Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)

Module MELA40490: Dissertation

Department: Modern Language and Cultures

MELA40490: Dissertation

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 90 Availability Available in 2007/08 Module Cap
Tied to R9K507


  • MELA53830, MELA40530 and one optional module


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • The main aim is to require students to explore in greater depth and at greater length an aspect of the programme that has particularly interested them as they have worked on the core module or the optional module. Such an extended exercise will provide them with invaluable experience and training in conceiving, planning, documenting and writing a relatively extensive piece of work. It will be essential practice for research work at the doctoral level or for equivalent extended pieces of writing.
  • The dissertation, which is worth a half of the available credits, will be the last requirement for the student on the programme and will occupy the student for term III of the academic year and the following vacation. The dissertation may be written in either French or English where pedagogically desireable.


  • As indicated above, the dissertation topic will be chosen in collaboration with one of the tutors in the programme within the framework of the syllabus of the programme and usually, as a spin-off from the optional module.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Having completed this module the student will have acquired invaluable skill and practice in completing a sustained piece of research writing, including considerable research on primary and secondary sources, detailed planning of a coherent argument and evidence to support it, the writing of an extensive piece of written work presented according to prescribed scholarly conventions and engaging with the theories and interpretations to be found in the most pertinent published work in the same area of investigation.
Subject-specific Skills:
    Key Skills:

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

      • The topic of the dissertation will be chosen by the student in conjunction with a tutor on the programme, usually a tutor in the particular optional module that the student has taken or is taking, who will become the dissertation supervisor. Then the student will follow a rigorous programme of reading agreed upon by negotiation beween him/her and supervisor. The student will submit a plan and drafts of chapters in advance of supervisions, and the supervisor will provide written and oral feedback on written work as well as agreeing action points and addressing issues that arise from the student's line of enquiry.
      • Assessment by dissertation will test the student's ability to assimilate, understand, and analyse critically the key area of a debate and provide an extended argument supported by documentary material.

      Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

      Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
      Tutorials 6 Monthly 1 6
      Preparation and Reading 894
      Total 900

      Summative Assessment

      Component: Dissertation Component Weighting: 100%
      Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
      Dissertation 20,000 100%

      Formative Assessment:

      Plans and draft of dissertation to be discussed in tutorials.

      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