Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2020-2021 (archived)

Module SOCI43460: Dissertation

Department: Sociology

SOCI43460: Dissertation

Type Tied Level 4 Credits 60 Availability Available in 2020/21
Tied to L3K907
Tied to L3KB07
Tied to L3K807
Tied to L3KD07


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • The purpose of the dissertation is to give students the opportunity to work on a suitable subject of their own choice and to utilise the techniques developed in the research modules. An MA dissertation is designed to assess a student’s ability to define a researchable ‘thesis’ in the light of past and current academic research. Students need to demonstrate a capacity for independent thought and to use their critical and analytical abilities, including the use of appropriate research methods, in the interpretation of a substantial quantity of relevant material (empirical and theoretical). Further, they need to be able to write up the results of any research carried out in an extended and coherent form, paying close attention to matters of structure in addition to normal expectations regarding referencing and bibliographic information.


  • A supervised research project

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Have demonstrated a systematic knowledge of existing scholarship in their chosen field of study;
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Have demonstrated a systematic knowledge of alternative ways of approaching sociological / social policy research questions;
  • Where empirical work is involved have demonstrated an awareness of ethical issues in social research, and of the importance of reflexivity about their own role as researcher;
Key Skills:
  • Have demonstrated self-direction and originality in tackling and solving research questions from their degree's discipline;
  • Have worked autonomously (under the direction of their supervisor) in planning, executing, analysing and writing-up a piece of discipline-specific research;
  • Have demonstrated independent learning ability, the exercise of initiative and skills in written communication.

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

  • During periods of online teaching, for asynchronous lectures in particular, planned lecture hours may include activities that would normally have taken place within the lecture itself had it been taught face-to-face in a lecture room, and/or those necessary to adapt the teaching and learning materials effectively to online learning.
  • Students will receive one to one supervision with a member of academic staff.
  • Assessment will be by one summative dissertation

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials 6 1 hour 6
Group Workshops 2 1 hour 2
Preparation/Reading/Fieldwork 592
Total 600

Summative Assessment

Component: Dissertation Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Research Methods Dissertation 15,000 100%

Formative Assessment:

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