Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)


Department: Modern Language and Cultures (Arabic)


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2007/08 Module Cap None.


  • None.


  • Research Methods and Dissertation Production (SGIA)

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide an opportunity for MSc students to engage in a substantial piece of scholarship in an appropriate area of their choice and under suitable supervisory guidance. The dissertation is the culmination of the MSc programme.


  • Students will produce a dissertation of no more than 12,000 words. The content of the dissertation is dependent upon the field chosen by the student in consultation with their supervisor.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Through the dissertation students should gain:
  • Advanced and in-depth knowledge of an appropriate field of study of their choice.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Through the dissertation process students should develop the use of highly specialised and advanced technical, professional and scholastic skills including the ability to:
  • analyse critically advanced academic literature in their chosen field and make appropriate use of selected primary texts.
  • appropriately structure their work to sustain and advance analytical arguments effectively, commenting upon key points of academic dispute and controversy.
  • critically review specialised knowledge of the subject with appropriate recognition of relevant contextual influences on this knowledge.
  • identity and utilise appropriately relevant sources of information and data.
  • utilise the relevant research methods and demonstrate their ability to conduct their research accordingly.
Key Skills:
  • Through the dissertation, students' should enhance key skills, including:
  • Self-reliance in conducting research
  • A self-critical approach to research and the effective utilisation of resources
  • Organisational skills in managing time in order to produce a substantial piece of work on time and to the length with limited supervisory guidance
  • Skills of effective and appropriate presentation of academic work.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The dissertation stands as an opportunity for students to undertake a largely independent piece of research, and as such 'teaching', in the sense of imparting knowledge, is minimal. Instead, supervisors serve as a source of advice and guidance on issues such as: developing an appropriate overall structure for the dissertation; advising on possible sources of literature and other data; offering critical feedback on a limited amount of draft material; and providing support and advise on overcoming problems, in accordance with the learning outcomes. Learning is therefore principally self-directed, with students taking the lead in devising the research project, identifying appropriate resources, developing their ideas and planning how best to conduct and present their work. This serves the learning outcomes through encouraging students to work effectively, in a self-reliant and self-critical manner to develop their knowledge and understanding and hone their analytical and other relevant subject skills.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Other Typically 6 x one hour supervisory meetings, but may be more if appropriate Between March and September of Second Year Variable 6
Preparation and Reading 594
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Dissertation Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Dissertation 12,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

None formally required, although students are encouraged to submit and discuss a draft plan of the dissertation and may submit 1 draft chapter upon which comments will be offered by the supervisor.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University