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HIS8098 : Research Skills and Dissertation Training

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Samiksha Sehrawat
  • Lecturer: Dr Melanie Wood, Dr Felix Schulz, Dr Katie East, Dr Martin Farr
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • 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


This module prepares students to undertake their MA dissertation in History. It provides students with a supportive and participatory set of teaching activities that raise awareness of the range of source materials which can be used to develop original research into a diverse set of topics, and builds the skills they need to succeed in this task. The final assessment for this module, the dissertation proposal, enables students to design a plan which they can then use when undertaking their dissertation research.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will cover:
- how to locate a range of physical and digital primary and secondary materials which can be used to support research in a wide range of historical topics;
- how to critically analyse primary and secondary sources;
- how to develop an appropriate research methodology;
- how to formulate research questions and develop a convincing argument;
- why ethics matter, what ethical issues might arise in historical research, and what to do about them;
- what characterises good writing at MA level, and why referencing matters.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture21:002:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion901:0090:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading401:0040:00Set, recommended and further reading.
Structured Guided LearningAcademic skills activities42:008:00Skills tasks assigned for students to undertake independently in advance of seminars, e.g. critial reading exercise
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching42:008:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops52:0010:00To include: navigating library resources; identifying and using Newcastle's Special Collections materials; a guide to other European and British primary sources; writing at postgraduate level; review past dissertation proposals, and gain feedback on ideas from peers.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork13:003:00Trip to Tyne and Wear Archives
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study391:0039:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The teaching programme aims to impart a range of skills and practical knowledge, and the pedagogical approach is participatory in focus, encouraging students to learn by doing, and to relate these skills to their own developing ideas for dissertation research. Semester 1 focuses on equipping students with the skills to locate and evaluate primary and secondary sources they could use for their dissertation research, a crucial component of a successful research project in History. A workshop facilitated by the Library's subject liaison will familiarise students with the library's digital primary source resources, and the breadth of topics these cover. It also develops students' skills in searching for primary and secondary resources (physical and digital) on the library webpages. Another workshop, facilitated by a colleague in Special Collections, introduces students to the different collections held here and the range of dissertation topics these archives could support. A field trip to the Tyne and Wear archives enables students to explore a wider range of local primary materials which could support dissertation research, and builds confidence in searching and using these collections, and in using archives more generally. A workshop introduces students to a range of European and British primary sources, with a focus on this which can be accessed online. A lecture on critically evaluating secondary literature, and a seminar exploring use of primary source materials, completes this semester's programme. Students will be assigned a skills-based task in preparation for each seminar, to create structure and foster engagement with the module.

In semester 2, the teaching programme supports students to plan their research project. Seminars ask students to explore research methods and ethical issues that might arise in their research; how to formulate research questions and develop an argument, and how to structure and reference dissertations. Skills based tasks, assigned in advance of each seminar, will encourage students to engage with these issues with their own research plans in mind. A lecture will outline the different components required within the dissertation proposal, and a workshop asks students to review past dissertation proposals, before discussing their own provisional ideas for their dissertation with the peers. The final element of this semester's programme is a workshop facilitated by colleagues in the Academic Skills team will explore developing writing skills at MA level.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Research proposal2A100Dissertation/research project proposal 3000 words including footnotes (with a bibliography exluded from word count)
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
Research proposal2MDissertation proposal outline of 1000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

This module aims primarily to prepare students to design and undertake a dissertation. The summative assessment, a dissertation proposal, allows them apply the knowledge and skills they have acquired during this module to outline how they plan to do this. Students then benefit from the feedback they receive on their proposal at the end of this module supports their ongoing dissertation research.

A formative dissertation proposal outline encourages students to address all the important components of the proposal at an early stage, and to get feedback and support on their ideas.

Reading Lists