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ARC3060 : Dissertation in Architectural Studies

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Stephen Parnell
  • Lecturer: Dr Nathaniel Coleman, Professor Andrew Ballantyne, Professor Jianfei Zhu, Dr Ben Bridgens, Dr Samuel Austin, Dr Neveen Hamza, Dr Josep-Maria Garcia-Fuentes, Dr Carlos Calderon, Dr Edward Wainwright, Dr Matthew Ozga-Lawn, Dr Martin Beattie, Dr Juliet Odgers, Professor Prue Chiles, Ms Elizabeth Baldwin, Mr Raymond Verrall, Ms Kati Blom, Dr Sana Al-Naimi
  • 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 (for example; 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 Two Semester Two.

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 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.

Dissertation 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.

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

Hand-in: Assessment Period for semester one: Stage 3: During Semester 1.

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 completion1144:00144:00Writing dissertation (and project)
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials11:001:00N/A
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities1144:00144:00Independent research for dissertation (and project)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching13:003:00Group feedback on draft chapters. Synchronous
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision31:003:00(synchronous online) Tutorials, whether individual or in small groups
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk30:201:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk30:201:00Combination of workshops, lectures, drop-in surgery sessions
Guided Independent StudyDistance Learning Advance Preparation13:003:00Prepare for first catch-up tutorial with tutor in week 1
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Teaching is through lectures, tutorials – group and individual - and tasks, involving the examination of current dissertations and dissertation projects and the use of public databases; research workshops; also seminars/tutorials with individually allocated tutors/supervisors.

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
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 a difference in their judgement it is read by a third person and the dissertation is discussed with the Module Leader in order to reach a final resolution of the mark.

Reading Lists