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Unit information: Dissertation with Fieldwork or Community Placement in 2020/21

Unit name Dissertation with Fieldwork or Community Placement
Unit code THRSM0121
Credit points 40
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Langer
Open unit status Not open

Successful completion of level 3, Year Abroad



School/department Department of Religion and Theology
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This variant of the dissertation gives students the opportunity to combine their academic learning with practical experience of field-work or community-based placement. Students are supported to make contact and establish relationships with their chosen area of field-work / placement and to formulate research questions enabling them to engage with the field-work / placement in a scholarly context. Students will experience first-hand the interaction of religion, society and academia in their chosen community or placement and are encouraged to reflect on this in both their portfolio and the dissertation. This unit aims to help students plan ahead for a career after graduation and to enhance their employability by providing opportunities to network and to develop a range of practical and transferable skills, such as effective communication, presentation, negotiation and teamwork.

Students will have the opportunity to present their work to non-specialist audiences and to organize elements of an academic event. 

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

1. demonstrate advanced research skills through the production of an extended piece of independent research in accordance with high scholarly standards

2. form their own research questions

3. work with both secondary and primary resources and to draw reasoned and considered conclusions from them

4. work with a community and be able to understand a place or community and think holistically and creatively about contemporary conditions of uncertainty and complexity (assessed by portfolio part a)

5. critically evaluate their own and others’ values, attitudes and behaviours in relation to religious issues and to determine what constitutes ethical responsibility in relation to such issues - assessed by portfolio part (b)

6. reflect sensitively and professionally on learning in the field and be able to explain and justify own action or behaviour, in relation to other (perhaps opposing) viewpoints, principles or beliefs with respect to religious and cultural issues - assessed by portfolio part (c).

7. present their work to non-specialist audiences and to organize elements of an academic event.

Teaching details

Introductory 1 hr seminar on field work ethics and research methods, 2 hrs one-to-one supervisory sessions with Dissertation tutor at key stages; access to tutorial consultation with unit tutor in office hours. Opportunity for presentation of research materials in yearly department postgraduate conference. Attendance at fortnightly research seminar with PGT and PGR students. Library skills training and dissertation research training sessions.

Assessment Details

1 x 7,000-word dissertation project (70%) [ILOs 1-7]

1 x 3,000-word portfolio consisting of: (a) analysis of place, situation or event; (b) structured interview and (c) reflective account. (30%) [ILOs 5, 6, 7]

Formative: Participation in the organization and running of the annual UG/MArts dissertation conference and presentation of the research at the conference. [ILO 7] 

Reading and References

  • Jan Blommaert, (2010) Ethnographic fieldwork: a beginner's guide, 2010.
  • Clifford Geertz, (1973) "Thick Description" from Interpretations of Culture.
  • James Spradley, (1979) The Ethnographic Interview.
  • Roger Sanjek, ed. (1990) Fieldnotes: the Makings of Anthropology. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press.
  • Teater, Barbra. (2012) Social work in the community: making a difference, Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Grimshaw, Anna (2001) The ethnographers eye: ways of seeing in modern anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press