LSMDNR-Dissertation (MRes)

Module Provider: English Language and Applied Linguistics
Number of credits: 110 [55 ECTS credits]
Level:7
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring / Summer module
Pre-requisites:
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Dr Jackie Laws

Email: j.v.laws@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:
This module supports the key research elements of the MRes in Applied Linguistics programme, by providing the essential information required to design a viable and original research project, conduct a piece of research using appropriate data analyses techniques and write up a dissertation which could potentially form the basis of a PhD proposal. The following three components make up the module: 1) Essentials of Research Methods for the Social Sciences (two 1,500-word assignments), 2) Dissertation Proposal (2,000-word assignment), and 3) a 20,000-word Dissertation.

Aims:
The aims of this module are three-fold. Firstly, to introduce students to the basic tenets of research in the Social Sciences so that they can experiment with and critically evaluate different approaches, designs, data collection methods and forms of analysis in relation to their own research project and those in the literature.
Secondly, to help students formulate research questions, construct a methodology, suggest analyses and outline outcomes of their dissertation research. Through reflection and feedback, they will learn to design a viable and valid piece of research. They will learn the writing skills to produce a coherent research proposal on which their dissertation will be based.
Thirdly, to write a dissertation based on original research questions and data analysis.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of this module it is anticipated that the student will be able to:
1) Produce 2 assignments on Research Methods in the Social Sciences which:
• demonstrate an awareness of a range of approaches and methods in research;
• critically evaluate approaches and methods in relation to particular research hypotheses/questions;
• make well argued decisions in relation to courses of action in research.

2) Produce a Research Proposal which:
• outlines the different types of research designs used and articulate the reasons why different designs are used to test different hypotheses;
• identifies and evaluates the various stages of the research process both from the perspective of a critical reader as well as a researcher;
• organizes and use this knowledge in the process of designing a research proposal providing justifications and rationales where appropriate.
• identifies and responds to the relevant ethical considerations, where appropriate, in their proposed research.

3) Produce a Dissertation which:
• is well-grounded in professional needs (if appropriate) and previous research
• has a clearly focused purpose
• has been carefully designed and conducted
• is clearly and concisely reported
• shows clear awareness of ethical concerns raised by the research
• is thoughtfully discussed and evaluated
• is well-written and well-presented, in accordance with appropriate academic conventions.

Additional outcomes:
Students should be able to demonstrate familiarity with a wide range of literature and resources relevant to research; use the web as a resource for learning and research.
In acquiring drafting skills, students will gain a broader understanding of how to conduct research in applied linguistics. An essential part of the process is the feedback provided by the lecturer at different stages in the writing of the proposal. Students will develop their bibliographic and IT skills through writing up the research proposal and will develop their academic writing skills. They will be provided with the knowledge to become critical consumers of the research literature. They will also develop presentation skills through making presentations to fellow students.
By the end of this module students should have the skills needed to conduct an extended piece of research, including its presentation in an appropriate academic form, in preparation for the larger research project required for a PhD. These skills include time management, ways of approaching human subjects, and ways of approaching ethical issues.

Outline content:
1) Research Methods in the Social Sciences (Autumn and Spring):
This part of the module has four parts; Parts A and B are covered in the Autumn term and Parts C and D in the Spring term.

Part A: Research Design
Types of experimental design; variable and data types; introduction to descriptive statistics

Part B: Data Processing
Parametric and non-parametric data types, pair-wise and mutiple comparisons, understanding the basics of statistical tests

Part C: Data Analysis I
Using SPSS for statistical tests

Part D: Data Analysis II
How to report statistical output

2) Research Proposal (Spring):
This part of the module focuses on broader issues surrounding research methods and design. Basic research methods and designs are reviewed and consideration is given to their applications across different contexts. Data collection, organisation and analysis, both qualitative and quantitative, are explored. Ethical issues in planning and conducting a research project are discussed. The entire research process from the development of a topic to writing the report is explored.

3) Dissertation (Spring, Summer and Summer vacation): Support for conducting the research and writing the dissertation will be provided through one-to-one meetings with the designated supervisor; discussions will address in detail the research questions, research design and possible analyses, supplementing material covered in research training modules elsewhere on the programme.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
1) Research Methods in the Social Sciences: This part of the module is delivered through Blackboard, consisting of 4 parts, each with five strands. Each strand consists of two 2-hour tutorial type discussions that include activities, self-assessment tasks, hyperlinks to exemplar texts and guidance on further reading.
2) Dissertation Proposal: In this part of the module, there will be eight 2-hour seminars, with a total of 16 hours, focusing on general principles in developing a literature review and research questions, and on data sources collection and analysis. For each of these areas there will be lecturer-led general discussion, followed by student presentations of plans.
3) Dissertation: one-to-one meetings as described above.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Tutorials 10 10
Project Supervision 16 4
Guided independent study: 90 176 794
       
Total hours by term 100 202 798
       
Total hours for module 1100

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 18
Dissertation 73
Project output other than dissertation 9

Summative assessment- Examinations:
N/A

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:
Coursework:
1) Research Methods in the Social Sciences: Write two 1,500-word assignments, one to be submitted on or by Thursday of Week 11 of the Autumn Term and the other on or by Thursday of Week 11 of the Spring Term. This element constitutes 20% of the weighting for this module.
2) Dissertation Proposal: Students will be required to submit a 2,000-word research proposal on some aspect of applied linguistic research by the last day of the Spring term. This element constitutes 10% of the weighting for this module.
3) Dissertation: 20,000-word dissertation. This element constitutes 70% of the weighting for this module.
Relative percentage of standard coursework: 100%

Formative assessment methods:

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

Assessment requirements for a pass:
A grade of at least 50% on each piece of coursework and the dissertation.

Reassessment arrangements:
Following a failure in (or a failure to submit) the Research Methods or Dissertation Proposal elements of the module, work must be resubmitted by 1st September of the year the module was taken. In the case of the dissertation, the candidate has one year in which to resubmit (or submit) the dissertation.

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: 5 July 2019

THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS MODULE DESCRIPTION DOES NOT FORM ANY PART OF A STUDENT'S CONTRACT.

Things to do now