Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)

Module EDUC45960: Dissertation

Department: Education

EDUC45960: Dissertation

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2018/19 Module Cap None.
Tied to X1K107


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • Dissertation in joint subject.


  • Develop knowledge and understanding of:
  • research paradigms and their alligned methodologies;
  • the role and relationship of reliability and validity in the context of empirical educational research.
  • Develop skills and abilities to:
  • Formulate researchable research questions;
  • apply appropriate research methodologies to investigate a topic or issue;
  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of strength and limitations of various approaches to research;
  • critically assess the relevance of the research to specific educational context(s).


  • The focus of the dissertation will be decided in consultation between the student, the module convenor and the supervisor. The dissertation will need to focus on research methods either as a main theme in itself or as a key focus within the thesis.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module, students should have knowledge of:
  • research paradigms and their characteristic alligned methodologies;
  • the function link between methodology and research question;
  • underlying philosophical assumptions that are made in empirical educational research;
  • the role of reliability and validity in educational research;
  • how research methods can be utilised as tools to investigate contemporary issues in education.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Formulate researchable research questions;
  • Employ appropriate research methodologies to investigate the topic or issue;
  • Show critical and reflective thinking on possibilities and limitations of various research methodologies;
  • critically assess the relevance of the research to specific educational context(s).
Key Skills:
  • Communicate effectively in writing.
  • Work with a high level of autonomy.
  • Access and use literature.

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

  • The independent study is supported by individual supervision.
  • This allows appropriate guidance to be given.
  • The assessment is by submission of a 12,000 word dissertation.
  • This assesses knowledge and understanding of the theoretical perspectives, formulation of questions and research ability, capacity for critical and independent thought, ability to construct a sustained argument and other key skills.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
One-to-one tutorial-type support 12 As required 1 hour 12
Preparation & Reading 438
Total 450

Summative Assessment

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

Formative Assessment:

Throughout the study period for the MA in Research Methods (Education), students are encouraged to think about and identify possible areas for research, possible supervisors who could guide them in developing and carrying out their research, and identify suitable methods that will allow them to address the research question. Students therefore receive verbal and/or written feedback on ideas about planning, design and analysis of their research from their supervisor, potential supervisors and/or the course leader as required during their period of study.

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