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Unit information: Dissertation in 2022/23

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing, student choice and timetabling constraints.

Unit name Dissertation
Unit code ENGL30112
Credit points 40
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Harris
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of English
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The aim of this unit is to support students to produce a high-quality research-based dissertation that represents their own work. The unit is designed to allow students to identify a topic or research question which interests them, and follow that interest through independently by studying extensively and over a sustained period an author (or group of authors), a theme, and/or a literary period, and to develop their skills in detailed, self-motivated independent research. Students undertake supervised research to produce a written project of up to 10,000 words on a particular aspect of their study in English Literature, with an additional 500 words to provide an abstract and well-presented front matter.

Students work with a supervisor to identify research questions or concerns, to determine appropriate research methods, formulate their argument and structure a dissertation. This offers students the opportunity to demonstrate their command of academic research and writing skills on a large-scale project, and to develop skills transferable for other working environments, as well as for postgraduate study in a variety of disciplinary and vocational areas.

Around weeks 8-9 of TB1 of their final year, students must submit a short writing sample (1000 words max.) and bibliography so that the supervisor can assess the student’s progress. Students may also submit another 2000 words of work in progress during TB2.

In addition to one-to-one meetings with a supervisor, they will attend a series of regular lectures and workshops to support different aspects of the research and writing experience.

The project may develop and analyse a chosen theme related to another unit. Where the chosen research project is related to a taught unit, the student must develop the area beyond coverage in the taught unit and must not duplicate work required for this or any other assessed unit in their programme of study at Bristol.

Intended learning outcomes

At the end of the unit a successful student will be able to:

  1. identify a viable area of independent study with a clear rationale and focus;
  2. develop methods and materials by which to broaden the student’s knowledge of the field and deepen understanding of research methods and of relevant disciplines;
  3. critically assess a body of material, including primary and secondary literature, texts, other sources and ideas as a basis for their own analysis and argument;
  4. demonstrate skills of analysis and synthesis appropriate to level H/6 and beyond the level achieved in taught final-year seminar-based options;
  5. demonstrate advanced skills in independent research, textual analysis, and time management;
  6. demonstrate thorough knowledge and understanding of one or more significant literary, cultural, historical, theoretical, critical, or linguistic contexts related to the text(s) and/or author(s) they are studying;
  7. respond to questions or problems by presenting independent judgements in an appropriate style and at an advanced level of complexity;
  8. demonstrate the ability to work largely independently to produce an extended piece of research, understand the process of independent learning and research, and appreciate their own capabilities in these areas.

Teaching details

The dissertation will involve asynchronous and synchronous elements, including a programme of research and writing guidance, and one-to-one consultation and feedback from the designated supervisor. Students are expected to manage their time and pursue their independent research. Learning will be further supported through opportunities for peer dialogue and organised ‘writing retreats’.

Assessment Details

  • 1 x 10,500 word dissertation (100%) [ILOs 1-8]


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. ENGL30112).