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Dissertation

  • Module code: PO6030
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: Year 6
  • Credits: 30.00
  • Pre-requisites: Successful completion of Level
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This module is the 'capstone' module for all half-field Politics, International Relations or Human Rights students. Working in small groups, students will be provided with the skills and support necessary to embark upon, complete and present a final year research project. The initial focus of the module will be on small groups of students working to familiarise themselves with an area of staff research expertise, under close supervision of that subject matter expert. This will be made possible through the establishment of a range of staff-led, research-orientated 'reading groups', to which students will sign up. During the first half of the module, students will also receive training in project design and implementation, to complement and consolidate the research methods training received at Levels 4 and 5. The research skills and foundational subject knowledge acquired in the first part of the module will allow students to embark upon their own research project as the year progresses. Individual projects will reflect student interests and desired focus, but will remain embedded within one of the areas of Politics, International Relations and/or Human Rights offered by staff as an initial 'reading group'. The student-led research projects will be presented at the end of the year in an undergraduate academic conference: Themes and Issues in Politics, International Relations and Human Rights.

Aims

  • To provide students with the skills and confidence necessary to embark upon and successfully complete a final year research project;
  • To deepen student engagement with one particular area of research in Politics, International Relations and Human Rights, through ongoing dialogue with an expert in that area;
  • To provide small group and individual supervision to guide student research projects;
  • To consolidate the knowledge and skill set acquired at university, and integrate these into a final 'capstone' piece of work.

Learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate understanding of how to design and implement a research project;
  • Identify, locate and evaluate primary and secondary sources relevant to the project;
  • Construct a detailed research proposal, a viable research question, and a realistic plan of action;
  • Demonstrate understanding of core debates within the relevant field, and an ability to situate and defend their own position within these;
  • Successfully complete a research project, resulting from a significant degree of independent study;
  • Present and defend the findings of the project in a public setting.

Curriculum content

RESEARCH DESIGN LECTURES

  1. Introduction: the research design process
  2. The research question
  3. The evidence: finding it and evaluating it
  4. Positioning yourself in the debate on your topic
  5. Approaches to research: choosing your methods
  6. Discourse analysis and content analysis
  7. Case studies
  8. Doing research: review of the steps and conclusion

 READING GROUPS

  1. Curriculum as per needs of the group

Teaching and learning strategy

The teaching and learning in this module is delivered through a range of formats:

  • 8x 1hr 'research design' lectures, to provide an overview of the research design process and the key considerations in any research project. (Weeks 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15)
  • 8x 2hr reading groups, chaired by a member of staff and focused on an area of their research expertise. Exact focus will vary, but will be designed to provide students with experience of the foundational texts and concepts in that area. (Weeks 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15)
  • 3x 40min individual supervision sessions, where students will receive detailed, tailored guidance on their project as it progresses (throughout Teaching Block 2)
  • 1x 8hr student conference, where all students present and defend their work in panel format, in front of peers and staff. (Week 23)
  • Guided independent study

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive KIS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Lectures 8
Scheduled learning and teaching Reading groups 16
Scheduled learning and teaching Individual supervision 3
Scheduled learning and teaching Student conference 8
Guided independent study 265
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

The learning outcomes of this module are assessed through the following strategy:

1x position paper (2,000 words). Deadline: Week 12, Teaching Block 1

1x research preparation report (2,000 words). Deadline: Week 2, Teaching Block 2

1x final project (6,000 words). Deadline: After Teaching Block 2

1x student conference (presentation and panel debate) FORMATIVE

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
1) Demonstrate understanding of how to design and implement a research project Research preparation report
2) Identify, locate and evaluate primary and secondary sources relevant to the project Research preparation report; final project
3) Construct a detailed research proposal, a viable research question, and a realistic plan of action Research preparation report
4) Demonstrate understanding of core debates within the relevant field, and an ability to situate and defend their own position within these Position paper; final project
5) Successfully complete a research project in the area of Politics, resulting from a significant degree of independent study Final project
6) Present and defend the findings of the project in a public setting Student conference

Breakdown of Major Categories of Assessment

Assessment Type Assessment Name Assessment Weighting
CWK Research preparation report 20
CWK Position paper 20
CWK Final project 60
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major assessment category is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

Bryman, A. (2011) Social Research Methods (4th ed.) (Oxford; Oxford University Press)

Silbergh, D. (2001) Doing Dissertations in Politics: A Student Guide (London: Routledge)

Bibliography recommended reading

Atkinson, P. (ed) (2001) Handbook of Ethnography (London: Sage)

Bell, J. (1999) The Literature Review (Buckingham: Open University Press)

Berry, R. (2000) The Research Project (London: Routledge)

Black, T.R (1999) Doing Quantitative Research in the Social Sciences (London: Sage)

Burnham, P., K. Gilland., W. Grant and Z. Layton-Henry (2004) Research Methods in Politics (Basingstoke: Palgrave)

Coy, P.C (ed) (2010) Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change (Bingley: Emerald)

Flick, U., E. V Kardoff and I. Steinke (2004) A Companion to Qualitative Research (London: Sage)

Fowler, F.J. (1993) Survey Research Methods (London: Sage)

Gregory, I. (2003) Ethics in Research (London: Continuum)

Hallowell, N., J. Lawton and S. Gregory (2005) Reflections on Research (Buckingham: Open University Press)

Humphries, B and C. Truman (eds) (1994) Re-thinking Social Research (Aldershot: Avebury)

Manheim, J.B and R.C. Rich (1986) Empirical Political Analysis (London: Longman)

Marsh, D and G. Stoker (ed) (2002) Theory and Methods in Political Science (Basingstoke: Palgrave)

Mauthner, M. (ed) (2002) Ethics in Qualitative Research (London: Sage)

Miller, D.C and N.J Salkind (2001) Handbook of Research Design and Social Measurement (London: Sage)

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