Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module ANTH3141: Anthropology Dissertation (20 credits)

Department: Anthropology

ANTH3141: Anthropology Dissertation (20 credits)

Type Tied Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap Location Durham
Tied to CFG0


  • Research Project Design (ANTH2187) or equivalent Methods module in another department.


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • Natural Sciences students can do a single (20 credit) or Double (40 credit) dissertation. No student may take the Single (20 Credit) Dissertation (ANTH 3141) together with the Double (40 Credit) Dissertation (ANTH 3162 or ANTH 3382).


  • To encourage students to acquire skills of independent research and project management by pursuing a substantial research project.
  • Allow students to undertake a substantial piece of supervised written work featuring research into an anthropological topic of their choice.
  • Develop students' abilities to plan and manage their own learning.
  • Facilitate students' development of research skills and provide the opportunity to apply their knowledge to a topic in anthropology.
  • Design and carry out substantial independent analysis of data, which may be based on fieldwork, lab work, or a systematic review of existing secondary material.
  • Exercise the inter-personal and time management skills required for research in anthropology.
  • Frame and complete a substantial piece of writing.


  • The dissertation can be viewed as the culmination of the undergraduate study of Anthropology, where the ideas and methods learned in the classroom are put into practice.
  • The dissertation provides students with an opportunity to apply their knowledge to a topic in anthropology.
  • In choosing a topic, an essential consideration is their personal interest in the subject area within which it falls.
  • The single module dissertation allows students to undertake a substantial piece of supervised written work featuring research into an anthropological topic of their choice.
  • It develops students' abilities to plan and manage their own learning and facilitates students' development of research skills.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Demonstrate the ability to explore a topic of their own choosing in depth by means of independent research.
  • To apply their growing critical judgement and powers of anthropological analysis.
  • Use skills in project management, critical discrimination and a sense of proportion in evaluating data and anthropological evidence for a substantial project.
  • Cultivate a mastery of the empirical and theoretical literature bearing on their chosen project.
  • Develop a critical awareness of the epistemological basis of their chosen research methods.
  • Develop a critical awareness of the strengths and shortcomings of their methods of analysis.
  • Have a thorough understanding of their research findings.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Develop the ability to pursue independent research in anthropology.
  • Ability to formulate a suitable research question and be able to identify appropriate methods for addressing the question.
  • Selection and application of appropriate research methods.
  • Selection of appropriate explanatory theories and their application to data.
  • Practise either the ethnographic description of social organisation and the translation of culture, or the scientific description of biological phenomena, as applied to original data.
  • Practise the representation in figures, diagrams and tables or original data (where relevant).
Key Skills:
  • Organise and budget their time to pursue a large-scale independent research project.
  • Organise and write an extended piece of research work of their own devising, thus communicating complex data and arguments effectively.
  • Appropriate application of information technology and bibliographic search to create and/or present data and analysis.
  • Ability to communicate scholarly work to non-specialists and summarise their work in writing, in the form of an Abstract.
  • Apply problem-solving skills in a supervised research situation and to a pre-set schedule.
  • Develop written communication skills by completing draft chapters and the final dissertation for summative assessment.
  • Practice communication skills by discussing progress with the Supervisor and making best use of the consultation meetings by using email and supervisory face to face meetings to communicate with the Supervisor.
  • Learning, planning, organisation and time management by planning work to meet a set of pre-determined deadlines and preparing for meetings with the Supervisor and observing strict deadlines and schedules.
  • Applying problem solving skills by identifying relevant issues and utilising necessary analytical skills and anthropological concepts.
  • Showing initiative by exploring a range of data sources including fieldwork and data search, IT and bibliographical resourcing, and establishing the relevance of this data for the dissertation topic.
  • Demonstrating adaptability through learning to analyse data and/or undertake field research outside the narrow limits of the classroom modules.
  • Practising numeracy (depending on dissertation topic) by analysing appropriate numerical data or conveying information via statistical means.
  • Developing computer literacy as all dissertations must be word-processed.

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

  • The module is taught through regular supervision meetings, lectures, and tutorials designed to support students’ independent research.
  • Research is embedded into the teaching of this module through the nature of the dissertation as an inquiry-based activity. Students develop research skills in the specialist area of the dissertation under the guidance of their supervisor.
  • One-to-one supervision meetings will support students in developing and writing their research. Supervisors may advise on relevant background literature and resources, research design, data collection and analysis, structure and writing, and offer formative feedback on draft chapters.
  • Lectures will offer general guidance on the dissertation process, key learning aims, policies and procedures, and effective research and writing.
  • Tutorials will be taught in small groups enabling students to discuss their progress with tutors and peers.
  • Further support for data processing and analysis will be available through drop-in clinics, held fortnightly in Michaelmas and Epiphany terms
  • The module is assessed through a written dissertation.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 2 2 in Michaelmas term 1 hour 2
Tutorials 4 2 in Michaelmas and 2 in Epiphany 1 hour 4
Dissertation Consultations to be arranged with supervisor 4
Preparation and Reading, Reading, Data Collection and Analysis 180
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Dissertation Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Dissertation 6000 words max (excluding bibliography and appendices) 100%

Formative Assessment:

Formative assessments will consist of drafts of the main sections of the dissertation, including a draft literature review and research timetable in Michaelmas Term, leading to a full thesis draft in Epiphany Term.

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