Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2018-2019 (archived)

Module ENGL44160: Research Project

Department: English Studies

ENGL44160: Research Project

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


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • The final portfolio will allow students to demonstrate their ability to put what they have learned in the structured workshops (M2, M3 and M4) into practice when working independently. They will be asked to produce (ie. draft and edit) original poetry or prose fiction with a full, advanced awareness of the technical and aesthetic choices made in the process of writing.
  • The extended essay will allow a student to make an in-depth study of a particular topic, author, or genre at a complex level, and permitting a student to write at substantial length.
  • The extended essay will encourage the development of sophisticated argument, the marshalling of evidence, the reading of the relevant criticism and contextual material, and the appropriate high level of bibliographical and presentational skills.
  • The research project will provide a foundation for training in higher research at, e.g., doctoral level.


  • The final portfolio will consist of either poetry or prose produced after the completion of the structured workshop-oriented modules M2, M3 and M4: it will therefore reflect the extent to which the student has progressed during the course of their MA studies.
  • The extended essay permits a student to present the result of individual and individually supervised work.
  • The extended essay allows the development of a specific research interest to a high level, and trains skills of evidence, argument, writing, and presentation.
  • In preparation for the MA Research Project, each student is entitled to four 45-minute individual consultations with a nominated supervisor. Each student is entitled to individual feedback from his or her supervisor on one complete draft version of the extended essay.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • advanced knowledge of the aesthetic decisions made by writers who have influenced the student’s own work, and the relationship of those decisions to matters of form and intellectual and historical context
  • expertise in, and in-depth knowledge of, an area of literature in English related to the student’s creative practice
  • sophisticated appreciation of the power of imagination in literary creation, and the ways in which literary works
  • knowledge of a linguistic, literary, cultural and socio-historical context in which literature is written
  • detailed knowledge of useful and precise critical terminology
  • conversance with the range and variety of approaches to literary study
  • advanced knowledge of a chosen field of independent research
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Creative writing skills: the application of the student’s critical skills to their own independent practice
  • advanced critical skills in the close- reading and analysis of texts
  • informed and sophisticated awareness of formal and aesthetic dimensions of literature and ability to offer cogent analysis of their workings in specific texts
  • sensitivity to generic conventions and to the shaping effects on communication of historical circumstances, and to the affective power of language
  • skill in articulating and substantiating at a high level an imaginative response to literature
  • the ability to articulate advanced knowledge and understanding of concepts and theories relating to literary studies
  • advanced skills of effective communication and argument
  • expertise in conventions of scholarly presentation, and bibliographic skills including accurate citation of sources and consistent use of scholarly conventions of presentation
  • command of a broad and specialised range of vocabulary and an appropriate critical terminology
  • awareness of literature as a medium through which values are affirmed and debated
Key Skills:
  • practice of writing poetry or prose fiction
  • advanced capacity to analyse critically
  • advanced ability to acquire complex information of diverse kinds in a structured and systematic way involving the use of distinctive interpretative skills derived from the subject
  • high degree of competence in the planning and execution of written work
  • capacity to initiate and frame an appropriate topic for independent study
  • capacity for independent thought and judgement, and acute ability to assess the critical ideas of others
  • sophisticated skills in critical reasoning and problem solving
  • advanced ability to handle information and argument in a critical manner
  • information-technology skills such as word-processing and electronic data access information
  • professional conduct skills, e.g. observing professional academic standards, including correct referencing of sources
  • professional organisation and time-management skills

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

  • Students choose their own extended essay titles, under supervision from the module convenor and subject to the approval of the English Studies Board of Examiners, and must submit a brief synopsis of their proposed topic (c. 250 words) to the Board.
  • Individual supervision sessions provide students with carefully guided advice on shaping arguments and developing bibliographic skills without jeopardising the student's capacity for independent learning.
  • The final portfolio tests the student’s ability to work independently on their creative writing while drawing on what they have learned from the earlier modules
  • The extended essay tests the student's ability to argue, respond and interpret, whilst demonstrating subject-specific knowledge and skills such as appreciation of the power of imagination in literary creation and the close reading and analysis of texts. Students will be expected to choose a research topic with particular bearing on their own creative practice, and to reflect on how their critical and creative work have informed one another in the essay. Research Project supervision encourages students to work at an advanced and sophisticated level on an independently conceived piece of work (6,000-8,000 words), with appropriate support and advice about the shape of an argument, organisation of material, quality of execution (drafts are read), the importance of assessing the critical ideas of others, and need for bibliographical accuracy and observing scholarly conventions

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Individual consultations 4 Easter and Summer vacations 45 minutes 3
Preparation and Reading 597
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Research Project Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Extended Essay 6,000-8,000 words 50%
Final Portfolio EITHER 6,000-8,000 words of prose fiction OR ten-thirteen pages of poetry 50%

Formative Assessment:

<enter text as appropriate for the module>

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