Module Catalogue 2020/21

SML4099 : Dissertation

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Damien Hall
  • Owning School: Modern Languages
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
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/Japanese film, literature, history and linguistics. Exceptionally 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. Two further timetabled workshops will be made available, to be held only if students want them, and to cover topics nominated by the students. 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 abroad should they identify a topic which might require collecting information or data while on location.

When students pre-register for Stage 4 modules they 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.

During Stage 4 students will attend at least 4 workshops, organised by the module leader. There will 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

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops41:004:00Present-in-person: Research & writing skills workshops
Guided Independent StudyProject work1191:00191:00Dissertation reading and writing
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision41:004:00Tutorials. may be less than 1h each.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk11:001:00Synchronous online
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.

In 2020-21 particular attention will be paid to online research strategies if necessary, given that it may be difficult to access physical resources of various kinds (e.g. libraries and archives), and it may also be difficult to contact potential interviewees. The research methods training will also take due account of the fact that the cohort may well contain students who have not been on a Year Abroad due to Covid-19; such students may not have had the chance to do any research in person in their countries of interest.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Dissertation2M1005,000-6,000 words (absolute limit, no 10% leeway)
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Written exercise1MDissertation Plan
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The formative Dissertation Plan, due at the end of Semester 1, will be a useful check on progress for both students and supervisors. At this point in the dissertation, halfway through the time they have for it, students may be starting to formulate an argument based on the research they have done, and they will need to start marshalling that argument. Planning in detail how they will set that argument out will enable them to see any holes, missing links, illogicalities, needs for explanation or further research, etc.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2020/21 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 2021/22 entry will be published here in early-April 2021. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.