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Unit information: 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 Dissertation
Unit code SPOL30046
Credit points 40
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Mulvihill
Open unit status Not open

SOAD20004 Social Research Methods (2nd year unit)



School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


The dissertation is a piece of independent study enabling the student to select a field of inquiry from within Criminology and carry out research in depth over a sustained period of time. Student learning is supported by regular meetings with their adviser, social research methods workshops, and symposiums, though the expectation is that the dissertation is primarily an individual piece of work. The unit aims to:

  1. provide the student with the chance to investigate a topic of their own choice (within the broad framework of their discipline)
  2. enable the student to develop and apply knowledge and understanding gained elsewhere in the programme through independent study and learning
  3. enable the student to enhance the practical and transferable skills of locating and using knowledge and information, conveying ideas in written format, planning and managing their time
  4. Enhance students’ knowledge and understanding of social research methods through application in a project of their devising

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit, the student will demonstrate:

  1. A critical understanding of theory/concepts and/or research relevant to their chosen topic;
  2. The ability to plan and undertake an extended piece of independent work within criminology
  3. An understanding of, and the ability to select appropriately from, social research approaches;
  4. Understanding and application of principles of ethical practice

Teaching details

Individual study supported by regular academic supervision (approximately 5 hours)

Workshops focused on supporting the identification and application of appropriate research methods and forms of analysis (approximately 24 hours)

Ability to present their project at different stages to peers and staff at symposiums and other related events

Formative : A review of literature and research methods (2000 words) as preparation for the summative assessment

Assessment Details

Summative :

A 10,000 word dissertation to test that the learning outcomes have been met.

Reading and References

Ball, S. (2012) The complete guide to writing your dissertation: advice, techniques and insights to help your enhance your grades, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Bell, J (2010, 5th ed) Doing your Research Project: a Guide for First Time Researchers in Education, Health and Social Science. Buckingham: Open University Press

Roberts, C. (2010) A Practical and Comprehensive Guide to Planning, Writing, and Defending Your Dissertation, (2nd ed) London: Sage