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ARC2020 : Dissertation Studies and Research Methods

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Rosie Parnell
  • Owning School: Architecture, Planning & Landscape
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


The aims of this first part of students' dissertation studies are:

- to introduce students to a range of research methodologies, critical appraisal, research and study skills towards their dissertation or dissertation project (submitted at the end of ARC3060)through lectures

- to support the development of their individual area of interest, initial research and project planning through tutorials and seminars

- to gauge the viability of their topic and research methods through a short fully referenced dissertation essay proposal submitted at the end of ARC2020 in Stage Two Semester Two, and establish which dissertation route is most appropriate for them

an 8,000 word dissertation
a 5,200 word dissertation project report supported by project materials (for example; creative practice output, prototyping or documentation of experiments, fieldwork, data collection or analytical recordings).

Outline Of Syllabus

The dissertation spans:
Stage 2: Semester 2, and Stage 3: Semester 1
The basis of the academic method is as follows:
Academically the dissertation or dissertation project will be an excellent piece of work if it is very well informed in its subject-area and draws valid and potentially original conclusions from the evidence presented and considered.
Architecturally the dissertation or dissertation project will be excellent if it addresses an issue of general concern within the architectural community. Typically topics examine architectural theories and issues in practice, design approaches, design and construction techniques, aspects of architectural history, the historical development of buildings, ideas and movements in architecture, or research and applications in a specific context.
The structure of the syllabus allows students to develop research and technical skills, critical and evaluative abilities and a capacity for clear and succinct expression in writing, by:
(a) Introducing students to the nature of research and research methods in architecture.
(b) Equipping students with the ability to devise their own research strategies for their dissertation or dissertation project.
(c) Providing an overview for developing a research question for developing a research hypothesis, selecting appropriate research methods and preparing a dissertation research proposal.
(d) Giving an opportunity to present a major piece of work involving a range of professionally-orientated transferable skills.

Stage Two (ARC2020) and relationship to ARC2024 dissertation elective:
Students develop a basis for their area of interest and an understanding of appropriate methods, literature and output during initial dissertation elective seminars during the 6 week dissertation elective undertaken in Semester Two of Stage Two (part of ARC2024), which concludes with an assessed presentation on a chosen seminar theme. ARC2020 further develops skills in accessing library and other resources to support these emerging areas of specialization, as well as fluency with appropriate tools and conventions of academic research and writing. Following discussions with their dissertation tutor (normally the same person who tutored the elective), students submit a short fully referenced dissertation proposal at the end of Semester Two, Stage Two, which outlines their individual research topic, intended research methods and outputs, and declares whether they will be taking the dissertation OR dissertation project route in ARC3060. The production of this proposal to a passing standard is a formal prerequisite for registration on ARC3060.

Dissertation or dissertation project approaches, choice of topic,
research methods, forms of evidence, literature surveys, synopsis development, case studies, database searching, technical briefing, referencing, production and binding, assessment criteria.
Hand-in: Dissertation or dissertation project proposal after Easter Semester Two, Stage Two.

Stage Three (ARC 3060): Work mainly independently, but in association with a tutor/supervisor, to develop a draft into the completed dissertation or dissertation project.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture80:304:00Pre-recorded lectures available online and on demand updated/revised as needed
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Essay preparation and completion
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading125:0025:00Elective related reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching62:0012:00Essay-writing seminars. Includes group and individual tutorials
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion30:301:30Non-synchronous online discussion forum for module Q&A with ML/lecturers recorded guidance portions
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study125:0025:00Essay related reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk50:302:3030 minute live module talk and 30 minute live discussion/ Q&A Pip per week paired to lecture content
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Students follow a themed elective seminar series chosen from a selection on offer, that supports their emerging research interests. These are research-led weekly seminars from APL staff from the range of disciplines in architecture, from humanities and social sciences to creative practice and technology. Students are expected to augment this knowledge by reading and exploring other sources of information. In addition their research is supported by research skills lectures, workshops, seminar-based tutorials, and feedback session to develop their essays.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M100Research Proposal: summative assignment (ungraded, pass/fail).
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Examination2MRecorded presentation (pass/fail)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Assignment 1: Oral
The oral presentation takes place at the end of the elective seminar series, supporting the exploration of seminar themes, and experimentation in the processes and practices of planning and presentation of a synthesised verbal argument.

This oral presentation (which may include audio, moving image and/or stills images) is a zero-weighted component to allow a wider range of student experimentation, and an ability to open to more creative modes of engaging with the module.

Assignment 2: Essay
The elective essay asks students to consider spatial and architectural issues, and explore the theories and ideas supporting materials they have been introduced to, and evidence their own related research interest through the inclusion, discussion and presentation of supporting materials.

Reading Lists