HSMDN3-Dissertation

Module Provider: History
Number of credits: 90 [45 ECTS credits]
Level:7
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring / Summer module
Pre-requisites:
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Prof Kate Williams

Email: k.r.williams@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
This module allows students to enhance and utilise the knowledge, understanding and skills developed across the whole of the programme, by working on a topic which reflects their own enthusiasms and research interests. It enables them to work in close cooperation with an academic specialist, and to draw on other experts' opinion as necessary. It aims to offer the opportunity to sample at first hand the experience of the research historian, and to produce a piece of work, based upon primary sources, which makes a contribution to the extension of historical knowledge.

Aims:
This module allows students to enhance and utilise the knowledge, understanding and skills developed across the whole of the programme, by working on a topic which reflects their own enthusiasms and research interests. It enables them to work in close cooperation with an academic specialist, and to draw on other experts' opinion as necessary. It aims to offer the opportunity to sample at first hand the experience of the research historian, and to produce a piece of work, based upon primary sources, which makes a contribution to the extension of historical knowledge.

Assessable learning outcomes:
The student will be expected to be able to:

  • Attend a series of training sessions
  • Discuss critically the range of primary and secondary sources available with regard to their chosen area of specialism
  • Assess and apply relevant research methodologies and techniques with respect to their chosen area of specialism
  • Situate their own research work within the wider context of the subject's historiography and the current state of scholarship
  • Identify and utilize appropriate bibliographical, archival and other sources of relevant information, using information technology as appropriate
  • Summarise, document, report and reflect on progress
  • Collate, process and critically evaluate substantial amounts of historical material, using information technology as appropriate
  • Demonstrate original, independent and critical thinking
  • Devise and manage a research project
  • Communicate their arguments effectively on paper, supporting them with an appropriate scholarly apparatus

Additional outcomes:
• The module will develop oral skills through participation in seminars and the presentation on the student’s research topic.
• The module will support progress in the dissertation through the writing of progress reports and of the formative essay, which deals with methodological, source and historiographical issues connected with the research topic.

Outline content:
The module deals with the range and nature of the source materials potentially available for the study of early modern and modern history and encourages students to think critically about their use. It covers issues connected to the choice and refinement of a research project, and the different methodologies which may be deployed together with an assessment of their respective value. Practical skills required for the location of bibliographical and historical material, including the use of electronic means of bibliographic searching and information retrieval and storage, are included, together with training in the use of local and national archives and libraries. The module also deals with communication skills, including those required to construct a clear and properly referenced written text, as well as oral skills and those needed to communicate graphically, for example through the use of Powerpoint presentations.
Since the dissertation is intended to be an individual and self-selected research effort, the student will be expected progressively to prepare a series of ‘work-in-progress’ reports covering the methodology, literature and source material, under the guidance of the specialist research supervisor and the Programme Director, before writing the substantive final dissertation.

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Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
All students will be allocated a supervisor by the end of November after an initial literature search and a discussion about the research topic with the MA Director. The student and supervisor agree a forward plan of action to cover the rest of the academic year. Meetings are arranged ad personam, and monitored by the MA Director, with fortnightly meetings usually being the norm in the Autumn and Spring terms, three-weekly meetings thereafter. In addition, supervisors will offer comments and help via email. They will also give advice and criticism as necessary on ‘work-in-progress’ reports, drafts of chapters and upon drafts of the completed work before submission. The supervisor and MA Director will also mark and provide feedback on the 4,000-word bibliographical essay submitted on Monday of Week 1 of the Summer Term (FT) or Monday of Week 5 of the Summer Term (PT and modular).

In addition, in the Spring Term, students will be further supported in their dissertation work by a series of seminars and workshop that provide opportunities to undertake a range of web-based and electronic exercises dealing with bibliographical searches and data storage.
At the end of the Spring Term students will deliver an oral presentation on the subject of their research in front of members of staff and postgraduate students. This will count for 10% of the overall mark.
Students should note that supervisors will not be able to provide feedback on any draft after 1 August before submission.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Project Supervision 5 10 3
Guided independent study 250 250 382
       
Total hours by term 255.00 260.00 385.00
       
Total hours for module 900.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 10
Dissertation 90

Other information on summative assessment:
4,000 word bibiographical essay submitted at Monday of Week 1 of Summer Term (FT) or on Monday of Week 5 fo the Summer Term (PT or modular). The essay mark will count for 10% of the overall mark of the dissertation.

Seminar presentation as appropriate

Oral presentation in Spring Term

Dissertation of 20,000 words excluding endnotes/footnotes and bibliography to be submitted by the Friday prior to 20th September before 1pm.

Formative assessment methods:
4,000 word formative essay submitted at end of Spring Term. Seminar presentation as appropriate in Spring Term. Oral presentation in Summer Term

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Length of examination:
n/a

Requirements for a pass:
50%

Reassessment arrangements:
Re-submission of dissertation within 12 months of the original date specified in the syllabus.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 21 December 2016

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