Professional development

Preparing students for a competitive placements

All first year graduate students in English are required to take ENGL 8500, Professionalization.  This seminar series will develop students’ research skills, public speaking skills, and cover topics such as the job search, apply for funding, applying to and presenting at conferences, and publishing. All graduate students can apply for funding available through the Faculty of Graduate Studies to present at conferences, and PhD students have access to funding for research related travel expenses.

Teaching assistantships

All new students are given the opportunity to act as a teaching assistant, usually for a section of first year English. Those who hold Killams or outside fellowships such as a SSHRC may also, if they wish and if the Department has need of their services, work as teaching assistants in order to gain experience in teaching methods and to supplement their income. Teaching assistants lead tutorials (one hour per week), grade and comment on student papers, and in some cases, where they wish to do so, may obtain experience in lecturing or leading class discussions by handling up to 8 hours of class time throughout the year.

Incoming students are advised to consult the departmental statement on the “Rights and Responsibilities of Teaching Assistants,” which spells out precisely what is expected of both instructors and their TAs. The Coordinator of Teaching Assistants (a member of the Graduate Committee) is responsible for assigning TAs  in consultation with individual faculty members. The Coordinator of Teaching Assistants runs a training session in the week before classes begin. This session, obligatory for both new and experienced teaching assistants, is considered an important part of each student’s professional development.

PhD students with a Faculty of Graduate Studies Fellowship who already have experience as a teaching assistant may be invited to serve as a TA for an upper-level class. Duties required will vary according to the class, but in no case may the time required by teaching duties amount to more than an average of ten hours a week for the weeks between the beginning of classes and the end of April.

Departmental seminars

Most Friday afternoons during the fall and winter semesters the English Department hosts a weekly speaker series.  Faculty from the Department, other local universities, or visiting speakers from across Canada and the world present their current research interests in a collegial atmosphere.  Faculty and students are encouraged to attend the talks and enjoy a glass of wine afterward. 

The annual distinguished speaker series takes place each Fall.  Previous talks have been given by Dr. Houston Baker, Dr. Robert Pogue Harrison, Dr. Robert Scholes, and Dr. Susan Brown.

Graduate student seminars

Two annual graduate student conferences are organized each year by DAGSE (Dalhousie Association of Graduate Students in English); the MA Colloquium in early May, and the Graduate Student Conference in mid-August.  Graduate students are encouraged to assist with the planning of these conferences and participate as panel chairs or presenters.