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APL3007 : Dissertation in Architecture, Urbanism and Landscape

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Abigail Schoneboom
  • Co-Module Leader: Dr Loes Veldpaus
  • Lecturer: Mr Daniel Mallo, Dr Will Thomson, Professor John Pendlebury, Mrs Armelle Tardiveau
  • 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, landscape 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 creative practice dissertation 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 creative practice dissertation 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

Lecture 1: Introduction to the Dissertation
Lecture 2: Literature Review
Lecture 3: Practice Review
Lecture 4: Research Question, Aims, Objectives
Lecture 5: Designing research & draft submission / Q&A
Lecture 6: Methodology (1)
Lecture 7: Methodology (2)
Lecture 8: Writing your dissertation (1)
Lecture 9: Writing your dissertation (2)
Lecture 10: Ethical considerations
Lecture 11: Writing your dissertation (3)

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture31:003:00Writing and referencing sessions from library/ASK staff. PIP
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00Lectures reinforcing research and writing skills. PIP
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching43:0012:00Dissertation reviews: small group presentations and feedback. Methods workshop. PIP
Guided Independent StudyProject work1155:00155:00Research project including research design and data collection.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery12:002:00Q&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 study1203:00203:00Independent research.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The dissertation is devised to assess a student’s capacity to undertake an individual (supervised) research project relevant to the student interest in the built environment or chosen accredited pathway (architecture, urban design/ planning or landscape). 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
Dissertation2M8010,000-word dissertation OR 6,500-word creative practice dissertation supported by creative practice project materials developed to explore the research question (equivalent to 3,500 words).
Design/Creative proj2M20Research Artefact (Book-in-a-box)
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 assessment.
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. The process of developing an idea, organising material with a clear line of argument, and organising material from sources is also assessed.

Please note that 80% assessment of this module must be passed to pass the module overall.

Reading Lists