Accessibility statement

Dissertation - SPS00002H

« Back to module search

  • Department: School of Social and Political Sciences
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Simon Parker
  • Credit value: 40 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23
    • See module specification for other years: 2021-22

Module summary

This compulsory module undertaken by all Social and Political Sciences students in the final year of their studies, is different in many respects from other course assignments. Instead of choosing a title from a list of essay topics, for example, you are required to select your own area to investigate and construct your own questions to answer. You may possibly design and carry out some empirical research as an aspect of your inquiry. Moreover, at a length of 10,000 words it is also longer than any other written assessment you will be asked to do.

Related modules

Pre-requisite modules

Co-requisite modules

  • None

Prohibited combinations

  • None

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2022-23 to Summer Term 2022-23

Module aims

The SPS Dissertation is an independent piece of work that demonstrates a critical, in-depth engagement with a particular topic related to the social and political sciences. It should display a strong analytical quality accompanied by evidence of a sound understanding of the existing research in the field. Students are encouraged to choose a research question that will allow them to draw on knowledge and approaches from more than one social science discipline although it is not a requirement that the dissertation should be inter-disciplinary.

During the teaching programme and in the final assessment dissertation candidates should be able to demonstrate the following

  • A capacity for independent thinking and the ability to apply theories and approaches developed from their previous studies
  • Qualitative and/or quantitative analytical skills, although students are not required to generate their own original data
  • An awareness of the ethical issues that arise in social science research and an ability to reflect on any ethical implications for their own project
  • An in-depth knowledge of appropriate and relevant literature related to their topic and the ability to critique key contributions to the field
  • An ability to interact knowledgeably and confidently with academic researchers
  • Excellent bibliographical, written and presentational skills

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module students will be able to:

  • justify a topic for investigation
  • devise appropriate research questions
  • formulate an ethical social science research project
  • identify and use an appropriate social research methodology
  • sustain and develop a progressively argued and focussed analysis
  • identify and use appropriate social scientific concepts and theory
  • identify any policy implications of their research
  • communicate their ideas with fellow academic researchers

Academic and graduate skills

Students should be able to:

  • Explain, analyse and apply complex social scientific concepts and theories to craft a more considered understanding of social worlds
  • Engage creatively with social and political issues in rigorous and critical ways
  • Be intellectually curious about, and challenge, commonly held assumptions about our social worlds
  • Be ethical in their conduct by considering the effects of their interactions with others, display sensitivity to the well-being of others and design research involving others in respectful and responsible ways
  • Recognise their own limitations and make use of constructive feedback from others to improve their capacity for effective working
  • Show empathy with and respect for the views of others
  • Confidently communicate their intellectual positions in written form
  • Be resourceful in planning and managing their own work-load effectively and carrying out self-directed work
  • Seek advice from others where appropriate

Module content

During your final year you are required to attend the SPS Forum. This final year compulsory module is designed to incorporate a number of learning, research and skills opportunities. These include the SPS seminar series which will be jointly organized, chaired and recorded by the students; workshops to develop advanced research, academic, media and presentation skills; career and employability sessions; and, dissertation presentations.


Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will submit a 1,500 words overview of their project (this can include but is not limited to a section of the introduction, methodology or literature review) and receive feedback within 4 weeks of submission.

The final dissertation mark will not be released until after the final exam boards in week 10 of the summer term of year 3. Written feedback will be provided for this final piece of work.

Indicative reading

Reardon, D. (2006) Doing your Undergraduate Project

Sharp, J. A., Peters, J. & Howard, K. (2002) The management of a student research project (3rd edn)

Silverman, David (2006). Interpreting Qualitative Data: Methods for Analyzing Talk, Text and Interaction (3rd ed).

Walliman, N. S. R. (2005) Your research project: a step-by-step guide for the first-time researcher (2nd edn)

Walliman, N. S. R. (2004) Your undergraduate dissertation: The essential guide for success


Companion for Undergraduate Dissertations: Sociology, Anthropology, Politics, Social Policy, Social Work and Criminology

This site provides free access to a ‘survival guide’ published by the Higher Education Academy's Centre for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics, the Centre for Social Work and Policy and Sheffield Hallam University. It provides useful tips on literature searching skills and preparing a dissertation at undergraduate level. There is also a glossary of terms and bibliography of further reading.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.