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Unit information: Dissertation (English) in 2015/16

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Unit name Dissertation (English)
Unit code ENGL39024
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Helen Fulton
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

Students may substitute a dissertation for a Seminar Unit (Special Subject) in either TB1 or TB2 of the Third Year. A dissertation is an essay of 6,000 words on a subject of a student's choice. In order to write a dissertation, the student needs to have an in principle agreement from a member of staff to act as supervisor. This needs to be arranged by the end of the period during which choices of Special Subject are made. (It would be wise to begin discussing the dissertation project with a potential supervisor before that period.) Students choosing to write a dissertation will receive three hours of individual consultation with their supervisor; supervision typically involves discussion of preparatory reading and research, scrutiny of a rough plan of the work, feedback on draft material and advice on writing up. Students are also free to consult other academic staff with relevant expertise. Their individual study will also be supported by occasion workshops and peer-mentoring.


This dissertation unit is designed to allow students to study extensively and over a sustained period an author (or group of authors), a theme and/or a literary period that interests them, and by building on interests and research and writing skills developed in preceding years of the degree, to produce a extended essay.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit students should have:

  1. a highly detailed, in-depth understanding of the author(s), text(s), and/or issues explored in the dissertation
  2. produced an extended piece of analysis in accordance with good scholarly standards
  3. be more proficient in forming their own research questions
  4. demonstrated that they can compile their own bibliography
  5. have demonstrated the ability to work almost entirely independently in producing an extended essay.
  6. a greater understanding of the process of independent learning and research and a clearer understanding of their own capabilities.

Teaching Information

Students will receive three hours of individual consultation with their designated supervisor in the English department; this will typically involve discussion of preparatory reading and research, scrutiny of a rough plan of the work, advice on writing up and discussion of some draft material. Their individual study will also be supported by occasional workshops and peer-mentoring.

Assessment Information

One dissertation of 6,000 words.

The summative dissertation maps 100% onto ILOs 1-6.

Reading and References

Reading references will depend on the topic chosen and the student will be responsible for assembling a bibliography that includes both primary and secondary sources.

Delia Da Sousa Correa and W.R. Owens, eds, The Handbook to Literary Research, 2nd edn. London: Routledge/Open University, 2010).
Nigel Fabb and Alan Durant, How to Write Essays and Dissertations: A Guide for English Literature Students, 2nd edition (Harlow: Pearson Longman, 2005).