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Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2021/2022

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: Government and International Affairs

SGIA49860: Dissertation

Type Open Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2021/22

Prerequisites

  • None.

Corequisites

  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.

Aims

  • The module aims to provide an opportunity for MA and MSc students to engage in a substantial piece of scholarship into an appropriate area of their choice and under suitable supervisory guidance. The dissertation is the culmination of the MA and MSc programme.

Content

  • Students will produce a dissertation of no more than 10,000 words. The content of the dissertation is dependent upon the field chosen by the student in consultation with their supervisor.
  • The dissertation requires students to produce an extended piece of research and analysis that treats a specific topic in depth within the broad methodological frameworks of the programme and the contexts specific to the chosen topic in connection with their chosen modules.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Through the dissertation students gain:
  • Advanced and in-depth knowledge of an appropriate field of study of their choice.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Through the dissertation process students should develop the use of highly specialised and advanced technical, professional and scholastic skills including the ability to:
  • Students will produce a dissertation of no more than 10,000 words. The content of the dissertation is dependent upon the field chosen by the student in consultaiton with their supervisor
  • The dissertation requires students to produce an extended piece of research and analysis that treats a specific topic in depth within the broad methodological frameworks of the programme and the context specific to the chosen topic in connection with their chosen modules.
Key Skills:
  • Through the dissertation, student should enhance key skills, including:
  • •Self-reliance in conducting research;
  • A self-critical approach to research and the effective utilisation of resources;
  • Organisational skills in managing time in order to produce a substantial piece of work on time and to length with limited supervisory guidance;
  • • Skills of effective and appropriate presentation of academic work.

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

  • The dissertation stands as the opportunity for students to undertake a largely independent piece of research and as such 'teaching', in the sense of imparting knowledge, is minimal. Instead, supervisors serve as a source of advice and guidance on issues such as: developing an appropriate overall structure for the dissertation; advising on possible sources of literature and other data; offering critical feedback on a limited amount of draft material; and providing support and advice on overcoming problems, in accordance with the learning outcomes. Learning is therefore principally self-directed, with students taking the lead in devising the research project, identifying appropriate resources, developing their ideas and planning how best to conduct and present their work. This serves the learning outcomes through encouraging students to work effectively, in a self-reliant and self-critical manner to develop their knowledge and understanding and hone their analytical and other relevant subject skills.
  • One lecture will in Michaelmas will provide students with an overview of what is expected in a dissertation. The lecture will cover such topics as, for example, what is a research question, how to formulate a research question, what purpose does a literature review serve, and how to structure a dissertation.
  • To further guide students in the formulation of their dissertation one seminar of two hours will be run in Epiphany term. This seminar will be more closely aligned with the relevant methodological direction of the dissertation and will address, for example, research design, methodologies and/or methods used in the dissertations, selecting and applying the right methods, the role and application of theory, dissertation structure. Students are encrouaged to given an oral presentation of their research plans and receive feedback during the seminar.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lecture 1 Michaelmas term 1 hour 1
Seminar 1 Epiphany term 2 hours 2
Other A minimum of 6 supervisory meetings or a minimum of 6 hours supervision Between Novermber and September Variable 6
Preparation and Reading 591
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Dissertation Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Word Dissertation 10,000 100%

Formative Assessment:

Students are strongly encouraged to submit a draft plan of the dissertation for discussion and review with their supervisor. Students may submit a draft chapter or section of the final draft, approximately 2,500 words in length, on which they will receive comments and feedback from their supervisor. All students are given regular formative feedback from the supervisor on the progress of the dissertation during supervisory meetings.


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