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Unit information: Dissertation with fieldwork or community placement 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 with fieldwork or community placement
Unit code THRS30046
Credit points 40
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Lomi
Open unit status Not open




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. The 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. The 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 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 are also introduced to higher level research and scholarly cutting edge material by fortnightly attendance at the department's research seminars and through attendance at the international post-graduate yearly conference with an opportunity to present a paper on their dissertation work to postgraduates and established scholars'

Suggestions for locations in Bristol and beyond include:

  • Downside Abbey, Bath
  • Bristol &South Gloucestershire Methodist Circuit
  • UoB Multifaith Chaplaincy
  • Clifton Diocese (Catholic)
  • St Peters Hospice Chaplaincy
  • Buddhapadipa Thai Temple (Wimbledon)
  • The Buddhavihara Temple Kings Bromley, Staffordshire
  • Amaravati Buddhist Temple The Hindu Temple, Bristol
  • Places of Worship Bristol
  • Bristol Synagogue (Park Row)
  • Bristol Mosques (Central and Jamia)

Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. demonstrate research skills through the production an extended piece of independent research in accordance with level H;
  2. form their own research questions;
  3. work with both secondary and primary resources and draw reasoned and considered conclusions from them;
  4. work with a community and be able to 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;
  6. reflect on their learning in the field and be able to explain and justify their actions and behaviour, in relation to other (perhaps opposing) viewpoints, principles, or beliefs with respect to religious and cultural issues;

Teaching details

1 x 1.5 hour seminar weekly

7 x 1 hour workshops

1 x 3 hour workshop

1 x half day conference

Assessment Details

1 x 7,000 word dissertation project (70%) [ILOs 1-6]

1 x 3,000 word portfolio consisting of: (a) analysis of place, situation or event; (b) structured interview and (c) reflective account. (30%) [ILOs 4, 5, 6]

Reading and References

Jan Blommaert, 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 ethnographer’s eye: ways of seeing in modern anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press