Module Catalogue 2019/20

SOC3097 : Dissertation

  • Offered for Year: 2019/20
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Anselma Gallinat
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 20.0
Pre Requisites
Code Title
SOC2070Researching Social Life II
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



The dissertation is a significant piece of independent research and writing that enables students to undertake an in-depth examination of a sociological topic of their choice. With the support of their academic supervisor, students identify a question about an area of social life or theory that interests them; develop a research project; collect and analyse original data; and write up a substantial report. The dissertation module builds on and develops students’ understanding of a range of aspects of sociology and social anthropology encountered during the first two years of the degree, as well as skills in research design and methods acquired on the modules Researching Social Life I and II.

The module aims to:
Support students to undertake an independent research project;
Enable students to develop an in-depth understanding of their chosen topic in the context of relevant sociological perspectives and theories;
Support students to devise and conduct a feasible, appropriate and ethical methodology to investigate their topic;
Advise students on identifying and exploring the relevant literature and empirical research in their chosen field;
Support students to produce a well-structured, clearly written and analytically robust dissertation report.

Outline Of Syllabus

In the pre-requisite module Researching Social Life II at Stage 2, students select a research question and develop a dissertation proposal with the support of their supervisor. On the dissertation module students move from the proposal to the research project. They review and refine the dissertation proposal and research methods; collect relevant data; conduct a review of the literature in their chosen field; and write up the dissertation of 10,000-13,000 words.

Students investigate a wide range of topics. In recent years these have included: educational inequalities, changing patterns in tourism, gender roles in India, online remembrance, media representations of sex work, student activism and occupations, vegetarianism, the medicalization of death, Fair Trade and development discourse, utopian ideals in Avatar and its fan communities, euthanasia, the ‘big society’, and student drinking, among many others. Studies of these diverse topics are informed by a sociological or anthropological framework and focus on the collection/reuse and analysis of empirical materials. Projects apply a wide range of methodologies including qualitative interviews, media and discourse analysis, questionnaires and surveys, statistical analysis, focus groups and case studies.

Students are supported by meetings with their supervisor throughout semesters 1 and 2 through four group meetings of one hour, and five individual meetings of 30 minutes. At the beginning of semester 1 there is a 3 hour dissertation workshop to help students begin their Stage 3 dissertation work, with talks about the research process from staff and post-graduate researchers and opportunities to ask questions and explore issues related to specific research methods. A second 3-hour dissertation workshop takes place shortly before the Christmas break, which is designed to support students as they begin to structure and write up their dissertation work.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

At the end of the module, students should be able to:

•       Show a cumulative grasp of a range of sociological concepts and advanced theoretical knowledge;
•       Demonstrate in-depth understanding of sociological debates and empirical material in their chosen field;
•       Show knowledge of a range of social science research methodologies and assess their appropriateness for their own research questions;
•       Demonstrate a good understanding of the relationship between sociological arguments and evidence.

Intended Skill Outcomes

At the end of the module, students should be able to:

•       Demonstrate skills in critical thinking and analysis;
•       Formulate a sociological research question and design a project to explore answers to it;
•       Show an ability to conduct an empirical research project based on primary fieldwork, secondary analysis of existing statistics, or the analysis of texts, visual or case study materials;
•       Show advanced skills in structuring and writing a research report;
•       Demonstrate skills in independent learning and project management.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion177:0077:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture23:006:00Dissertation conference
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1310:30310:30N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision50:302:30Dissertation individual meetings. Staff time per supervisor based on 5 students.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision41:004:00Dissertation group meetings.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Teaching methods are designed to support students’ independent learning as they engage with their topic and plan and conduct their own project. Two 2 hour dissertation conferences are held in Semester 1 to offer guidance on the nature of the module and support students in the planning and execution of their project, methodologies, ethics, and time-management.

Students participate in 4x1 hour group meetings providing structured support as their project develops, and also enabling students to learn from and with peers in a small group setting (typically 4-6 students). The small group meetings are complemented by 5x30 minute individual meetings which allow supervisors to offer tailored support and input to students during critical periods of data collection, analysis and writing.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Dissertation2M10010,000 - 13,000 words dissertation
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The submitted dissertation represents the sum total of the student’s engagement with theoretical, empirical and methodological material and procedures in relation to their chosen topic. The long-form report enables students to describe and reflect upon their project, demonstrate their analytical understanding of relevant sociological perspectives and theories, illustrate the analysis of their data, and reach appropriate intellectual conclusions.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes

Please note: staff time figures in the Teaching Activities table are based on 12 supervisors each with 5 allocated students. Staff hours have been multiplied to reflect all academic staff time on the module, not only the module leader.

Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2019/20 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 2020/21 entry will be published here in early-April 2019. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.