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Unit information: Dissertation in 2015/16

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Unit name Dissertation
Unit code HIST33101
Credit points 40
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Austin
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

The Dissertation is an exercise in extended independent research. Students are required to identify their own topic, formulate questions to be asked, identify main primary sources, set the research questions in context of issues arising from the secondary literature, and carry through an analytical study to the highest standards. In short, students will take their first independent steps as historians in their own right. Guidance will be provided in the form of lectures on devising a research topic and using primary sources delivered as part of the skills-unit Researching History. Students will also be assigned a supervisor who will discuss with them a draft dissertation proposal and an introductory chapter, as well as the particular challenges of the chosen topic. Students will receive guidance from their supervisors in meetings, which should not normally exceed three hours. Students are also free to consult other lecturers with relevant expertise.


The unit enables students identify an issue which interests them and follow that interest through independently into a substantial research project that builds on research and writing skills developed in preceding years of the degree.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit students should have:

  • a deep understanding of a chosen subject
  • produced an extended piece of historical analysis in accordance with high scholarly standards
  • be more proficient in forming their own questions
  • have demonstrated that they can compile their own bibliography
  • the ability to work with primary sources demonstrating an awareness of the provenance and nature of those sources and how to draw reasoned and considered conclusions from them
  • have put into practice most (if not all) of the learning outcomes listed under HIST13001 and HIST23008
  • have demonstrated the ability to work almost entirely independently in producing an extended piece of research linked to a taught unit have a greater understanding of the process of independent learning and research and have a clearer understanding of their own capabilities in those areas.

Teaching Information

  • Up to 3 hours of one-to-one tuition with the designated dissertation adviser
  • Access to tutorial consultation with unit tutor in office hours

Assessment Information

9000 word dissertation.

Reading and References

Reading references will depend on the topic chosen and the student will be responsible for assembling a bibliography which will include both primary and secondary sources. The student will be expected to show considerable initiative in devising the bibliography and will be encouraged, in appropriate contexts, to include a range of non-conventional sources (visual, film, electronic etc.).