Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2019-2020 (archived)

Module MELA46360: Dissertation (60 credit)

Department: Modern Languages and Cultures

MELA46360: Dissertation (60 credit)

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2019/20 Module Cap None.
Tied to R9T207


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • 90 Credit Dissertation


  • To allow students to explore in considerable detail a topic in the area of languages, literatures and cultures
  • To enable students to conduct extensive individual research
  • To produce a piece of well-presented scholarly writing that demonstrates familiarity with relevant theoretical frameworks and the ability to apply them to the study of an appropriate object of study


  • The precise content of the dissertation will depend on the students' particular preferences in the relevant language area(s), and will be agreed in conjunction with the supervisor

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of this module, students are expected to demonstrate:
  • Critical understanding of the relevant and current methodologies in Modern Languages and methodological and theoretical debates pertinent to them
  • Advanced, in-depth knowledge and understanding of the relevant language area(s)
  • Advanced, in-depth knowledge of aspects of the history, literature and culture of the relevant language area(s) and critical literature on defined subjects and sources and materials
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students are expected to demonstrate:
  • An advanced ability to engage critically with literary texts in their original language
  • The ability to describe and analyse a wide range of sources (texts and visual materials), attending to their formal specificity and particular socio-historical provenance
  • An advanced ability to engage with interdisciplinary methods and theories
  • An advanced understanding of forms of analysis in intellectual and cultural theory
  • An advanced ability to interpret sources and materials from the relevant language area
Key Skills:
  • By the end of this module, students are expected to demonstrate:
  • The ability to engage in close reading of a wide range of challenging texts
  • Developing independent research skills
  • The ability to synthesize complex material from a wide range of sources in order to communicate effectively in a range of forms
  • Competence in information technology skills at an appropriate level to support MA learning and research
  • Appropriate professional conduct

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

  • 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 provided guidance in establishing an appropriate bibliography of theoretical and secondary materials as well as relevant primary sources. 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 15,000 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 (including sources in the original language) 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.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials 7 Bi-monthly 30 mins 3.5
Student preparation and reading time 596.5

Summative Assessment

Component: Summative Dissertation Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Summative Dissertation 15000 words 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.

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