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Independent Research

Module titleIndependent Research
Module codeARA3196
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Miss Billie Brownlee (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks




Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

In this module you will be exposed to a variety of research methods and approaches that will be helpful in writing a Master’s dissertation. During the module, you will propose and develop your dissertation title. In addition, you will be asked to orient yourself to the major works relevant to your dissertation with guidance from module staff and your proposed dissertation supervisor. There are no prerequisites or co-requisites for this module. This module is suitable both for specialist and non-specialist students.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aim of this module is to equip you with the necessary research skills for conducting research at the Master’s level as well as to provide guidance in the initial stages of a dissertation in IAIS. After completing this module, you will have a well-defined research question and a good understanding of the major scholarly works in your chosen research area

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate knowledge of major theories and research approaches within the discipline of Middle East and Islamic Studies;
  • 2. Analyse relevant scholarly material for a dissertation;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 3. Show awareness and knowledge of major research methods, approaches, and skills necessary to conduct research;
  • 4. Locate and situate your own research in disciplinary debates, controversies and developments;

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Research and access relevant scholarly works using databases and electronic search tools;
  • 6. Communicate complex ideas and arguments in writing; and
  • 7. Analyse a range of public and scholarly debates.

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Understanding what is a suitable research topic
  • How to locate a suitable research topic
  • Researching and writing a literature review
  • Elements of a research proposal
  • Deciding upon a methodology and approach
  • Planning the dissertation and time management

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning & teaching activities55 hours of staff-led sessions teaching dissertation skills to students
Guided independent study280Researching and writing the research proposal and literature review
Guided independent study15Reading the assigned literature for staff-led sessions


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Research proposal outline1000 words1-2, 3-4Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Research proposal with literature review1008000 words1-2, 3-4, 5-7Written


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Research proposal with literature review (8000 words)Research proposal with literature review (8000 words)1-2, 3-4, 5-7January assessment period in the following year (as August/September submission)


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

Atkinson, P. A. (et al.) (2007), Handbook of Ethnography, Sage

Brady, H. E. and Collier, D. (2004), Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards, Rowman and Littlefield

Burnham, P.,Gilland, K.,Grant, W.and Layton-Henry,Z.(2004), Research Methods in Politics, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan

Burton, D.(ed) (2000), Research Training for Social Scientists, SAGE.

Creswell, J.W. (2008), Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods Approaches, Sage

DiYanni, R. (2007), Writing about the Humanities (3rd ed.), Prentice Hall

Dunleavy, P. (2003), Authoring a PhD, Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan

King, G, Keohane, R.O.and Verba,S. (1994), Designing Social Inquiry, Princeton University Press.

Silverman, D. (ed) (2004), Qualitative Research: Theory, Method and Practice, SAGE

Storey, W.K. (2008), Writing History. A Guide for Students (3rd ed.), Oxford University Press

Turabian, K. (1996), A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources


Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Dissertation, skills, approaches, research

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date