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ARC3060 : Dissertation in Architectural Studies

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Juliet Odgers
  • Lecturer: Dr Matthew Ozga-Lawn, Dr Martin Beattie, Professor Prue Chiles, Dr Edward Wainwright, Mr Toby Blackman, Ms Kati Blom, Professor Katie Lloyd Thomas, Dr Nathaniel Coleman, Professor Rosie Parnell, Dr Tolulope Onabolu, Mr James A Craig, Dr Neveen Hamza, Professor Andrew Ballantyne, Professor Martyn Dade-Robertson, Dr Carlos Calderon, Dr Sana Al-Naimi
  • Deputy Module Leader: Professor Zeynep Kezer
  • Owning School: Architecture, Planning & Landscape
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 30
ECTS Credits: 15.0


The aim is, through research into a topic of architectural significance, for students to gain proficiency
in a range of research skills, research methodologies, and critical appraisal skills, and to assimilate
information and draw conclusions from these processes.

The submission should investigate the subject chosen and demonstrate independent research and
understanding of the topic and appropriate research methods through EITHER:

i) an 8,000-word dissertation OR

ii) a 5,200-word dissertation project report supported by project materials (eg: creative practice output, prototyping or documentation of experiments, fieldwork, data collection or analytical recordings).
The mode of submission (dissertation OR dissertation project) will have been agreed with the student’s tutor and module leader as part of the dissertation proposal submitted at the end of ARC2020 in Stage 2 Semester 2.

Outline Of Syllabus

The dissertation or dissertation project 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.
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 six-week dissertation elective undertaken in Stage 2 Semester 2 (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 Stage 2 Semester 2, 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.
Dissertation approaches, choice of topic, research methods, forms of evidence, literature surveys, synopsis development, case studies, database searching, technical briefing, referencing, production and binding.

Stage 3 (ARC 3060): Work mainly independently, but in association with a tutor/supervisor, to develop a draft into the completed dissertation.
Submission: end of semester 1.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1144:00144:00Writing dissertation (or project)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture61:006:00Talks on dissertation and study skills
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials30:201:00Pre-recorded talks
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities1134:00134:00Independent research for dissertation (or project)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching21:002:00Group feedback on draft table of contents, and chapters
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity20:301:00Peer to peer review on TOCs and chapters
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision31:003:00Tutorials, whether individual or in small groups (synchronous online)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk61:006:00Online Q&A sessions with module leader
Guided Independent StudyDistance Learning Advance Preparation13:003:00Prepare for first catch-up tutorial with tutor in week 1
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

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.

Module teaching is through in person lectures (which can easily be converted to online) and drop-in question and answer sessions (module meetings) with some additional pre-recorded materials. Dissertation tutors provide
tutorials (group and individual) and seminars, and guide peer to peer review, and students’ research, reading and writing for their dissertation or dissertation project.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Dissertation1M1008,000 word dissertation OR 5,200 word dissertation project.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The dissertation or dissertation project completed in Stage 3 is assessed by the following criteria:

• the student’s knowledge and understanding of a topic.
• demonstration of critical skills in surveying existing work, ability to research and develop an argument.
• capacity to present findings in an appropriate manner.

Initially every dissertation or dissertation project is marked by two readers. If there is less than 10% difference in the mark, the average is taken. If there is a significant difference in their judgement (over 10% or across a grade boundary), the readers consult in order to try and reach a consensus. If no consensus is possible, a third reader marks the work and the dissertation is discussed with the Module Leader in order to reach a final resolution.

Reading Lists