Research Dissertation - PO679

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn and Spring
View Timetable
6 45 (22.5) DR I Bode




The module can only be taken in Stage 3 by students in the School of Politics and International Relations (including Joint Honours). Only students with a coursework average of at least 60% in Stage 2 are normally to be allowed to register for this module (this refers to coursework marks only, not the coursework and exam mark average). Students are only permitted to take one dissertation module i.e. students selecting POLI6790 will not be permitted to take an additional dissertation module from another School. This restriction applies to all Pol/IR students, including Joint Honours. This module is not available to exchange students.



PO679 allows students to do independent, original research under supervision on a political science or liberal arts topic close to their specialist interests. The dissertation module gives them the opportunity to further these interests and acquire a wide range of study and research skills in the process. All dissertation topics have to be approved by the module convenor as well as by an academic supervisor. The module takes students through the entire process of writing a dissertation (8,000 words long): from the original 'problem' to a suitable research 'question', to choosing a method, to designing the research, to conducting the research; from taking notes to drafting the dissertation, to revising and writing the dissertation, and finally to submitting the dissertation. Lectures, supervision and a conference help students along the way. The curriculum includes structured opportunities for students to discuss their research ideas with each other as well as mock panel presentations in preparation for the student conference.

PLEASE NOTE: PO679 is worth 45 credits. If you wish to take PO679, please keep this in mind when choosing your other modules. PO679 is worth 15 credits in autumn term, and 30 in spring. The module is weighted more to the Spring term to enable you to dedicate the time needed to produce your dissertation.

As you can chose the equivalent of 4 x 15 credits in the autumn and 4 x 15 in the Spring, picking PO679 would look like this:




This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total contact hours: 39
Private study hours: 411
Total study hours: 450

Method of assessment

Student Conference Presentation, 15-20 minutes (15%)
Dissertation Outline, 1000 words (5%)
Draft Chapter (literature review or theory chapter, max. 2000 words) (10%)
Dissertation, 8000 words (70%)

Indicative reading

• Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research, 3rd Edition (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2008)
• Stella Cottrell, Dissertations and Project Reports: A Step by Step Guide (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2014)
• Stella Cottrell, The Study Skills Handbook, 4th Edition (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2013)
• Bryan Greetham, How to Write Your Undergraduate Dissertation, 2nd Edition (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2014)
• Sandra Halperin and Oliver Heath, Political Research: Methods and Practical Skills (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012)
• Martin Davies and Nathan Hughes, Doing a Successful Research Project Using Qualitative or Quantitative Methods, 2nd Edition (Basingstoke: Palgrave 2014)
• David Marsh and Gerry Stoker (eds.), Theory and Methods in Political Science, 3rd Edition (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2010)
• Dimiter Toshkov, Research Design in Political Science (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2016)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will:
- be familiar with the academic literature relevant to their research project
- be able to construct a research question
- be able to locate, explain and justify the significance of their research by relating it to ongoing debates in the relevant literature
- be familiar with the theories, concepts and methods relevant to their research projects
- be able to develop a research design to enable them to answer their central research question
- be able, within the framework of the research design, to conduct research that relates to the forefront of the discipline
- be able to draw on feedback from peers and academic supervisors, exercise reflection and self-criticism, and manage time and resources effectively
- be able to communicate the findings of their research effectively and fluently, both orally (in a conference setting) and in a substantial piece of writing (8,000-word dissertation)

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