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Flexible Combined Honours

Independent Study

Independent study (on the module FCH3888) is like a final year departmental dissertation, but interdisciplinary in its focus. You can take a 15 or 30 credit version of Independent Study to fit around your other final year modules, and you will include material from both or all three of your subjects in your bespoke project (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 help choosing which option to take, ask the FCH Director for study advice.

The Independent Study project will discuss aspects of both/all your subjects. For example, if you are studying Sustainability and English you might explore the influence of discourses of sustainability on English literature 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.

Independent Study cannot be taken alongside a departmental Dissertation.

30 credits is the usual, recommended amount of Dissertation / Independent Study. 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 reflect the amount of research undertaken.




xxx3888B Independent Study Dissertation 15
xxx3888E Independent Study Dissertation 30

The module will be taken over the whole academic year in final year.

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 Independent Study is submitted through BART, usually in the first or second week of the summer term. Check your BART page for details of submission well in advance of that time so you know how and when to submit.

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) on your Title Form, but include:

  • One electronic copy, submitted via BART.


The work can be a traditional text-based dissertation presented in electronic form, or a combination of a practical element and written critique agreed with your supervisor. There are no universal rules for the details of page layout, referencing styles etc. It will likely be easiest if the format follows the usual requirements and guidelines for dissertations in the department(s) of the supervisor(s). Discuss this with your supervisor.

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 Queens info point team via BART. You will find the Title Form on the module’s ELE page (search ELE for FCH3888).