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Dissertation Workshop - SPY00114M

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  • Department: Social Policy and Social Work
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Kevin Caraher
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2020-21

Module aims

The purpose of the Dissertation Workshop is to prepare students for their 40 credit Independent Study Module (ISM), to ensure that students fully understand the expectations of the ISM and develop specific academic skills such as designing and structuring a feasible project, scoping the initial literature search and identifying a solid theoretical foundation.

To achieve these objectives, the module will combine directed private studies in preparation of the student’s ISM proposal, opportunities for tutor-guided peer review by fellow students, and feedback by the module tutor on formative and summative assessments.

All these activities will culminate in a detailed ISM proposal at the end of the Spring term run of the  Dissertation Workshop, built on two key principles:

1)    To enable students to complete the postgraduate programme in 2 years whilst working, it is seen as essential that students undertake thorough preparation ahead of the ISM that starts in the summer term of year 2 of their studies. The Dissertation Workshop, in connection with the option modules in the autumn and spring terms of year 2 (which will be aligned to the theoretical foundation of the ISM project) will lay this foundation.

2)    Preparation for the ISM is to be achieved in an incremental and scaffolded way so that students can build up their final ISM proposal ‘layer by layer’, supported by their peers and especially by regular feedback from their personal academic supervisor, the module tutor and the allocated ISM supervisor. Students will hence develop their final proposal in three main steps, beginning with a rough ISM outline regarding topic, research question and theoretical scope; followed by a more detailed proposal including further information on the chosen literature; before finally leading to a full and detailed ISM proposal.

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

While the Dissertation Workshop does not introduce any new subject-related content, a key aim is to enable students to reflect on the subject content covered in their core and option modules, and to apply this knowledge to the development of their ISM proposal.

Skills developed will include:

  • planning for an independent literature based research project to manage and schedule appropriate stages of the research process
  • identifying and delimiting an appropriate research topic
  • developing a logical structure
  • selecting, reviewing and critically engaging with relevant (theoretical) literature and sources
  • building a coherent theoretical foundation for an ISM
  • communicating the nature of their dissertation proposals to others
  • identifying and addressing ethical issues in relation to research
  • strengthening communication skills by collaborating with fellow students
  • developing skills for peer review
  • solidifying digital literacy


Task Length % of module mark
Dissertation proposal
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Dissertation proposal
N/A 100

Module feedback

The marker for your proposal (your dissertation supervisor) will provide comments which will enable you to further refine your proposal, and which will be a basis for ongoing discussion with your supervisor as you begin to work on the dissertation itself. As with all assessed work, we aim to provide feedback to you within one month.

Indicative 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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students