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    Unified Teacher Traning Program

    (OTAK - Osztatlan Tanárképzés)


    Thesis information for students in the 

    Unified Teacher Training Program (OSZTATLAN TANÁRKÉPZÉS): OTAK 

    (Based on the MA in ELT thesis description, revised and updated)

    Choosing your subject

    Writing a thesis involves a number of decisions for students. The first important decision concerns the subject (major) in which the students wish to write their thesis. OTAK students are double majors but do not have to write a thesis in each of their subjects: they can choose. If the subject chosen is English, the regulations below should be followed.

    Getting supervision

    A second choice that faces the students is that of a supervisor. The OTAK program requires that all thesis writers seek the assistance of a supervisor. The thesis must be written in English and topics are ideally connected to ELT methodology, English applied linguistics, or the English speaking world, so the supervisor may come from the Department of English Language Pedagogy (DELP) or the Department of English Applied Linguistics (DEAL). Students are free to approach any member of the faculty; however, if a teacher already has too many supervisees, they will have to decline the request. In case the students cannot choose a supervisor or the requested supervisor cannot undertake supervision, a supervisor will be assigned by the host department. Should the student find it necessary, they can request a new supervisor. Written appeals to the instructor in charge of the program (szakfelelős) for changing the consultant will be considered. The supervisor may also come from outside the School of English and American Studies (SEAS) (e.g., a mentor or head teacher who should be familiar with the requirements), but in this case the instructor in charge must approve of the choice. 

    If the student chooses a topic more closely related to literature, culture or linguistics than to the teaching and learning of English, the supervisor should be an instructor from the Department of English Studies, the Department of American Studies, or the Department of Linguistics (DELG), respectively. In such cases, the specific guidelines for MA theses of these departments apply, but the text must include a chapter that discusses teaching aspects and implications.

    The supervisor will provide guidance in writing the MA thesis. They will offer the following support:

    • clarification of the topic and title of the thesis;
    • overseeing the writing of the thesis proposal;
    • discussion of the appropriate research questions;
    • suggestions for a reading list;
    • advice on possible approaches to the analysis;
    • advice on the writing process.


    Note: The supervisor is not responsible for writing your thesis or for editing and proofreading the final draft before submission.

    Topics for the thesis

    The students’ third choice is a thesis topic.

    The thesis may be written on any topic relevant to the teaching of English (i.e., ELT methodology, applied linguistics, or areas of English and/or American studies with implications for teaching English). The thesis should demonstrate a systematic approach to analysis, either theoretical or empirical, which reflects a deeper understanding of the language teaching and learning process.

    Suggested thesis topics contributed by potential supervisors are listed at for DELP and at for DEAL. The lists are not comprehensive. They are indicative of what topics supervisors from these two departments thought they would want to offer in the OTAK programme. This list should not be treated as a list of titles as the title and the specific focus of the thesis should be the outcome of negotiation between the supervisor and supervisee.

    Starting procedures: selecting and registering a topic

    Attention thesis writers at DEAL and DELP!

    The selected thesis topic must be reviewed and approved by the supervisor and subsequently by the instructor in charge. To that end, the thesis writer should write a one-page proposal of the thesis. The proposal should contain:

    1. the title and topic of the thesis
    2. how the thesis topic is relevant to English language teaching
    3. what specific questions will be researched
    4. how the research will be carried out (method)
    5. a list of sources already consulted (in APA format)

    Note: The language of the synopsis is English.

    An optional framework for the proposal can be downloaded from the bottom of this page.


    Schedule for submitting the thesis form and proposal:

    There are two submission deadlines:

    1. The deadline for submitting the completed, signed and approved thesis form (to be downloaded from here) to the representative of the Faculty Office of the Registrar (Tanulmányi Hivatal):
    - for those who plan to defend their thesis in the autumn term: October 15 of the preceding academic year
    - for those who plan to defend their thesis in the spring term: March 16 of the preceding academic year.

    2. The deadline for submitting the completed thesis form and the proposal signed by the supervisor for approval by the instructor in charge is two weeks prior to the above deadline.

    Those who are writing their OTAK thesis at DAS, DES, or DELG may not be required to prepare a synopsis but they too must have their thesis title submission form signed by the instructor in charge.

    Should a student find it necessary to completely change the already submitted title and topic the following deadlines apply:


    - Those who plan to defend their thesis in the autumn term can submit a modification of their thesis title to the representative of the Faculty Office of the Registrar (Tanulmányi Hivatal) in the preceding spring term until April 15 of the year of the defence.

    - Those who plan to defend their thesis in the spring term can submit a modification of their thesis title to the representative of the Faculty Office of the Registrar (Tanulmányi Hivatal) in the preceding autumn term until October 15.


     2. The deadline for submitting the completed thesis form (to be downloaded from here) and proposal signed by the supervisor for approval by the instructor in charge is two weeks prior to the above deadline.


    Formal thesis requirements

    The length of the thesis should be 75-80,000 characters without spaces, not including appendices, the title page, declarations, table of contents, references, etc. This length is roughly equivalent to about 40 pages, with a +10% margin of tolerance. The layout should be single or double sided A4 pages printed 1.5 spaced in Times New Roman 12pt font. Margins: 2.5 cm on three sides, at the gutter: 3.0 cm. For citations and referencing use a documentation system approved by the host department.

    Thesis content at DELP and DEAL

    The thesis should be an independent piece of research displaying some original elements, however small in scope, which may be considered an original contribution to the field. The aim of conducting research and writing a research paper is to find and present the solution to a problem related to a particular field of enquiry, English language teaching in our case. The quality of the research should be supported by a coherent research design that has a clear focus. It should demonstrate the writer’s familiarity with the literature, and it should have a clear line of argumentation throughout. The thesis should be written in academic English. Overall, the thesis should demonstrate an enhanced awareness of the field.

    There are two main types of research papers: empirical and theoretical. Empirical research aims to explore an issue, generate or test hypotheses through gathering and analysing primary data (i.e., data gained by observation, through interviews, questionnaires, discourse analysis, thematic analysis). The focus of empirical research can be on behaviour (e.g., teacher, student or school practices, actions, cognitive processes, perceptions) or products (e.g., various types of student output, texts, films, pieces of art). Empirical research is of two main types: qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative research studies an individual case or a limited number of cases closely with the purpose of exploring or understanding the particular phenomenon/phenomena from the perspective of the participants, including the researcher. Quantitative studies usually take an outsider's perspective and involve a sufficient number of participants or samples so that the findings might allow generalisations about the population or product (e.g., teaching material) investigated.


    Below are a few examples for questions that can be researched through empirical research in the field of ELT:

    • What kinds of mistakes do elementary learners make when learning the simple present?
    • How do teachers see the role of reading skills in the English classroom?
    • How can content-based instruction improve the effectiveness of communication in a foreign language?
    • Does the use of ICT in ELT increase the learners’ motivation?


    An empirical research project applies various research tools, preferably a combination of the following:

    • Questionnaires
    • Interviews
    • Observation
    • Diaries, journals
    • Tests
    • Discourse analysis
    • Spoken interaction analysis
    • Verbal reports
    • Analysis of methods, experiments
    • Thematic and content analysis


    Theoretical research aims to answer a question through the review and critique of existing theories about various issue

    s or notions. It is based on a sound understanding and a coherent synthesis of the relevant literature, which enables the writer to arrive at a solution representing a novel approach to or view of a problem.

    Below are a few examples of questions that can be researched through theoretical research in the field of ELT:

    • How do existing constructs contribute to identifying the elements of test-taking skills?
    • How does short-term memory influence language learning in young and mature learners?
    • What kind of  model of communicative competence would be the most suitable for ELT in the English as a lingua franca era?
    • How can the simplification of the issue of the ‘Stolen Generation’ in Australia be justified for the purposes of ELT?


    The main aim of a theoretical thesis is to show various treatments of the particular problem and to provide a new understanding of or a new perspective on the issue. The paper starts with the comparison of what different authors have said about the same topic, that is, a survey of the relevant literature arranged into some logical framework created by the writer. The overview should be critical, and should be followed by an argumentative proposal of the writer's own opinion and solution of the problem. The author does not use a database gathered specifically for this research but relies on already existing materials including the findings of both theoretical and empirical investigations.


    The structure of the thesis: an empirical research paper

    Preliminary pages: one title page in English and Hungarian, a certificate of originality in Hungarian, and a declaration by the supervisor in Hungarian that the thesis is ready to submit (see templates atégleges.pdf)

    Abstract: A short summary detailing the purpose, the relevance, the approach and the results of the paper (100-150 words).

    Table of Contents: including the chapters of the paper and also the materials in the Appendices.

    Introduction: This should introduce the reader to the specific issue under analysis and describe the research approach/strategy. The introduction should:

    • specify the point/topic of the study
    • explain why the topic is relevant/interesting
    • explain how the analysis relates to the problem
    • specify the exact research questions/hypotheses and their relevance
    • explain how the study relates to previous work in the field and how it is expected to benefit the profession
    • preview the structure/chapters of the thesis


    Review of the literature: The purpose of the review is to develop the theoretical background, that is, to discuss the relevant literature in order to give the reader knowledge of the field (specifically relating to the research question), which the writer is researching. + establish research niche. Ultimately, this part of the thesis should inform the reader of the theoretical and experiential basis of the research by synthesizing the relevant literature.

    The review of literature must define the key terms and concepts,

    • describe relevant theories,
    • present earlier research concerning the issue.


    The literature review can be organized around concepts or the chronology of earlier research, but in any case must be focused to suit the purposes of the research. It should be a very thorough and well-structured overview, presented on the basis of an original organising principle. That is, the writer has to make a unique presentation of the existing literature on the topic. This means, for instance, that a mere summary of what different authors have said about the same topic does not constitute a proper review of the literature. Earlier research results should be evaluated and related to the purpose of the current research. A good overview is relevant, looks at all the aspects of the given topic, uses a minimum of 15 serious reliable and relevant academic sources, and presents the topic in a new light with evidence of the writer’s critical judgement, explicitly and appropriately formulated. As regards materials downloaded from the Internet, only sources that have an author and publication data will normally be accepted. The use of other documents, without an author or publication data, for example, has to be justified.


    Research design and method: The Introduction and the Review of the literature are typically followed by a section in which the writer describes in detail how the analysis was conducted, that is, the technical aspects of the study.There is room for variation depending on the qualitative or quantitative nature of the thesis. Either way, the research design should be coherent and complete. In order to meet these criteria, this chapter should include consideration of the following:


    Research Question(s) (What questions arise based on the lit. rev. and the researcher’s focus/interest?)

    The approach of the research(qualitative or quantitative)

    Reference to earlier research to justify the approach and method.

    Description of the method of data collection: What? Why? How?

    Setting(a description of the context, e.g. the place, general and specific background, etc.)

    Participants or set of materials(texts) analysed (rationale for selection, variables,)

    Instruments (questionnaires, interviews, observation protocol, diaries, document analysis, framework for discourse analysis, retrospection, etc.)

    Procedures (What happened, how long did the processes last?)

    Method of data analysis– description of procedures and methods applied in the analysis

    Quality of research (validity, reliability, generalisability/credibility, trustworthiness, transferability)


    The use of the particular methods must be justified and be an important part of the line of argumentation presented in the thesis. In the justification, reference must be made to literature on research methodology. A good method section describes the procedures in such a detailed way that anyone wishing to replicate the study would be able to do so. Samples of all the data collection materials (e.g., questionnaires, interview protocols, tasks, observation sheets) need to be provided in the appendix. If a data collection instrument is not in English, it has to be translated into English and included in the appendix. (N.B. Following research conventions and common sense, if the mother tongue of the researcher and the participant(s) is the same, interviews and questionnaires are conducted in the mother tongue even if the research is to be written up in English in order to cut down on possible distortions caused by the use of a foreign language.)


    Results and discussion: The Results section will normally contain the data collected (summarised if appropriate) and the results of the analysis, which will detail and justify the conclusion. This section is often merged together with the Discussion section, which includes the writer's discussion (i.e., explanation and interpretation) of the results with respect to the original questions/hypotheses and the consequence of the results, without making overgeneralizations. The explanations should be convincing. Overall, this part of the thesis should demonstrate an enhanced awareness of the field.


    Conclusion with Limitations: This section briefly summarizes the main findings of the analysis, and applies them to the original question(s), discusses possible alternative interpretations and views, examines the pedagogical implications (where appropriate), mentions the limitations of the research, and proposes directions for future investigations. All the conclusions have to be drawn on the basis of the data and not subjective speculations.


    References: In this section the writer lists all the references that were cited in the text (and only those!). See the DELP’s websites on APA citation guidelines for details:


    Appendices: The following materials are appropriate for an appendix: blank questionnaires and their English translations, interview questions, observation schedules, information brochures, sample handouts, teaching materials used or designed, raw data, visual aids, scales, tests, less important tables or figures, practical examples, or other kinds of illustrative materials. The appendix needs to contain only a short sample of the data (e.g., examples of filled in questionnaires, extracts from transcripts of interviews, parts of texts produced by the participants). Any material not in English must be translated into English. All the other data have to be made available upon request.


    The structure of the thesis: a theoretical thesis paper

    Theoretical thesis papers usually follow an argumentative pattern and are organised around the solution of a problem. Questions that are normally addressed in such papers include:

    • What is the point/topic of the study?
    • Why is this topic interesting/relevant?
    • What has been done in the field so far?
    • Is there any problem with/is there something missing from what has been done/said so far?
    • What is the problem with/What is missing from what has been done/said?
    • What solution may be offered?
    • Why is this solution good, or not so good?


    Depending on the nature of the problem, such papers may be structured in different ways. A typical pattern of organisation is presented below:

    Preliminary pages:  one title page in English and Hungarian, a certificate of originality in Hungarian, and a declaration by the supervisor in Hungarian that the thesis is ready to submit (see templates atégleges.pdf)

    Abstract: A short summary detailing the purpose, the relevance, the approach and the results of the paper (100-150 words)

    Table of Contents: including the chapters of the paper and also the materials in the Appendices.

    Introduction: The introduction normally starts by introducing the subject of the paper and its relevance, that is, the reason why it is considered as an interesting issue to explore. This is followed by the statement of the problem related to the issue (i.e., the situation presented) and the author's position regarding the solution of this problem. The exact aim of the paper and the main research question(s) should be clearly formulated. (In theoretical papers, research questions relate to finding possible solutions to the problem.) The introduction generally ends with a brief overview of the analytical approach/strategy to be pursued and the outline of the thesis.

    Review of literature: The aim of the literature review is to provide theoretical background to the solution of the problem anticipated in the introduction. It offers a critical review of the various treatments of the problem under investigation, enumerating arguments representing the body of literature both opposing and supporting the author's position. The survey should be organized into a logical framework invented by the writer. Ultimately, this part of the thesis should inform the reader of the theoretical and experiential basis of the research.

    Analysis (Solution): The analysis (i.e., solution) section offers a thorough and disciplined presentation of the possible solution(s) as envisaged by the writer. It should build upon the work of other researchers in the field, but authors are expected to come up with an original solution. All arguments/claims put forward by the author must be accompanied by some form of supporting evidence (e.g., examples, figures, facts, views of other researchers). The criteria of the analysis (e.g. the set of concepts along which the issue is examined) and the choice of earlier research to be included in the study must be explained and justified. This section ends with an evaluation of the proposed solution(s), showing that it is (or they are) exempt from the weaknesses identified in the opposing view(s). This section is often not presented in a single chapter but in several chapters reflecting the concepts of the framework of the analysis.

    Conclusion: Theoretical papers normally end by a restatement of the problem under investigation and a brief summary of the proposed solution(s) discussed. In the conclusion section, authors may indicate in what ways the study contributes to current achievements in the field, examine the pedagogical implications (where appropriate), refer to the limitations of the paper, and point to possible areas for further investigation.

    References: See empirical research papers.

    Appendices: See empirical research papers.


    Suggested length/proportion of chapters

    The review of the literature should typically be around one quarter of the total length of the thesis. The research design and method section will typically be around one quarter of the total length of the complete thesis. The results and discussion section should be around one half of the complete thesis.


    (Based on Swales, J. M., & Feak, C. B. (1994). Academic writing for graduate students. Ann Arbour, MI: The University of Michigan Press.)


    Submission of the thesis

    The deadline for submitting the OTAK thesis for a defence in the autumn term is November, for a defence in the spring term is April. For the exact dates in a specific year please consult the Faculty website. 

    The thesis is to be submitted in two printed and bound copies, plus one copy in an electronic (PDF) format. One of the printed copies is to be submitted to ELTE BTK (TH) and the other one to the Teacher Training Center (Tanárképző Központ). The electronic submission is to be made through an electronic system, to be specifically developed for this purpose.



    The assessment of the thesis


    The assessment of the thesis is the responsibility of SEAS. The thesis is double marked by the assessor and the supervisor. The assessment of the thesis will be based on a set of analytical criteria that focus on the following features:

    ·       The quality of research (research methods and procedures, focus, analytical framework, etc.)

    ·       The theoretical and experiential basis of the research (quality and number of sources, familiarity with the literature, synthesis of knowledge and skills, etc.)

    ·       Interpretation of findings (implications, enhanced awareness, etc.)

    ·       Independence (contribution to the field, originality, etc.)

    ·       Quality of writing (structuring, argumentation, etc.)

    ·       Quality of language (accuracy and range of English)

    ·       Formal requirements (layout, citation conventions, length, see section 5 above)


    The scores, with a maximum of 28 are converted to a mark on the familiar 1 to 5 scale on the basis of the following bands:

    5= 25 points or above

    4= 18-24 points

    3= 11-17 points

    2= 7-10 points

    1= 6 or below.


    As part of the final examination for the OTAK programme, the thesis writer has to defend the thesis in front of a committee.

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