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Unit information: Modern Languages and English Dissertation in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Modern Languages and English Dissertation
Unit code MODL30029
Credit points 40
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Matthews
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Modern Languages
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The Dissertation is an exercise in extended independent research. Students are required to identify their own topic, informed by their engagement with the two disciplines they have studied. They will 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. 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 (from either the English Department or from Modern Languages, depending on the disciplinary orientation of the project) 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 in each teaching block. Students are also free to consult other lecturers with relevant expertise.

A significant degree of latitude will be granted to students in terms of the disciplinary orientation of the project: for example, students will be able to fulfil the ‘English’ component of their dissertation by analysing literature in their chosen modern language (there would be no specific requirement to analyse specifically English literature); and equally, they would be allowed to focus predominately on English literature so long as the project made some attempt to bridge the two disciplines (for example, by considering Shakespeare’s reception in Germany, or by thinking through Byron’s Italian influences, or by considering English translations of Kafka).

In the final piece of work, students will be asked to translate quotations into English (where relevant) in order to allow the work to be assessed by representatives from the English department as well as from the School of Modern Languages.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit successful students will be able to demonstrate:
• a deep understanding of a chosen subject
• the ability to produce an extended piece of analysis in accordance with high scholarly standards
• advanced proficiency in identifying and in forming their own questions
• advanced bibliographical skills and language skills
• 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
• the ability to work almost entirely independently in producing an extended piece of research

Teaching details

• A series of lectures (10 hours)
• regular small and medium-sized group meetings (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

Assessment Details

10,000 word dissertation (100%). All intended learning outcomes identified above are assessed in this exercise.

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.).