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Study information

Art History and Visual Culture Dissertation

Module titleArt History and Visual Culture Dissertation
Module codeAHV3000
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Fiona Allen (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

The dissertation is an independent research project which enables you to produce a piece of work that is self-selected, rather than prescribed. It highlights your ability to work autonomously, identifying a topic, articulating the relevant issue(s) that in your view require analysis and devising a plan of work that is largely self-managed. The skills you have learnt over the course of your degree programme are a very good preparation for this, not only because you will have a broad understanding of the field of Art History and Visual Culture, but also because you have worked with a variety of research methodologies and, by now, should be in a position to produce a dissertation that is not only responsive to the best current thinking in the field but also demonstrates your commitment to a specific approach. You will receive guidance from a supervisor and receive support through a series of workshops and seminars. The dissertation module teaches you time management skills and gives you the flexibility to devise and follow your own research questions, extending your knowledge in a specialism which you have particularly enjoyed.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The dissertation module aims to showcase the student’s critical abilities, as they plan and deliver an extended, independent research project. Each student will work under the guidance of an academic supervisor, with extra support provided by a series of workshops. This will help them to develop the key skills for researching their chosen project and preparing a finished manuscript. The dissertation encourages the student to manage their time effectively, organise their ideas, and extend and complement their previous studies.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the chosen subject, building appropriately on the work completed during the earlier years of their programme
  • 2. demonstrate a capacity for independent study and self-directed inquiry and research
  • 3. demonstrate an ability to identify and pursue appropriate, subject specific questions
  • 4. demonstrate an ability to reflect upon research methodologies, and to draft, revise and edit written work accordingly

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 5. demonstrate an advanced ability to analyse the chosen work(s), practices or institutions and to relate it/them to relevant historical and/or theoretical contexts
  • 6. Make effective use of all sources of information relevant to the topic (including physical inspection, photographic, digital and online resources, print, archival material etc.)
  • 7. demonstrate an advanced ability to interrelate texts and discourses specific to Art History and Visual Culture with issues in the wider context of cultural and intellectual history
  • 8. demonstrate an advanced ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to relevant works, practices or institutions

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 9. through essay-writing, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, an advanced capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose
  • 10. through research for the dissertation, demonstrate advanced proficiency in information retrieval and analysis
  • 11. time management skills and flexibility to devise and follow your own research questions, extending your knowledge in a specialist research field

Syllabus plan

Dissertations are regarded as examinable components and as such feedback will not be available until after the exam board has met.

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 and teaching10Seminars (workshops) focusing on researcher skills development and group presentations of work in progress, to share best practice in researcher methodology
Scheduled learning and teaching51:1 meetings with an appropriate specialist member of staff who will set targets, advise you on reading, research and planning and provide you with feedback on drafts of your dissertation
Guided independent study285Private study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Outline of planned topic, indicating primary sources and possible problems. Draft bibliography/; literature review (up to 1000 words). Chapter Plan and draft section of dissertation - chapter (2000 words). Progress reportn/a1-10Meetings with tutors to discuss formative dissertation tasks
Presentation to fellow students on the key findings of the researchPresentation: 10 minutes1-10Peer feedback and feedback from convenor (Oral and written)

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
Dissertation908000 words1-11Written
Research Portfolio10Five reflective pieces (500-700 words each)1-11Oral

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
DissertationDissertation (8000 words)1-11Referral/Deferral period
Research PortfolioMitigation/repeat study1-11Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

As appropriate to your dissertation topic


  • The Chicago Manual of Style


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Visual Culture; Art History

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

Combined Honours Students should have successfully completed AHV2015. Single Honours Students should have successfully completed AHV2015, AHV2002 and AHV2007

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date