BASS Politics and Criminology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Short Dissertation

Course unit fact file
Unit code CRIM30620
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Full year
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit is designed to provide students with an opportunity to explore and investigate their own research topic relating to crime, deviance and/or criminal justice. In doing so, you will apply the research skills you have been trained in years 1 & 2 to real-world problems. This unit spans the full year and so you should expect to work on it during both semesters. You will have the support of teaching staff throughout the academic year, first in taught classes, then in 1-to-1 supervision.

Indicative content: Non-supervisory teaching will be in semester one. All students will receive five core sessions: (1) Introduction; (2) From research topic to research question(s); (3) Literature search; (4) Literature review; (5) Putting it all together. After reading week, students split into one of three teaching streams - (i) research proposal, (ii) quantitative data analysis, or (ii) qualitative data analysis and attend weekly sessions according to their chosen pathway.

In semester two, students receive individual supervision from an appointed member of staff.


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 unit aims to: (1) engage students with the theory and practice of criminological research; (2) encourage exploration of the dilemmas and synergies associated with particular research designs and methods appropriate to their area of study; (3) enable students to explore a research question in depth, by means of writing a research proposal or by conducting data analysis.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to: (1) demonstrate a critical understanding of how to 'do research'; (2) plan effective use of literature search tools; (3) understand the debates concerning the ethics of research; (4) research proposal pathway - understand the process of criminological research from the identification of researchable questions through to determining appropriate research strategy, design and method; (5) data analysis pathway - demonstrate skills in conducting and communicating findings from a piece of empirical research using R (quantitative pathway) or one of the approaches to qualitative data analysis (qualitative pathway).

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching and learning across course units consists of: (1) preparatory work to be completed prior to teaching sessions, including readings, pre-recorded subject material and online activities; (2) a weekly whole-class lecture or workshop; (3) a tutorial; and (4) one-to-one support via subject specific office hours.


Employability skills

(i) analyse, critique and (re-)formulate a problem or issue; (ii) rapidly and thoroughly review/rate argument and evidence from targeted bibliographic searches; (iii) plan, structure and present arguments in a variety of written formats and to a strict word limit, (iv) express ideas verbally and organise work effectively in small teams for a variety of written and oral tasks; (v) obtain, manipulate and (re-)present different forms of data; (vi) manage time effectively; (vii) reflect on and improve performance through feedback.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Report 10%
Dissertation 90%

Feedback methods

Formative feedback (both individual and collective) will be given on (1) on tasks and contribution in class, (2) developing dissertation plans. Detailed summative feedback will be given on the submitted dissertation via Blackboard (Grademark).

This unit is assessed by Dissertation proposal (10%) and the Dissertation (90%).


Recommended reading

University of Manchester Library My Learning Essentials ''Start to Finish: Dissertations" available at:


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 70

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Claire Fox Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Across their course units each semester, full-time students are expected to devote a ‘working week’ of around 30-35 hours to study. Accordingly each course unit demands around 10-11 hours of study per week consisting of (i) 3 timetabled teacher-led hours, (ii) 7-8 independent study hours devoted to preparation, required and further reading, and note taking. 


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. 

This course is available to incoming study abroad students if they are with the department for a full year and can provide information on the quantitative skills training they have received, and the grade awarded for these courses

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)

Please refer to your personalised Criminology timetable


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