BSc Education / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Dissertation BSc (Hons) Education

Course unit fact file
Unit code EDUC34000
Credit rating 40
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Full year
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit builds on the skills in planning research that students will develop in year two of the BSc Education. The module will be introduced at the end of year two in an information session. Students’ broad focus will be gathered at the beginning of semester one in order to facilitate meetings with suitable supervisors. This may link with the topic chosen for the Planning Research module, but students may also choose an entirely new topic. Lectures and workshops throughout the year at fortnightly intervals will address each stage of the project in tandem with the writing up of each section: choosing a focus; conducting a literature review; choosing research methodology and methods; designing questionnaires; analysing policy and documents; conducting interviews and focus groups; analysing qualitative and quantitative data; drawing conclusions; evaluating research; and preparing for submission. Students will work through their project submitting drafts to their supervisor in various stages, as outlined in the assessment section below for final submission in the summer.


The unit aims to:

  • Provide students with the opportunity to perform an in-depth educational enquiry on a topic of interest, in conjunction with a supervisor.
  • Develop students’ skills in conducting a review of existing literature, and selecting appropriate research methodology and methods to add to that body of knowledge.
  • Develop students’ skills in data gathering, analysis and presentation of findings in an appropriate format which contributes in a scholarly way to research in a chosen educational field.

Teaching and learning methods

A dissertation support session at the beginning of semester one will require students to complete a pro-forma that outlines their intended topic and approach.  This allows students to structure and hone their ideas, and provides a discussion document to share with the dissertation co-ordinator, prior to agreeing a final topic with their supervisors.  Although exemplar dissertations are shared with students, they are encouraged to identify and approach areas of their own interest, developed through the Year 2 Planning Research module. Students submit their pro-forma to the dissertation co-ordinator, which are then pooled, allowing allocation of supervisors on the basis of ‘best fit’ of topic and method. There will be a fortnightly programme of lectures and small group workshops spread over two semesters which provide the basis for student planning, conducting, and writing up of their enquiry. Supervisors then support and guide the student in the refinement of their research questions, rationale and method and offer guidance in relation to ethics, and support the analysis of empirical findings, if any, and write up of the research. Students will usually undertake primary research within a host organisation who may also provide some guidance. Students will carry out a small scale literature review, follow ethical procedures for sampling and collecting, presenting and analysing data and produce a research report following detailed guidelines. Where appropriate, students may opt to undertake a standalone literature review or other secondary research project. The Dissertation handbook provides structured guidance regarding the recommended frequency and nature of supervisory meetings. At least six supervisions should be scheduled with the supervisor over the two semesters. Supervisor sessions could include face to face or online meetings to discuss the development of the study. These contacts will provide opportunities to receive individual feedback on research design, reading, implementation, and write up.  Any additional support needs, more frequent meetings fore example, will be met within reason, providing the intended objectives of the dissertation are maintained. For example. a supervisor might meet more frequently with the student to help support progress, but they will not complete data collection themselves. Dissertation supervisors are drawn from members of the course team.  This allows for a wide range of experience and coverage of topics and approaches.  All supervisors are experienced with supervising students at undergraduate level. Any new staff who may lack experience in supervision, will be required to complete the Higher Education Academy (HEA) accredited ‘New Academics Programme’ and will be paired with a more experienced supervisor for at least one academic cycle. Supervisors support a maximum of 6 projects at a time to ensure consistency and quality of supervision is maintained. There is no joint or shared supervision with colleagues outside of the Manchester Institute of Education Students should note that the supervisor is jointly responsible for ensuring that students’ research conforms to the University’s ethical procedures and for monitoring the development of the project. Therefore students share information about their data collection and any issues arising during their research with their supervisor for monitoring purposes as well as to discuss research themes and analysis. 

Knowledge and understanding

  • Relate the chosen topic of enquiry and define the specific setting where the research is conducted.
  • Identify the different stages of the research process from planning and approval to dissemination.
  • Explain the importance of conducting ethically sound research in education.

Intellectual skills

  • Assess the complexities of the research process, including the analysis and interpretation of data.
  • Identify relevant theoretical concepts for use in devising, applying and critiquing their chosen methodology, methods, and analysis of data.
  • Synthesise and conceptualise research data into relatable findings and recommendations.  

Practical skills

  • Identify and apply a range of research skills, which may include: questionnaire design, research interviewing; participant/non-participant observation; and the recording, analysis and interpretation of numerical and/or verbal data.
  • Operate effectively with a supervisor at each stage of an empirical research project from identifying a suitable topic for enquiry to preparing a written report.
  • Articulate the research process and research findings in an agreed format and appropriate written style using terminology and academic language.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Dissertation 100%

Feedback methods

In writing by first and second markers following final submission in May

Recommended reading


British Educational Research Association, [BERA] (2018) Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research, fourth edition. BERA: London. Available at:

Cohen, L., Manion, L. and Morrison, K. (2000) Research Methods in Education. London and New York: Routledge Falmer.

Denscome, M. The Good Research Guide For Small-Scale Social Research Projects. (2017). London: Open University Press.

Gibson, W. & Brown, Andrew, 2009. Working with Qualitative Data, London: SAGE Publications.

Greene, S. and Hogan, D. (2005) Researching children’s experience: methods and approaches. Los Angeles: SAGE.

Hart, C. (2018) Doing a Literature Review. 2nd Revised edition. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Innes, M. (2021) The micro-politics of policy enactment in a multi-academy trust, School Leadership & Management, DOI: 10.1080/13632434.2021.2002839

Innes, M. (2021) The micro-politics of the enactment of a school literacy policy, Oxford Review of Education, DOI: 10.1080/03054985.2021.1912721

Kumar, Ranjit (1999) Research methodology: a step-by-step guide for beginners. London: Sage.

Lewis, V. and Open University (2004) The reality of research with children and young people. London: SAGE.

Mertler, C. A. (2015) Introduction to Educational Research. 8th Edition. Publisher location: Pearson.

Nassaji, Hossein (2015) Qualitative and descriptive research: Data type versus data analysis. Language Teaching Research. 19 (2), 129–132.

Ozga, J. Policy Research in Educational Settings: Contested Terrain (1999). Buckingham: Open University Press.

Pan, M. L. (2016) Preparing Literature Reviews. 5th New edition. London: Taylor & Francis Ltd.

Ridley, D. (2012) The Literature Review: A Step-by-Step Guide for Students. 2nd Revised edition. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Rogers, R. (2011) An Intro

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 6
Independent study hours
Independent study 370

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Kate Sapin Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Activity Hours allocated
Lectures 24
Supervisor meeting 6
Directed reading 90
Private study 90
Assessment 190
Total 400


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