora and migration as an issue in British and Commonwealth literatures and cultures
    • history of the British Empire and the Commonwealth; its reflection in culture
    • English language and national literatures
    • relation to British and American literature (e.g. Canadian and American drama, realism and local colour, modernims and postmodernism etc.)
    • (post)colonial encounters

    These are not exam questions; they are merely intended to orient the candidate. The aim of the examination is to show that the candidate has mastered a sufficient volume of facts and knowledge and is capable of independent and inventive thinking.

  4. Irish Studies

    Candidates will concentrate on explaining developmental tendencies and important structural features of Irish literature. Questions will be formulated from wider areas of topics. The student’s ability to formulate and structure his or her entire answer is also assessed (the answer does not have to follow chronological order).

    Examples of problem areas:

    basic features and development of Anglo-Irish writing

    • development of modern Irish drama (origins of modern Irish drama, the role of Irish drama and theatre in the national revival, basic features of “the Irish play”, the language of Irish drama, Irish drama in the European context, modern Irish drama in relation to British and American drama, drama and theatre in and about Northern Ireland, contemporary Irish drama and the Celtic Tiger, etc.)
    • the Irish novel (narrative methods in the Irish novel from its beginnings to the present; contemporary prose and its links with various traditions in the history of the novel in English, the Irish novel and censorship, Irish and European modernism and postmodernism, the novel in and about Northern Ireland etc.)
    • development of the Irish short story (narrative methods in Irish short stories; contemporary prose and its links with various traditions in the history of the writing in English, the Irish short story and censorship, Irish and European modernism and postmodernism, the short story in and about Northern Ireland etc.)
    • development of Irish poetry (bardic poetry and the Gaelic social order, Anglo-Irish poetry, poetry and the Irish national revival, modern and contemporary poetry in English and Irish, Romanticism and Modernism in Irish poetry, poetry in and about Northern Ireland, etc.)

    These are not exam questions, they should only provide orientation for the candidate as to what will be expected of her/him. The aim of the examination is to show that the candidate is capable of independent and original thinking and has mastered a sufficient volume of facts and knowledge.

  5. Intercultural Studies

    The examination consists of three questions: two of them concern cultural history and one is focused on theory and criticism.

    Candidates are required to bring a reading list. Both sections of this examination may draw upon the Intercultural Studies reading list (see below), the second part draws also on the general Literary Theory and History list (see below).

    • Cultural history:
      Candidates will concentrate on explaining developmental tendencies and important structural features of cultural history, from the Industrial Revolution to the present, within the context of interrelated in the arts and literature. Emphasis will be placed upon genealogies of modernism and modernity, as articulated within the visual, literary, and performing arts across the spectrum of English-language cultures and in synergy with other European cultures.
    • Theory and criticism:
      Candidates will address core theoretical developments in the human and life sciences, from the Industrial Revolution to the present, as they pertain to the ongoing intellectual history of modernity and its articulation in the arts. A broader knowledge of the historical and philosophical context of critical and ‘literary’ theory will also be assessed.

II. Literary theory and criticism

Candidates choose 5 books from sections A (General Theory and Methodology) and B (Specific Cultural Theory, History and Studies) of the reading list (see DOWNLOAD column): 10 books altogether.

They are expected to discuss the works´: 1. methodology, 2. structure, 3. sources, 4. relations to present-day theoretical and critical thought. Criteria for the assessment include the quality of thematic and logical structuring of the examinee’s answers, familiarity with material and various approaches to English/American literary history, reliable knowledge of theoretical terminology, ability to derive interpretive, historical and theoretical conclusions, depth of thought, clarity of expression and fluency in English.