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Crossing Borders: An Academic Literacies Approach to the Study of M.A. Thesis Writing on English Studies Programmes in an Italian and a Hungarian University.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Carole Sedgwick
Publication date2011
Number of pages403
Awarding Institution
Place of PublicationLancaster
  • Lancaster University
Electronic ISBNs9780438570702
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis is an investigation of academic literacy practices on postgraduate English Studies programmes in two different national contexts in Europe, Hungary and Italy. It examines the transnational comparability of university qualifications in relation to the Bologna Declaration, which currently has forty-seven European signatory countries, and constitutes an agreement to create a higher education space in Europe with a common system of 'readable' and 'comparable' degrees. In the spirit of the Bologna Process, the thesis explores what a student would need to know and be able to do to complete written assignments on a postgraduate English Studies programme in a different European cultural and linguistic context. An 'ethnographic-style' approach was adopted to collect 'rich' data on graded written work from each programme at the end of the assessment period. The thesis focuses on six MA theses, which were treated as separate case studies. The dataset included interview transcripts and email communications with students, assessors and supervisors, thesis drafts, written feedback, programme and course documentation and journal writing. The case study data was analysed vertically, in relation to each individual case and horizontally across the case studies in an iterative process to identify themes and practices. The thesis demonstrates the value of an academic literacies approach to the investigation of language in contexts of use. The study reveals variation in practices of thesis making across the case studies with regard to originality, argument and analysis. Practices are shaped by disciplinary, epistemological, theoretical, methodological and ideological perspectives. Practices also index local responses to global and regional pressures and national policies. The findings enable a critical examination of the Bologna Process and argue for the creative potential of local practices and local collaborations to counter constrictive global hegemonies.

Bibliographic note

Thesis (Ph.D.)--Lancaster University (United Kingdom), 2011.