BA Politics and Modern History / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Thesis (40 credits)

Unit code HIST30970
Credit rating 40
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Full year
Offered by History
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit enables students to pursue their own interests by constructing a research project on a unique and original topic based on primary materials with a member of academic staff of their choosing (subject to availability), but linked to one of their L3 courses. It will develop students’ capacities to define a research project, and work towards completing it independently. Students may endeavour to write about any aspect of history related to the course to which the dissertation is attached, and, if the supervisor agrees to supervise, will produce a thesis of 12000 (40-credit) words on this topic, focusing in particular on areas of controversy, debate, methodology, or approach and relying heavily on an analysis of primary sources.


HIST30970 is restricted to History programmes, History and American Studies programmes and European Studies programmes (please check your programme regulations for further details).

This module is only available to students on History-owned programmes; Euro Studies programmes; and History joint honours programmes owned by other subject areas. May not be taken in conjunction with any other dissertation module.


  1. To train students extensively in working with primary sources.
  2. To provide students with an opportunity to write in depth and at length on an aspect of history based in their own interests, and those of their supervisor.
  3. To build on, and develop, students’ abilities to undertake independent study, research and critical thinking, including:
  • personal skills involved in defining, undertaking and completing a project
  • the assessment, evaluation and deployment of critical material on their chosen topic
  • writing skills appropriate to the demands of an extended piece of written work at L3, which will equip students for writing at L4 and in employment after graduation.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to;


Independent Study project with associated training sessions and one to one supervision

Teaching and learning methods

  • Independent study
  • 4 x training sessions across the academic year
  • 5 (minimum) x one-to-one supervision sessions
  • Training and guidance materials relevant to the dissertation will be posted on the course BB site and the dissertation will be submitted and returned via Turnitin

Knowledge and understanding

This will vary according to the topic chosen. By the end of this course unit the successful student will have demonstrated:

  • independence in the ability to formulate a suitable research topic based on the student’s own interests and those of the supervisor
  • Resourcefulness – including an ability to use electronic resources as appropriate – in the ability to research that topic
  • The ability to locate, with guidance, a suitable body of primary material for the production of an extended piece of research
  • The ability to assimilate and deploy appropriately critical material on that topic
  • The formal and intellectual skills requisite to the production of an extended piece of written work
  • Familiarity and comfort in producing original ideas based on primary research.
  • An ability to undertake and complete an extended research project, of a length similar to work published in academic journals.

Intellectual skills

  • Defining a problem
  • devising a solution to it
  • organising complex arguments
  • The production of autonomous interpretations

Practical skills

  • Researching a problem
  • working with an experienced member of staff on devising a solution to it
  • writing at length
  • organising complex arguments
  • Finding and using primary research materials, and arguing from them, in direct engagement with pertinent historiography

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Autonomous working
  • working one-to-one with experts
  • managing long projects
  • putting together extensive pieces of prose.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Critical thinking and analysis
Responsibility and autonomous working
Project management
Managing long-term projects
Locating, organising and interpreting large quantities of evidence
Written communication
To convey complex ideas via written communication skills

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 100%

Feedback methods

Extensive oral feedback will be offered during the five individual meetings with the supervisor, as well as during the classes to which the topic is attached - formative.

Substantial written feedback on a draft chapter, and plan of the dissertation, will be offered, not to exceed 3000 words. This work must be submitted in a timely manner in order to allow purposeful feedback - formative.

Feedback via Turnitin with extended written feedback, if required, via email at student’s request - summative.

Recommended reading

This will vary according to the dissertation topic chosen.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 4
Project supervision 5
Independent study hours
Independent study 391

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Paul Oldfield Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Assessment Methods

1 x Dissertation (40 credits), summative, 12000 words, 100%



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