Research Dissertation - POLI6790

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2022 to 2023.


The research dissertation module aims to give students of politics and international relations the opportunity to do independent and original research on a topic of their choice. While we try to give students as much freedom as possible in their choice of topic, the final thesis title will require approval by the module convenor in order to ensure that (a) the title falls within the subject area of politics and international relations (broadly conceived) and that (b) the learning resources and expertise available in the School allow us to supervise the dissertation.

Many PO679 students already know the general area of their dissertation topic at the time of their registration for the module but there is still a long way to travel from your 'interests' in a particular topic or research area to a suitable and feasible dissertation title. In PO679 you will go 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 your 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 will help you along the way.

We recommend PO679 to all students considering postgraduate studies. Most postgraduate programmes – at MA, MPhil and PhD level – require you to write a substantial dissertation.

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:




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

Toshkov, Dimiter. 2016. Research Design in Political Science, Basingstoke: Palgrave
Greetham, Bryan. 2014. How to write your undergraduate dissertation, London: Palgrave (2nd edition)
Halperin, Sandra and Oliver Heath. 2017. Political Research: Methods and Practical Skills, Oxford: Oxford University Press (2nd edition)
Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph. M. Williams, Joseph Bizup and William T. Fitzgerald. 2016. The Craft of Research, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 4th edition).
Cottrell, Stella. 2013. The Study Skills Handbook, 4th Edition, Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Cottrell, Stella. 2014. Dissertations and Project Reports: A Step by Step Guide, Basingstoke: Palgrave
Emden, Joan van and Lucinda Becker. 2016. Presentation Skills for Students, London: Palgrave (3rd Edition)

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)


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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