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BA French and Chinese / Course details
Year of entry: 2024
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Course unit details:
Dissertation in Modern Languages and Cultures
|Available as a free choice unit?
This course unit is a guided research unit, in which the student writes a 10,000-word dissertation on a subject of their own choosing that relates to their programme and/or language of study. The student will be expected to identify and develop a dissertation topic appropriate to the scale of the project. They will shape a central research question that should provide scope to explore sophisticated critical issues and undertake complex research and analysis. Following some initial lectures on key issues related to undertaking and designing a dissertation project, the student will work with a dissertation supervisor in their subject area, who will provide guidance with relevant research methods, writing skills and analysis of data. Thus, this course unit affords the student the opportunity to design and undertake a large research project, and will involve significant independent research.
IMPORTANT: Students are reminded that they should seek formal ethical approval before undertaking any research for their dissertation that involves third parties (e.g. interviews, questionnaires, etc.). This includes any preliminary research that students may wish to undertake during their year abroad or the summer prior to their final year. They should contact the Course Unit Director for guidance on how and when to apply for such approval.
To develop a better understanding of the languages, cultures and/or histories of an area of the world
To explore an aspect of the languages, cultures and/or histories of an area of the world in greater analytical depth
To develop critical thinking, conceptual reasoning and analytical skills
To place an analysis of culture and/or history in their social, aesthetic and political context
An indicative list of topics to be covered in the three lectures scheduled for the start of Semester 1 are:
How to devise a workable dissertation
How to write and revise research questions
How to compile a critical bibliography on a given topic
How to make the most of e-resources
How to write a literature review
How to write effective plans
3 methodology lectures followed by individual meetings with the supervisor
In cases in which a supervisor has more than one student, there may be a group-work component to the course unit. Any such groups will normally be 3-6 students, who will meet to discuss research findings and review each other’s work, under the guidance of their supervisor. Additionally, students will have one to one meetings with their supervisor.
The language of instruction of this unit is English. Please note, however, that it is a requirement to demonstrate engagement with the target language in the dissertation (if applicable), through analysis/use of either primary or secondary sources.
The Blackboard website for this module includes:
PowerPoint slides for all lectures
Instructions on all assessment components
Knowledge and understanding
Show an in-depth knowledge of an aspect of the languages, cultures and/or histories of and area of the world
Show familiarity with key scholarly debates and literature about their chosen topic
Define a topic for research
Write and revise a key research question
Write analytical plans for extended pieces of work
Develop a written argument of depth and complexity, using primary sources (if required) and critical literature, with a standard of scholarly presentation of the material produced appropriate to Level 3 study.
Use the library, electronic and online resources
Engage in significant independent research
Design a large-scale research project appropriate to Level 3 study
Organize a large volume of information
Transferable skills and personal qualities
Manage time effectively, self-motivate and work to deadlines
Communicate a coherent and critical argument of depth and complexity in written form
Use information and communication technology (ICT)
Assess the relevance and importance of the ideas of others
Demonstrate powers of analysis
Display good literacy skills in English
- Assessment methods
Formative or Summative Weighting within unit (%)
Dissertation title, abstract and annotated bibliography
Formative or Summative
Written and oral feedback on the title, abstract and annotated bibliography in week 6-7
Written and oral feedback on the dissertation plan by week 12
Written and oral feedback on draft chapter no later than 15 working days after submission
Written feedback on the dissertation
Chambers, Ellie, and Northledge, Andrew, The Arts Good Study Guide (Milton Keynes: Oxford University Press, 1997)
Reardon, Denis, Doing Your Undergraduate Project (London: SAGE, 2004)
Scheduled activity hours Lectures 3 Tutorials 6 Independent study hours Independent study 391
An average mark of 60% at Level 2 is highly recommended for admission onto this course unit. Students who do not have to take this unit as part of their degree requirements and who have an average mark of less than 60% at Level 2 will need to seek approval from the Course Unit Director to be able to take this unit.
Enrolment procedure: Students must submit their dissertation topic proposal form to the course unit director by the end of the first Friday of September. It is expected that in most circumstances students will have already undertaken preparatory research, especially taking advantage of sources available during the period of residence abroad (if applicable), before beginning the unit. Following submission of the proposal form, the Course Unit Director will work with colleagues in the subject area to then evaluate the topic, decide whether it is feasible and, if so, whether there is sufficient expertise within the subject area to supervise the project. Students will be offered the chance to change their topic in cases where approval is not forthcoming. If an appropriate topic cannot be finalised by the end of Week 2 then a student will be required to choose alternative units. If approved, the student will be allocated a supervisor based on 1) staff expertise and 2) fair distribution of workload among staff. When, because of workload distribution, it is not possible to allocate students to the supervisor whose expertise is most appropriate, students will be offered the choice of changing their topic. In cases in which particular expertise is highly popular, students may be allocated a supervisor based on their second year average mark or based on the strength of their proposal. Allocation of supervisors will be finalised by the end of week 1 of teaching. In cases in which a supervisor has more than one student, there may be a group-work component to the course unit. Any such groups will normally be 3-6 students, who will meet to discuss research findings and review each other's work, under the guidance of their supervisor. Additionally, students will have one to one meetings with their supervisor.