module specification

MD6010 - Dissertation/Investigative Study (2021/22)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2021/22
Module title Dissertation/Investigative Study
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 300
210 hours Guided independent study
90 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 15%   Dissertation OR Investigative Study Plan, including initial literature review and proposal for inquiry (1000 words)
Dissertation 85%   Final submission of Dissertation (9000 words) OR Investigative Study (5000-6000 words)
Running in 2021/22
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Thursday Morning

Module summary

The student undertakes an individual inquiry into a topic of their own choice and, based on this inquiry, develops an extended critical or investigative study. The module involves an initial training and preparation phase, conducted in group(s), in which an initial concept and plan are developed; this leads to supervised individual work, which is designed to support the student in becoming an independent investigator, building on techniques and knowledge developed at Levels 4 and 5. The module affords scope for individual initiative and development; it demonstrates the student’s ability to research a topic thoroughly, to use appropriate methods of investigation, and to work methodically and productively.
The subject matter of chosen, which can be historical, cultural, theoretical, technical, or multidisciplinary, should be related to the student’s main field of study.  Visual, audio, or other non-written material may form the subject of the enquiry, and may comprise an integral part of the final submission. The Dissertation may be professionally oriented and might include field-work; or it might be theoretical in its source material and methodology. An Investigative Study typically involves experimentation or other empirical research, resulting in the gathering and analysis of new data; it typically involves science or social science research methods, in contradistinction to arts and humanities methods associated with the dissertation; and, adopting modes of work and presentation characteristic of the sciences, it typically results in a somewhat shorter written document.
Students may develop their Dissertation or Investigative Study topic within a particular Interest Group. 

This module aims:

1. To provide a platform for ambitious individual work;
2. To guide students in selecting and developing appropriate topics and engaging with current debates;
3. To develop and manifest graduate levels of achievement across a range of professional and transferable skills;
4. To afford a sophisticated instrument for exploring, testing, and presenting ideas at graduate level;
5. To develop the student’s awareness of cultural, ethical, and aesthetic perspectives reflecting current debates in their subject area.
6. To support development and deployment a range of investigative and analytical skills;
7. To support the presentation of an argument as an integrated and coherent text.

Prior learning requirements

MD5010 - Music and Media Context and Cultural Musicology


The Dissertation / Investigative Study will be based primarily on a course of independent study. The syllabus will therefore be a product of negotiation between the student and supervisor and will depend on the topic of research. All students will be asked to consider academic and methodological issues in their work and supervisors will supply an indicative and provisional reading list at the outset of project and research. Students are expected to expand on this list and conduct further research in the area to produce both the literature review and the main body of the thesis.

Syllabus content is generic because students take up different projects, but students will be expected to:

•       Explore unfamiliar territories and adopt a multidisciplinary approach where applicable, mainly when producing an Investigative Study;

•       Develop a more in depth trajectory on areas of current expertise and interest, especially when working on a Dissertation research;

•       Demonstrate confidence in applying original and innovative ideas following suitable methodology, evaluation and verification of results;

•       Reflect critically upon the work undertaken and its limitations;

•       Produce a clear and well structured project report/documentation executing a plan of work around set targets within time limits

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

At Level 5, students will have undertaken a research project culminating in an extended essay of 3000 words. The dissertation module is introduced toward the end of Level 5, prior to the summer holiday, so that students have a sufficient basis on which to identify and outline an area in which they can undertake significant initial research during the summer, with the aim of clarifying their ideas in preparation for the start of the dissertation module.
At the beginning of the academic year, a series of introductory seminars or workshops, students have regular individual and group tutorials in which they are given detailed guidance in the development of their topic and in the form and content of their final document.
The student proposes a specific topic, which will be refined and approved during the induction period.  The topic, form and content of the dissertation are negotiated with and approved by the supervisor.  A scheme of interim submissions, for the purposes of formative feedback, is defined.  Interim submissions include written drafts other forms of presentation.  Students receive feedback periodically throughout the module.  Students have access to a detailed Dissertation Handbook.
The balance between scheduled teaching activities and independent study in this module is 30% and 70% and respectively.  Scheduled teaching follows the average contact time per standard 30-credit module across the University: 90 hours (3 hours per week).  Scheduled teaching is divided between Lectures, Workshops, Seminars and individual supervision tutorials.
Blended Learning is maintained via Weblearn Course and Module pages.  Opportunities for reflective learning are promoted through feedback and written reports, embedded in all assessments with emphasis on reflection on work done. Formative assessment and feedback is planned to address learning development needs and to capture learning achievements.  LO2: to make appropriate use of original data (evidence) and scholarly materials including current research; and LO3: to make appropriate use of original data (evidence) and scholarly materials including current research.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module students will be able:
LO1. To plan, manage, and produce a thorough and penetrating investigation into a historical, cultural, theoretical, practice-based, or technical question;
LO2. To identify and explore the context of a topic, and to formulate key arguments or issues arising from it;
LO3. To make appropriate use of original data (evidence) and scholarly materials including current research;
LO4. To apply appropriate methods and techniques;
LO5. To demonstrate the use of appropriate analytical, evaluative and presentational skills;
LO6. To construct a clear argument or line of thought, ordering materials in a coherent manner;
LO7. To work to professional standards in terms of attendance, participation, engagement in discussion, time management, communication, record keeping, and prompt submission of work.

Assessment strategy

Assessment is both formative and summative. The formative process includes the development of a Dissertation OR Investigative Study Plan, which is assessed in Week 7, followed by the regular, cumulatively development of dissertation documentation.  Regular review allows the student to plan and reflect on their progress, to reflect on and learn from their experience, and to improve their performance throughout the period of study.
Students are required to complete a draft submission of the Dissertation OR Investigative Study in week 25 (circa 6000 words for the Dissertation and circa 3500 words for the Investigative Study).
There are two summatively assessed components:
1. Dissertation OR Investigative Study Plan, including initial literature review and proposal for inquiry (15%)
2. Final submission of Dissertation OR Investigative Study (85%).
The normal length of the dissertation is 9000 words.  This may be varied proportionately for empirically based and other kinds of research.
The normal length of the Investigative Study is 5000-6000, depending on the nature of the work undertaken.
Criteria for assessment include:
1. Depth and breadth of knowledge and understanding;
2. Ambition, originality and scope of approach;
3. Analysis of texts, images, data, other media or materials;
4. Clarity and critical force argument;
5. Appropriateness of methodology, dissertation design, and structure;
6. Use of appropriate scholarly conventions, referencing and bibliography;
7. Management, development and progress of the work.


Students have access to a detailed Dissertation Handbook, which includes, for example, guidance on critical thinking, the analysis of texts, information retrieval, time management, bibliography and referencing, acknowledgement, and requirements for presentation. Online guidance may also include a range of examples reflecting different approaches and forms of dissertation appropriate to the variety of subject areas.

Following study of initial recommended core sources, a project/research-specific bibliography will be tailored to each student in dialogue with the supervisor. As a general guideline, students may find the following recommended texts useful.

•       Becker, L (2015), Writing Successful Reports and Dissertations, SAGE Publications Ltd.

•       Bolker, J (1998), Writing your Dissertation in 15 minutes a day: A Guide to starting, revising, and finishing your doctoral thesis, Owl Books.

•       Hoffman-Miller, P (2014), Guiding the Development of a Dissertation Research Design Using Grounded Theory, SAGE Publications Ltd.

•       McMillan, K & Weyers, J (2011) How to Write Dissertations & Project Reports (Smarter Study Skills), Prentice Hall.

•       Wentz, E (2014), How to Design, Write, and Present a Successful Dissertation Proposal, SAGE Publications Ltd.