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BASS Philosophy and Criminology

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Short Dissertation

Unit code CRIM30620
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Full year
Offered by School of Social Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course unit runs over both semesters. During semester 1, there are weekly one-hour workshops.

During the first 5 core sessions in semester 1, students will work on identifying their research topic, how to shape this into a researchable question, the best ways to search for literature and how to structure a literature review, and how to compile the dissertation. For the second half of semester 1 (sessions 6-10), students will be divided into two groups, depending on which dissertation pathway they choose, and will continue to have weekly one-hour workshops as follows:

The research proposal pathway sessions will consider:

•        The process of criminological research

•        Research strategy and design

•        Research methods

•        Ethics, challenges and limitations of research.

The secondary data analysis sessions will consider:

•      Locating and evaluating data

•      getting data and importing data into R

•      Data ’carpentry’

•      Presenting your data

In the second semester, students will be allocated to specific dissertation advisers and make use of one-to-one supervision sessions.




Restricted to: BA (Criminology) students, for whom this unit is compulsory if not doing LAWS30610; also available students on the BA Social Science degrees who are taking the Criminology pathways. 

Pre-requisite: To have studied at least 40 credits of Level 1 Criminology course units. 


 This course aims to:

  • Engage students with the theoretical nature and practical issues of undertaking criminological research.
  • Encourage the exploration of dilemmas and synergies of particular research design and methods appropriate to their area of study.
  • Enable students to explore a research question in depth, by means of writing a research proposal or by conducting a piece of secondary data analysis.


Learning outcomes

On completion of this course unit, students who take full advantage of the opportunities offered will be able demonstrate the following personal skills:

  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of how to do 'research'.
  • An effective use of literature search tools.
  • Understand the debates concerning the ethics of research.
  • Ability to research, select and critically analyse key literature, using appropriate referencing to support the work.
  • Illustrate strong written communication skills and time management skills.

Plus, for the Research Proposal Pathway:

  • Understand the process of criminological research from the identification of researchable questions through to determining appropriate research strategy, design and method.
  • Ability to design and write a rigorous criminological research proposal including awareness of ethical issues, potential limitations, and the 'politics' of the research process.

Plus, for the Secondary Data Analysis Pathway:

  • Demonstrate skills in conducting and communicating findings from a piece of empircal research.
  • Demonstrate competence using R/SPSS for basic data tasks and analysis.


Teaching and learning methods

 The core sessions (weeks 1 - 5) are compulsory for all students and will combine formal lectures, interactive learning and group exercises. There will always be time during and at the end of the session for questions. (sessions 6-10), the group will be split according to the pathway selected: The Research Proposal Pathway or the Secondary Data Analysis Pathway. These pathways will have their own, seperate teaching sessions in semester 1.

During semester 2, you will have supervision meetings with your dissertation supervisor. We will endeavour to match your research topic with your supervisor's expertise wherever possible. The purpose of these supervision meetings is to check on your progress, offer support and advice and to help develop the structure of your work. These sessions are critical to the development of your dissertation.



Assessment methods

5000 word dissertation.

If choosing the Research Proposal Pathway, students will be expected to produce a critical literature review and a research proposal in this work.

If the Secondary Data Analysis Pathway is selected, the dissertation will  present the results of an empirical secondary data analysis.


Feedback methods

Independent work is central to this module, but individual consultations allow for formative feedback.

Recommended reading

See Link2List via the library website to access the reading list for this course unit. 


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 5
Practical classes & workshops 5
Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Caroline Miles Unit coordinator

Additional notes


Students on the Secondary Data Analysis Pathways will also be able to benefit from the support offered via the Q-Step initiative, aimed at improving the teaching and learning quantitative skills. 

Weeks 1-5: Core sessions

Weeks 6-10: Pathway sessions

Semester 2: Small group meeting (week 1) followed by individual meetings with your confirmed supervisor (Wednesdays 11-1pm)


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