Module Catalogue 2023/24

SML4099 : Dissertation

SML4099 : Dissertation

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Damien Hall
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

Co Requisite Comment



In consonance with the overall aims of the degrees offered in the SML, this module aims:
- To build on skills gained at Stages 1, 2 and 3.
- To provide an opportunity for students to research a subject in depth and write a dissertation at Final Year level.
- To prepare students for postgraduate study in the chosen area.

This module aims to allow students to undertake independent research into a specialised area with individual supervision. Students may choose an appropriate topic with guidance from the module leader or supervisor. The area studied should normally fit in with the areas of expertise amongst SML staff, including European, Latin American and Chinese and Japanese film, literature, history and linguistics. Exceptionally in some years, if the topic dictates it, members of academic staff outside SML can supervise dissertations. The chosen topic should be within a broad area which the student has studied previously. There will be four workshops led by the module leader within which students will learn and develop research skills and present their own research. Each student will receive at least four hours of individual supervision (up to a maximum of six where necessary). This module is particularly appropriate for students considering postgraduate study.

Outline Of Syllabus

This module enables students to undertake independent study with guidance from the module leader and supervisor via workshops and tutorials. A high proportion of time is devoted to independent study.

In Semester 2 of Stage 2 there will be a meeting for all of Stage 2 to explain the dissertation. They will also be encouraged at this stage to contact the module leader and/or a potential supervisor while on their Year Abroad (Stage 3), should they identify a topic which might require collecting information or data while on location.

Before the end of Induction Week of Stage 4, students must produce a 250-500 word proposal, including names of potential supervisors. If there is no potential supervisor for the student’s topic, the student will be asked to choose another module or change the topic. Students who have not pre-registered for this module during the previous academic session may do so exceptionally during registration of Stage 4 provided they submit the approved 250-500 word proposal and their topic is accepted by a potential supervisor.

During Stage 4 students will attend at least 4 workshops, organised by the module leader. There will be a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 6 hours of individual tutorials with the supervisor. During the tutorials, students will receive guidance on focusing their topic and identifying and formulating precise research questions, planning and timetabling their work, as well as detailed feedback on the draft work they produce. A rough schedule of milestones will be agreed with their supervisor at the beginning of module (e.g. detailed plan; annotated bibliography; draft chapters etc…). Students will be required to produce at least one piece of written work by the end of the first assessment week of semester one, which (according to area of study) might for example take the form of a draft chapter or detailed plan with an annotated bibliography, as agreed by staff and student. Students will be required to keep a log of all meetings with their supervisors, including a summary of agreed decisions.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

• in-depth knowledge of a chosen subject area
• basic knowledge of research methodologies
• working knowledge of a limited number of the key theoretical frameworks for research in the arts, social sciences and humanities
• working knowledge of current referencing conventions and bibliographical formats

Intended Skill Outcomes

• project management
• time management
• a range of research skills (e.g. formulating appropriate research questions; using appropriate theoretical frameworks; methodological skills e.g. study design; data collection, management and analysis; interviewing techniques etc. in the case of more applied topics)
• making decisions
• summarising, editing and selecting
• synthesising information and presenting it in dissertation form
• writing an extended piece of prose clearly and persuasively

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching41:004:00Tutorials; up to 6, if needed
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching41:004:00Workshops, usually PiP, though some non-SML providers (e.g. the Library; the Academic Skills Team) may choose to provide online content instead, if that is more appropriate for the nature of the content or the learning outcomes. At least 4 workshops and up to 6, if demand.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1192:00192:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Tutorials allow student and supervisor to
• ascertain progress
• identify problems
• plan study tactics
• develop an overall strategy for completion

The supervisor offers staged support through guided and progressively adjusted autonomous learning
Workshops will provide training in research methods and allow students to present aspects of their own work in progress.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Dissertation2M806,000 words max. (not 6,000±10%); *exceptions possible - see below
Written exercise1M20Dissertation Plan: 800 words ±10%
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1MDissertation proposal: 250-500 words, to be accepted by supervisor before the end of Induction Week of Stage 4
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The structure of the dissertation and the duration of the period of preparation and drafting are the most appropriate means of developing the learning (and skills) outcomes.

* exceptions possible where conventions require (e.g. descriptions of historical primary sources). Any exceptions must be agreed with supervisor and module leader.

All UG dissertations in the University are double-marked. The SML Dissertation is double-marked by the supervisor and one other marker. The second marker's main responsibility is to consider the dissertation from the point of view of structure, argument, quality of writing, observation of conventions (e.g. referencing), and so on, so the second marker does not have to have good knowledge of the dissertation's subject area. The two markers can discuss the dissertation with each other during or after marking, so this is double-marking, but not blind double-marking. This arrangement was agreed by the HaSS Dean of UG Studies in Semester 1 22-23 and takes effect from Semester 2 22-23.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


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