module specification

SM7P01 - Media and Communication Dissertation (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Media and Communication Dissertation
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 60
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 600
570 hours Guided independent study
30 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 10%   Dissertation outline
Coursework 5% 50 Supervision and ethics portfolio
Coursework 85%   Dissertation between 12,000 and 15,000 words (excluding appendices)
Running in 2017/18 No instances running in the year

Module summary

The dissertation provides an opportunity to undertake an independent and sustained piece of research into a substantive topic relevant to the student’s chosen interest.  Students work with a  specific supervisor and attend scheduled research sessions.

Module aims

1. To develop students’ ability to undertake a sustained investigation into a particular topic or issue within their chosen field of study;

2. To enable students to formulate a project proposal justifying selection of appropriate methods

3. To test students’ ability to design, plan, organise, research and write a substantial research paper.


The dissertation may take one of the following forms:

• A critical analysis of the literature and theoretical issues in the field of media and communications;

• An empirical research study in a given field;

• A combination of the two above.

Learning and teaching

Students’ work on their dissertations is spread across the academic year with different elements taking place in all three periods. During the first semester of study, students are prepared for independent research by attending the core module Researching Media and Communications. In week 7 of the first semester of study students submit a brief outline proposal for their dissertation research, and are assigned a supervisor. From this point, students work independently on their dissertation, with their supervisor's guidance. During the second semester of study, students must submit two pieces of coursework, a dissertation outline, in week 9 of that semester, and a portfolio containing minutes of three supervision sessions and a completed research ethics checklist in week 13 of that semester. The minutes and ethics checklist must be countersigned by the supervisor. Within this assessment component the ethics checklist carries 55% of the available marks, 15% of the available marks being allocated to each of the supervision minutes.  The dissertation will be submitted at the end of the summer period, for students who commence their studies in the preceding October. For students who begin their studies in February, the dissertation is submitted in May of the year following the commencement of their studies.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate the ability to undertake a substantial piece of research within the field of media and/or communications.

2. Make a critical contribution to their chosen field of study.

3. Demonstrate the ability to design and undertake an independent research project.

4. Demonstrate awareness of ethical issues in academic research.

Assessment strategy

Students will prepare a dissertation proposal, which will include, the dissertation title, the aims of the dissertation, the methods to be employed and a brief bibliography.  Students will then be allocated a supervisor and will have regular meetings with the supervisor to review progress.

In the second semester of study two assessment elements fall due, first an outline of the dissertation (weighting 10%). This element tests learning outcome 3. The second assessment element in the second semester of study is a research portfolio (weighting 5%) submitted at the end of the semester. This tests learning outcomes 3 and 4.

The completed dissertation will be between 12,000 and 15,000 words (excluding appendices)(weighting 85%). This will test learning outcomes 1,2,3 & 4. The criteria used in assessing the dissertation will be detailed in the module booklet and will include, for example, the following:

• The quality and comprehensiveness of the literature review;
• The strength of the analytical arguments;
• The organisation and presentation of materials;
• The quality and appropriateness of the research methods;
• The value of the conclusion.


Berger, A. A. (2000) Media and communication research methods: an introduction to qualitative and quantitative approaches. Thousand Oaks, California; London: Sage.

Bertrand, I. and Hughes, P. (2005) Media Research Methods: Audiences, Institutions, Texts. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Bryman, A. (2012) Social research methods. 4th Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Deacon, D. et al. (2007) Researching communications: a practical guide to methods in media and cultural analysis. 2nd Edition. London: Hodder Arnold.

Gunter, B. (2000) Media Research Methods. London: Sage.

Hansen, A. and Machin, D. (2013) Media and communication research methods. Basingstoke:
Palgarave Macmillan.

Hart, C. (2001) Doing a Literature Search: a comprehensive guide for social sciences. Open University Press.

Nightingale, V. (ed) (2011) The handbook of media audiences. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell. E-Book.

Rudestan, K. & Newton, R. (1992) Surviving Your Dissertation, Sage.

Stacks, D. W. and Salwen, M. B. (2009) An integrated approach to communication theory and research.2nd Edition. New York: Routledge.

Weerakkody, N. 2009. Research methods for media and communication. South Melbourne, Vic.; Oxford : Oxford University Press.