MA Religions and Theology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
PG Dissertation

Course unit fact file
Unit code RELT60000
Credit rating 60
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Available as a free choice unit? No


This module is designed to support students in writing a substantial piece of independent research, on a topic, question or problem in Religions and Theology, Religion and Social Anthropology, Philosophy and Religion, or on any other cognate and co-supervised subjects within SALC or SoSS. With the assistance of an academic supervisor or interdisciplinary supervisory team, each student selects the topic for the dissertation during the first semester, 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 the limitations to the proposed project, 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.


  • Enable students to identify a research topic for sustained, 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 unit RELT 61131 (Methods) and RELT 61151 (Impacts). As part of this two core courses students will have to select a series of seminars run by the department for cognate departments to enhance their wider understanding of their individual research project. 

Teaching and learning methods

6 hours minimum: no less than 6 x 1hour supervisions with academic supervisor on a one-to-one basis. 

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 philosophical and anthropolical terminology. 
  • Demonstrate the ability to formulate an hypothesis and set of research questions, to identify relevant sources to answer these research question in accordance with academic standards and to present their findings properly. 

Intellectual skills

  • 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 

Practical skills

  • 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 and keep a record of supervisory meetings, 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 

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Dissertation 100%

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Supervised time in studio/wksp 6
Independent study hours
Independent study 600

Return to course details