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Unit information: Dissertation in 2015/16

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Unit name Dissertation
Unit code POLI31555
Credit points 40
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Professor. Cini
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

The aim of the units is to help students produce an 8,000-10,000-word dissertation. A dissertation is an extended piece of written work that provides an opportunity to identify and investigate a particular question and explore it systematically. In order to do so students are expected to demonstrate research skills and an appreciation of the intellectual challenge of formulating a valid research design. The unit includes a robust and structured supervisory support system that will guide each student during the academic year. The teaching methods are designed to introduce students to a range of research issues including finding an interesting topic, problem definition (stating your puzzle), research design (induction and deduction), reviewing the extant literature, handling theory and evidence (qualitative and quantitative), and drafting, presenting and completing a strong dissertation. The unit also includes a one-day dissertation conference that offers students the opportunity to present their work to their colleagues and their supervisor. The dissertation conference is also an opportunity to learn about other students' work, share best practice and discuss individual experiences of dissertation research. It also provides students with an important opportunity to practice and develop transferable skills in a formal academic conference environment.


  • To expose students to a plurality of research methods and designs
  • To develop students' research skills
  • To impart broad knowledge of issues in research design
  • To develop students' knowledge of research methods by applied learning
  • To introduce students to a variety of research methods
  • To give students opportunity to further extend their knowledge of a political topic of interest to them by personal research
  • To provide advice, guidance and support on presentations skills.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  1. A knowledge of general issues in research design and research methods in political science
  2. Acquired deeper knowledge of topics in research design relevant to their dissertation
  3. Designed a research project
  4. Used research methods relevant to their dissertation
  5. An ability to plan and organize an extended piece of work based on individual initiative in light of recent experiences of dissertation synopsis submission
  6. An ability to manage a research project over an extended period of time
  7. An ability to write a long piece of work on a political topic
  8. An in-depth understanding of a political topic
  9. Demonstrated the ability to structure and present work confidently and articulately to a set time limit.

Teaching Information

A combination of lectures, workshops, drop in sessions and a conference.

Assessment Information

  • 1,500 word research design (15%). This assesses the achievement of learning outcomes 1, 2 and 3.
  • 8-10,000 word dissertation (85%). This assesses the achievement of learning outcomes 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.

Reading and References

  • Blaxter, L., Christina Hughes & Malcolm Tight (1996) How to Research, Open University Press.
  • Burnham, P., Karin Gilland, Wyn Grant and Zig Layton-Henry (2008) Research Methods in Politics, Palgrave, Basingstoke
  • Marsh, D. and Gerry Stoker (eds.) (2002) Theory and Methods in Political Science, Basingstoke: Palgrave.
  • Harrison, L. (2001), Political Research: an Introduction, Routledge, London
  • Silbergh, D. (2001) Doing Dissertations in Politics, Routledge, London