BASS Sociology and Criminology

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Dissertation (20 credits)

Course unit fact file
Unit code SOCY30920
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Full year
Available as a free choice unit? No


The Sociology Dissertation (20 credits) provides students with the opportunity to undertake an independent social research project. The topic of research is chosen by the student in consultation with their supervisor and can involve the use of existing quantitate or qualitative datasets, or existing literature. The dissertation will develop expertise in an area of sociology that is of personal interest, while applying and developing the research skills gained so far in the degree. It also offers a valuable opportunity to demonstrate and refine transferable skills of critical analysis, writing, and project management.


The dissertation module is only open to BSocSociology students and students on any joint programme or pathway that involves sociology (although each joint programme has its own pre-requisites or regulations about credit options etc).

In order to pursue a dissertation project involving primary qualitative data, such as observations or interviews, you must have completed a relevant qualitative research methods module in year 2 of your programme. To pursue a project involving quantitative data, you must have completed a relevant quantitative methods or statistical methods module in year 2 of your programme. Students who have not completed relevant research methods modules in year 2 may still choose the dissertation module, but they will be limited to a theoretical or library-based dissertation. 


The aims of the 20-credit dissertation are to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their capacity to undertake a piece of independent research; to allow students to choose a topic of study of particular interest and to engage in an in-depth examination of the topic making use of advanced bibliographic skills or existing quantitative or qualitative datasets; to encourage students to explore the contribution the discipline makes to an understanding of social life and social order; to enable students to develop their sociological skills under the guidance of the unit-coordinators and a supervisor, in particular, their skills in the selection of a researchable topic, the development of a research proposal, the conduct of research, the analysis of results, and the process of structuring, writing and formatting a 5,500-6,500 word dissertation; to allow students to gain expertise in the area of sociology that forms the topic of their dissertation.

Teaching and learning methods

The dissertation module takes place across the year and involves a combination of lectures, group and individual supervision. 

Assessment methods

Dissertation of between 5,500 and 6,500 words (90%) and Research Proposal of 1000 words (10%)

Feedback methods

All sociology courses include both formative feedback - which lets you know how you're getting on and what you could do to improve - and summative feedback - which gives you a mark for your assessed work.

Recommended reading

Alan Bryman (2001), Social Research Methods, Oxford. 

Mason, J. (1996), Qualitative Researching, Sage. 

Balmer, A. and Murcott, A. (2017) The Craft of Writing Sociology  



Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 12
Project supervision 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 177

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Sophie Woodward Unit coordinator
Andrew Balmer Unit coordinator

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