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A Dissertation is an extended study of a topic agreed as appropriate for a subject. Nevertheless it should demonstrate the student's ability to argue coherently, to marshal evidence, to evaluate critically and synthesise the disparate sources used and to identify and work with appropriate theoretical methods. It does not necessarily involve original research or the study of unpublished or primary material.
A Project is also an extended study of a topic, but usually also involves data collection through experimental work or other primary investigation. As such, it should demonstrate similar abilities to those listed for a dissertation and in addition the ability to plan experiments or data collection and interpret and analyse data.
In some subjects, such as management subjects, most submissions contain elements of both the project/dissertation perspectives. Fuller briefing on the approach expected is included in the specific subject guidelines
An Interdisciplinary Project or Dissertation is a project/dissertation in which, provided the topic is relevant to each of the two subjects there is no need for a quantitative measure of the proportion contributed by each. As such, criteria for acceptability of a topic are different from those used for a project/dissertation set wholly within one subject. The topic should be formulated so that the project/dissertation may demonstrate those skills; knowledge and understanding acquired in both subjects have been appropriately used. An interdisciplinary topic is seen as a desirable option, not a requirement for single subject students. Not all subjects offer both Projects and Dissertations. Single Honours subjects do not offer interdisciplinary Projects/Dissertations.
These guidelines are designed to be included in Subject Guides to Project and Dissertations. In some sections, therefore, there are pointers (*) to indicate the need for Subject Specific Guidelines. These should be inserted after appropriate consideration of the Notes for Project/Dissertation Module Leaders, which are normally in italic text in square brackets. These would not normally be included in Subject Guides.
Subject Guides for Project and Dissertations should include the following:
It may be useful to include the M144 Project and Dissertation Guidelines for Students (PDF) in your Module Guide.
To achieve an Honours degree all students who enter stage II of the programme from September 2011 will have to complete 6 'Level 6 Honours' credits. This must include at least one double (30 credit) level 6 honours module, or two 15 credit level 6 honours interdisciplinary project/dissertation modules.
For students on two single subjects registered for a joint award at least seven acceptable module credits including at least two level 6 honours credits must be passed for each Subject.
For those registered for Major/Minor awards at least two level 6 honours credits must be passed in the Major Subject.
Project/dissertation and synoptic modules are level 6 honours modules. Study on these modules should demonstrate that honours students can successfully collect data and select appropriate knowledge from the range that he or she has acquired can propose solutions for appropriate problems and communicate the results, and that the student can work independently.
(For the interdisciplinary project/dissertations the Module Leaders may decide, in consultation with the student, to assign two supervisors. However, it is not a requirement that interdisciplinary projects/dissertations should have one supervisor from each contributing discipline and each case should be considered on its merits. For interdisciplinary projects/dissertations whether or not more than one supervisor is appointed it is essential that form M199T is agreed and signed by supervisor(s) and Module Leaders for both subjects.
If there is a supervisor from each subject, the two Module Leaders will agree for which subject the primary registration will be and thus to which External Examiner it will be sent. If the supervision is expected to be primarily in one subject, the External Examiner will normally be from the same subject.)
Subject specific material should be inserted under these headings.
The student must submit two copies his or her completed project/dissertation to the location specified by the subject at the latest by 4.00 p.m. on Friday of Week 8 in the semester in which the module is to be assessed.
One copy of an interdisciplinary project/dissertation should be submitted to both Module Leaders. Please see the M144C (PDF) for details of the submission, deposit and use of projects and dissertations.
The University has approved a way in which circumstances that may have affected your performance in an assessment will be considered – these are called 'mitigating circumstances'.
Mitigating circumstances are circumstances which were beyond your control and which could not be reasonably accommodated by you and which seriously impaired your performance in assessment. All three parts of this definition must be met for the University to agree you were affected by mitigating circumstances. For example, these circumstances could be medical or personal. In all cases you will be required to provide satisfactory documentary evidence to support your claim – if you fail to supply satisfactory documentary evidence your request will be turned down. The only exception is for very short extensions to an assessment deadline (up to one week), where you may be allowed to self-certify your difficulties if there is a valid reason why you cannot provide evidence.
In all cases, you should submit your claim and your evidence as soon as possible and in any case always before an assessment deadline or exam. If you miss a deadline you will not only need to demonstrate that you were affected by mitigating circumstances but you will need to provide evidence that you were unable to submit your claim by the deadline. So don't delay if you wish to claim mitigating circumstances. If you miss an assessment deadline or an exam without approval for valid mitigating circumstances you will receive zero for that assessment. You must not miss deadlines.
If your claim for mitigating circumstances is approved then you will be granted an extension to your submission deadline of up to four weeks or allowed to re-sit your examination (or, in certain situations only, an entire module). The University does not increase marks on the basis of mitigating circumstances. This is because the University wants you to demonstrate your full potential in assessments – if it is agreed you were affected by mitigating circumstances then we will give you an extension or a re-sit so you can demonstrate your potential unaffected by such circumstances. Mitigating Circumstances Forms can be found on your PIP.
For more information please see the University Regulations A3.5 Consideration of Mitigating Circumstances.
The appropriate length or style of a project report or dissertation will vary according to the topic chosen. As a guide, a written dissertation for a double module should normally be of the order of 8,000 words with a maximum of 10,000 words. Reports or dissertations exceeding the maximum length will normally be given fewer marks than work of similar quality that is below the maximum length. The length for the report or dissertation should be related to the assessment criteria. The report of this length must include all the necessary evidence and argument. Additional material may only be submitted in appendices where the Subject Guide gives explicit permission. This would normally only be appropriate for data obtained by students from experiments or interviews, for example. Such data could be submitted in a separate laboratory book or portfolio. Subjects may specify a smaller word count where either a different type of report is required or assessment of something in addition to the report (e.g. an artefact) is specified. Subjects should indicate clearly in their subject dissertation guides, what the penalties are for work that is in excess of the stipulated limit.
Project/s/Dissertations are normally assessed by two internal examiners. The external examiner for an interdisciplinary project/dissertation is normally the External Examiner for the subject responsible for the administration of the project/dissertation. If another External Examiner is to be used, he or she should be chosen no later than Week 8 of the semester in which it is submitted. The External Examiner will be supplied with written comments from the internal assessors. The interdisciplinary paragraph is not normally relevant to Double Subjects. (Subjects may wish to specify other assessment components such as a viva voce examination or a special exhibition.) Module leaders need to submit marks online via PIP by the appropriate deadline specified in the Examination Committee Schedule. A sample of projects/dissertations is sent to External Examiners in Week 12 of the semester in which assessment takes place. This sample will normally include:
Late Coursework will receive no marks. This penalty is imposed so that students who submit work on time even though it is not good as they would like are not at a disadvantage when compared with students who choose to miss the deadline and spend longer on their work so that they may do better. In fairness then, to all students, module leaders are required to impose this penalty for late coursework except where students have negotiated extensions in advance through mitigating circumstances for reasons outside their control.
Both internal assessors (one of whom will normally be the supervisor) will submit a written report for assessment purposes. Indication of the input given by the supervisor and the general approach of the student during the production of the project/dissertation will be included. In the case of interdisciplinary projects/dissertations, one assessor will normally be drawn from each of the two subjects.
The Assessors' report will be in two parts:
If the project/dissertation is not assessed as a pass grade, a fail grade or a ‘resit (=resubmission) coursework’ (RC) grade will be given. Resits will be automatic for marks between 30 and 39%. If a student has been found to have mitigating circumstances, the SEC can award a ‘resit through mitigation’ (DC) grade regardless of whether the mark is above or below 40%. The SEC can award a DR grade (‘module take disregarded due to mitigation’) if the resit is subject to mitigation.
If a resit grade is awarded, the Module Leader will inform the student and make sure that the Assessors' commentary and the specification of the additional work is sent to him or her in a formal letter:
This is one reason why a student should make sure their contact details on PIP are correct. Resubmitted project/dissertations must be handed to the Module Leader at the normal resit deadline. If a resubmitted project/dissertation is passed, the result will be 40 P unless it was a resit through mitigation for which full marks are awarded. If it is failed the grade will be FR and the marks will be as previously recorded or higher.