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APL3007 : Dissertation in Architecture and Urbanism

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Mr Daniel Mallo
  • Lecturer: Professor Rosie Parnell, Dr Andrew Law, Dr Usue Ruiz Arana, Professor John Pendlebury
  • Owning School: Architecture, Planning & Landscape
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 20.0


1 To enable students to develop their own research proposals
2 To develop student skills in the use of research methodologies
3 To develop student skills in undertaking a review of relevant academic literature and practice
4 To give an extended opportunity for individuals to undertake a piece of independent empirical research and develop their research skills.

The dissertation enables students to design and undertake empirical research on a topic of their choosing in the field of architecture, urbanism or creative spatial practice. In line with the rest of the AUP programme, the dissertation offers the opportunity to develop thematics related to socio-spatial, environmental or design subjects. It grants students the opportunity to frame their research within a wide range of disciplinary approaches drawn from the social sciences, humanities or creative practice. Through a combination of lectures, group reviews, supervisions and independent study, students will develop and practice their research skills while exploring and testing a research methodology that unpacks and support their research questions.
During Semester One each student will be expected to explore relevant literature and practice, as well as, develop their research methodology relevant to their chosen topic, and will submit draft introduction, literature/practice review and methodology chapters of their dissertation for formative assessment and detailed feedback. In Semester Two, students will complete and refine their dissertation.
The submission should investigate the subject chosen, demonstrate independent research and understanding of the topic and appropriate research methods through EITHER:
i) a 10,000 word dissertation
ii) a 6,500 word dissertation project supported by a creative practice project materials developed to explore the research question (for example: prototyping, spatial installation, design, drawing, film, etc)
The mode of submission (dissertation OR dissertation project) will have been agreed by the module leader as part of the dissertation proposal submitted at the end of APL2007 in Stage 2 Semester 2. The eligibility for a dissertation project will be confirmed in stage 3 by the module leader and dissertation supervisor at the point of the formative assessment in Semester 1.

Outline Of Syllabus

1 Introduction to the Dissertation
2 Situating your research: reviewing academic literature and practices. Sources, searches, constructing an argument and referencing
3 Developing your research questions, aims and objectives
4 Research methodologies: paradigms and approaches
5 Ethics and the role of the researcher
6 Developing your ideas and research methods
7 Discussion of main findings / outcomes of the research
8 Writing your dissertation

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00Lectures reinforcing research and writing skills. PIP
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching33:009:00Dissertation reviews: small group presentations and feedback. PIP
Guided Independent StudyProject work1155:00155:00Research project including research design and data collection.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery31:003:00Q&A / drop in sessions at key moments in the year related to submission (formative and final). PIP
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision31:003:00Dissertation supervision. PIP
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1219:00219:00Independent research.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The dissertation is devised to assess a student’s capacity to undertake an individual (supervised) research project. Teaching methods combine lectures, group discussion (research reviews) and supervision; lectures will be used to introduce and recap key concepts and issues relating to a dissertation and creative practice; group review sessions will comprise of tutor, as well as, student led sessions to help students develop their proposals and work through the development of appropriate methodology. The module also requires private independent study providing an opportunity for students to research a topic of interest to them and develop critical and reflective research skills and understanding of the research process. Additional teaching and learning support is offered by the supervisory team

Should the public health situation not allow for present in person teaching, the core content of lectures will be delivered through pre-recorded content blocks, of 15-30 minutes each, with weekly live online module talks and drop-ins. The pre-recorded lecture materials will be complemented by learning activities as well as synchronous Q&A sessions. Group discussion (research reviews), supervision and other drop-in sessions will move to synchronous online delivery.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Dissertation2M10010,000-word dissertation OR 6,500-word project dissertation (full body of creative practice project material equivalent to 3,500 wor
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Dissertation1M2,500-word draft of introduction, literature/practice review and research methodology relevant to their chosen topic, Formative asmt
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment tests the ability to devise a research strategy with a reasoned discussion of topic, question(s), literature and the choice of methods relevant to a research question. The dissertation is assessed for the scope and rigour of the empirical study (or creative practice project) and the extent to which it demonstrates an ability to devise and carry out a successful research project, including written communication skills and visual media supporting an argument.

Reading Lists