Skip to main content


ARC2020 : Dissertation Studies and Research Methods

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Zeynep Kezer
  • 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

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

EITHER i) an 8,000 word dissertation

OR ii) 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 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 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

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion129:0029:00Essay preparation and completion
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture30:201:00Pre-recorded lectures
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading132:0032:00Elective related reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching60:303:00Essay-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
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study132:0032:00Essay related reading
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk30:301:3030 minute live module talk and 30 minute live discussion/ Q&A per week
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 and seminar based tutorials developing their essay.

PiP Hours: Present in person provision will be delivered at the programme level, via academic mentoring on assigned ‘PiP days’. (Architecture’s programme level PiP briefing note provides further detail.
Synchronous v Non-synchronous Hours: While there is both synchronous and non-synchronous learning and teaching activity for all modules, across the programme the structured guided learning is weighted towards non-design modules and the scheduled learning and teaching activity hours are weighted towards Architectural Design modules. The latter is a reflection of a) design studio pedagogy, which is centred on a dialogic and responsive approach to students’ own research and creative work and b) student feedback and high student attendance at weekly online Architectural Design Stage briefings (module talks) during the period of lockdown teaching in Spring 2020.’ Architectural pedagogy is reliant on a high proportion of independent learning to support the design process. The MOF hours are consistent with this approach.

Assessment Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M1001500 word independent research essay developed from elective seminar theme and forming the basis for the larger dissertation or diss
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The oral presentation takes place at the end of the elective seminar series, and assesses students’ ability to synthesise seminar themes, plan and present a verbal argument. The elective essay assesses students’ ability to consider spatial and architectural issues in relation to some of the theories and ideas they have been introduced to develop and present with supporting materials and evidence their own related research interest.

Reading Lists