module specification

MD6010 - Dissertation/Investigative Study (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
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
222 hours Guided independent study
18 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
60 hours Assessment Preparation / Delivery
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 15%   Project Plan (Circa 1000-words)
Dissertation 85%   Final Submission (Circa 8000-words for Dissertation or 5000-words for Investigative Study)
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Thursday Morning

Module summary

In this module you will undertake an individual inquiry into a topic surrounding a theory or practice of your own choice arising from your studies at Level 4 and 5. Based on this inquiry you will develop an extended critical or investigative study.

At the start of the module you will take part in group lectures and workshops on researching and enquiry practices, in which your initial concepts and plans will be developed; this leads to supervised individual work, which is designed to support your transition into becoming an independent investigator.
The module affords you scope for individual initiative and development; allowing you to demonstrate abilities in researching a topic thoroughly, utilising appropriate methods of investigation, and to working methodically and productively.

The subject matter you choose for enquiry and investigation, should draw on field of music technology and production, such as theoretical aspects of sound, audio or music production or technical approaches in the production of music or sound for media.

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 fieldwork; 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.

This module aims to:
• Guide students in selecting and developing appropriate topics drawing on knowledge, creative and practical skills developed at Level 4 and 5.
• Develop and manifest graduate levels of achievement across a range of professional and transferable skills.
• Afford a sophisticated instrument for exploring, testing, and presenting ideas at graduate level.
• Consolidate and enhance research methods and presentation skills.
• Support development and deployment a range of investigative and analytical skills, including the presentation of arguments as an integrated and coherent text.


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. (LO1, 2, 3)
• Develop a more in-depth trajectory on areas of current expertise and interest, especially when working on Dissertation research. (LO1, 2, 3, 5)
• Demonstrate confidence in applying original and innovative ideas following suitable methodology, evaluation, and verification of results. (LO3, 4, 5)
• Reflect critically upon the work undertaken and its limitations. (LO4)
• Produce a clear and well-structured project report/documentation executing a plan of work around set targets within time limits (LO1, 3)

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

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.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this module, you should be able to:

LO1. Plan, manage, and produce a thorough investigation into a topic relating to a theory or practice in Music Technology and Production.
LO2. Identify and explore the context of a topic, and to formulate key and clear arguments or issues arising from it, ordering materials in a coherent manner.
LO3. Utilise appropriate research methods and materials.
LO4. Demonstrate analytical, evaluative and presentational skills and techniques.
LO5. Develop and evaluate transferable skills in music technology and production.

Assessment strategy

Assessment is both formative and summative. 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.
There are two summative assessments:
1. Project Plan, including initial literature review and proposal for inquiry (15%) – week 7
2. Final submission of Dissertation OR Investigative Study (85%) – week 29

The length of the dissertation is 8000 words.  This may be varied proportionately for empirically based and other kinds of research.
The length of the Investigative Study is 5000, depending on the nature of the work undertaken.

In addition to the summative assessments, students are required to complete two formative assessments:
1. Draft chapter circa-1000 words - week 15
2. Draft submission of the Dissertation OR Investigative Study circa 5000 words for the Dissertation and circa 3000 words for the Investigative Study – week 25


The following general books on researching and writing a project will be useful. However, all students will be advised by their supervisor on reading specific for their chosen topic.

• 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.
• Burns, T and Sandra Sinfield (2008), Essential Study Skills, SAGE Publications Ltd.
• 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.