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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 It does not necessarily involve original research or the study of unpublished or primary material.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:
i. A Subject Guide needs to make clear the UMP regulations and guidelines with subject specific items included where they are appropriate.
ii. A guide will usually include academic advice, administrative rules and assessment regulations.
iii. Sections normally included will cover:
It may be useful to include the M144 Project and Dissertation Guidelines for Students in your Module Guide.
The process and timetable from initiation is summarised as follows:
Students should include the Project/Dissertation when registering their Stage II programme in the module registration window.
Students should start thinking about their topic and a supervisor. Register with supervisor and agree a schedule. Summer Vacation: You may collect data for your project/dissertation.
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.
i. When the student first submits a Stage II programme, a project/dissertation module can be registered along with other Level 6 honours modules. The registration of the project/dissertation title for the appropriate Subject(s) specific module(s) is carried out at the end of the second academic year once the actual topic to be investigated has been identified and a supervisor allocated.
ii. One year before their final semester, [or for Single Honours and Major Subjects, at a time publicised in the Subject Guide] students will be briefed by the project/dissertation Module Leaders in their subject(s) on the specific subject requirements and supervision arrangements available.
iii. Subjects will insert their specific arrangements, which should include advice to those students (e.g. those admitted with credit or studying part-time) who may wish to submit their work at the start of semester 1 of the following year rather than semester 2. However, this may have cost implications that need to be considered.
iv. [At a time specified by the subject] the student will negotiate with a supervisor and agree the project/dissertation title/topic and supervision arrangements. The student will draw up an action plan and discuss it with the supervisor.
Where a Subject has a non-standard submission date the Subject Guide should formally specify appropriate dates in the paragraphs above. Special arrangements may then need to be made with Student Central to circulate the lists referred to above at other times.
i. The project/dissertation module has a module leader(s) who is responsible for ensuring that each student has a supervisor, and for the administration of the module. This is why the registration procedure is important.
ii. "Supervision" is used to cover a number of learning and teaching activities including 1:1 tutorial, small group tutorial, and commentary on drafts. A Subject may decide to institute a cut-off date after which supervision or comment from supervisors is not available. A student may expect a minimum of 4 [or as specified by the Faculty provided it is not less than this] hours supervision per credit for a project/dissertation, some of which may be in small group tutorials. [A Faculty may also specify a maximum entitlement if it believes this can be monitored or enforced.]
iii. Students are encouraged to calculate the time and effort spent on project/dissertation modules on the same basis as all other modules; i.e. approximately 300 hours for double modules.
iv. The following guidelines make clear: The reasonable expectations of students in their work with a supervisor(s) including what happens if a supervisor is absent through sickness or other commitments;
[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.
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 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 via Faculty Grade Entry by the appropriate deadline specified in the UMP 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:
i. If a double project/dissertation is set wholly within a single subject, both credits will count towards the minimum required for that subject.
ii. For an interdisciplinary project/dissertation one credit will count for each of the subjects for which it is acceptable.