Module Catalogue 2023/24

ARA3003 : Dissertation in Archaeology & History

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Rob Collins
  • Lecturer: Dr Eric Tourigny, Professor Lisa-Marie Shillito, Dr Jane Webster, Dr Francesco Carrer, Dr Sophie Moore, Dr Louise Rayne
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 30
ECTS Credits: 20.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



The aims of this module are:

To furnish students with the skills for producing (under supervision) an independent piece of research in the form of a dissertation.
To improve skills in written presentation and research techniques.
To provide an opportunity to reflect upon how studies might be continued at postgraduate level.

The module encourages students to integrate documentary sources (written history) and archaeological evidence within their dissertation. It is a requirement of the module that some consideration of both be included in the final work.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module commences with a training course in independent research skills, which is taken in semester 1 by all students undertaking dissertations in archaeology. Students will be provided with an develop cognitive, subject-specific and key skills required to produce an independent piece of research. Individual students will also arrange tutorials with their supervisor. Assessment of this introductory stage takes the form of a research proposal which will explain the importance and research context of the dissertation topic, accompanied by a concise outline of the dissertation's structure, a summary of methodological approaches and source materials, and a brief review of previous work in this field (2000 words).

Building on the skills acquired in the research training element of the module, students then go on in Semester 2 to complete an independent piece of written research, working under the supervision of a member of staff. The outcome will be a Dissertation of 10,000-12,000 words, bound and formatted according to module specifications.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

By the end of the module students will have acquired an in-depth knowledge about a chosen topic through advanced undergraduate research. They will also know how to:

• design aims and objectives;
• structure a long project;
• use databases and spreadsheets for storing, analysing, and presenting data;
• use databases and digitised resources available through the internet and Robinson Library;
• record and cite references fully and accurately;
• observe good practice in taking notes and in writing to avoid plagiarism;
• produce a properly structured and formatted dissertation.

Intended Skill Outcomes

By the end of the module students will have learnt how to:

• structure and manage an extended research investigation of their choice with supervision;
• evaluate models/theories/interpretations with reference to archaeological data;
• develop information gathering and evaluation skills applied to their particular research question;
• develop skills in project management;
• develop skills for managing and facilitating research advancing towards postgraduate level;
• interact with a staff supervisor on a topic of original research;
• improve and develop skills in managing their time effectively.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1881:00188:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials111:0011:00Counted as contact
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1101:00110:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading501:0050:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities52:0010:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities81:008:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching121:0012:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision111:0011:00N/A
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
ARA3001Dissertation in Archaeology
ARA3002Dissertation in Ancient History & Archaeology
ARA3000Dissertation in Archaeological Science
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Students will be provided with an induction into planning and implementing a dissertation, and utilising key research resources(including libraries, online portals, databases, grey literature and other archaeological research tools). Practicals will introduce students to data storage and management methods, and to the formatting skills required to produce polished dissertation. Students will also be introduced to time management considerations in preparation for
Organizing meetings with their dissertation supervisor in Semester 2, and for ensuring that they produce written work
in time to allow feedback from the supervisor. Initial supervision meetings will guide students towards appropriate reading and provide advice on dissertation structure and content. They will also foster a good working relationship between students and their supervisors.

Students will therefore begin the process of completing the dissertation in Semester 2 with a secure foundation of ideas and methods. Throughout semester 2 one-to-one and small group supervision meetings with staff will also develop students' skills in time-management, project-management, initiative and team working. This will be achieved through making it the responsibility of students to arrange times to see their supervisors, by ensuring that students prepare in advance for meetings by submitting work at least one week before meetings, and through discussion of progress with their supervisor. Supervisors will engage in critical dialogue on submitted drafts and make recommendations for improvements.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Research proposal1M25Research proposal (2000 words)
Dissertation2A75Dissertation, 12,000 words, bound and formatted according to instructions
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Research proposal1MTopic outline form.
Research proposal1MFinalised title form (with Aims and Objectives)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Students are introduced to the dissertation in semester 2 of their second year, and are advised to start thinking about potential topics and supervisors over the summer.

The formal submission of a title (Outline topic form) at the beginning of the module means that students register their project with the School and are motivated to prepare for the task ahead. This also enables staff to pick up students who have not yet engaged with the dissertation and who need extra help. This is does not count as part of the % of formal assessment.

The formal submission of the preliminary aims and objectives tests the understanding of the students on this topic and enables the students to prepare and gain feedback on their project aims and objectives in advance of the Research Proposal. This is does not count as part of the % of formal assessment.

The Research Proposal for the dissertation (submitted at the end of semester 1) will include theories, methods, research materials and relevant bibliographical material. It will help students apply skills and knowledge developed during this training module to their own research dissertation, and to manage it as a research project.

The final dissertation (submitted in May) must meet specific criteria, and demonstrate mastery of skills and techniques taught throughout the module.

Submitted work tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes, develops key skills in research, reading and writing.

This module cannot be made available to exchange students under any circumstances. This applies to Erasmus, study-abroad, exchange proper and Loyola students equally.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2023/24 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2024/25 entry will be published here in early-April 2024. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.