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MSc History of Science, Technology and Medicine / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Dissertation in HSTM, Science Communication studies or Medical Humanities

Unit code HSTM60632
Credit rating 60
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Centre for History of Science, Technology & Medicine (L5)
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

The dissertation allows students to use skills developed across the taught component of the programme in working more independently, under supervision, on an original piece of research.

The focus may (subject to supervisor availability) be on any topic covered by the student’s degree programme pathway. Depending on pathway choices, this may include the following areas:

  • history of science, technology and/or medicine (STM) in any period, including the contemporary;
  • science and technology studies, including sociological and anthropological perspectives;
  • science policy studies;
  • innovation studies;
  • science communication studies, including the history and theory of engagement, networking and media as applied to STM;
  • bioethics or medical ethics;
  • approaches to medicine and healthcare from a variety of disciplinary perspectives in the arts and humanities, including those of art history, classics, religious studies or theology, gender studies, philosophy, and law.

The dissertation may be based on the same subject matter as one of the student’s assessed essays from the taught component, though it may not substantially duplicate the essay.

Pre/co-requisites

Pre-requisite: The 120-credit taught component of MSc History of science, technology and medicine must be passed in full to allow submission of a dissertation.

Co-requisite: See programme specification for MSc History of science, technology and medicine.

Aims

The unit aims to:

  • produce a substantial piece of original research, firmly grounded in the appropriate primary and secondary literature, appropriate to the student’s chosen degree programme and pathway
  • present this research clearly and effectively in the form of a dissertation (thesis) following disciplinary conventions on format and structure.

Syllabus

The dissertation allows students to use skills developed across the taught component of the programme in working more independently, under supervision, on an original piece of research.

The focus may (subject to supervisor availability) be on any topic covered by the student’s degree programme pathway. Depending on pathway choices, this may include the following areas:

  • history of science, technology and/or medicine (STM) in any period, including the contemporary
  • science and technology studies, including sociological and anthropological perspectives
  • science policy studies
  • innovation studies
  • science communication studies, including the history and theory of engagement, networking and media as applied to STM
  • bioethics or medical ethics
  • approaches to medicine and healthcare from a variety of disciplinary perspectives in the arts and humanities, including those of art history, classics, religious studies or theology, gender studies, philosophy, and law.

The dissertation may be based on the same subject matter as one of the student’s assessed essays from the taught component, though it may not substantially duplicate the essay.

 

Teaching and learning methods

The taught component of the programme includes classes with all the available supervisors and introduces the full range of potential fields of study, thus preparing students to identify areas of research interest and set up supervision arrangements. At the same time, research skills classes prepare the groundwork for detailed specialist study and writing.

A list of potential project outlines (with assigned supervisors) will be made available to students near the end of Semester One/Three: students may choose a topic from this list or may devise their own project, in consultation with the supervisor, provided it is compatible with the supervisor’s interests and expertise.

All students prepare a dissertation proposal early in Semester Two/Four, and will present this orally to peers and staff at a formal session. From then students will meet regularly with supervisors to discuss research strategies and directions, to review and critique draft material, and to ensure progress.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate extensive knowledge of a specialist area in their chosen field.
  • Demonstrate understanding (beyond what is established in the taught component of the programme) of practical research skills in their chosen field, including the ability to identify and analyse research questions, devise research strategies to explore these questions, and to analyse and present results and conclusions.

Intellectual skills

  • Understand how to identify and pursue research questions, and to critically analyse and present research results and conclusions.
  • Identify and analyse problems.
  • Critically interpret primary and secondary material relevant to the research project.
  • Plan and organize an in-depth piece of original scholarly writing in their chosen field.

Practical skills

  • Employ a high level of library and IT skills, including the ability to use a range of reference tools to search and retrieve information.
  • Display a comprehensive set of skills in identifying, sourcing and using primary and secondary literature.
  • Write and reference according to appropriate scholarly conventions.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Display ability in analytical and critical thinking, information gathering and management, and the written and spoken communication of facts and arguments.

Assessment methods

Dissertation proposal (up to 3000 words), pass or fail

Oral Presentation (5 minutes), pass or fail

Dissertation (up to 17,500 words), 100%

Feedback methods

Dissertation proposal: Report from programme director or supervisor; standard turnaround time applies

Oral presentation of dissertation proposal: Verbal comments during or after the presentation session, followed by a short written report as appropriate

Dissertation: Detailed written reports from two assessors marking independently. Turnaround may be 4 or 5 working weeks

Recommended reading

Not applicable, as the literature addressed will depend entirely on the topic chosen. Readings on research and writing skills are addressed in documentation for the relevant course unit.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 600

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
James Sumner Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Notional hours of learning: The number of hours which it is expected that a learner (at a particular level) will spend, on average, to achieve the specified learning outcomes at that level. It is expected that there will be 10 hours of notional study associated with every 1 credit achieved. Therefore if a unit is worth 30 credits, this will equate to 300 notional study hours, in accordance with the Credit Framework (QAA).

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