Module Narrative

Module Title: Dissertation
Module Code: THE600
Level: 6
Credit Points: 40 Credits
Compulsory or Optional: Compulsory
Pre-requisites/co-requisites: THE503
Excluded combinations or modules: None
Mode of attendance: Mixed

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.
2. engage with existing knowledge in the fields of theology and their chosen field and to critically evaluate various interpretations of issues.
3. demonstrate evidence of self-reflection and original analytical thinking
4. present the research and conclusions reached clearly and accurately in written form
5. identify, justify and implement appropriate research methodologies for the research question.


The module will cover the following:
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 year 2 (Research methods module) 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 progress the research 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.

In year 2 students identify a field of potential research combining both theological and pathway-specific studies and submit their research proposal. The proposal 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.

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.

Assessment Scheme

• Dissertation 8,000 words (summative assessment)

Assessment Weighting

Dissertation 100%

Walliman, N. (2014) Your Undergraduate Dissertation: The Essential Guide for Success. London: Sage
Bryman, A (2012) Social Research Methods. 4th Ed, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gillbert N. (ed) (2008) Researching Social Life. London: Sage
Robson, C. (2007). How to do a Research Project: A guide for undergraduate students. Oxford: Blackwells
Swinton, J and Mowatt, H. (2006) Practical Theology and Qualitative Research. London: SCM Press. (2nd Edition due 2016)
Walliman, N. (2000) Your Research Project: A Step-by-step Guide for the First-time Researcher.London: Sage
Becker, H.S. (1986) Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book, or Article. (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing & Publishing). Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Bell, J. (1999) Doing Your Research Project: A Guide for First-Time Researchers in Education and Social Science. 3rd ed. Milton Keynes: Open University Press
Cottrell, S. (2014) Dissertations and Project Reports: A step by step guide. London: Palgrave Macmillan
Dunleavy, P. (1986) Studying for a Degree in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Basingstoke: Macmillan
Hammond, M. and Wellington, J. (2013) Research Methods: Key Concepts. London: Routledge
Hart, C. (1998) Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination. London: Sage Publications
Walliman, N. (2000) Your Research Project: A Step-by-step Guide for the First-time Researcher. London: Sage.
Watson, G. (1987) Writing a Thesis: A Guide to Long Essays and Dissertations. London: Longman

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