Module Learning Outcomes assessed in this piece of coursework
- Critically identify information from a variety of secondary sources.
- Write a critical literature review that deals effectively with relevant concepts/theories/models.
- Critically select and implement appropriate primary data collection methods
- Analyse quantitative and/or qualitative data and evaluate in relations to models/theories.
- Present a dissertation and/or research project that effectively communicates research findings in a timely manner.
Producing a Dissertation Thesis
What is a dissertation?
There are many definitions of what a dissertation is and these vary according to the level of study (a dissertation at undergraduate level is likely to be defined differently to a dissertation at PhD level). In reviewing these definitions though it becomes apparent that there are some common ideas about what constitutes an undergraduate dissertation. Some of the phrases and ideas that occur regularly, and so can be regarded as ‘key’ to what a dissertation is, are:
- Extended or prolonged piece of work.
- Independent study.
- Involves you selecting a subject or topic.
- Defining your own questions.
- Is scholarly.
- Is original - i.e. something that you do for yourself (and not ‘something that has never been done before’).
- Involves doing research.
- Involves collecting data and analysing it.
- Involves a supervisor.
Pulling these ideas together a definition of a dissertation is:
An extended piece of writing, supported by a supervisor, on a topic chosen by the student that is the result of the student’s own independent and in-depth research.
Some people also call a dissertation a thesis or paper – but we shall use the word dissertation. However it is not a report.
Why do we ask you to do a Dissertation? This is because the process of producing this type of assessment enables you to:
- Identify your own area of interest.
- Explore an area in depth.
- Define your own question.
- Experience the process of producing knowledge.
- Manage a project from beginning to end.
- Consolidate your communication, information-seeking and intellectual skills.
A useful clue as to what a dissertation involves can be found in the origin of the word. Dissertation comes from the Latin verb ‘dissertare’ which means ‘to debate’. In turn the word ‘debate’ implies a discussion involving different points of view of ideas. A dissertation therefore will not only examine a subject in detail but will discuss and review the various points of view about it. The dissertation is expected to be an original and current piece of work – this means that you cannot submit a piece of work that has already been submitted for another purpose either at UWL or in another institution.