Writing Academic Papers in English Literary Studies


On this page you will find some general hints and guidelines for writing a term paper in the field of English literary studies. The information provided here, however, only gives you a broad overview. For more detailed information and further examples see the document “Practical Guidelines for Writing a Paper in Literary Studies” .

Read the hints provided on this page and in the “Practical Guidelines” before you start working on your term papers!

Basic Structure of a Term Paper

A term paper has to include:

  • Title page
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • ‘Main Body’: The individual chapters and subchapters of the paper (do not actually call any section of your paper ‘Main Body’)
  • Conclusion
  • Works Cited
  • Declaration of Academic Integrity (this document has to be signed by the author of the term paper)

For more detailed information on each of these elements an on page formatting, see the “Practical Guidelines”.

Aims of a Term Paper in Literary Studies

  • Your term paper should answer a question or prove a thesis – the paper should not be just descriptive; at the end of the paper there should be some kind of a result
  • Write your term paper by starting from a clear question and trying to solve a problem
  • The term paper should have a clear, logical structure – develop a clear line of argument in order to answer the question or prove the thesis
  • only include material that helps you to answer your question or to solve the problem your paper tackles
  • Do not just take over ideas from your secondary sources, but try to form your own judgments

Documenting Sources

  • A term paper has to be based on verifiable sources
  • You must always document all of the sources from which you take over ideas
  • This rule applies to quotations and to paraphrases (i.e. you adopt ideas from a text and put them into your own words)
  • See the “Practical Guidelines” for further information