BA History and Sociology

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
History Dissertation

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


This unit enables students to construct a research project on a unique and original topic that seeks to contribute to the field of knowledge in the discipline of History, supervised by an assigned member of academic staff. The thesis is akin to a mini-book, and will develop students’ capacities to define a research project’s contours and articulate its intellectual merit, conduct original research and work towards completing it independently. Students will write a dissertation of 12,000 words (40 credits) on an aspect of history which MUST be related to the module in which they are enrolled (semester 1 or 2, subject to CUD availability). The thesis may include areas of controversy, debate, methodology, or approach and is also primarily a work of original analysis based on primary source materials.

Supervision is allocated across the department with a cap of 10 students per supervisor. Therefore, students cannot be guaranteed a particular topic or a particular supervisor and should not plan for this. Once modules and supervisors are assigned in September through the online system, students will agree on the specific topic with their assigned supervisor. Students should not commence research until negotiating the topic with their supervisor in October, and completing any required Ethics applications.


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

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


- To train students extensively in working with primary sources.

- 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.

- 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.

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

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

Assessment methods

Topic declaration/workplan 0
Sample chapter 0
Dissertation 100


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

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.


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.


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



Recommended reading

This will vary according to the dissertation topic chosen.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 1
Project supervision 5
Independent study hours
Independent study 394

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Christopher Godden Unit coordinator

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