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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : African Studies

Postgraduate Course: Dissertation (MSc International Development - Online Distance Learning) (AFRI11005)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
Course typeDissertation AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits60 ECTS Credits30
SummaryAll students will undertake a dissertation of no longer than 15,000 words on a topic related to International Development to be submitted by a date specified in the University Regulations. The dissertation is an extended piece of scholarship in which a student is expected to formulate and sustain a substantive piece of independent research in International Development. The dissertation will explore an academic topic related to international development through secondary and library sources or through independent fieldwork. The work is expected to engage critically and analytically with the literature in the field, building upon the relevant concepts and theories introduced in the taught courses of the degree. The dissertation will use a range of primary and secondary sources as well as appropriate data-analytic and bibliographic skills. Each student will be allocated a research supervisor by May of the second year to advise on and oversee her or his research progress.
Course description 1. Academic description
The dissertation is an extended piece of writing of up to 15,000 words, based on independent study of a topic largely of the student's choosing and in discussion with the Programme Director. It tests students' ability to conduct research autonomously, to organise effectively larger quantities of information, and to communicate their research findings in a fluent and structured fashion. Students are expected to engage with the expert literature on International Development, and to reference adequately.

2. Outline content
The course largely consists of self-study and research. Here is an indicative timetable of the dissertation writing and supervision process:

First Year:

October - Dissertation will be discussed in first group seminar meeting with Programme director.

June - Students submit a one page outline of their project

August/September - Dissertation meeting by skype with Programme Director

Second Year:

Jan - March: All students will complete the course Key Skills in Research in International Development

April - Students submit a detailed two page outline of proposed project

End April - Dissertation supervisor identified, first skype meeting with supervisor to discuss proposal.

End May - Mid June- Submit first draft chapter.

June and July - Contact with supervisor as mutually agreed.

Mid-July - Finish first draft.

Early-Mid August - Submit dissertation.

3. Student learning experience

This is a dissertation course. Therefore, the primary form of student experience consists of students conducting their own research and writing on an in-depth project of their own choice. However, students can expect the following from their supervisor in the dissertation project:

- 6 skype meetings (1 group skype, 1 individual with programme director in first year, 4 in second year with supervisor)
- feedback on a summary plan by the end of the first year.
- Detailed feedback on two page plan by supervisor in second year
- detailed feedback on one chapter in second year
- feedback on the general structure and organisation of the argument.
- ongoing help with specific queries sent by email.
- Advice on ethical implications of the research

The supervisor will:
- advise on methodology, coherence and relevance of the dissertation and help the student to define the research problem
- discuss mutual availability and methods of contact etc,
- give basic advice on relevant bodies of literature to get the research started and/or refer the student to another member of staff for suggestions on sources;
- discuss and approve draft outline and timetable of work;
- provide diagnostic comment and constructive suggestions on one chapter in good time (normally within two weeks of receipt); help with issues of thesis and dissertation structure.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Block 5 (Sem 2) and beyond
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 600 ( Dissertation/Project Supervision Hours 5, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 12, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 583 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) In line with other MSc level dissertations in SPSS the components of assessment are as follows:

100% assessed by a 15,000 word dissertation.

The assessment criteria are:

1. Formulation and presentation of research problem
2. Review of literature and contextualisation of study
3. Discussion of methods used to collect and analyse relevant information, including ethics
4. Development and coherence of arguments
5. Use of supporting evidence and evaluation of evidence
6. Drawing together major arguments by way of conclusion in relation to the original research problem
7. Degree of reflexivity, critical thinking and originality of argument
8. Formal presentation of dissertation: correct referencing and quoting; spelling, grammar and style; layout and visual presentation
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Engage critically and analytically with the significant literature in the field of their specialist interest and to construct logical and theoretically informed arguments based on this literature.
  2. Extend the research skills, training and knowledge acquired in the coursework produced as part of the programme and apply these to a substantive piece of independent work within the disciplinary fields of International Development
  3. Demonstrate and consolidate their personal skills including self-motivation, collegiality, research planning and time management as well as their presentation skills.
  4. Employ professional standards in referencing and master key research techniques relevant to the field.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMr Jean-Benoit Falisse
Tel: (0131 6)51 1632
Course secretaryMs Maria Brichs
Tel: (0131 6)51 3205
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