PhD Exam

The oral examination is taken after the student passes all exams prescribed by his individual study plan and precedes the examination of the dissertation. Its major purpose is to examine the scope of general knowledge of the field. It usually lasts an hour and is examined by a board of examiners. Internal Ph.D. students must pass it by the end of their fourth year of study.

The examination in Anglo-American Literary Studies tests the ability of the candidate to reflect on the whole historical development of English/American literature, and especially on the following problem areas:

  1. Periodization.
    The boundaries of important periods in British/American literary history, the role of important works or personalities in establishing these boundaries, the importance of centres of literary life (especially in the U.S.).
  2. History of genres, styles, schools, movements.
    The value of some traditional terms: e.g., “war novel”, “lost generation”, “angry young men”, “non-fiction”.
  3. Literature and cultural history.
    E.g. the American South as a cultural region, Anglo-Saxon poetry and the spread of Christianity, literary utopias and the development of technology, campus novel and problems of university, gender and literary history, the problems of women literature, literature and media: e.g., the impact of the printing press on Renaissance literature.
  4. Multiculturalism and ethnicity.
    Different models, features of colonial and post-colonial literatures (“new literatures in English”). Is British literature being “enriched” by these developments or do they mark its disintegration?
  5. Representative works of literary & cultural studies.


The student shall receive a question two days (48 hours) in advance of the examination and will be obliged to present their answer before the examination board in 30 minutes. The answer should display the student’s knowledge of both literary history and critical theory. Independent critical reflection and assessment of secondary sources, especially conventional or traditional approaches, is required. There shall be 30 minutes for questions from the examination board and general discussion; questions from the floor will also be accepted (the exam is public). If the student, during the course of the examination, has not displayed a satisfactory grasp of the subject, the board may choose to examine the student further. While there is no set reading list for either literary history or theory for the exam, it is expected that the student’s reading exceeds the required reading for the MA final examination.