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School of Modern Languages & Cultures: Department of Arabic

Cross School Dissertation in English

Pre-requisites: Core Language Level 2 module in at least one of the two target languages

Co-requisites: Core Language Level 3 module in at least one of the two target languages 

About this Module 

This module aims to provide those students who have opted for greater depth by studying one or two languages the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of one aspect of their studies by researching and writing in English an extensive piece of work in an area in which two partner departments can offer research supervision.  It will also provide experience in planning, documenting and writing an extended piece of work (8000 words). It will also increase students' facility in expressing themselves at a suitable academic level in English and in presenting and referencing their work according to the conventions of academic writing. It will provide invaluable practice for those students wishing to progress to postgraduate study and develop independent learning, a genuine commitment to research, the ability to organise and manage a longer project, and to write fluently and accurately. 

The dissertation involves researching and writing an extended piece of work in English on a subject in which two partner departments can offer research supervision. Students will thus be working closely with experts in the field. In order to be accepted onto the dissertation module, students will have to demonstrate their preparedness by having done a relevant module at level 2, or by registering for a relevant module at level 3, although the dissertation is not in principle tied to a particular module. Students must also have as a pre-requisite at least one of the core languages at Level 2 and as a co-requisite the other at Level 3.  This is to ensure that their dissertation is adequately supported in terms of background knowledge and/or suitable critical and theoretical approaches. Its precise contents are to be determined by negotiation with their supervisors, subject to approval by LTC.

Preparation for the dissertation will begin at the end of the second year, when students should approach the relevant Heads of Department, who will direct them to the appropriate supervisors. Supervisors will suggest possible subjects, and a preliminary bibliography, so that students can pursue a guided course of reading during their year abroad. In the light of their reading and discussion with their supervisors when students return to Durham in their final year, their subject will be defined and the dissertation title approved by the Board of Studies early in the Michaelmas term. Students will work independently, with some further advice from their supervisors, and will submit their dissertation by the last day of the Epiphany term. 

Learning and Teaching 

The topic of the dissertation will be chosen in conjunction with the student's supervisors, and s/he will follow an agreed programme of reading. There will be a lead supervisor, chosen by agreement but both supervisors will offer active input. Students will be given two seminars on research skills and will have an additional six individual supervisions divided by agreement between each supervisor over the course of the academic year, written records of which will be kept by the supervisor concerned. By the end of the second week of the Michaelmas term, students must submit to their supervisors a title, together with a programme of study for the dissertation. Failure to meet this deadline will result in students being required to drop the dissertation module at this point and to take an alternative module. By the end of teaching week 6, students should submit in English a 300-word outline plan of the dissertation to their supervisors. By the first Friday of the Epiphany term, they should submit in English a 1000-word extract to their supervisors. The supervisors will comment in writing on both plan and extract, and these will be discussed in tutorials and further advice will be given.

Assessment of the dissertation will evaluate students' ability to assimilate, understand and analyse critically the primary and secondary material associated with their dissertation topic, also their ability to present a sustained argument with suitable evidence, and to express themselves fluently and accurately in English, paying due attention to the relevant conventions of academic writing. Students will also be expected to produce a full and proper bibliography. 

Summative Assessment 

An 8000-word dissertation, written in English (100%).  To be submitted by the last day of Epiphany term.