Module Narrative
Module Code: THE3001
Module Title: Dissertation
Level: 6
Credit points: 60
Module Leader: Dr Yaya Obuzoa

This module aims to further develop students’ independent study and research skills and to enable them to demonstrate original and critical thought. It provides an opportunity for students to pursue a chosen topic relating to both theological issues and those of their chosen pathway. It requires students to critically evaluate relevant existing literature on their chosen topic and to use appropriate methods and analyses to develop a critical understanding and derive conclusions. It also gives students the opportunity to relate theory to a practical setting.

Learning outcomes

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

1. deploy acquired theological knowledge and understanding in the application of concepts and theories to the analysis of pathway-specific issues and practice. (A2)

2. engage with existing knowledge in the fields of theology and their chosen field and to critically evaluate various interpretations of issues. (C2)

3. identify, justify and implement appropriate research methodologies for the research question.

This module will call for the successful student to demonstrate:

4. time management skills

5. evidence of self reflection and original analytical thinking (B4, D1)

6. the ability to work independently and self-critically on a research task

7. the ability to present clearly and accurately in written form the research and conclusions reached (D2)

The course will cover the following topics:

Identifying and choosing an area of study within a theological and the students’ chosen field; investigating research sources; preparing the proposal; reviewing existing literature; investigating and choosing appropriate research methods; qualitative and quantitative approaches, advantages and disadvantages of various methodologies; relevant ethical issues in conducting the research; defining the research question; critical reading; collecting primary data; contextualising the topic; developing the argument; presenting the research; analysing the findings; presenting the conclusion.

Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy

Independent study is an essential element of this module. Building on research skills learnt in years one and two, students participate in a compulsory dissertation induction week in the final term of their second year. In this induction week students examine the variety of research methods and approaches which they can adopt for their dissertation. Workshops and seminars in the first term of the final year build on this induction week, enabling students to identify a topic for their dissertation. Workshops and discussion groups enable students to debate potential dissertation topics and give opportunities for formative feedback. Topics for dissertation must be applicable both to theology and the student’s chosen pathway.

Students prepare a 2000 word proposal for their dissertation by week 7 of the final year together with a bibliography of relevant literature. This plan will identify a field of potential research combining both theological and pathway-specific studies. It will identify potential existing literature in the chosen field and suggest suitable research methods. This proposal must be agreed with the supervisor before proceeding to dissertation.

Each student will be assigned and supported by a supervisor, with whom they will have regular tutorials. The supervisor will approve the subject and title of the research proposal, ensuring its relationship to both theology and the chosen pathway, and give formative feedback on the proposal by week 8.

Supervisors will also advise on appropriate literature and methodologies, the structure and organisation of the material and agree a proposed timetable of work. Although the total tutorial time will vary from student to student, a total of approximately 10 hours during the year is anticipated.

Students may submit a final draft for formative feedback before submission in week 24.

Assessment Scheme

  • * Research proposal 2000 words (summative assessment) in week 9 [outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7]
  • * Dissertation 10,000 words (summative assessment) in week 26 [outcomes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7]

Assessment Weighting

Dissertation                                                                                  100%

Learning materials


Cohen, L. Manion, L. and Morrison, K. 2000. Research Methods in Education 5th ed. London: Routledge.

Cramer, D. 2003. Advanced Quantitative Data Analysis. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Creswel, J. W. 1994. Research Design: Qualitative & Quantitative Approaches. London: Sage.

Francis, L. J. 2009. Comparative empirical research in religion: conceptual and operational challenges within empirical theology. In: Francis, L. J. Robbins, M. and Astley, J. Eds. Empirical Theology in Texts and Tables: qualitative, quantitative and comparative perspectives (1389-1189). Leiden: Brill.

McCormack, J. 2005. English for Academic Study: Extended writing and research skills. Reading: Garnet Education.

Miles, M. B. and Hubernam, A.M. 1994. Qualitative Data Analysis 2nd Ed. Thousand Oaks, Cal: Sage Publications.

Oppenheim, A. N. 1992. Questionnaire Design, Interviewing & Attitude Measurement. London: Continuum International Publishing.

Swinton, J. 2006. Practical Theology and Qualitative Research. London: SCM Press.

Tucker, D. C. 2000. Research Techniques for Scholars and Students in Religion and Theology. Medford NJ: Information Today.

Vyhmeister, N. J. 2008. Quality Research Papers for Students of Religion and Theology 2nd Ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Interview Training

Bryan, A. and Burgess, R. G. Eds. 1994. Analyzing Qualitative Data. London: Routledge.

Kvale, S. 1996. Interviews: An Introduction to qualitative research interviewing. London: Sage.

Spradley, J.P. 1989. The Ethnographic Interview. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Participant Observation

Hammersley, M. and Atkinson, P. 2007. Ethnography: Principles in Practice 3rd Ed) London: Routledge.

Action research

Koshy, V. 2005. Action Research for Improving Practice: A Practical Guide. London: Paul Chapman.

McNiff, J. and Whitehead, J. 2002. Action Research: Principles and Practice. London and New York: Routledge/Falmer.

Other materials according to the student’s project