The written assessment for this module is, in effect, an extended research specification for the MSc thesis (as if you were proceeding to undertake the MSc project) and also the preliminary/background investigation. This background investigation should provide the reader with a clear understanding of the current situation in the topic area. However, you need to remember that the purpose of this assessment is to allow you to demonstrate your ability to conceive and specify a MSc level research project: it is not about producing an essay about your chosen topic for research. The submission should be 3500-4500 words.
The structure of your report (specification) should be as follows:
1.Title: A SHORT description which indicates clearly the question that the research project is going to investigate. (5 marks)
2.Abstract: Summary of the problem, core problems and how these will be addressed. Please include up to 5 key words or phrases at the bottom of the abstract. (maximum 300 words – please give word count in document)
3.Aims: General statements on intent and direction of the research.
4.Objectives: A list of clear, measurable statements of intended outcomes. i.e. What you are going to do in order to answer the question in the title and how you are going to do this (in relative detail)
5.Justification: Rationale for the research showing gaps in current knowledge and how the results of the research might be used. (Aims, Objectives, Justification – about 1 page)
6.Review of Literature: History of problem with key sources with critical appraisal of contributions. (guidance - no more than 2000 words – please give word count in document)
7.Methodology: Explanation and justification of approach and methodology proposed. This section should explain the nature of the data you expect to collect; who will be involved and how you will collect it? Clear signposting of selection process of organisations/groups/individuals involved in the study should be explained. Identification and brief discussion of any analytical tools to be used; Identification of any ethical issues.
8.Work Plan: A timetable for completion of research. (Remember a MSc project full-time is allowed 15 weeks (1 trimester) for completion; part-time is 30 weeks (2 trimesters)) You may use any appropriate method to present the well-thought-through plan of action but ensure this is legible and is included as an integral part of the report.
9.References and overall presentation of the work: Accurate use and presentation of Harvard style citation for literature/sources used in the proposal; Quality of written presentation and arguments; Discussion regarding any evidence that would be required for running the research e.g. letters of support, agreement of collaboration, agreement from the University Ethics Committee, etc.
Title and Abstract (e.g. is there a clear research question identified? Does the abstract give a clear overview of the purpose of the study, the method by which it will be implemented and the nature of the potential results of the study?)
Aims, Objectives, Justification (e.g. are the aims and objectives clearly linked? Do they represent a complete and united piece of work? Will their attainment enable the research question to be answered? Is there a clear justification for the work proposed?)
Literature Review (e.g. Does the report contain a good overview of the current state of the chosen topic for research and is this overview supported by references to the literature?)
Research Design/Methodology (e.g. is there a clearly stated design for the project that will enable the aims and objectives to be achieved? Are all aspects of the practical application of the research design explained in full – i.e. collaborators (who?/why?), data collection and analysis techniques considered? Have ethical considerations been taken into account?)
Work plan (e.g. the use of some form of representation to explain the individual parts of the project and how they all fit together as a whole against some milestones)
Written presentation, references, figure, diagrams (e.g. is the report presented of a professional academic standard? Are all diagrams and tables correctly and appropriately used/referenced? Are all references provided according to an established standard?)
General Level of English, logic, etc . (e.g. is the report easy to read, understand and consider in terms of both theoretical and practical implications? A good test: could someone else pick up this specification and undertake the project given the instructions contained in this specification?)