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Level 6

6AAT5000 Independent Study Project (Dissertation)


The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee this module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

Credit value: 30
Module co-ordinator: Dr Ruth Sheldon
Assessment: one 1,000-word outline (10%); dissertation (70%); oral presentation (20%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Teaching arrangements: one-to-one tutorials. See "supervision" below.
Pre-requisites: none
Additional costs: please note that the dissertation will need to be printed and (spiral-) bound before submission.

The Independent Study Project offers third year students an opportunity to research a selected topic in depth. The project consists of three parts:

  • An outline (worth 10% of the final grade), submitted in Semester 1 of your final year, outlining the project
  • An 8,000 word dissertation (70%)
  • An oral presentation in late April (20%), in which you give a short presentation of your work, and discuss your project with your examiners.


TRS Dissertation Deadlines 2018-19

Thursday 31st October 2019 Year 3 Students Submission of Outline on KEATS by 16.00
Monday 3rd  February 2020 Year 2 Students Submission of Dissertation proposal (hard copy) to Dept Office by 16.00
Monday 23rd March 2020 Year 3 Students

Submission of Dissertation: On KEATS by 16.00
2 hard copies to Dept Office by 16.00


Regarding the oral presentation component: “No alternative assessment will be offered for the oral presentation - students must be aware of what is involved in the whole 6AAT5000 package when they decide whether to write a dissertation.”

Regarding applications for extensions beyond May“The revised deadline will not reasonably fall before the following October. This is because no supervision can be expected after the end of Semester 3 and in July and August. Students with extensions over the summer should therefore liaise with their supervisors in June to find out about the timeline for receiving feedback on draft material in advance of their submission deadline.”

Additional information

Module aims
  • To provide final year students an opportunity to research a selected topic in depth
  • To develop understanding, knowledge and critical analysis of the area of research selected.
Learning outcomes

Generic skills

  • Develop an ability to engage critically with primary and secondary sources
  • Develop ability to present ideas coherently in written and oral form
  • Demonstrate ability to orally present arguments within a constrained timeframe

Module specific skills

  • Explore the subject field selected in a critically analytical manner giving due consideration to all salient points
  • Demonstrate via presentation and written essay/report a coherent set of arguments answering the project title.
Important Information about Research Ethics

The College requires all research which involves human participants or raises other ethical issues with potential social or environmental implications must be submitted for ethical review, and any research on human participants found to have been conducted without the appropriate ethical approval will be reported as misconduct. Therefore if your dissertation involves human participants, eg surveys or questionnaires, you must apply for ethical clearance.

For further details on how to apply for ethical clearance please see ://

Preparation for the project

Students will choose a topic after consultation with an appropriate member of staff for treatment in a dissertation or report of up to 8,000 words. The Department will ensure that topics do not allow students to repeat work already submitted, or being submitted, for examination. Students will receive supervision in planning and writing their project from a member of the Department with expertise on the chosen topic. Second year students should indicate the topic for their project on a form from the undergraduate administrator, outlining the main themes and their intended supervisor. Show the form to your intended supervisor before handing the form in on the specified day, the first Monday in February, during year two. 

The bulk of the work for the project will be done in Semester 1, the Christmas vacation and the first half of Semester 2 in year three. However, all students should have preliminary conversations with their project supervisor before the end of their second academic year, with a view to beginning reading for the project over the long vacation prior to year three. 


Students will meet regularly with their supervisor during the first half of their third year to gain advice on what to read and to present sections of the essay for comment. They are entitled to have up to 2 complete drafts of the project read by the supervisor and to receive oral comments on those drafts.

Students are offered up to 3.5 hours of dissertation supervision.

Submission FAQs

Do we need a contents page?

This is up to you as to whether you would like to include this - if you do, I wouldn't expect that you would need to include it in the word count of the work as a whole.

Should it be bound and, if so, where, and how?

Again, this is up to you, but we would have some requests if you decide to get the dissertation bound:

  • please use a ‘loose’ format (like spiral binding) so that, if we need to photocopy the dissertation, it is easy to do so, rather than book-type binding
  • please don’t use anything bulky like a ring-binder to secure the work, as we may have to post the work to the external examiner

You can go anywhere like Kallkwik on Fleet Street to get spiral binding done:

You can also go for the most basic ‘binding’ ie a staple, but you need to use a stapler that can cope with the number of pages involved.  We have a stapler in the office that can manage up to 50 sheets, which you are welcome to use if you wish.

Are we able to go over/under the 8,000 word count by 5% as in other essays?

Yes.  With regard to going under the word count, there is actually no official limit – the penalty of writing much less than the word limit comes naturally from not having written enough on the subject...  With regard to going over, please do keep in mind that the 5% is supposed to act as a buffer, not as a kind of ‘bonus’ word limit, so please do still aim for close to 8,000 words, rather than 8,400.  



6AAT5000 Dissertation Guide (pdf)

Additional information

Planning your project

pdf6AAT5000 Staff specialisations 2019-20 (pdf)

doc6AAT5000 Dissertation proposal form 2019-20 (doc)

Marking criteria for oral presentations


pdfMarking criteria for assessed presentation (pdf) 


NB: For the dissertation itself, the generic Faculty marking criteria for level 6 modules apply.

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