EGH302 : Dissertation

Convenor(s): Professor Susan Fitzmaurice


Please note: This module may or may not run in any given semester. Please check with the tutor.

General Information

The 'Dissertation' module is always taken in combination with the 'Research Practice' module and, together, these two units give students the opportunity to spend a whole year researching a topic of particular interest to them, engaging with new data or primary sources, and working on material more advanced than that normally covered in taught modules. The final results is a dissertation of between 8,000 and 10,000 words. Students receive support and research training throughout the year, attending workshops and one-to-one sessions with a supervisor. In the process, they develop research and communication skills valuable in academic and professional contexts.


Students taking this module will already have completed another level-3 module, ‘Research Practice’, during which they will have attended 6 hours of research-training seminars and had 5 meetings with their supervisors to discuss the progress of their work. In the process they will have produced a detailed research proposal (roughly 1,500 words) and also submitted a piece of work-in-progress relating to the research methods they intend to implement in their project (roughly 2,500 words).

During the ‘Dissertation’ module, they will attend another 5 hours of research training, the focus now moving from planning research to reflecting critically upon the process of implementing a research plan (aim 2 and outcome 2). In addition, seminars will also encourage students to reflect on what further skills they might need in bringing their projects to completion and will help them to acquire those skills either through training within seminars or through liaison with supervisors (aim 3 and outcome 3). One of the seminars will focus on advanced writing skills (aim 5 and outcome 5).

In parallel, students will have 3 meetings with their supervisors (each meeting lasting notionally for an hour). In this context, students will receive support in implementing their research plans (aim 2 and outcome 2), input in terms of further skills necessary for the completion of their projects (aim 3 and outcome 3), and feedback on their written work (aim 5 and outcome 5). The meetings with supervisors will be of particular importance in helping students to interpret their findings and, in so doing, develop an argument (aim 4 and outcome 4).

The combination of research training seminars and meetings with supervisors will support students as they engage in the substantial amount of independent study required for the completion of a dissertation (aim 1 and outcome 1).


This module will be assessed entirely through a dissertation of between 8,000 and 10,000 words. The flexibility in word-length is intended to reflect the diversity of topics that students might be working on. (In syntax, for example, it would be usual to make extensive use of diagrams in writing up research and 8,000 words of text might be sufficient. In literary linguistics, by contrast, 10,000 words of text might well be more appropriate.)

In the earlier module, ‘Research Practice’, students will already have submitted 4,000 words of material in the form of a developed dissertation proposal and a piece of work-in-progress relating to their proposed research methods. It is expected that this material will be incorporated into the final dissertation in revised form. Clearly it is not usual for work to be submitted twice in two separate modules. However, in this case, it is appropriate that the earlier work be included for the sake of completeness, the grade given for the final work depending upon: (1) the 4,000-6,000 words of new material produced in the second semester (this being the quantity of work written work usually required for a 20-credit module) and (2) some consideration of how well the previously submitted material has been adapted, revised, and integrated into the final product in the light of the actual experience of conducting the research.
The dissertation will test all four aims and outcomes. First, the successful production of the dissertation will provide evidence of outcome 1, the ability to bring to completion a sizeable research project. The sections of the dissertation dealing with methods and results will provide evidence that outcomes 2 and 3, which relate to the implementation of appropriate skills and methods, have been met. The interpretative sections of the dissertation will provide evidence that outcome 4, which relates to the interpretation of findings and the development of an argument, has been met. And the work as a whole will constitute evidence for outcome 5, the ability to write a will organised piece of work in an appropriate academic style.

Contact Details

0114 222 0213

Information last changed: Tuesday 21st of March 2017 :: 11:42:09 AM (GMT)


The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK