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Unit information: Research Skills in 2020/21

Unit name Research Skills
Unit code MODLM0021
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Damien Mooney
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Modern Languages
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit will introduce students to the skills and techniques needed to conduct their research and present their findings, in the first instance in their dissertation. Students will learn how to identify an area of research and formulate key questions; where to locate relevant materials and secondary readings, how to organise their research materials, and how to structure and write an academic dissertation. It will introduce students to issues such as impact and encourage them to think about the dissemination of research, including the use of blogs and social media. It will equip students with the necessary skills to embark on doctoral research, if they so desire; it will also encourage them to explore the use of research skills outside academia by inviting speakers from third sector organisations to lead discussions, where opportunities arise.

Intended learning outcomes

Students will:

a) Identify and develop a research topic and establish key questions.

b) Identify and select appropriate resources to research a wide variety of interdisciplinary topics.

c) Reflect critically on their own theoretical and empirical approach, and the approaches of others.

d) Establish a suitable structure for the dissertation.

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered online through a combination of synchronous sessions and asynchronous activities, including seminars, lectures, and collaborative as well as self-directed learning opportunities supported by tutor consultation.

Assessment Details

This unit is intended as preparation for the dissertation, so it will be assessed as a pass/fail (following the template established by the MA in History) on the basis of the submission of a one-page research proposal and a presentation of the research area and key questions during a dissertation-board meeting. A pass in this unit will be contingent on the student providing the following, to a suitable standard:

In their proposal:

  1. A provisional title.
  2. A brief overview of the key questions to be asked and themes to be addressed.
  3. A short bibliography, including cultural/literary sources to be used and secondary scholarship - The name of the member of staff who has agreed to act as their supervisor.

And in their presentation (Online):

  1. A summary of the issues or themes to be addressed in the dissertation
  2. A literature review, which places the dissertation in relation to the existing scholarship
  3. A critical overview of the primary materials to be used
  4. A suggested structure for the dissertation .

If students are continuing a line of research that they began in one of their units, or as part of a Supervised Individual Study, they will be required to demonstrate that their dissertation project represents a step forward, or a change of direction, from their previous work.

Reading and References

J. Swales and C. Feak, Academic Writing for Graduate Students (Michigan University Press, 2004)

Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, The Craft of Research (University of Chicago Press, 2008)

H. Ramsey Fowler, Jane E. Aaron, The Little, Brown Handbook (Pearson Education Limited, 2014)

Alan Bond, Your Masters Thesis: How to plan, draft, write and revise (Studymates, 2006)

Diana Ridley, The Literature Review: A step-by-step guide for students (Sage, 2008)

Brian Roberts, Getting the most out of the research experience (Sage, 2007)