Year of entry: 2024
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Course unit details:
|FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
|Available as a free choice unit?
This module is designed to support students in writing a dissertation, a substantial piece of independent and original research on a topic, question or problem in History. With the assistance of an academic supervisor (and, in the early stages, the PGT Programme Director), each student selects the topic for the dissertation, defines the scope of inquiry, and frames the questions or problems to be addressed in his/her work. The first semester’s work culminates in the production of a formatively assessed Research Outline (due early in Semester 2) that describes the research problem/question(s), evaluates the available evidence, identifies risks and challenges, and sets out the writer’s working hypotheses. Thereafter, the student works independently, supported by supervisions, to bring the project to fruition at the end of the academic year.
The course aims to:
- Enable students to identify a research topic for sustained, original, and independent research
- Develop advanced research skills, including:
- Identification of research issues/questions: defining scope and select appropriate research methodology
- Develop advanced skills in selecting, evaluating and engaging critically with primary sources (textual or material)
- Enhance ability to identify, evaluate and critique relevant secondary literature
- Evaluate and present results of analysis, in the context of broader research
As this module supports an advanced piece of individual and independent research, there is no single unified ‘syllabus.’ Students will not only receive expert advice from their supervisor throughout the year, but will also benefit from those training sessions in the linked MA compulsory core course units HIST64181 and HIST64282 Historical Research 1 & 2. Students will be asked, as part of the summative assessment of HIST64282 to write 3,000 words related to the MA dissertation research process, including a 1,500 research outline, developed together with a dedicated dissertation supervisor. The production of the dissertation is a cumulative and iterative process.
Teaching and learning methods
One-to-one supervision meetings:
2 hours with the academic supervisor (4 x 30 minute supervisions), plus consultations by email, as appropriate.
Knowledge and understanding
Demonstrate critical awareness of previous research scholarship on the chosen topic
Demonstrate appropriate familiarity with, and confidence in engaging with advanced methodologies, theoretical frameworks, or technical aspects of relevant material (e.g., as appropriate, in numismatics, epigraphy, literary criticism etc.)
Demonstrate understanding of critical or theoretical ideas
Construct lucid, persuasive and sustained argument in support of a research hypothesis
Conduct independent research that ranges widely (as appropriate) over different types of evidence, analysing and synthesising the results intelligently
Plan and structure a sustained and multi-faceted piece of research
Plan, conduct and report on research, within a specified timetable, making use of available resources
Take active responsibility for academic progress and development: identify a programme of work, arrange regular supervisions, reflect on and learn from feedback (both written and oral)
Present advanced academic work in an appropriate format, adhering to School and Departmental guidelines
Transferable skills and personal qualities
Identify skills gaps and seek relevant training and support where necessary
Conduct themselves as a member of a research community
- Analytical skills
- The course involves a large number of important employment skills, most notably an ability to analyse and examine a large amount of often difficult information
- Problem solving
- an ability to see both sides of an argument
- Written communication
- the ability to retrieve information from complex sources and present it in a compelling and cogent fashion.
- the ability to synthesise an argument in a cogent form
|Formative or Summative
|Oral feedback in initial discussions of topic, scope, etc.
|Oral and written feedback on Research Outline
|Oral and written feedback on draft chapter
|Written feedback on Dissertation
Specific reading on dissertation topics will vary from project to project. Students may, however, like to browse through the following on various aspects of academic writing:
Umberto Eco, How to Write a Thesis (Cambridge, Mass., 2015).
|Scheduled activity hours
Please Note: There are also approximately 33 contact hours in the associated core skills training units (HIST64181 and HIST64282) that are focussed on skills needed for the Research Outline and for the dissertation itself.