Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module MELA40760: Dissertation

Department: Modern Languages and Cultures

MELA40760: Dissertation

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Not available in 2020/21 Module Cap
Tied to R9K807


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To advance student skills, appropriate to Level 4, in analysis and writing relevant to their field of study which involves wide reading in primary and secondary sources, and which demands an understanding of interdisciplinary approaches to the period(s). The dissertation should ideally demonstrate an ability to pursue interdisciplinary means in the study of the history, literature or culture of the period covered by the 'pathway' in which the student has specialized.


  • The dissertation will involve detailed study of a particular aspect of Medieval or Early Modern history, literature, society or culture, and will preferably, though not necessarily, adopt an interdisciplinary approach. The subject and the title of the dissertation will be determined by the student and the lead supervisor, under the direction of the Management Committee of the MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies. The title of the dissertation will be approved by the Course Director who will be responsible for determining the deadline for approval of the dissertation title.
  • Guidelines for students on the dissertation will be provided in the course handbook (as agreed by the management Committee of the MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies); full information as to the format and the procedures of the dissertation will be found there.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • A detailed understanding, based on primary research and secondary reading, of a particular topic relating to Medieval and Early Modern studies.
  • An understanding of the interdisciplinary methodologies appropriate to the topic.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • An ability to design and complete a research project that engages in original research into some aspect of Medieval or Early Modern studies.
  • An ability to analyze primary and secondary source material.
  • An ability to use such material to construct a coherent, scholarly and convincing argument.
Key Skills:

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

    • Each student will be directed by his/her supervisor in the choice of a topic (by end February, in Epiphany Term), and will be advised as to existing relevant to the topic under discussion, and as to the primary sources most appropriate. There will be regular meetings between student and supervisor(s), first to set the dissertation topic and then whilst the research and writing are in train. In Easter Term students will expect to meet with their supervisors individually on three separate occasions, then less regularly over the summer vacation, and more regularly again as the submission deadline approaches; it is worth emphasizing that the number of these meetings is calculated on the basis that an interdisciplinary topic may need regular meetings with more than one supervisor.
    • To facilitate interdisciplinary topics, a student may have more than one supervisor in more than one department/discipline.

    Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

    Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
    Tutorials 3 According to student need 2 hours 6
    Other Variable Variable Variable
    Preparation and Reading 594
    Total 600

    Summative Assessment

    Component: Dissertation Component Weighting: 100%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Dissertation 12,000-15,000 words 100%

    Formative Assessment:

    Regular discussion of work in progress, on the basis either oral reports, or of short written assignments agreed between the supervisor(s) and the 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