Skip to main content

Unit information: Dissertation / Work-Based Project in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Dissertation / Work-Based Project
Unit code SPOLM0027
Credit points 60
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Dr. Turney
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

This Unit gives professionals in children and families social work an opportunity to contribute to the development of evidence-based practice, and to be part of a developing field of enquiry. The Dissertation, a piece of work, of up to 12,000 words, is the culmination of the student's progress through the programme and the opportunity to build on the learning about research methods previously undertaken, and to apply appropriate practical, methodological and intellectual skills to an extended piece of research, service development or evaluation, or other equivalent practice-focused study. It allows the student to select a field of inquiry relevant to social work and to carry out independent study over a sustained period. Student learning will be supported by regular individual supervision sessions with an assigned member of academic staff, though the expectation is that the dissertation is primarily an individual piece of work. The Unit aims to:

  • Provide the student with the opportunity to investigate a topic of their own choice (within the broad framework of social work with children and families).
  • Enable students to explore the conceptual and theoretical issues associated with their chosen topic.
  • Enable the student to apply relevant research skills
  • Enhance the practical and transferable skills of locating and using knowledge and information, conveying ideas in written format, and planning and managing their time.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the Unit, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the appropriate uses, strengths and limitations of a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • Critically appraise and synthesise primary and secondary research.
  • Identify a question or issues suitable for a Masters-level dissertation, and to plan and execute an appropriate study.
  • Evaluate and explain the conceptual and theoretical concerns associated with their chosen topic.
  • Demonstrate critical understanding of, and ability to apply an appropriate research methodology to investigate their chosen topic.
  • Critically analyse data and draw apposite conclusions which are integrated with wider academic debates.
  • Demonstrate the capacity to plan and carry out a sustained piece of independent study at Masters level.

Teaching Information

  • Students will be expected to prepare a research proposal,,, after which they will be assigned a dissertation supervisor.
  • Thereafter, supervision will be arranged on an individual basis to support the planning and execution of the proposed study/research project and the writing of the dissertation. Supervision will be provided in line with expectations in place for existing taught Masters programmes within the School for Policy Studies.
  • Students must submit an acceptable research ethics proposal to the programme director before beginning their research.

Assessment Information

A Dissertation of 10,000 to 15,000 words.

Students will research a relevant area of literature and undertake either an empirical or theoretical study or practice-based project that addresses a topic or issue within the broad field of social work with children and families. They will be expected to demonstrate subject matter expertise in that topic through the research work undertaken.

Reading and References

Blaxter, L, Hughes, C & Tight, M (2006) How to Research (3rd ed), Milton Keynes: Open University Press.

Corby, B. (2006) Applying Research in Social Work Practice. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Denscombe M. (2010), The Good Research Guide for Small Scale Social Research Projects. Maidenhead: Open University Press. 4th Edition.

Oliver P (2010) Understanding the Research Process, London: Sage

Robson, C. (2002) Real World Research. Oxford: Blackwell.

Shaw, I, et al.(eds) (2010) The SAGE Handbook of Social Work Research. London : Sage Publications.