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Unit information: Social Work Research Dissertation in 2021/22

Unit name Social Work Research Dissertation
Unit code SPOLM0039
Credit points 60
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Demi Patsios
Open unit status Not open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law

Description including Unit Aims

The dissertation is an opportunity to carry out independent study, enabling the student to select a field of inquiry relevant to social work and to carry out research in depth over a sustained period of time. Student learning is supported by regular individual supervision sessions, though the expectation is that the dissertation is primarily an individual piece of work.

The unit aims to:

1. provide the student with the opportunity to investigate a topic of their own choice (within the broad framework of social work/social care)

2. enable the student to apply some (but not necessarily all) of the research skills developed in the taught units in carrying out a short piece of research.

3. enhance the practical and transferable skills of locating and using knowledge and information, conveying ideas in written format, planning and managing their time.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, the student will demonstrate, through the production of a 10,000-15,000 word dissertation:

1. an ability to frame suitable research questions

2. an understanding of, and ability to apply an appropriate research methodology to investigate their chosen topic

3. an ability to analyse data, draw apposite conclusions which are integrated with wider academic debates.

4. an aptitude to plan and carry out a sustained piece of independent research

Teaching Information

Students will be expected to engage in a dissertation workshop and provide an outline of their dissertation research, after which they will be assigned a dissertation supervisor. Thereafter individual study supported by regular, negotiated academic supervision will take place (either in person or online as circumstances allow). Students must submit an acceptable research ethics proposal to their dissertation supervisor and the dissertation unit convenor before beginning their research.

Assessment Information


A dissertation of 10,000 to 15,000 words. The dissertation should demonstrate that the student understands how to: frame research questions, develop and apply an appropriate research strategy (plan and complete primary data collection and/or identify appropriate secondary data sources), analyse data and draw conclusions that are integrated with wider academic debates.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. SPOLM0039).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.