module specification

CP6011 - Critical & Contextual Studies 3: Dissertation (3D) (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module title Critical & Contextual Studies 3: Dissertation (3D)
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 300
261 hours Guided independent study
39 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 15%   Dissertation Plan
Dissertation 85%   Final Dissertation
Running in 2022/23

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

Module summary

Critical and Contextual Studies (CCS) Level 6 results in an independent dissertation. It builds on two years of undergraduate study that critically engages students in the history and theory of their discipline, its extent and conventions, and its broader social and material context in culture and contemporary practice.

Students undertake an enquiry into a topic of their own choice and, based on this enquiry, develop a sustained critical study building on techniques and knowledge developed in previous years. This study demonstrates the student’s ability to research a topic thoroughly, use appropriate methods of investigation, and work in a methodical and organised way to develop a coherent argument. It affords a sophisticated instrument for interrogating, testing and presenting ideas, and encourages the student to deploy and develop a variety of skills to show how well they can conduct and present a critical investigation.

The module rewards criticality and innovation and provides a platform for ambitious, independent work. To this end, it offers individual supervision designed to support the student’s learning. The subject-matter of the dissertation can be theoretical, technical, or historical. In terms of format, the dissertation may be envisaged in different ways and can include visual, technical or other non-written material which may form the subject of the enquiry and comprise an integral part of the whole.

The dissertation may be practice-based and include field-work and primary research in its methodology; or it might be theoretical in its outlook and draw predominantly on secondary sources. Its form and approach can reflect a broad range of discipline-specific approaches based on discussion and agreement with the supervisor and/or course leader.

Prior learning requirements

Completion and pass (120 credits) of prior level


The syllabus will depend on the student’s field of study and specific topic. This may incorporate or be supported by research, methodology and writing workshops, lectures, seminars, individual tutorials and working in subject/interest groups.

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching ensures that independent study is effective and addresses the learning outcomes and assessment tasks. Students are expected to, and have the opportunity to, continue with their studies outside of scheduled classes. There will be a range of learning strategies deployed and individual learning styles will be accommodated. The module’s learning outcomes, its contents and delivery, have been scrutinised and will be regularly reviewed to ensure an inclusive approach to pedagogic practice.

The module and course utilise the University’s blended learning platform to support and reinforce learning, to foster peer-to-peer communication and to facilitate tutorial support for students. Reflective learning is promoted through assessment items and interim formative feedback points that ask students to reflect on their progress, seek help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to themselves for future development. Throughout the module, students build a body of work, including reflections on progress and achievement.

The School’s programme of employability events and embedded work-related learning within the curriculum supports students’ personal development planning. Through these initiatives, students are increasingly able, as they progress from year to year, to understand the professional environment of their disciplines, the various opportunities available to them, and how to shape their learning according to their ambitions.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module students will be able:

1. to select, manage and produce a thorough and penetrating investigation into a historical, theoretical, practice-based or technical question;
2. to identify and explore the context and formulate the key arguments or issues at play in the selected topic;
3. to research, analyse, evaluate and make appropriate use of original evidence, scholarly materials, current research and techniques;
4. to order material in a coherent manner, constructing a clear argument or line of thought whilst recognising the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge;
5. to work professionally in terms of attendance, participation and contribution to class; prompt submissions; time management; communications, notes and record keeping.

Assessment strategy

The module is assessed 15% on a dissertation plan and annotated reading list submission, which will comprise part of the dissertation itself, and 85% on the final submission.
The length of the dissertation will be a minimum of 6,000 words or a maximum of 7,500 words. Exceptionally, the dissertation may be between 4,500 to 6,000 words with a practice-based element if the latter is deemed equivalent to written research. 

Assessment criteria
Criteria for assessment include:
1. ambition, originality and scope of approach;
2. depth and breadth of knowledge and understanding;
3. analysis of original work, texts, images, data, other media or material;
4. clarity of the position or argument;
5. clarity and appropriateness of the design, structure and methodology of the submission;
6. use of appropriate scholarly conventions, e.g. references and bibliography;
7. management, development and progress of the work.


The bibliography will be developed as part of the student’s field of study.
Students will have access to a detailed Dissertation Handbook, which will include, 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 writing appropriate to the variety of subject areas.