Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module MLAC3986: Target Language Research Project (Single Language)

Department: Modern Languages and Cultures

MLAC3986: Target Language Research Project (Single Language)

Type Open Level 3 Credits 120 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • The relevant core language module in the language for which the TLRP will be completed.


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • MLAC3976 Target Language Research Project (Two Languages)


  • To provide students with the opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge of aspects of their studies linked to the target culture, by producing a research project in each of the languages they intend to study at Level 3.
  • By providing experience in planning, documenting and writing an extended piece of work, the TLRP will increase the facility of students to express themselves at a suitable academic level in the target language, and will give them experience in presenting and referencing an extended piece of writing according to standard academic conventions.
  • The TLRP will provide invaluable practice, particularly at the level of the development of primary research skills, for students taking a dissertation module in MLAC. It will also provide benefit for students wishing to progress to postgraduate study.
  • The TLRP aims to develop and enhance strategies for independent learning and initiative; to foster a genuine commitment to research and the utilization of appropriate research methodologies; to develop the ability to organize and manage a longer project and the ability to write fluently and accurately in the target language.
  • By focusing on questions of intercultural awareness at an advanced intellectual level, the TLRP seeks to offer a forum for academic engagement and reflection in matters of critical interest relevant to the contexts and environments under discussion.
  • The TLRP seeks to enhance the employability of students by allowing them to demonstrate their ability as independent learners and researchers in the context of a research project that dovetails with the University’s principles for the development of the taught curriculum. Skills will be developed specifically through an extended enquiry-led activity that will provide students with the competences to succeed in the world of work and the ability to manage their own intellectual and professional development. By focusing specifically on questions of relevant intercultural interest, students will develop as international citizens so that they can make a positive contribution to an increasingly globalized society.


  • The TLRP (Single Language) involves researching and writing during the year abroad two essays in the target languages to be studied at Level 3. Each piece of work should be informed by the student’s intercultural awareness and knowledge of the target culture, and should be based on analysis of suitable primary materials (e.g. literary texts, films, visual culture, theatre, popular culture, mass media, historical or political texts).
  • Students will choose a general topic area from a list issued by the School, and will work with their supervisor before the end of their second year and during the year abroad to define their topic, plan their approach and identify suitable resources.
  • Finalized copies must be submitted electronically by the date stated on the relevant Learn Ultra pages for Target Language Research Project in advance of Michaelmas Term of the final year of study.
  • Students will receive written feedback by the second week of the Michaelmas Term, and key aspects of good practice applicable to the final-year dissertation will be discussed with the relevant dissertation supervisor.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By completing the TLRP students will have acquired greatly enhanced knowledge of a specialized subject and have gained considerably in their intercultural awareness. They will be familiar with both primary and secondary sources, and with the wider debates surrounding the cultural media/artefacts that form the basis of their analysis.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students will have developed their ability to express complex ideas in a suitable register in the target language and will have completed a research project envisaged specifically as preparation for the final-year dissertation. They will also have had the opportunity to develop their information-finding skills in the target-language culture, in some cases in non-academic settings.
Key Skills:
  • Students will have developed their ability to research a subject independently using primary and secondary sources, plan a coherent argument with the evidence to support it, present arguments clearly and cogently in a sustained piece of writing, and conform to the norms of academic referencing.

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

  • Students will prepare for the TLRP by taking the relevant core language module at levels 1 and 2, and by attending the School’s Ongoing Induction programme, which focuses on the development of key research skills including academic writing, evaluating and using sources, and approaches to textual analysis. Students will receive language-specific instruction as part of their second-year core language module.
  • A list of general topic areas will be made available to students in year 2. The specific topic of the TLRP will be agreed with the supervisor, and students will follow an agreed programme of reading whilst supplementing their work by displaying evidence of independent research skills and initiative.
  • As students are expected to spend at least seven months in the host culture, it is expected that they will engage with the TLRP as soon as they arrive, and that they will work towards initial consultation with their supervisor within one month of arrival.
  • Supervisors will give feedback via email at three distinct phases of production: (a) an initial compulsory proposal of no more than 200 words outlining an approach to the chosen topic area, which will have to be approved by the supervisor before proceeding onto the next stage; (b) a 500-word essay plan outlining the direction to be explored in the project and listing key bibliographic items that have already proven to be useful; and (c) a 500-word sample from the essay.
  • In each instance, comments and feedback will be given to the student on standardized TLRP feedback forms. To ensure parity of treatment between students completing the TLRP, supervisors will not read additional drafts or give any other form of additional guidance.
  • Any changes of topic must be approved by the supervisor.
  • Finalized copies must be submitted electronically by the date stated on the relevant Learn Ultra pages for Target Language Research Project in advance of Michaelmas Term of the final year of study. Students will receive written feedback by the second week of the Michaelmas Term, and key aspects of good practice applicable to the dissertation will be discussed with the relevant dissertation supervisor.
  • Assessment will evaluate students’ ability to assimilate, understand and analyse critically the primary and secondary material associated with their topic; their intercultural awareness; their ability to present a sustained argument with suitable evidence; their ability to express themselves fluently and accurately in the target language, paying due attention to the relevant conventions of academic writing; and the extent to which their experience abroad has informed the project.
  • Students will also be expected to produce a full and properly presented bibliography.
  • TLRPs written in French, German, Italian or Spanish shall be up to 5,000 words in length. Those written in Arabic or Russian shall be up to 4,000 words in length.
  • The TLRP is not credit-bearing, but a mark will be shown on the student’s degree transcript. Students whose mark for the essay is at least 40% will have passed the TLRP (Single Language) and will proceed to the Year Abroad programme; those whose mark is below 40% will be transferred to the non-year abroad version of the programme.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours

Summative Assessment

Component: TLRP project (single language) Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay in the Target Language French, Italian, German, Spanish = 5,000 words. Arabic, Russian = 4,000 words. 100% No

Formative Assessment:

To be e-mailed to supervisor: 200-word proposal, 500-word plan and 500-word sample (all in the target language)

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