The chosen topic will require you to:
• Identify/formulate problems and issues
• Conduct literature reviews
• Evaluate secondary information
• Investigate and adopt suitable methodologies
• Determine solutions
• Process secondary data
• Critically appraise and present findings using appropriate media.
What is required in a dissertation or project?
The learning outcomes indicate that you will be expected to demonstrate some or all of the following:
• Evidence of scholarly research. Examples are using search facilities in the library (CD ROMS, book and journal indices etc.), and showing evidence that sources have been located and sensibly used. Material obtained from sources such as news reports, online discussion forums etc is another possibility.
• Evidence of independent thought. This can be provided by comments on the theories and opinions of scholars, commenting on secondary data etc.
• Interpretation of evidence. Pure description of an event, situation, opinion etc. without explanation or analysis is not sufficient. Similarly; quotations in your dissertation should not be used simply for their own sake. One way of using them is to support a particular viewpoint or argument. You are not rewarded simply for reproducing the words of other writers. If tables are included make sure that you give the source of the data and that you use them (to support an argument, comment on a theory etc.). It cannot be emphasised too strongly that mere description alone is not sufficient – you must analyse, evaluate, or interpret your data and information.
• A conceptual understandingof the topic chosen, using an appropriate theoretical framework. Thus, when choosing a topic, students should remember that a central purpose is to allow the application of appropriate theory.
• Clarity and lucidity of argumentand expression in the presentation of your findings. This aspect is very important, but it can present special difficulties for students whose first language is not English. Here we are not looking for perfection in either grammar or sentence construction, but examiners must be able to understand what you are trying to say.
• Competence in the use of bibliographies, footnotes or other referencing, and other appropriate skills. Some guidance on this is presented later.
What is the word limit?
The maximum length of the undergraduate dissertation is typically 10,000 words, or equivalent. There is no minimum length, but you should write enough to demonstrate that you have achieved the aims of your dissertation or project; however, it is unlikely that this can be done in less than 9,000 words.
Note: The maximum number of words does not include footnotes, the abstract, the bibliography, indented quotations, appendices and tables.
What is the required format?
• Your dissertation must be written in English in typescript form on A4 paper. Your name must not appear on the dissertation. You must submit one hard copy of the dissertation to the iCentre and one digital copy through Grademark.Both the hard copy and the digital copy are required (to enable double blind marking by two markers) – if you submit only one of them, it will be considered a non-submission. It is also advisable to retain a copy for your own records. Please note submitted dissertations will only be returned in cases of failure.
• When you submit the copies of your dissertation you may be asked to submit, either on disk, using Word, or in manuscript, your working papers which have formed the basis of your dissertation; for example, copies of articles, working notes and summaries, completed questionnaires and tapes or notes of interviews. These may provide the basis for a viva voce should that be necessary. These will be returned to you after the assessment process is complete.
• The cover sheet of the dissertation must include the following declaration: ‘I declare that the above work is my own and that the material contained herein has not been substantially used in any other submission for an academic award’.
• The dissertation must be prefaced by an abstract. This is not an introduction but a summary which outlines the plan and argument of the dissertation. It should include brief details of the methodology employed. The abstract should not be longer than 300 words. It should be included immediately after the title page and it will be examined as part of the dissertation.
• A list of contents, such as the glossary, chapters, and appendices – with page references – should be included at the front of the dissertation.
• Pages should be numbered and double-line spacing used.
• Your dissertation must be held together in a suitable spine binder with a disclaimer page which will be available in Appendix 7 and on your VLE.
• Diagrams, figures, tables, and illustrations should be incorporated into the text at the appropriate place, unless there is a series of them or they are continually referred to throughout the text. In this case they should be placed in appendices at the end of the work. You are advised to use a drawing package for diagrams and scan in other illustrations.
• The work of other authorities must be acknowledged. When quotations or general references are made they must be suitably referenced by using the Harvard system.
• Appendices should not contain material which is not used or referred to in the text. Similarly, illustrative material should not be included unless it is relevant, informative, and referred to in the text.
• A bibliography should be included at the end of the dissertation and should list, alphabetically, all the sources (including magazines and newspapers) that you have consulted. Books should be listed as: Author (surname then initials); date, title, edition, publisher. Other sources such as journals, magazines, and newspapers should be treated in a similar fashion. If sources are used which are not written in English then the English translation is required in the bibliography.
Set out on a page of its own immediately after the title page. The abstract is likely to be the last section to be written. It is a short (300 words maximum.) summary of the project (not an introduction) and should indicate the nature and scope of the work, outlining the research problem, key issues, findings and your conclusion/recommendations
Table of Contents
An outline of the whole project in list form, setting out the order of the sections, with page numbers. It is conventional to number the preliminary pages (abstract, table of contents) with lower case Roman numerals (i.e. (i), (ii), (iii) etc.) and the main text pages (starting with the first chapter) in Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.) as shown below.
List of Tables i
List of Figures ii
List of Abbreviations iii
Chapter 1 (Title) 1
1.1 (First Section heading)
1.2 (Second etc.)
List of tables and figures
You can present a list at the beginning of your dissertation/ project of the tables and figures you have included.
A table is a presentation of data in tabular form; a figure is a diagrammatic representation of data or other material. Tables and figures should be clearly and consistently numbered, either above or below the table or figure. Each table and figure should have a separate heading (caption). The reader should be able to understand what the table or figure is about from this heading / caption without referring to the text for explanations. The numbers of the tables and the figures you use in the text and in the lists at the beginning should correspond exactly.
Main body of document, appropriatelystructured(this structure may vary depending on the nature of your dissertation.)
Bibliography / References
Appendices(these should only contain material which is genuinely supportive of the argument in the main body of the dissertation).
The use of references can cause difficulties. You must use the Harvard System of Referencing. The essence of this system is that whenever you quote from a primary or secondary source you add in brackets, immediately after the quotation, the surname of the author, the year of publication, and the page reference