Dissertation Module Handbook

Dissertation (EAS3003)

Staff - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The dissertation module aims to showcase the student’s critical abilities, as they plan and deliver an extended, independent research project. Each student will work under the guidance of an academic supervisor, with extra support provided by a series of workshops and lectures. This will help them to develop the key skills for researching their chosen project and preparing a finished manuscript. The dissertation encourages the student to manage their time effectively, organise their ideas, and extend and compliment their previous studies.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the chosen subject, building appropriately on the work completed during the earlier years of their programme;
  • 2. demonstrate a capacity for independent study and self-directed inquiry and research;
  • 3. demonstrate an ability to identify and pursue appropriate, subject specific questions;
  • 4. demonstrate an ability to reflect upon research methodologies, and to draft, revise and edit written work accordingly;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. demonstrate an advanced ability to analyse the chosen literature and/or films and to relate its concerns and its modes of expression to its historical context;
  • 6. demonstrate an advanced ability to interrelate texts and discourses specific to their own discipline with issues in the wider context of cultural and intellectual history;
  • 7. demonstrate an advanced ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to literary and/or filmic texts;

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. through essay-writing, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, an advanced capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose;
  • 9. through research for the dissertation, demonstrate advanced proficiency in information retrieval and analysis.

Syllabus plan

The Dissertation Handbook will be published in revised form each year, in the summer preceding the students’ final year of study. This contains all of the relevant information for completion of the module, including deadlines for submission, useful contact names and tips on structuring and researching a dissertation. Responsibility for the selection and development of a topic of research is left to individual students, though they are invited to discuss it with one or more members of staff.

The completed Dissertation Proposal Form, signed by a member of staff, must be submitted to the departmental office by the specified deadline in term 1 of the students’ final year. Allocation of an individual supervisor will be organised and confirmed in the first week of Term 2. Early in the term the supervisor will arrange a 30 minute group meeting. There is also a special Library talk geared to the needs of dissertation research, and other workshops introducing key skills of research, writing and time management. The student should have a written plan of his or her dissertation ready for discussion at the first meeting. It is then the student's responsibility to arrange and attend further supervisions during the term, with a total allocation of 1 hour 30 minutes. Supervisors will read and comment on up to 2000 words of written drafts, to be submitted as a formative assessment.

Teaching consists of 1 x 1hr lecture in term 1 and 11 x 1hr lectures in term 2, that introduce key topics and include students in a debate about academic practice; 4 x 2hr workshops, running fortnightly in term 2, that provide a foundation of essential skills, such as planning and referencing, as well as creating a forum for student-led discussion about the dissertation experience 1 x 30mins group meeting to be arranged by the supervisor and 1hr 30mins of further 1-2-1 supervision meetings, to be arranged by the student.

Dissertations are regarded as examinable components and as such, feedback will not be available until after the exam board has met.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities11lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities8seminars
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities2supervisions
Guided independent study279reading, research and dissertation preparation

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Draft extract2000 words2-6, 8 (others may vary)Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up.

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay1008000 words1-9Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-9Referral/deferral period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

A bibliography of primary and secondary texts is to be developed, under direction from an academic supervisor, by the student. Since the module comprises mostly independent study, it is up to the student to seek out secondary or archival material in the course of their research. Supervisors will guide, and strongly encourage the research process, which may include online journals, audio-visual material, artefacts from Special Collections etc.

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

The Exeter Learning Environment is an online resource which will accompany the module, offering students a forum to discuss their work and to access links to external sites that might help in their research. Electronic versions of all course materials will also be hosted at this location. The ELE site will include links to useful online resources, including support for academic writing and lists of key journals and websites compiled by the different research groups.

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Students will be encouraged to draw upon the archival resources offered by the University’s Special Collections and by The Bill Douglas Centre for the History of Cinema and Popular Culture.

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Dissertation, independent research, extended project

The Faculty Handbook Online includes the programme regulations for all undergraduate degrees offered by Durham University. You can use the regulations to check which modules are compulsory on your programme, and which are optional. To find the regulations for your degree programme, use the Programme Search facility below.

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Further Information

Further information will typically be available from your department. You may also find it useful to consider: the Faculty Handbook Online’s Frequently Asked Questions; the guide to using the Module Search facility; and theglossary of terms.

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information contained in the Online Faculty Handbook is correct at the time of publication in April 2017. The University will use reasonable endeavours to deliver programmes and other services in accordance with the descriptions provided.

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