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Unit information: Dissertation in 2018/19

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Unit name Dissertation
Unit code HIST33101
Credit points 40
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Grace Huxford
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The Dissertation is an exercise in extended independent research. Students are required to identify their own topic, formulate questions to be asked, identify main primary sources, set the research questions in context of issues arising from the secondary literature, and carry through an analytical study to the highest standards. In short, students will take their first independent steps as historians in their own right. Guidance will be provided in the form of lectures on devising a research topic and using primary sources. Students will also be assigned a supervisor who will discuss with them a draft dissertation proposal and an introductory chapter, as well as the particular challenges of the chosen topic. Students will receive guidance from their supervisors in meetings, which should not normally exceed three hours. Students are also free to consult other lecturers with relevant expertise.


The unit enables students identify an issue which interests them and follow that interest through independently into a substantial research project that builds on research and writing skills developed in preceding years of the degree.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit, successful students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of a chosen subject
  2. Produce an extended piece of historical analysis in accordance with high scholarly standards
  3. Demonstrate an advanced proficiency in identifying and in forming their own questions
  4. Display advanced bibliographical skills
  5. Display the ability to work with primary sources, demonstrating an awareness of the provenance and nature of those sources and how to draw reasoned and considered conclusions from them
  6. Work almost entirely independently in producing an extended piece of research

Teaching details

A series of lectures (c.8-10 hours)

Regular small and medium-sized group meetings (c.6-10 hours)

One-to-one tuition with the designated dissertation supervisor (up to 3 hours)

Access to tutorial consultation with academic staff in consultation hours

2 x Supervised Writing Retreats in TB2

Assessment Details

10,000 word dissertation (100%) [ILOs 1-6]

Reading and References

Reading references will depend on the topic chosen and the student will be responsible for assembling a bibliography which will include both primary and secondary sources. The student will be expected to show considerable initiative in devising the bibliography and will be encouraged, in appropriate contexts, to include a range of non-conventional sources (visual, film, electronic etc.).