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Study information


Module titleDissertation
Module codePOC3040
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Shubranshu Mishra (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

A dissertation provides you with an opportunity to undertake independent research on a topic of your own choice. A dissertation is not just a long essay. It requires you to engage reflectively in designing and undertaking a discrete piece of independent research with guidance from your supervisor. That usually involves examining primary sources, whether these be archives, philosophical texts, statistics, government reports, interviews, media sources, campaign materials, etc. In contrast to a typical undergraduate essay, a good dissertation will demonstrate an awareness of how you have approached a particular issue, provide a rationale for why you have approached it in this way (your ‘methodology’) and demonstrate some reflection on the research process itself, e.g. how did the theoretical approach you adopt help to generate the particular line of inquiry you followed?

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module provides you with the opportunity to engage independently with a particular issue in depth. The aim of the module is to enable you to plan, undertake and write up a piece of research with minimal guidance from academic staff. This process aims to inspire a genuine engagement with research methods in Politics and to enable students to develop important skills needed to work independently organization, motivation, initiative, communication etc.) Another important aim of this module is to develop your interpersonal skills so that you can develop a professional working relationship with your supervisor which will support your research. Your dissertation supervisor will support and guide your research process and will offer feedback throughout the year. S/he will help you narrow down your topic area, devise a suitable research question and help you plan your research activities.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. define a suitable research topic and pursue it to completion;
  • 2. evaluate the main themes in work of political science;
  • 3. assess the professionalism and scholarly value of published works in political science;
  • 4. present work in a scholarly fashion.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 5. assess the work of scholars;
  • 6. collate and critique data from a range of sources;
  • 7. understand and deploy the terminology of political science in a comprehensible manner;
  • 8. analyse and differentiate between complex sources.

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 9. work independently under guidance and to organise your own time over the two semesters.

Syllabus plan

You will be allocated a dissertation supervisor from within the Politics department. You will be responsible for approaching the supervisor to set up meetings about their dissertation. You can expect to have at least four supervision meetings of 30 minutes at specified times throughout the year. Additionally you are expected to submit  work at various stages so that your supervisor can offer feedback.  It is envisaged that the bulk of your time will be spent on private study, at the rate of 10 hours per week. Supervisors may comment on a detailed plan of the dissertation and up to 3,000 words of the final dissertation.  

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 Teaching activity 24 x 30 minute individual supervision meetings with your supervisor, held throughout the year.
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activity6Dissertation Skills Session
Guided independent study 292Researching your topic and writing it

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Draft chapter1,500 words1-9Written
Discussions with supervisor4 x 30 minutes meetings1-7Verbal

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
Disseration1008,000 words1-9Written feedback

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
DissertationDissertation (8,000 words) 1-9August/September reassessment period

Re-assessment notes

Non-submission of dissertations is non-condonable.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:


Halperin, S., and Heath, O. (2012) Political research: methods and practical skills. Oxford: OUP

Harrison, L. (2013) Political research: an introduction. Abindon, Routledge.

Higgins, R. (1996). Approaches to research: a handbook for those writing a dissertation. London: Jessica Kinglsey Publishers.

Preece, R.A. (1994). Starting research: an introduction to academic research and dissertation writing. London: Pinter.

Silbergh, D.  Doing dissertations in politics: a student guide. Psychology Press, 2001.

Smith, K., Todd M., and Waldman J. (2009) Doing your undergraduate social science dissertation. Abindon, Routledge

Swetnam, D. (2000). Writing your dissertation. Oxford: OUP.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

  • ELE – College to provide hyperlink to appropriate pages
  • Kanopy;
  • podcasts;
  • blogs and vlogs;
  • cultural productions (songs; music videos; films; performances);
  • policy briefs;
  • annual reports from selected international organizations

Key words search

Politics, Dissertation,

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date