BASS Politics and Criminology

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Dissertation A

Course unit fact file
Unit code POLI30300
Credit rating 40
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Full year
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Students select their own research topic for the dissertation which must be within the broad area of politics and international relations. This is a broad area, and includes (but is not limited to) analytical political theory, critical global politics, comparative politics, British politics, policymaking studies, gender studies, cultural studies, international relations, international politics, human rights, area studies, electoral studies. Topics that relate to students' other Politics modules are particularly welcomed, as the student will have the advantage of an existing grounding in the topic.  


Available to student on the following degree programmes: BSocSc Politics & IR, PMH, Phil/Pol, BA Econ single specialists in Politics, BASS Politics pathways

Available to student on the following degree programmes:  

BSocSc Politics & IR, PMH, Phil/Pol, BA Econ single specialists in Politics, BASS Politics pathways  


The experience of undertaking a dissertation forms a core element of politics provision. In undertaking a dissertation, a student has the opportunity to develop their own intellectual interests.  Students can think and write about a topic in real depth, and pose their own questions.  For many students, doing the dissertation is one of the most rewarding, and challenging modules they take on their degree. 

Dissertations teach students how to define a researchable problem, to decide upon appropriate sources, and to develop a sustained argument. In addition, dissertations reinforce and extend analytical skills, while also enabling students to learn how to use the scholarly techniques of constructing a bibliography and a framework of footnotes.

Learning outcomes

Objectives: A student will:- (1) study a chosen topic in depth; (2) learn to define a researchable problem; (3) learn to decide upon appropriate sources; (4) learn to use a scholarly apparatus of footnotes and bibliography; (5) learn to develop a sustained argument; (6) enhance analytic skills; and (7) develop intellectual independence.

Teaching and learning methods

A series of lectures in first semester, and a number of individual one-to-one meetings with an appointed supervisor in first and second semesters. 

POLI30300 Dissertation A (40 credits): 6 x 30 minute meetings (or equivalent) 

Please note, supervisors are allocated to students by the course convenor no later than week 7 of first semester.  Students are required to do some preparatory work on their topic before supervisor allocations, in the form of an annotated bibliography and topic information form.  We start work on the dissertation from week 1, as a group, and individually, before students work more closely with supervisors one-to-one.

Unlike some other subjects, Politics dissertation allows students to select any politics topic, within the broad definition of politics and international relations (see course unit overview for a longer definition).  Students are not tied to topics directly related to their module choices, for example.  This means that we allocate supervisors as soon as possible after the module has started, once we know who is taking the module, and what their broad interests are. 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Doing a Politics dissertation can help in future career choices in many ways.  For example, for those wishing to go onto to post-graduate study (Masters and PhDs), the dissertation (both 20 and 40 credits) shows your commitment to a field of study, and your own intellectual passions and knowledge.  It also gives a chance to show off your research skulls, and own arguments. 

Many graduate positions are essentially about identifying an issue, and looking at ways to resolve that issue, as well as handling reports and documents.  Whether you chose to go into a corporate managerial role, the financial sector, consultancy, an NGO, the civil service, or whatever, a great deal of graduate-level jobs are about handling information e.g. reviewing, compiling and writing reports.  The dissertation is a great way to showcase your ability to attack a problem and handle large volume of information in doing so. 

Assessment methods

POLI30300 Dissertation A (40 credits): between 8,000 and 9,000 words of text [including footnotes and references]

Recommended reading

Dissertation handbook

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 7
Project supervision 3
Independent study hours
Independent study 390

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Nicholas Turnbull Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Length of course: 23 weeks

POLI30300 is available only to Honours students on the following degree programmes:

BSocSc Politics and International Relations
Politics and Modern History
Philosophy and Politics
BA (Economic and Social Studies) with a single specialisation in politics

POLI30300 is NOT available to students who are permanently off Honours and also is NOT available to Phil/Pol and BA (Econ) students who are allowed to carry extra credits in an attempt to regain Honours.

A student may NOT register for both POLI30300 and POLI30380.


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