UC San Diego SearchMenu

Course Requirements & Planning

Updated September 2020

In planning their course of study, students should consult with the Director of Doctoral Studies, the appropriate Section Head, and faculty members whose interests they share.  It is also expected that students will meet with the PhD Coordinator each quarter to confirm their course selection meets the PhD Program’s seminar requirements.  Students may also refer to the following publications when exploring their course options each quarter:

Publication Published Available Through
General Catalog Quarterly http://ucsd.edu/catalog
Annual Literature course offerings Annually http://literature.ucsd.edu/courses/courseofferings/index.html
Class schedule Quarterly https://act.ucsd.edu/scheduleOfClasses/scheduleOfClassesStudent.htm
Graduate course descriptions Quarterly http://literature.ucsd.edu/courses/courseofferings/index.html
List of faculty publications Annually http://literature.ucsd.edu/people/faculty/index.html

The list of annual course offerings is available each Winter Quarter.  It provides a tentative schedule of classes and seminars offered by the Literature Department for the following year.

Seminars are offered by professors according to their current areas of interest.  Therefore, course offerings in specific topics may not be predictably repeated.  Students should be in contact with faculty members who work in the areas of their interests so that they can be informed about what the faculty plans to teach in the future.  Students need not wait for a course to be offered to establish contact with a professor; rather, plan to visit during office hours to discuss intellectual interests and concerns, to become familiar with professors' research, and to consult the list of faculty publications.

Course Planning

Students will find a wide variety of seminars open to them because of the Literature Department's interdisciplinary strengths.  Students should consider the seminar offerings in all sections of the Department as they plan their enrollment during Years 1 & 2. 

It is strongly recommended that graduate students enroll in Literature graduate seminars whenever possible for their PhD seminar requirements, however students may also consider enrolling in graduate offerings in other Departments or upper-division undergraduate literature courses (with some restrictions): 

  • Students may apply a maximum of two graduate seminars in other UCSD departments to their PhD requirements, with no need for a petition.  If a student wishes to have an additional graduate seminar from another department count towards their PhD requirements, they must submit a petition to the PhD Coordinator for faculty review.  The petition must include significant justification of why this course would be more beneficial to their research than a Literature course.  The petition will require submission of a syllabus and rationale.  See the “Forms” page of the website.
  • Students may apply a maximum of three upper-division undergraduate courses to their PhD requirements, and they must make them equivalent to graduate seminars with additional work agreed upon by both the student and faculty.   Students must take these upper-division undergraduate courses for letter grades, and they must receive an “A” grade to maintain acceptable graduate status and continuation of funding.  Each course must be petitioned through the PhD Coordinator, and the petition requires submission of syllabus and rationale.  See the “Forms” page of the website.
  • Students should be sure to fulfill all their PhD seminar requirements before taking additional non-Literature graduate seminars or upper-division undergraduate courses for their own interest.

NOTE:  Some course numbers may be taken more than once for credit, as they are topics courses with unique content each offering.  Please check with the PhD Coordinator if you have any questions about a particular course number.  Please keep in mind that there will always be a maximum number of times students may take a specific course for credit, and this total does include any instance(s) where the student took the course previous to the PhD Program (through UCSD Extension or in an undergraduate or Masters program at UCSD, for example).

Historical Breadth Requirement

All PhD students are required to take at least two seminars that focus on the pre-1800 period.  The courses may include more recent scholarship dealing with an earlier period.  The purpose of the historical breadth requirement is to afford students a depth of historical perspective in their study of literature.  A rigorous study of early literature provides students with an understanding of literary history, can reveal connections between literatures and regions, and challenge “presentist” perspectives.  Seminars will satisfy the historical breadth requirement if the course is flagged as “historical breadth” on the Literature course descriptions webpage: http://literature.ucsd.edu/courses/courseofferings/index.html

The two seminars taken to fulfill this requirement may be in the same period or in different periods, and it is highly recommended that students take courses flagged as “historical breadth” as early as possible (as there is no guarantee that one will be offered every quarter). 

Seminars taken for the “historical breadth” requirement are included in the 18 required seminars for each particular specialization, so the courses used must also fit into one of the requirement categories for the student’s specialization.  Students may not petition for or use independent study courses to fulfill the historical breadth requirement.

Language Requirement

PhD students are required to take at least two seminars in a secondary language.  This being a language other than the one chosen for their primary literature seminar requirement.  Students in the Comparative Literature specialization are also required to complete one seminar in a tertiary language.  Competence in reading, understanding, and interpreting both literary and critical texts in the relevant language and the ability to follow seminar discussions or lectures in the relevant language must be demonstrated.  It is recommended that this requirement is complete by the end of the second year, so that the third year can be dedicated to more focused research and the qualifying process. 

Students are required to work in languages taught by current UCSD faculty members, but some students may fulfill the language requirement in a different language through transferred coursework.  Transferred courses must be graduate-level courses taken prior to beginning the PhD Program, and students must petition for transferred coursework to apply to their seminar requirements (see the “Transfer of Graduate Credit” section below). 

Required Paperwork:  For each seminar taken to satisfy a language requirement, a “Seminar Requirements Petition” form must be completed and submitted to the PhD Coordinator.  In order to apply a seminar to the PhD language seminar requirements, a completed and approved petition must be on file.  See the “Forms” page of the website.

  • Literature Dept graduate seminars: Students should complete Section I of the petition form and submit it to the PhD Coordinator.  The PhD Coordinator will route the petition to the course instructor (for completion of Section II) and then the Director of Doctoral Studies (for final approval).  The only seminars that do not need to be petitioned are LTEN seminars (to count as English) and LTSP seminars (to count as Spanish).
  • Transferred coursework: If students have taken graduate courses prior to the start of the PhD Program, and the courses were taught in the relevant language, they should complete Section I of the petition form and submit it to the PhD Coordinator (along with course syllabi, papers, and any other materials).  No instructor signature is required.  The PhD Coordinator will route the petition to the student’s Faculty Advisor, Section Head, and Director of Doctoral Studies (for approval).  If students have taken graduate courses prior to the start of the PhD Program, and the courses were taught in translation (but focused on literature of a specific language), they will need to demonstrate their proficiency in that language.  They should complete Section I of the petition form and identify a faculty member in the department who speaks the language in question.  They will need to ask the faculty member to evaluate their language proficiency and attest to it by completing Section II of the petition form.  Then, the student must submit the petition form to the PhD Coordinator (along with course syllabi, papers, and any other materials).  The PhD Coordinator will route the petition to the student’s Faculty Advisor, Section Head, and Director of Doctoral Studies (for approval).

Definition of graduate-level competence: Students entering UCSD's PhD program are expected to demonstrate a graduate-level working knowledge of a language other than that of their specialization.  For French, German, Spanish and Italian, this is generally construed to mean at least two years of undergraduate study; for Latin and Greek, at least three years; for Chinese, at least four years.

Completing the language requirement exam: In each seminar or course taken to fulfill the language requirement, the student must pass a two-hour exam to be administered by the instructor (unless the instructor feels the exam would be superfluous, in which case the instructor must include a written explanation of why the exam should be waived).  The exam will involve a substantial (approximately 2-page) exercise in translation, as well as answering questions about a text of approximately ten pages, written in the second language and related to the course topic.  Questions will be posed in the second language, but may be answered in English.  Students may use a dictionary during the exam.

Using undergraduate courses to fulfill the language requirement: When no graduate seminars are offered on literature in a specific language, students may consider completing an upper-division undergraduate course at UCSD in that literature.   The upper-division undergraduate course should be conducted entirely in the second language and enhanced by additional assignments (to bring it to a graduate seminar level).  The course must be taken for a letter grade, and students musts receive a grade of “A”.  To apply the upper-division undergraduate course to the seminar requirements, a petition must be submitted which details the enhanced workload.  Students should complete Section I of the petition form and submit it to the PhD Coordinator.  The PhD Coordinator will route the petition to the course instructor (for completion of Section II) and then the Director of Doctoral Studies (for final approval).  See the “Forms” page of the website.

  • NOTE:  Students may not petition to use undergraduate courses from other institutions towards their seminar requirements, and the UCSD undergraduate courses that are petitioned for credit must be taken during the student’s time in the PhD Program (not previously).

Using 298s to fulfill the language requirement: As a last resort, and only when there are no graduate seminars or upper-division undergraduate courses available, a student may enroll in an independent study graduate course to fulfill the language requirement.

Criteria for 298s of this sort are the same for seminars and undergraduate study courses.  The student is expected to meet weekly with the supervising professor, to read all texts in the original language, to demonstrate very high proficiency in the reading and interpretation of those texts, and to write a paper. 

  • NOTE: 297 & 299 courses DO NOT count toward the seminar requirement.

Independent Study Courses

To register for an independent study course, students should consult with the professor with whom they plan to work.  When they have a plan for the content of the independent study, an “Independent Study Request Form” must be completed and submitted online (see the “Forms” page of the website).  It will automatically be routed to the Graduate Office for processing, then to the instructor for approval.  The student will be contacted via email with instructions for enrolling in the course (once it has been created).

Students should be aware that faculty members agree to direct independent study courses in addition to their regular teaching loads, and therefore may restrict the number of students with whom they are willing to work.

Description of Independent Study Courses:

  • 297: Directed Studies: Reading Course (1 – 12 units).  This course may be designed according to an individual student's needs when seminar offerings do not cover subjects, genres, or authors of interest.  Students may also design a 297 course in tandem with a seminar of particular interest so that special attention may be paid to that subject.  This course is primarily a reading course; it does not require a seminar paper.  297 courses DO NOT count toward the seminar requirements.
  • 298: Special Projects: Writing Course (1 – 12 units).  This course is designed by the student to meet personal scholarly needs and must include a seminar paper.  Students are strongly discouraged from taking 298's during their first year of graduate study, unless it is for the language requirement (where traditional courses are not available).  Students will register for two 298's to prepare for their qualifying examinations: one to prepare the reading lists, paper abstract, and hold the Pre-Qualifying Meeting; and one to complete the qualifying research paper.  More than these two 298 courses DO NOT count toward the seminar requirements, except in cases where a 298 course has been used to fulfill the language requirement and the “Seminar Requirements Petition” has been approved.  No petitions for 298 courses to fulfill the historical breadth requirement will be considered.
  • 299: Dissertation Preparation (1 – 12 units).  This course is designed for those who have passed their qualifying examination and are writing their dissertations.  299 courses DO NOT count toward the seminar requirements.

Course Grading

S/U Grades

Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U grading) may only be an option for UCSD graduate seminars taken outside of the Literature Department.  A grade of “S” indicates that the student has finished all the seminar requirements in a satisfactory manner and at a level equal to that of the other students enrolled in the seminar.  A grade of “U” is understood to indicate that the student's performance was not on par with that of the other students in the seminar.  To maintain acceptable graduate status and continuation of funding, students may not receive more than 8 units with “F” and/or “U” grades on their record.

Letter Grades

The only grading option for literature graduate courses is letter grade (A/B/C/D/F, with the option of (+) or minus (-) added to the grades of A, B, and C).  In order to remain in good academic standing, graduate students must have a GPA of 3.0 (which equates to a “B” average or better) and have not received more than 8 units of “F” and/or “U” grades. It is strongly recommended that graduate students enroll in graduate seminars whenever possible.  Graduate students who take UCSD upper-division-undergraduate courses for seminar credit must make them equivalent to graduate seminars with additional work agreed upon by both the student and faculty.  They must take the course for a letter grade and receive an “A” to maintain acceptable graduate status and continuation of funding; each course must be petitioned through the PhD Coordinator (in order to apply to the PhD seminar requirements) and requires submission of syllabus and rationale (see the “Forms” page of the website).  Students may apply a maximum of 3 upper-division undergraduate courses to the seminar requirements, with approved petitions for each. 

Incompletes

The Incomplete grade (“I”) may be used when circumstances beyond a student’s control occur during Week 10 or Finals Week that prohibit them from completing coursework assigned by the instructor.  The student’s work must be of non-failing quality at the time of the “Incomplete”, and the student must be able to provide documentation (such as a doctor’s note) if requested by the instructor.Graduate students assigned the grade of “I” will have one quarter to complete the necessary unfinished coursework.  If the work is not completed by the end of the additional quarter, the “Incomplete” will automatically be changed by the Registrar to an Unsatisfactory (“U”) or Failure (“F”) grade.
The Department strongly discourages graduate students from requesting the “I” grade, since failure to remove the Incomplete will jeopardize both good standing and financial support.

Transfer of Graduate Credit

Students who have completed graduate work at other institutions prior to entering the PhD Program may request transfer credit for up to six seminars total.  No more than 6 non-UCSD course may be applied to the seminar requirements.  No coursework taken outside of UCSD after the student enters the PhD Program may be applied to the seminar requirements.  In most cases, credit will be recognized only for students who have previously received an MA degree or its equivalent from a university or college.  The determination of course credits and the recognition of papers will be made by the student’s Doctoral Committee Chair, the Section Head for their specialization, and the Director of Doctoral Studies.  Petitions for transfer of graduate credit will be considered by the department no earlier than the student’s second year in the program.    Students should complete Section I of the petition form and submit it to the PhD Coordinator (along with course syllabi, papers, and any other materials).  No instructor signature is required.  The PhD Coordinator will route the petition to the student’s Faculty Advisor, Section Head, and Director of Doctoral Studies (for approval).  See the “Forms” page of the website.

PhD Program Advising
(858) 534-3217
litgrad@ucsd.edu

Director of Doctoral Studies
Daisuke Miyao

Doctoral Affairs Committee
2020-2021

Daisuke Miyao (Chair)
Hoang Nguyen
Dan Vitkus