Anglistik Home Page

Professor Michael Stubbs
Englische Sprachwissenschaft
Universität Trier



Dear students,

Please read these notes before you submit a term paper or test for one of my seminars.




The terminology for different types of Schein is different in different Prüfungsordnungen ... Some Ordnungen distinguish two types, some distinguish three, the terms differ, etc ... (no comment ...). However, the basic distinctions are:


ÜBUNG or PROSEMINAR. Preparation/reading for each week, regular attendance, active participation, a pass in an interim test, and a pass in a Hausarbeit or final test (of around 8 to 10 pages, plus references).
(These are usually take-home tests: you get the test in advance, do it at home, and hand it in by a date given.)

HAUPTSEMINAR. Preparation/reading for each week, regular attendance, active participation, plus an oral presentation and a Hausarbeit (of around 20 pages, 6,000 words, plus references).


ÜBUNG or PROSEMINAR. Preparation/reading for each week, regular attendance, active participation, plus a pass in an interim test.

HAUPTSEMINAR. Preparation/reading for each week, regular attendance, active participation, plus an oral presentation (depending on student numbers) or a short written report.


Preparation/reading for each week, regular attendance, active participation, plus other work agreed as appropriate for individual seminars.


The final test / Hausarbeit / written report must be handed in by No extensions are possible without a serious reason (usually medical). I have to return a record of student numbers, numbers of Scheine issued, etc, to the Dekanat.

The work must be typed or word-processed.
Please do NOT use a fancy plastic cover! Just a staple or paper-clip.


HOW MUCH WORK? Students often ask "how much work they have to do" for a term paper (Hausarbeit, Abschlußtest) ... Well, that's rather up to you ...

CONTENT. High marks will be given for tests and essays which


In reading tests, term papers, etc over the past few semesters, my experience is that the following are common spelling mistakes, interference errors, etc. If your work contains any of the following errors, I will automatically deduct one point (for each error). (I'm not quite sure whether this is a joke or not ...)


One of the most difficult problems centres around the terms science and Wissenschaft. They are NOT equivalent, and CANNOT be used as translations of each other. Similarly, scientific is NOT a translation of wissenschaftlich.

The term social sciences is used (for sociology, economics, etc, and possibly psychology).

But there are no direct translations of terms such as die Geisteswissenschaften or Literaturwissenschaft.

The term Linguistic Science is hardly used in English. Just Linguistics.

In other words, Wissenschaft has a much wider meaning than science. The term scholarship might sometimes be used, but this has different connotations of "knowledge, wisdom and reading books", and seems to exclude research, experiments, etc.

All of the above is purely terminological: calling a piece of work wissenschaftlich is often just a matter of claiming that it has prestige, which it may or may not deserve. The real question is what is meant: often the best term might be systematic (to study a problem in a methodical, rigorous and systematic way). (The underlying question is whether there are fundamental differences between the methods appropriate for studying the social and the natural world, but that is too big a topic for here.)


Essays in linguistics usually require examples of words, sentences, meanings and so on. Use this simple system:

Underline or italicize examples. Put "meanings" in double quotes.

If you have a series of examples, number them, eg: Then you can easily refer back to the numbered examples:


Hausarbeiten MUST contain evidence of what you have read. They MUST therefore contain accurate references to this work.

If you quote phrases or sentences from books or articles, these parts MUST be in quote marks, with full references:

eg. As Chomsky (1965: 3) says, "exact quote here".

If you copy the content of what someone else has said - and merely change a few words here and there - this does NOT make it your own work. If you want to quote someone else's argument in your own words, then you might say:

eg. As Chomsky (1965: 3) argues, ... .


Plagiarism is the unfair or unacknowledged use of other people's work.

To quote or use work without acknowledgement is a SERIOUS OFFENCE.
An essay which contains plagiarism AUTOMATICALLY FAILS.

The statement in undergraduate dissertations applies equally to Hausarbeiten:

"Hiermit versichere ich, dass ich die vorliegende Arbeit selbstständig verfasst und keine anderen als die angegebenen Hilfsmittel benutzt habe. Stellen, die wörtlich oder dem Sinne nach anderen Werken entnommen sind, sind in jedem einzelnen Fall unter Angabe der Quelle der Entlehnung kenntlich gemacht. Dies gilt auch für Zeichnungen, bildliche Darstellungen, Skizzen und dergleichen."

This applies to books, articles and world-wide-web documents.

It is tempting to down-load documents from the Web and to insert them, modified or unmodified, into essays. DO NOT DO THIS. You will be found out. If your examiner suspects that you have done this, he or she just has to type a few phrases into a search-engine, and will probably find the plagiarized passages within a few minutes!

If you are in doubt about any of this, come and ask me.


All Hausarbeiten, final tests, handouts, written reports, etc must contain accurate references.

REFERENCES must be ABSOLUTELY ACCURATE and ABSOLUTELY CONSISTENT. Readers must be able to find an article or book in a library, and possibly also a quote in the article or book. A small inaccuracy may make a reference unfindable.

See the separate document on this.


Presentation: 30 minutes maximum.
Handout: two pages maximum; circulated the week before the presentation.

NOT long summaries of what you have read.
NOT written essays read aloud.

Your HANDOUT will contain:

You must express things IN YOUR OWN WORDS.
If you can't, then you haven't understood it.

You must try to express things AS SIMPLY AS POSSIBLE.
You must try to express things AS BRIEFLY AS POSSIBLE.

"I apologise for writing such a long letter, but I didn't have time to write a short one." (Winston Churchill.)

But the key phrase is AS x AS POSSIBLE. Some ideas are complex, and cannot be reduced to a few lines.

before your presentation, check

And remember:

Sometimes there are too many students in a Hauptseminar for each student to give an oral presentation. For students requiring a Teilnahmeschein, an alternative to an oral report is a short written report on one of the sessions/topics:

2 pages, 300 to 500 words; an accurate account (Protokoll) of the presentation and discussion in one session; plus a critical assessment of the session (points that were well made, points that remain unclear, etc); plus references.


Anglistik, Universität Trier, D-54286 Trier, Germany.
Last up-dated November 2001.