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Unit information: Policy Research Dissertation in 2014/15

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Unit name Policy Research Dissertation
Unit code SPOLM5100
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 some original independent study enabling the student to select a field of inquiry relevant to social policy or social welfare and to carry out research in depth over a sustained period of time. It is an opportunity to apply some of the research skills to their chosen area of study. 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 policy/social welfare) 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 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 present their research proposal at a dissertation workshop, after which they will be assigned a dissertation supervisor. Thereafter individual study supported by regular, negotiated academic supervision. Students must submit an acceptable research ethics proposal to the programme director before beginning their research.

Assessment Information


A dissertation of no more than 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.

Reading and References

Becker, S., Bryman, A. and Ferguson, H. (eds) (2012) Understanding Research for Social Policy and Social Work, 2nd ed., Bristol: The Policy Press.

Bryman, A. (2012) Social Research Methods, 4th ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Creswell, J.W. (2009) Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, 3rd ed., London: Sage.

Hudson, J. and Lowe, S. (2009) Understanding the Policy Process: Analysing welfare policy & practice, 2nd ed., Bristol: The Policy Press.

Others to be negotiated with the supervisor.