Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module SGIA47160: Dissertation in Global Politics

Department: Government and International Affairs

SGIA47160: Dissertation in Global Politics

Type Open Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Not available in 2020/21 Module Cap None.


  • None.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • The dissertation will enhance students’ ability to think critically and more specifically it will constitute the main tool to develop their ability to produce advanced independent research.


  • The dissertation will be 12,000 words in length, on a topic agreed with an academic supervisor.
  • The dissertation requires students to produce an extended piece of research and analysis that treats a specific topic in depth within the broad methodological frameworks of the programme and the contexts specific to the chosen topic in connection with their chosen modules.
  • The specific focus of the dissertation determines which learning outcome is particularly emphasised.
  • The dissertation tests the acquisition of the key research skills required by students who wish to progress to a PhD, in particular, independent learning and problem-solving.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • SSK for the Dissertation will depend on the topic
Subject-specific Skills:
  • SSS1: to develop the ability to analyse complex topics in political science and international relations broadly construed and to do so on the basis of directed and independent learning;
  • SSS2: to develop the technical, and qualitative research skills necessary to pursue research in political science and international relations;
  • SSS3: to carry out research in political science and international relations through independent work;
  • SSS4: to weigh critically qualitative and quantitative evidence in social and political analysis.
Key Skills:
  • KS1: the ability to think critically and creatively and to argue coherently;
  • KS2: the ability to think independently, including problem-solving ability and the ability to discriminate and use judgement;
  • KS3: the ability to organise data, abstract meaning from information and share knowledge at an advanced level;
  • KS4: the ability to communicate effectively across specialised subject areas in political science and international relations both orally and through written work.

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

  • Students will be alerted to possible dissertation topics both during lectures and seminars. It will be made clear that the choice of a dissertation topic is a complex one with which students need to engage from the beginning of the programme.
  • Furthermore, a one hour dissertation workshop will be offered for all four core modules. These workshops will provide students with support on how to organize their dissertation projects. They will emphasize the correct ways to choose and approach a dissertation topic. They will also develop students’ understanding of the time management issues related to writing a longer piece of independent work. The dissertation workshops will constitute both a theoretical and pragmatic guide to students’ choice of dissertation topics and ways of approaching them. During the workshops the teaching staff responsible for the delivery of each core module will signal promising research avenues and topics. For instance they will explain the directions in which contemporary theorists are developing their research for each core module. The workshops will also address the types of methodological approaches that are best fit for a given dissertation topic. For example, certain dissertation topics are best approached from qualitative point of view while others are more prone to be the subject quantitative analysis.
  • Finally, at the beginning of the Easter term, students will also receive feedback on a 1500 words dissertation proposal. Written feedback on the dissertation proposal will act as a guide for students’ summer research period on their dissertation. The written feedback on the dissertation proposal is meant to, in addition to the workshops, as a guide to the students’ efforts in developing their dissertation project. The feedback on the proposal provides students with immediate understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of their initial effort in conducting a longer piece of research and in so doing it provides them with an effective orientating tool.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Workshops 4 2 per term Michaelmas and Easter 1 hour 4
Preparation and Reading 596
Total 600

Summative Assessment

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

Formative Assessment:

Dissertation proposal of 1,500 words.

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