Dissertation Prospectus Review

Please Note: This requirement is in addition to any prospectus submission requirements in your home department. 

With the approval of the ICLS Prospectus Committee, students may begin working on the dissertation after being awarded the M.Phil. degree. To obtain this approval, candidates must submit a dissertation prospectus for review, along with a supplementary statement and signed cover sheet:

  • In preparation for submission of your prospectus for review at ICLS, you are required to attend at least one prospectus workshop and to present your supplementary statement for discussion and review. Workshops are held at least once a semester, with enough demand they are held twice a semester. Workshop attendance is documented on the prospectus submission form.
  • The detailed prospectus should be not more than 15 pages in length plus a brief bibliography of works to be examined and sources to be used. The prospectus should be submitted six months after your M.Phil. qualifying examination; if your department approves your prospectus after the M.Phil. exam, you may submit it six months after the date that you receive your approval. Students should consult their advisers and the ICLS Director or the ICLS Director of Graduate Studies before drawing up the prospectus. It should describe both the topic and the methods the student plans to use.
  • Students should secure two readers to sign the prospectus cover sheet. One should be a first reader/sponsor from the list of departmentally approved PhD faculty sponsors. The second reader is selected in order to receive advice on the project and on drafts at all stages. ONE of the two readers (EITHER the first reader/sponsor OR the second reader) needs to be an ICLS affiliated faculty member.

All proposals require an ICLS Dissertation Prospectus cover sheet and a brief supplementary statement.

  • ICLS Dissertation Prospectus cover sheet: This document requires the signatures of the candidate’s first reader/sponsor and a second reader and should be turned in at the ICLS administrative office with a copy of their prospectus. Prospectuses must be submitted as a single PDF with all materials: a signed cover sheet, supplementary statement, then prospectus. Please use the naming convention “LAST NAME, First name Prospectus Submission FA23 or SP24.” You may obtain signatures electronically by having first reader/sponsor and second reader send you a signed copy of the cover sheet by email or simply a confirmation stating that they are aware that you are submitting your prospectus for review by ICLS by email, but this must still be part of the single pdf.
  • The brief (1-2 page) Supplementary Statement must specify the elements of your research that you consider to be comparative. These may vary depending on the particular project: for instance, a comparative dissertation may involve work across multiple national contexts, work with primary materials in more than one language, or work drawing on different disciplinary methodologies. It may also be necessary to explain the implications of your comparative approach in relation to the norms of your home department, noting the way your project expands or revises received practice in your field. The prospectus and summary statement should provide evidence of your competence to carry out the comparative aspects of your project, whether that means training or a grasp of the relevant scholarship in a given discipline.

We will accept your prospectus and accompanying materials once a semester. The fall deadline is the first Tuesday in December at 11:59PMThe spring deadline is the last Tuesday in April. After all materials have been submitted, the ICLS Prospectus Committee will review your prospectus and decide whether or not to accept the proposal. Revisions may be requested or suggestions made to passing proposals. Proposals that are not deemed comparative or otherwise reflecting the work of the intellectual project of ICLS may result in the Certificate in Comparative Literature and Society being removed from the candidate’s degree program. For this reason, candidates are encouraged to participate in the intellectual community of ICLS which includes graduate student workshops, seminars, and conferences.

*PLEASE NOTE: You must email all materials as a SINGLE PDF to ICLS at:  icls@columbia.edu

During the dissertation-writing phase, students are required to attend and they are strongly encouraged to present their work in the ICLS Graduate Student Colloquium. Please contact the ICLS Coordinator to schedule your presentation.


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