Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module HIST40090: Dissertation (90 Credits)

Department: History

HIST40090: Dissertation (90 Credits)

Type Open Level 4 Credits 90 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • to enable students to apply the skills and methods acquired in Historical Research Methods to an extended piece of work
  • to acquire an advanced knowledge and understanding of a specialist area of history using extensive secondary and some primary source material
  • to enable students to explore a dissertation topic in substantial detail


  • The dissertation enables the student to develop and execute an extended piece of research on a specialised topic, chosen in consultation with their supervisor. Normally the student will have begun to explore the methods, ideas and literature for this work as part of Themes, Readings and Sources. The topic will be approved by the Programme Director, and during the period of study the supervisor will offer expert guidance on the student’s developing research and writing. Guidelines (for students) on the dissertation will be provided in the course handbook where full information on the format and procedures for the production of the dissertation will be found.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • advanced, in-depth knowledge and understanding of a specialised area of history, demonstrating the use of primary and secondary sources
  • knowledge and understanding of the advanced historiography in the chosen area of specialism
Subject-specific Skills:
  • http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/PGModuleProformaMap/
Key Skills:
  • http://www.dur.ac.uk/history.internal/local/PGModuleProformaMap/

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

  • Student learning is facilitated by:
  • Individual supervision provides a forum in which ongoing work can be discussed in a focused manner with a subject expert, and in which the student is able to acquire and enhance their knowledge and understanding of a specialised field. Students will be directed to an existing body of literature relevant to the subject under study, and advised on the potential primary sources that may be consulted. Regular meetings between student and supervisor will take place during the course of planning, research and writing.
  • Assessment is by means of a dissertation of 20,000 words (including footnotes but excluding bibliography). The dissertation is an extended piece of work which requires students to develop and execute independent research, use primary and secondary sources in an advanced and sophisticated fashion, and pose and test a set of hypotheses appropriate to the chosen specialism. Dissertations must be presented in clearly written and structured form, and with appropriate apparatus. enter text as appropriate for the module

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials 7 flexible 1 7
Preparation and Reading 893

Summative Assessment

Component: Dissertation Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
dissertation 20,000 words (inc footnotes but exc bibliography) 100%

Formative Assessment:

Discussion of work in progress, on the basis of either oral reports or drafts of written work as agreed between supervisor and student. A formative dissertation proposal due end of Term 1.

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