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Durham University

Faculty Handbook 2022-2023

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

MLAC3966: Target Language Research Project (Chinese)

Type Open Level 3 Credits 120 Availability Available in 2022/23 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 aspects of their studies linked to the target culture by producing a research project in each of the languages they intend to study at Level 3.
  • By providing experience in planning, documenting, and writing an extended piece of work, the TLRP will increase the facility of students to use the Chinese 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 Chinese.
  • 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 (2 Languages) involves researching and writing during the year abroad two essays in the target languages to be studied at Level 3. Each piece of work should be informed by the student’s intercultural awareness and knowledge of the target culture, and should be based on analysis of suitable primary materials (e.g. literary texts, films, visual culture, theatre, popular culture, mass media, historical or political texts).
  • Students will choose a general topic area for each language from a list issued by the School, and will work with their supervisors before the end of their second year and during the year abroad to define their topics, plan their approach and identify suitable resources.
  • Finalized copies must be submitted electronically by 1 September in advance of Michaelmas Term of the final year of study.
  • Students will receive written feedback by the second week of the Michaelmas Term, and key aspects of good practice applicable to the final-year dissertation will be discussed with the relevant dissertation 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 Chinese 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.
  • 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 proposal of no more than 200 words outlining an approach to the agreed topic area; (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 proformas, 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.
  • 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 proformas 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, and their ability to express themselves fluently and accurately in the target language, paying due attention to the relevant conventions of academic writing.
  • Students will also be expected to produce a full and appropriately formatted bibliography.
  • The TLRP is not credit-bearing, but will be graded by a percentage mark and appear 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.
  • TLRP topics
  • 1) Local/International News: analyse Chinese local/national news coverage of a topical issue
  • 2) Films: analyse one or a group of Chinese films and explore how they represent the contemporary or historical life in China
  • 3) Environmental Issues: evaluate an aspect of practice or policy related to the Chinese environment
  • 4) Cultural Review: write a critical review of a Chinese book, theatrical or other arts production/event which is published/released/performed while you are in China
  • 5) Television: examine how Chinese television programming, or a specific broadcast/series, reflects China’s local/national culture
  • 6) Local/National Heroes and Icons: evaluate the importance of a topical media, cultural or historical personality for Chinese national culture and explore the reasons for their iconic status
  • 7) The Internet: examine and critically evaluate the development of the internet in China and its socio-cultural implications
  • 8) Places, Past and Present: explore the local/national importance of a Chinese museum, historic location, architectural style, or topography

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours

Summative Assessment

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

Formative Assessment:

Submission and feedback on: (a) the initial proposal of 200 words (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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