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Durham University

Faculty Handbook 2021-2022

Module Description

Please ensure you check the module availability box for each module outline, as not all modules will run each academic year.

Department: Modern Languages and Cultures

MLAC3956: Target Language Research Project (Japanese)

Type Open Level 3 Credits 0 Availability Available in 2021/22 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • The relevant core language module in the language for which the TLRP will be completed.


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • MELA3976


  • To provide students with the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of an aspect or aspects of their studies, which has a clear link to their experience abroad, by researching and writing a research project in the target language in an area in which the School can offer specialized supervision.
  • By providing experience in planning, documenting, and writing an extended piece of work, the TLRP will increase the facility of students to use the Japanese language sources at an appropriate level, and will give them experience in presenting and referencing an extended piece of writing according to standard academic conventions.
  • The TLRP will provide invaluable practice, particularly at the level of the inculcation and assimilation of primary research skills, for students taking a dissertation module in the final year. It will also provide benefit for students wishing to progress to postgraduate study.
  • The TLRP aims to develop and enhance strategies for independent learning and initiative; to foster a genuine commitment to research and the utilization of appropriate research methodologies; to provide the ability to organize and manage a longer project; and to offer the ability to write a substantial summary accurately Japanese.
  • By focusing on questions of intercultural awareness at an advanced intellectual level, the TLRP seeks to offer a forum for academic engagement and reflection in matters of critical interest relevant to the contexts and environments under discussion.
  • The TLRP seeks to enhance the employability of students by allowing them to demonstrate their ability as independent learners and researchers in the context of a research project that dovetails with the University’s principles for the development of the taught curriculum. Skills will be developed specifically through an extended enquiry-led activity that will provide students with the competences to succeed in the world of work and the ability to manage their own intellectual and professional development. By focusing specifically on questions of relevant intercultural interest, students will develop as international citizens so that they can make a positive contribution to an increasingly globalized society.


  • The TLRP involves researching and writing an extended piece of work in which the School can offer specialized supervision. Students will be working closely with an expert in the Japanese language and will be developing their research skills, intercultural awareness, and strategies for independent learning and initiative.
  • The project will be 5,000 words in length, written in English using Japanese language resources; it will be accompanied by a 1,000 character abstract in Japanese.
  • Students will prepare for the TLRP by taking the relevant core Japanese language module at levels I and II, by attending the School’s on-going induction programme (which focuses on the inculcation and development of key research skills). This will give crucial developmental experience in planning and executing intellectual responses to cultural stimuli, be they literary, filmic, artistic, linguistic, or otherwise.
  • Students will be allocated to a supervisor on week 7 of the Epiphany term and a compulsory meeting will be arranged to take place on weeks 8 and 9. In this meeting the supervisor will help students explore and shape an approach to the TLRP, and will assist with compiling a preliminary bibliography, so that students can pursue a guided course of reading. In the light of reading and discussion with their supervisor, students will complete a project in the language that they are studying informed by their experience while abroad.
  • The completed project must be submitted electronically by 1 September in advance of Michaelmas Term of the final year of study.
  • Students will receive written feedback by 31st October, and key aspects of good practice applicable to the final-year dissertation will be discussed with the relevant supervisor.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By completing the TLRP students will have acquired greatly enhanced knowledge of a specialized subject and have gained considerably in their intercultural awareness. They will be familiar with both primary and secondary sources, and with the wider debates surrounding the cultural media/artefacts that form the basis of their analysis.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will have developed their ability to express ideas clearly in Japanese as a summary of the TLRP and will have completed a research project envisaged specifically as preparation for the final-year dissertation module.
Key Skills:
  • Students will have acquired skill and practice in researching a subject using primary and secondary sources, planning a coherent argument with the evidence to support it, presenting these arguments clearly and cogently in a sustained piece of writing, and conforming to the norms of academic referencing.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Students will receive generic training for the TLRP through the School’s On-going Induction Programme, which addresses questions of specific relevance, notably: academic research, academic writing, evaluating and using sources, and approaches to textual analysis. Students will receive language-specific instruction as part of their second-year core language modules.
  • A list of approved topic areas are displayed in the TLRP webpages. Students should select those areas that harmonize with their own research interests.
  • In addition to online materials accessible via the Library, materials for each topic area will be made available on DUO, and if students are travelling to destinations where internet access is limited, they will be expected to make sensible use of these in advance.
  • The specific formulation of the TLRP will be discussed in conjunction with the student’s supervisor, and students will follow an agreed programme of reading whilst supplementing their work by displaying evidence of independent research skills and bibliographic initiative.
  • As students are expected to spend at least nine months in the host culture, it is expected that they will engage with the TLRP as soon as they arrive, and that they will work towards initial consultation with their supervisor within one month of arrival.
  • Supervisors will give feedback via email at three distinct phases of production: (a) an initial compulsory proposal of no more than 200 words outlining an approach to the chosen topic area, which will have to be approved by the supervisor before proceeding onto the next stage; (b) a 500-word essay plan outlining the direction to be explored in the project and listing key bibliographic items that have already proven to be useful; and (c) a 500-word sample from the essay.
  • In each instance, comments and feedback will be given to the student on standardized TLRP feedback forms, copies of which will be logged with the School Year Abroad Administrator. To ensure parity of treatment between students completing the TLRP, supervisors will not be expected to read additional drafts or to give any other form of additional guidance. • Any changes of topic must be approved by the supervisor.
  • The final version of the TLRP must be submitted electronically by 1 September in advance of Michaelmas Term. Students will receive written feedback on standardized TLRP feedback forms by the second week of the Michaelmas Term, and key aspects of good practice applicable to the dissertation will be discussed with the relevant supervisor.
  • Assessment will evaluate students’ ability to assimilate, understand, and analyse critically the primary and secondary material associated with their topics, their powers of intercultural awareness, their ability to present a sustained argument with suitable evidence, their ability to express themselves fluently and accurately in the target language, paying due attention to the relevant conventions of academic writing, as well as the extent to which their experience abroad has informed the project.
  • Students will also be expected to produce a full and proper bibliography.
  • The TLRP is not credit-bearing, but will be graded by percentage on the student’s degree transcript. Students who pass will proceed to the Year Abroad programme; those who fail will be transferred to the non-year abroad version of the programme.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours

Summative Assessment

Component: TLRP project (Japanese) Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5,000 words in English and summary of up to 1000 characters in Japanese 100% No

Formative Assessment:

Submission and feedback on: (a) the 200-word proposal (b) the 500-word essay plan and (c) the 500-word sample from the essay.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University

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