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Independent Study

Independent study is basically the same as a final year departmental dissertation. However, you can take a 15 or 30 credit version of Independent Study to fit around your other final year modules, and you can include material from both or all three of your subjects (with the agreement of your supervisor).

FCH students can take either a departmental dissertation or FCH Independent Study. Most FCH students take departmental dissertations, but you may find the potentially greater flexibility offered by Independent Study more suitable. If you need advice on which to take, ask the FCH Director for study advice.

The Independent Study can be about a specific area of one of your subjects, or look at something that 'overarches' them. For example, if you are studying Sustainability and English you might explore the influence of discourses of sustainability on English publishing or its representation in American journalism; if you are studying Management and Middle Eastern Studies you might examine management cultures in different Middle Eastern countries or industrial settings.

Your Independent Study is supervised by an academic member of staff who has expertise in the subject area on which you work.

The FCH subject co-ordinator in the relevant subject area can help you find and liaise with an appropriate supervisor if you do not already have someone in mind.

You should try to arrange your supervisor during the spring term of your second year.

Within Flexible Combined Honours, you can take a maximum of 60 credits overall of Independent Study and departmental dissertations during your degree.

You cannot do more than 45 credits overall of departmental dissertation and Independent Study in the same academic year.

Most departmental dissertations are 30 credits.

Some departments (e.g. Biosciences and Geography) have 45-credit dissertations.

The maximum number of credits allowed for FCH Independent Study in one academic year is 30.

30 credits is the usual amount of dissertation / Independent Study studied and the recommended amount. The 15-credit Independent Study can be taken, but is not recommended unless there are unusual project or module circumstances, because the allowed word length may too short to adequately reflect the amount of research undertaken. The Independent Study module exists in variants of 15 and 30 credits. See module descriptions for details:

Code

Module

Credits

xxx3888B Independent Study Dissertation 15
xxx3888E Independent Study Dissertation 30

The module can be taken in either term one or two, or over both.

Because of the research nature of the module, the academic insight and associated required study skills, Independent Study is taken in the final year.

It is very unusual to take both an Independent Study and a departmental dissertation in the same year - this is a lot of independent study, which can be challenging! See above for a discussion of credits.

The work will take the form of a written dissertation, of:

  • 15 credits = up to 6,000 words
  • 30 credits = up to 12,000 words

You will research, learn and write largely following your own initiative, under the direction of the academic supervisor.

You will see the supervisor formally at arranged times each term to discuss progress etc. Because the study is independent, it is your responsibility to contact your supervisor to arrange meetings, and to ask for help if you need it. You will not attend any classes or pre-timetabled sessions on this module: instead you will book individual supervision meetings.

Your supervisor may set preparatory pieces of work, e.g. producing a bibliography, presenting a draft plan.

Supervisors can read through and give feedback on a draft version of part of your dissertation: arrange with your supervisor what should be submitted.

There are no universal rules for the details of page layout, referencing styles, binding etc, since supervisors in different subject areas will have expectations based on their subject. Consult with your supervisor to agree on what is appropriate.

The final form of the work is submitted through BART by 4 pm of the second Tuesday of the summer term in which the Independent Study is being taken.

Any work submitted after the deadline will be subject to penalties:

  • From immediately after the deadline until up to 14 days after it, the maximum mark for the whole module is 40%
  • More than 14 days beyond a submission date the mark for the whole module is zero.

Supervisors will give written feedback and can be approached for further verbal feedback after the FCH Examination Board has met.

What to submit:

  • One electronic copy, submitted via eBART.
  • No paper copy is required, unless specified by your supervisor.
  • Title page, with declaration, as follows:
    • [the full title of the Independent Study]
    • submitted by [student name]
    • [student number]
    • to the University of Exeter towards the Flexible Combined Honours Degree
    • [month and year]
    • Declaration:
    • I certify that all material in this study which is not my own work has been identified
    • [Signature]
  • List of contents
  • List of accompanying material (if any)
  • Text (divided into chapters, sections etc)
  • Appendices (if any)
  • Glossary (if any)
  • Bibliography

The exact requirements of what is submitted as the final work will be agreed with the supervisor(s), if need be in liaison with the FCH office, but include:

  • One elctronic copy, submitted via eBART.
  • Submission via Turnitin is not required.
  • No paper copy is required, unless specified by your supervisor.

If the Word file or other computer files are too large to email, please bring them to the FCH office on a memory stick so that we can copy them.

Format

The work can be a traditional text-based dissertation presented in paper or electronic form, or a combination of a practical element and written critique.

There are no rules for the details of page layout, referencing styles, binding etc.

It may be easiest if the format follows the usual requirements and guidelines for dissertations in the department(s) of the suprevisor(s), but this is entirely up to your supervisor and you.

If you need presentation guidelines:

  1. Binding: The choice of binding is up to the student.
  2. Size: It is expected that the paper will be A4. Other sizes can be used, if appropriate to the nature of the Independent Study and approved by the supervisor.
  3. No restrictions are placed on the size of any drawings, maps or similar material, which should be either bound in with the study or placed in a wallet fixed to the back cover.
  4. Margins: It is expected that margins will be: 40 mm on the left-hand side; 20mm on the right hand side; and appropriate top and bottom margins. Other sizes can be used, if approved by the supervisor.
  5. Running headers and footers can be used in the top and bottom margins for such things as page numbers and chapter titles.
  6. Text and photographs etc can be printed on one or both sides of the paper.
  7. Text: Normally one-and-a-half line spacing should be used for the main text and single line spacing for indented quotations or footnotes. Other spacing can be used, if approved by the supervisor.
  8. Numbering of pages: All pages, including appendices and those solely with drawings, maps or photographs etc, should be numbered. Pages can be numbered consecutively in one sequence starting with the title page as page 1 or with Roman numerals (i, ii, iii .) for the preliminary material and Arabic (1, 2, 3 .) for the main body of the work.
  9. Sequence: Material should be arranged in the following sequence:
  • Title page, with declaration, as follows:
    • [the full title of the Independent Study]
    • submitted by [student name]
    • [student number]
    • to the University of Exeter towards the Flexible Combined Honours Degree
    • [month and year]
    • Declaration:
    • I certify that all material in this study which is not my own work has been identified
    • [Signature]
  • List of contents
  • List of accompanying material (if any)
  • Text (divided into chapters, sections etc)
  • Appendices (if any)
  • Glossary (if any)
  • Bibliography

This form must be filled in by you and your supervisor: it is an agreement between you specifying the project title and content and agreement to supervise. You will not be registered for the Independent Study module without this form being submitted to the Peter Chalk info point team via fch@exeter.ac.uk. The form is required by the end of the fourth week of the autumn term.