This presentation outlines the requirements for theological theses at three levels, BTh (Honours), MTh, and PhD. The presentation was prepared by Dr Kevin Smith, the Vice-Principal of the South African Theological Seminary
Three students—Linda (BTh), Kalnisha (MTh), and Javier (PhD)—all elect to write their theses on “the Synoptic Problem”. What would be expected of each student to do justice to the topic at the level of his/her thesis? At which levels is it possible to write a thesis on “The Synoptic Problem”?Give this some thought before you move to the next slide.
Synoptic Problem: BTh LevelWhy is it possible to write a BTh thesis on “The Synoptic Problem”? The answer lies in understanding what is required at the BTh level. Linda does not need master all the literature on the Synoptic Problem, and she doesn’t need to contribute anything “new” to the discussion. All she has to do is write 40 solid pages that accurately represents the major scholarly views. That is doable.
Synoptic Problem: MTh LevelIn the quiz, I suggested that it is NOT possible for Kalnisha to write a Masters thesis on “The Synoptic Problem”. Why? Because in a Masters thesis, Kalnisha will need to demonstrate mastery of a vast body of literature on the Synoptic Problem. I doubt very much whether she will be able to do justice to the extensive body of literature on the topic. Her thesis is likely to degenerate into a dry and thin rehash of the existing views—hardly the stuff of good theses.
Synoptic Problem: PhD LevelWhat about Javier? Can he write a PhD dissertation on the Synoptic Problem? It depends. If he is just fascinated by the topic and fancies spending 2-3 years of his life researching it, it is very risky. To pass his PhD, he will have to contribute something new to the scholarly discussion of the Synoptic Problem. Considering the extensive discussion of the Synoptic Problem by the great scholars, that will be difficult. However, if Javier has done extensive preliminary study of the existing literature, and has an innovative new hypothesis to present, then his thesis could make a major contribution to scholarship. The burden of making an original contribution lies with Javier.
South African Thesis Requirements
South African Thesis Requirements BTh, MTh, and PhD By Kevin G. Smith
What are the expectations of a thesis at each level? THESIS REQUIREMENTSSouth African Thesis Requirements
MTh: Some Basic Guidelines• In a thesis-only programme, the MTh thesis should be approximately 40,000-50,000 words in length, and should contain in the vicinity of 100-150 bibliography entries.• In a mini-thesis at the end of a coursework MTh, the guidelines are 20,000-25,000 words and 50-75 sources.• The MTh thesis should be properly formatted, referenced, and edited.• The MTh thesis should be logically and linguistically coherent.South African Thesis Requirements
PhD: Some Basic Guidelines• The PhD dissertation should be approximately 80,000-100,000 words in length.• The PhD dissertation should have approximately 250-300 bibliography entries.• The PhD dissertation should be properly formatted, referenced, and edited.• The PhD dissertation should be logically and linguistically coherent.South African Thesis Requirements
Comparison of Thesis LevelsBTh level MTh level PhD level36 credits 180 credits 360 credits10,000-15,000 words 40,000-50,000 words 80,000-100,000 words30-40 pages 140-160 pages 250-350 pages30-50 sources 100-150 sources 250-300 sourcesCandidates must systema- Candidates must master the Candidates must add newtically analyze the selected selected topic in the field of knowledge to the field oftopic in the field of study. study. study.South African Thesis Requirements
Comparison of thesis levels• BTh level: design and execute a small research project in a chosen field of study, showing reasonable command of the subject area and the appropriate research methods.• MTh level: demonstrate mastery of the literature and research methods which relate to the chosen topic and field of study.• PhD level: contribute new scientific knowledge in the field of study (assumes mastery of literature and research methods).South African Thesis Requirements
Comparison of Thesis Levels PhD • New knowledge • Publication MTh • Literature • Methodologies BTh • Basic skills • Limited scopeSouth African Thesis Requirements
Assessment Criteria by Level • Make a significant, original, and substantial contribution to existing knowledge at the frontiers of the discipline? • Write a research report worthy of publication, either in its PhD entirety or in key sections? • Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of existing research and literature in field. • Select and properly apply appropriate research methods with competence. MTh • Develop a cohesive and coherent argument around the chosen thesis. • Identify, conceptualize, and conduct a research project? • Demonstrate familiarity with academic models and methods. BTh • Demonstrate linguistic competence in the presentation of a coherent thesis.South African Thesis Requirements
What kind of topic can be researched at each level? ILLUSTRATION OF VIABLE THESESSouth African Thesis Requirements
Illustration: Synoptic ProblemThree students—Linda (BTh), Kalnisha (MTh), and Javier(PhD)—all elect to write their theses on “the SynopticProblem”. What would be expected of each student todo justice to the topic at the level of his or her thesis?At which levels is it possible to write a thesis on “TheSynoptic Problem”?Give this some thought before you move to the nextslide.South African Thesis Requirements
Synoptic Problem: BTh Level• Can Linda write her BTh thesis on The Synoptic Problem?• At the BTh level, she does not need to master all the literature or to contribute anything new.• All she has to do is write 40 solid pages, covering the major views in an organised manner.• Therefore, this is doable.South African Thesis Requirements
Synoptic Problem: MTh Level• Can Kalnisha write her MTh thesis on The Synoptic Problem?• She is unlikely to demonstrate mastery of the vast body of literature in a 150-page thesis.• She is likely to write a dry and thin rehash of existing views.• Therefore, this is not doable.South African Thesis Requirements
Synoptic Problem: PhD Level• Can Javier write his PhD dissertation on The Synoptic Problem?• To pass his PhD, he will have to contribute something new to the scholarly discussion of The Synoptic Problem.• The topic is doable if he has discovered an original hypothesis that he can defend convincingly.• The burden is upon Javier to make an original contribution.South African Thesis Requirements
How will my thesis be examined? ASSESSMENT CRITERIA FOR A PH.D.South African Thesis Requirements
Exit-level outcomes for a PhD 1. Identify, understand, interpret, integrate, apply, and communicate a body of new knowledge (original research) in interaction with existing knowledge (current state of research in the field of study). 2. Apply logical, theoretical, analytic, creative and systematic thinking effectively to solve a range of problems within a focused research context. 3. Exhibit the ability to identify and address issues of ethical action and social responsibility in the field of research.South African Thesis Requirements
Exit-level outcomes for a PhD 4. Apply principles of sound research practice in collecting, organizing, and evaluating information in terms of a critical understanding of relevant research methodologies, techniques, and technologies. 5. Be aware of, and be able to interact constructively with, multicultural and multi-faith communities, from a theological perspective. 6. Apply the insights of one or more disciplines to identify and critique issues of church and society.South African Thesis Requirements
Core Assessment Criteria for PhD• Does the candidate demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of existing research and literature?• Does the candidate demonstrate a high level of independent research capability?• Does the dissertation make a significant, original, and substantial contribution to existing knowledge at the frontiers of the discipline?• Is the dissertation publishable, either as a whole or in part?South African Thesis Requirements
Bill Domeris’ Criteria• Demonstrate linguistic competence in the presentation of a coherent thesis.• Demonstrate familiarity with academic methods and models.• Demonstrate a good understanding of the relevant academic sources in the chosen area of study.• Demonstrate ability to develop a cohesive and coherent argument around the chosen thesis.• Include material which is worth publishing.• Add significantly to the body of existing knowledge in the field.• Make an original contribution to the subject area.South African Thesis Requirements